Monday, January 19, 2009

Activa RM & Sous Vide

In my upcoming class and dinner I will introducing some new ingredients and techniques to our guests. Over the weekend I played with them to test their abilities and results. I must say I was pretty amazed at well the two components can work together.

Being my first time working with activa, I wanted something a bit easy if you will. I cooked dinner for my family who came to visit the little one. We grew up eating chicken cordon bleu so I decided I would throw my twist on our family's dish.

I used the activa to bond thinly sliced and pounded organic chicken breasts. I layed out two long sheets of plastic wrap side by side and formed a rectangle shape with the meat. I put prosciutto and a beautiful raw milk cheese, in the center and rolled the breast meats into rouelles, or logs.

I let them bond overnight in the fridge, the next morning taking them out, cutting them in half as the original logs were about 24" long, then wrapped them with bacon, secured the ends of the bacon with more activa and cryo-vacked them with a few pieces of garlic and some lemon thyme.

I let sit in fridge about 8 more hours. I cooked sous vide at 62 degrees for about 45 minutes, took them out and seared the bacon crisp. The result was great. The shape remained beautifully in tact. The flavor and texture was amazing. I paired with a 12 hour sous vide pork belly which I cured and served with a honey whole grain mustard emulsion and a salad of crisp apple and celery tossed with lemon and olive oil.
In the center there is a great potato mille-feuille, layers of potato brushed with clarified butter and salted, I seared them off and basted them with lemon thyme and garlic. It sits on a bed of sweet carmelized onions. Then the chicken, applewood bacon wrapped, served with a broken bacon vinaigrette, meyer lemon supremes and a caper relish with garlic, parsley and shallot.

The dish was really good! For dessert I molded chocolate mousse in my new molds, unfortunately the mousse was too set up already when I piped it into the molds, therefore all the air was not released, causing pockets. Next time I will pour the batter in when still fluid and give them a few good bangs on the counter. Served with a salted chocolate shortbread, a vanilla bean and olive oil powder, raspberry coulis, fresh raspberry and fleur de sel which really made the chocolate pop.
Overall I am impressed at how well the two components, activa and sous vide can be used together to achieve a particular shape. I have many ideas in mind now, and will try and bring them into the light. JP from preferred recommended Chicken skin on Tuna, "tuna of the sea"; I am thinking wrapping a whole piece of Halibut or Sea Bass with Chicken Skin to appear as a Thigh, sear it and call it chicken surprise! Ha! So many possibilities.

Monday, January 5, 2009

"Sous Vide"

According to wikipedia - "Sous-vide (pronounced /su ˈvid/),[1] French for "under vacuum",[1] is a method of cooking that is intended to maintain the integrity of ingredients by heating them for an extended period of time at relatively low temperatures. Food is cooked for a long time, sometimes well over 24 hours. Unlike cooking in a slow cooker, sous-vide cooking uses airtight plastic bags placed in hot water well below boiling point (usually around 60°C or 140°F)."

Sous vide is a well known technique to many. It is something I have played with lots in my crockpot and on my stovetop. However, the immersion circulator required to truly cook sous vide properly is very pricey. It was also my latest investment.

Christmas was good to me. I chipped in on my own present and received the long awaited immersion circulator. Through work I was able to purchase wholesale direct through manufacturer at wholesale rate. Unlike most commercial equipment, this is a short discount item unfortunately. I have been playing with it since it arrived with excellent results. I am amazed at the accuracy of the equipment.

My next dinner will feature several ingredients cooked sous vide & the cooking class portion will focus on the advantages and amazing results of "Sous Vide" cooking. We will be working hands on with the highly acclaimed and technologically advanced equipment, which is a very rare and special opportunity. Sous vide utilizes thermal heat to cook meats and foods to a very specific desired internal temperature. The benefit is that the entire piece of meat or ingredient is cooked perfectly throughout at the exact desired temperature. The result is ultra low, ultra slow cooked food that does not lose any of its natural flavors or vitamins & minerals.

Here is a pork tenderloin cooked to 60.5 celsius for about 45 minutes. I then seared it, basted with butter and garlic and some thyme. I served with a bacon emulsion and a whole grain honey mustard sauce, topped with a fresh crisp apple and celery salad. It was spectacular! As you will notice I did not take the time to trim the tenderloin properly. It was my first time using the circulator and I got a little excited and must have been sleeping still.