Sous Vide Chronicles Part II: My Dorm is a Kitchen

26 Jan

When I cleared off some desk space to make way for my FoodSaver and Sous Vide Supreme, I had only one plea running through my mind, over and over again: Please work without blowing our fuse.  When I turned the machines on, my eyes half-closed, scared to see the lights blink and then fade, my heart was pounding.  I didn’t break my arms pulling my bags back from the bus only to have two useless machines clutter my precious dorm space.

But what I encountered in that moment was less disaster and more miracle.  The sous vide machine chirped to life, and the FoodSaver buttons lit up and stayed thusly illuminated!  I was so happy, and when I went to Wegman’s for groceries, I bought foods I could try in the sous vide.  I was most excited to make my first sous-vide steak.  After all, how often do we complain about inaccurately cooked steak at restaurants?

I bought a boneless ribeye; even though I like meat on the bone, the boneless was more affordable, and since I love ribeye, I was turned on by its rich marbling and deep, red-brown coloring.  I gave my steak the princess treatment: after making a custom-size bag for it in the FoodSaver, I topped it with a few pats of butter from the Vermont Butter and Cheese Co., and then I sprinkled it liberally with sea salt.  Pepper?  Well, our maintenance staff seems to have confiscated the dry ingredients I left in our kitchen over break, so I went sans-poivre.  It’s fine with me anyway, since I constantly ask why pepper is a staple seasoning.

A digression but important statement: pepper was introduced to our food repetoire early on when explorers and traders brought it back from Asia.  We used a lot of it, happily, to cover up the flavors of less-than-prime meat, much of which was rotten or sketchy.  So I ask, people: why do we still use pepper so devoutly?  I, too, enjoy the punchiness it offers my food.  But how does it differ from grabbing some salt and allspice?  Salt and juniper?  Salt and nutmeg?  Salt and cinnamon?  You get my point.  So back to my sous vide saga…

I sealed up the ribeye, placed it in the 133 degree water bath, and hit the gym.  That’s the beauty of sous vide!  I can just leave my food.  And there’s no worry.  So when I was done with my treadmill and elliptical fun, I came back to my dorm and took out a greyish-looking piece o’ meat in a bag. Sounds sexy, don’t it?

pre-sear sous vide steak

Well…after a quick searing in a hot pan, I got a nicely browned steak with a PERFECTLY cooked interior and buttery, delicious, meaty taste.

post-sear

Later, I sous vide more eggs, including one I tried in a bag to make it cylindrical (semi-fail: the yolk holds shape at 145 but the white really doesn’t.)  I also sous vide cooked some cookie dough in a bag.  I might try it again at a higher temp than 145, but it was interesting to have a soft cookie dough with melty chips without any browning.  Like microwaved dough.  Hmm…

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