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"Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide"

Modernist Cookbook

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#31 jayt90

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Posted 01 July 2008 - 10:48 AM

The manufacturers of home bagging devices, like Foodsaver, claim that the reduced atmospheric pressure inside the bag is useful for quick infusions and marinades, and also for boil in a bag cooking at a lower boiling point than 212 F.
I have seen 160 F mentioned as a boiling point (can't remember where).

If I can boil a bag of fresh salmon fillet, infused with marinade, and know it will not be overcooked when simmering bubbles appear in the bag, then this simple pressure device is useful to me.

The notion of bagging at normal atmospheric pressure, to remove air, and then lengthy poaching at a low temperature in an expensive device, is foreign to me, and best left to the professionals.

Edited by jayt90, 01 July 2008 - 12:18 PM.


#32 dougal

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Posted 01 July 2008 - 11:07 AM

Perhaps it means "under pressure" as the opposite of "over pressure"?

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Problem is that suggesting that the pressure inside a flexible and stretchy plastic bag (as illustrated on that cover) could be significantly different (+ or -) from atmospheric would indicate that the author really hadn't grasped the physics of the situation.


For once, I sincerely hope that the title is going to prove a misleading guide to the content!
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#33 dougal

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Posted 01 July 2008 - 11:29 AM

"Under Pressure" was also the title of the New York Times Magazine feature on sous-vide cookery in '05. In that piece, the term pressure is used thus:

''Cryovacking'' is an industry term for putting food in a plastic bag and vacuum-packing it. Sometimes the food is then cooked in the bag. Other times, the pressure of the packing process is used to infuse flavors into ingredients. The watermelon, for instance, was vacuum-packed with 20 pounds of pressure per square centimeter, to compact the fruit's cells and concentrate its flavor. It had the texture of meat. Just the thing for backyard picnics.

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STRANGE units to choose, pounds per square centimetre !!

There are almost 6.5 sq cm to the sq inch.

So that watermelon is said to be being packed under 130 psi pressure :blink: :blink: :blink:
Ordinary atmospheric pressure is about 14.5 psi
So thats about 9 times atmospheric pressure. Like 5 times the pressure inside a car (automobile) tyre...

That is under serious pressure (for a kitchen anyway)
And cannot be produced by evacuation alone. It needs plenty external pressure applied.

BTW a "pressure cooker" (or canner) is unlikely to give more than 15 psi above local atmospheric. Simply not in the same league.
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#34 manwith8ovens

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Posted 06 July 2008 - 05:13 AM

Perhaps it means "under pressure" as the opposite of "over pressure"?

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My take on the "Under Pressure".
1. The title is appropriate for two reasons: First, since it is for the mainstream consumer market, as far as for the layman, the food is being pressed inside the bag. Second, for the professional cooks who are demanding and perfectionists like Keller, you are constantly "Under Pressure" to perform and it is especially true in a "sous-vide" kitchen environment.
2. Viking is definitely coming up with a sousvide cooker for the pro-consumer market and it will retail for over $1,000. It may be launched around the release date of the book (just a guess). I know the chef who is under NDA and currently testing it. Viking is the main ad sponsor of the eG's sousvide thread; of course, they are interested. One thing I am not sure is whether Viking will have a cheaper version for the consumer market.

The real missing link here is still the availability of a FDA approved consumer-oriented vacuum packing system. Lots of people use Foodsaver but it is not endorsed by the manufacturer. Ziploc bags are only good for 80C max and not endorsed by the manufacturer either.

I am also looking forward for the release of two other books around the same time as "Under Pressure"'s release date: "Fat duck" and "Alinea"

Of course, the ultimate SV book will be the book to be written by NathanM.

#35 Tri2Cook

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Posted 06 July 2008 - 06:16 AM

I don't care if he calls it Under Pressure because he had beans for dinner the night before he titled it. It's Chef Keller sharing information. I will have it.
It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

#36 jmridd

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 03:34 PM

Whoa... was this thread about the book, or the validity of the title? and it isn't really misleading at all, and isn't really a reflection of reputation at all, and it is catchy, and it is accurate, as keller uses cryovac'ing for everything from compressing fruit to infusing flavors to indeed, sous vide cookery...

Anyways, I do hope there is some sort of book+immersion circulator package as that would truly bring this style of cooking to the professional and amateur chef. I think it is somewhat of a shame that the technology seems to have such an elitist air about it. Hopefully this will book will open up the possibilities to a larger group of both practitioners and consumers - there's no reason why we can't be sous-viding our burgers! With the knowledge, know-how, and equipment now publicized things might change...

#37 Fat Guy

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 07:01 PM

There was a link posted today on Eater to the new Artisan book catalog. If you look on page 4 there's a bunch of information about the book.

(My only issue with the title is that it's unoriginal.)

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#38 Doodad

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 04:49 AM

From the description, it seems to be about sous-vide cooking. I wonder why the title is Under Pressure. And I don't see Michael Ruhlman's name mentioned anywhere. What's his connection?

Here's an eG Society-friendly link to the book.

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Ruhlman has mentioned it several times on his website. He is writing ala Bouchon and TFL.

#39 Doodad

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 05:00 AM

BTW, to add to the discussion on equipment, you could make a fairly serviceable sous vide bath with a good hotplate and magnetic stirrer. Those units can be had for much less than the real stuff and should, with a little calibration and experimentation, yield satisfactory results.

#40 NY_Amateur

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 07:50 PM

I don't know if this is the appropriate place for this, and if it's not I apologize in advance.

I have basically fallen in love with sous vide cooking so obviously the next logical step is to try to exactly emulate one of the best, if not the best, chef in the world and then document this project.

To that end I started a cook the book blog called Sous Vide Or Not Sous Vide. In which I will try to accurately reproduce all these, I'm sure, amazing recipes.

Of course the book is not out yet but a lack of knowledge (not to mention talent, luck or training) has never stopped me in the past. I just have two posts, one intro and a very basic sous vide technology post. I plan to add more tech posts as necessary but it will mostly be straight recipe documentation.

Anyway I figure people reading this thread may be interested, so there it is. There won't be many updates to it until the book comes out but I'll try to come up with some interesting content for filler in the mean time.

This should be interesting because I am a rank amateur (as my name suggests) so I am very nervous but also very excited at this project.

Edited by NY_Amateur, 15 September 2008 - 07:50 PM.

Sous Vide Or Not Sous Vide - My sous vide blog where I attempt to cook every recipe in Under Pressure.

#41 NY_Amateur

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Posted 15 October 2008 - 08:06 PM

So I got an email from Amazon saying that Under Pressure would be delivered late, anyone know where I can order this so it gets here asap?

Edited by NY_Amateur, 15 October 2008 - 08:10 PM.

Sous Vide Or Not Sous Vide - My sous vide blog where I attempt to cook every recipe in Under Pressure.

#42 the_nomad

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 11:58 AM

Huh - in the US too? I'm waiting for mine in the UK right now, and again, it's been delayed.

Lots of popularity or a delay in printing?
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#43 RobC

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 05:48 PM

Thomas Keller's book, Under Pressure, shipped from Amazon today. There is a God.

#44 Temple

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 07:42 PM

Thomas Keller's book, Under Pressure, shipped from Amazon today. There is a God.

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I've been really looking forward to this book for a long time. I pre-ordered a copy from Amazon months ago, but I got an email today stating that they have no copies left and its back-ordered. I thought this book to be a perfect present for someone I know and pre-ordered a second copy a little over a week ago as a gift, strange thing is, my very recent pre-order was filled and sent out, but the pre-order I made ages ago got back-ordered. I guess Amazon doesn't fill pre-orders in the order they receive them :sad: .

#45 Shinboners

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 07:46 PM

I'm another one who got an e-mail from Amazon.com saying that the book would be delayed. That would be fine, except that today, I was visiting one of my favourite bookshops (Readings here in Melbourne, Australia), and they had a copy of "Under Pressure" for sale!

I had a look through the book, and I think everyone will love it. I took a note of the chapter headings, and they are as follow:

Foreward by Gousself (spelling? sorry, I can't read my own writing :wink: )
Intro by McGee
Precision of Execution
Why Sous Vide?
The Chefs
The Fundamentals
-What sous vide can achive
-3 basic principles
-4 basic techniques
-Safety
-In our kitchen
-In the home kitchen
Vegetables and Fruits
Poultry and Meat
Variety Meats
Cheese and Desserts
Basics
Index

For those who are in Australia, Thomas Keller will be at the next Melbourne Food And Wine Festival ( www.melbournefoodandwine.com.au ). He'll be in good company too as the likes of Heston Blumenthal, Rene Redzepi, Iñaki Aizpitarte, Alain Alders, Philip Howard, Jean-Paul Jeunet, and Dieter Müller amongst many others are also making the trip down.

Edited by Shinboners, 20 October 2008 - 07:55 PM.

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#46 Bricktop

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 03:34 PM

I just got an email from Amazon that my copy of Under Pressure has shipped.

#47 edsel

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 09:02 AM

My copy arrived today. I only had time to browse through it a bit, but I must say that I'm impressed. It looks like there's a wealth of technical information, and the recipes look wonderful. :smile:

#48 Jamesbchef

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 10:50 AM

Anyone having trouble finding this book? Is it out?

#49 NY_Amateur

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 10:07 PM

Anyone having trouble finding this book? Is it out?

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eh I had a pre order copy but then they slipped on the ship date and I canceled it because it looked like it would arrive this week when I (and both my roommates) are traveling. So then I saw that there was a shortage and hastily ordered and damn the consequences, only be to be told my ship date was now the 4th, which is the day after I am supposed to leave the country for up to a month. woo.

Then I got another a email today saying my revised arrival date is the 29th.

So long story short, sort of. But hopefully I will get it soon, can't wait.
Sous Vide Or Not Sous Vide - My sous vide blog where I attempt to cook every recipe in Under Pressure.

#50 RobC

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 11:02 PM

I've been reading it today. For those who want to see how SV is done at FL and ps, it's great: terrific photos, lots of recipes from the restaurants. For those who'd like to cook those dishes in our own kitchens, it's a little disappointing. The recipes are as complicated and demanding as you'd expect in Keller's restaurants, which means they generally aren't very accessible for home cooks. Many pretty much demand chamber vacuum sealers, which most home SV cooks don't have. Even the use of metric quantities is less than user-friendly, though obviously not a deal-breaker. So it's a fine book, but it doesn't really provide the comprehensive guide for home SV cooking that I'd been hoping for.

#51 dougal

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 03:11 AM

I've been reading it today. For those who want to see how SV is done at FL and ps, it's great: terrific photos, lots of recipes from the restaurants. For those who'd like to cook those dishes in our own kitchens, it's a little disappointing. The recipes are as complicated and demanding as you'd expect in Keller's restaurants, which means they generally aren't very accessible for home cooks.

Would the complexity/difficulty comparison be with FL or Bouchon ?
I'm presuming that this might be about super-crafting everything that goes into the bag, but could you give us a more specific idea of what you are referring to? Are we talking fantasy ingredients as well?

Many pretty much demand chamber vacuum sealers, which most home SV cooks don't have.

Is this because of a big liquid content? Or...?

Even the use of metric quantities is less than user-friendly, though obviously not a deal-breaker.

Metric weights are excellent for precision, and easy to scale quantities up or down... Personally, I drink proper big UK pints of beer and worry about the mpg of my car, but I also think metric weights are the preferred way to communicate a recipe!

So it's a fine book, but it doesn't really provide the comprehensive guide for home SV cooking that I'd been hoping for.

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I understand that clearly it is not targeted at introducing home cooks to SV, (as one set of rumours had it), but is it really just coffee table fantasy material, or do you think its something to provide practical and aspirational source material for 'ordinary' pros and obsessive amateurs? :wink:
It sounds as though we need to give NathanM the hurry-up!
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#52 edsel

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 06:21 AM

Would the complexity/difficulty comparison be with FL or Bouchon ?
I'm presuming that this might be about super-crafting everything that goes into the bag, but could you give us a more specific idea of what you are referring to? Are we talking fantasy ingredients as well? View Post

I'm less disappointed than RobC seems to be, but then my expectations may have been different.

The super-crafting thing is classic Keller, and yes, it's a lot like the FL and Bouchon books in that respect. There are a few exotic ingredients used (Transglutaminase, anyone?), but much of it should be pretty easy to source, if a bit expensive.

Is this because of a big liquid content? Or...?

There are quite a few recipes that call for liquid in the bag, which is a pain if you're using a Food Saver or such. I didn't spot any instructions for using a clamp machine, but I've only had time to scan the book during my lunch break yesterday. I'll check tonight to see if there's anything there about dealing with liquids with consumer equipment. Of course, we've got endless discussion of that on the Sous Vide thread here, so maybe it's a non-issue for us.

#53 RobC

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 07:56 AM

Would the complexity/difficulty comparison be with FL or Bouchon ?

With FL and per se. There are a few references to Bouchon, but it doesn't appear to be the source of the recipes.

I'm presuming that this might be about super-crafting everything that goes into the bag, but could you give us a more specific idea of what you are referring to? Are we talking fantasy ingredients as well?

The difficulty of the recipes is a combination of unusual cuts and ingredients, specific purveyors, some molecular gastronomy chemicals, and multi-part preparations of all the components of very refined dishes. There's nothing wrong with any of that, if what you're aiming to do is reproduce a dish at FL or ps. You could even dumb it down some yourself to make it more realistic for home cooking. My regret is that Keller didn't expend a little effort in creating his own simplified, home kitchen-friendly version of some recipes. I'd love to know Keller's suggestion for tasty chicken breasts SV'd at home, for example. But that's most decidedly not this book.

Is [the need for a chamber vacuum sealer] because of a big liquid content? Or...? 

Mostly because of liquid in the bag, but sometimes also to achieve compression of fruits.

I understand that clearly it is not targeted at introducing home cooks to SV, (as one set of rumours had it), but is it really just coffee table fantasy material, or do you think its something to provide practical and aspirational source material for 'ordinary' pros and obsessive amateurs?  :wink:

I think it goes somewhat beyond coffee table fantasy material, but it will require a good deal of trial and error and ingenuity to simplify the recipes for use in ordinary home environments. That's something one would have wished the author or editor might have managed as part of the book. Would it have been too much to ask for them to publish a FL recipe and a counterpart recipe simplified for home use--something that surely wouldn't approach the real thing in finesse but would still rise above salting and peppering the damned chicken breast and tossing it in the bag?

It sounds as though we need to give NathanM the hurry-up!

My sentiments exactly!

#54 FoodMan

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 09:37 AM

Would it have been too much to ask for them to publish a FL recipe and a counterpart recipe simplified for home use--something that surely wouldn't approach the real thing in finesse but would still rise above salting and peppering the damned chicken breast and tossing it in the bag?


Yes it would've been too much to ask that. This is Thomas Keller's food. It is highly refined and -usually- labor intensive. If the FL book coped out and provided a "simplified" recipe for the "home cook" (not sure that that exactly means BTW) for each recipe in the book then it would've missed it goal and never have become the classic it is now. To learn from the master (whether it is Escoffier, Keller, Achatz, Adria or Robuchon) one has to do it their way and then apply it to their own home kitchens. Keller is not Bittman -who I admire for what he does as well- and I doubt he is interested in creating an infinite number of simplified variations on his recipes. I am honestly surprised anyone expected anything different based on the guy's previous books and cooking history.

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#55 Magictofu

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 11:36 AM

I am honestly surprised anyone expected anything different based on the guy's previous books and cooking history.


I think this is because of previous rumours about the book and the possible availability of home versions of sous vide equipment.

That being said, Bouchon is much easier to deal with than French Laundry in a home kitchen.

#56 RobC

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 12:13 PM

If the FL book coped out and provided a "simplified" recipe for the "home cook" (not sure that that exactly means BTW) for each recipe in the book then it would've missed it goal and never have become the classic it is now.

Sorry I confused you with the term "home cook." I meant pretty much what Thomas Keller means on page 38 where he write about making the dishes "manageable for home cooks." You seem to feel it would be beneath TK to create recipes that are more manageable for home cooks; I'd be loath to attribute to him that level of arrogance, because he seems like a very decent and down-to-earth guy. And if TK doesn't have the time or interest to do so, it shouldn't be beyond the abilities of one of his large crew of assistants or indeed someone else the book's editor chooses to employ.

The book is fine for what it is, a collection of highly complicated recipes from FL and ps. What it's not is a book that will help the vast majority of home chefs improve their SV skills. That's a pity and leaves a large hole in the publishing market.

#57 FoodMan

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 12:38 PM

If the FL book coped out and provided a "simplified" recipe for the "home cook" (not sure that that exactly means BTW) for each recipe in the book then it would've missed it goal and never have become the classic it is now.

Sorry I confused you with the term "home cook." I meant pretty much what Thomas Keller means on page 38 where he write about making the dishes "manageable for home cooks." You seem to feel it would be beneath TK to create recipes that are more manageable for home cooks; I'd be loath to attribute to him that level of arrogance, because he seems like a very decent and down-to-earth guy. And if TK doesn't have the time or interest to do so, it shouldn't be beyond the abilities of one of his large crew of assistants or indeed someone else the book's editor chooses to employ.

The book is fine for what it is, a collection of highly complicated recipes from FL and ps. What it's not is a book that will help the vast majority of home chefs improve their SV skills. That's a pity and leaves a large hole in the publishing market.

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He does seem like a nice and down to earth guy who loves fried chicken and burgers and I did not imply that it is beneath him to create a homecooked meal. I'm saying that in no way did I expect him to create any recipes short of what he would serve at his restaurant. He did not do it for FL or for Bouchon, so why should he do it now?

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#58 slkinsey

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 12:55 PM

Having just leafed through my copy, I think it definitely has some usefulness to home cooks. That doesn't mean that I'll be recreating any of the dishes precisely, but I can absolutely envision cherrypicking techniques and preparations from one recipe or another.
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#59 dougal

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Posted 24 October 2008 - 03:11 AM

I am honestly surprised anyone expected anything different based on the guy's previous books and cooking history.

I think this is because of previous rumours about the book and the possible availability of home versions of sous vide equipment.

That being said, Bouchon is much easier to deal with than French Laundry in a home kitchen.

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This is precisely what I was trying to convey above (probably in too few words for once!)

It sounds (if even SLKinsey is unlikely to try ANY of the recipes as written) as though the book might have been subtitled:
"French Laundry 2 - the sous-vide stuff".
Is that a fair assessment?

Edited by dougal, 24 October 2008 - 03:12 AM.

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

#60 edsel

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Posted 24 October 2008 - 06:05 AM

One difference between this book and the FL cook book is that the latter placed a great deal of emphasis on the food suppliers and philosophical aspects of the restaurant. The essays interspersed throughout the book were as important as the actual recipes.

Under Pressure is much more focused on technique. There are explanations of what CSV is good for, how to use it appropriately and safely, etc. It's a big, pretty book, but I see it as being more of a practical reference than the FL book was.





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