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Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques & Equipment (Part 1)

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Is this something practicable and or do-able for the (maybe slightly below) average home cook? Cooking in a vacuum packed bag...what are the benefits, anyway? Saw it mentioned in a article and was curious...

"So, do you want me to compromise your meal for you?" - Waitress at Andy's Diner, Dec 4th, 2004.

The Fat Boy Guzzle --- 1/2 oz each Jack Daniels, Wild Turkey, Southern Comfort, Absolut Citron over ice in a pint glass, squeeze 1/2 a lemon and top with 7-up...Credit to the Bar Manager at the LA Cafe in Hong Kong who created it for me on my hire. Thanks, Byron. Hope you are well!


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Definitely doable if you have the equipment -- Food Saver plastic bags would work, I think. (Somebody who has one, please confirm or deny.)

Advantages of sous vide are the same as for cooking en papillote, that is you keep the juices and flavors contained, but neater to work with. Also great for portion control, and if done with pre-cooked foods like braises and stews, you won't have to worry about burning or over-reducing the sauce. Those are two of the reasons Artisanal (restaurant here in NYC) does it.

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sous vide is a marvelous cooking method. You vacuum pack food (chicken, beef, pork, fish) with stock, seasonings and herbs in a plastic bag. You can then braise it in hot water to the perfect cooking temperature. 160° for an hour and a half for beef and you get perfect medium-rare. Can't overcook it. Same with chicken, squab, guinea hen. You need the vacuum machine to do it at home.


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it might work for scallopine n stuff... but what about the good ol maillard ??

your meat will lack flavor ?!... ??

Well... it will have a different flavor is all. Sometimes you don't necessarily want that Maillard flavor, and might be going for something a little cleaner, fresher, greener. One can always, of course, brown the meat either before or after cooking sous vide.


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Well... it will have a different flavor is all. Sometimes you don't necessarily want that Maillard flavor, and might be going for something a little cleaner, fresher, greener. One can always, of course, brown the meat either before or after cooking sous vide.

"greener" in meat... :wink: i havent tried a meat that tasted green yet.... :wacko:


toertchen toertchen

patissier chocolatier cafe

cologne, germany

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The application I'm familiar with is not for the initial cooking, but for reheating. Artisanal vacuum-packs portions of braised dishes, and then the line cook just drops it in a pot of boiling water to reheat. Perfect portion control, no overcoked sauce, no burnt sauce.

But I imagine that anything you cook en papillote you could cook sous vide.

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:rolleyes: i tried the technique as iam a proud owner of a foodsaver :)

i grabbed a bag threw in some deepfrozen greenpeas a lump

of butter, a tsp. duck demiglace, seasalt, malabar pepper, a dash

of dried savory and sealed it in...

then i poached in a 80 C waterbath for 30 25 mins....

and what should i tell you... marvelous result

the peas seemed much more flavorful to me, and all the

other ingredients seemed to have fused to a really delicious sauce...

i threw everything into a casseorle drizzled a tiny bit of arrowroot to

coat the peas with sauce, and served with a lambchop and some potatosnow..

i surely will try again...



toertchen toertchen

patissier chocolatier cafe

cologne, germany

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This thread prompted me to reminisce about our family seal-a-meal. It was a great item. I see they are made by rival now, and include a vaccume pack feature. I have ordered one for my brother, a gift for his birthday.

schneich, you are in Germany, right? Who is the manufacturer of your foodsaver? Am I correct in assuming that this is something that heat seals? I am in France and do not know who might manufacture such an item for use in Europe.

edited to correct a typo

Edited by bleudauvergne (log)
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i own the original tilia foodsaver, i got it from switzerland years ago.

since about a year the foodsaver & utils is sold everywhere across germany

especially in the big wholesale markets.

i saw the tilia foodsaver in one of our "metro" markets. in france youll

have them too, maybe you will get it there its called "metro cash n carry"



t. :smile:

Edited by schneich (log)

toertchen toertchen

patissier chocolatier cafe

cologne, germany

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  • 3 weeks later...

I am wondering if anybody has sources for recipes for sous-vide cooking - which is to say, cooking done in sealed vacuum bags.

It started out in Europe as a means to do large scale cooking - like airline catering - where food is cooked in a factory and reheated elsewhere. the idea was the cooking was done centrally, and reheating done elsewhere/later.

Some chefs in the US use it that way - for example for late night food at Las Vegas restaurants so a minimal kitchen staff can prepare it. However, there is a clear trend toward high end chefs using it as a tool in its own right rather than simply a means to centralize cooking. Charlie Trotter gave an interview in a restaurant trade magazine saying that 50% of his plates have at least one component made this way. Daniel Boulud and a number of other chefs are using it.

Typically the ingredients are sealed in a plastic bag under vacuum (similar to various home vacuum sealer machines). The bag is then cooked at low temperature - typically at less than boiling (150 degrees), and sometimes even lower. Typical cooking times are long - hours. It is basically a very gentle form of poaching.

I have a vacuum sealer machine, and I got some heat proof sealing bags. So I have been experimenting. However, there are very few recipes out there. This is a bit surprising because it is pretty widely used in Europe. So, one would expect there to be more recipes or even information of a general nature.

There is one book on the topic from Amazon - it is very expensive, and utterly worthless - it is more about industrial processes and gives few if any details.

Art Cullinaire had an issue with several recipes in it in Spring 2002 - for example: http://www.findarticles.com/cf_dls/m0JAW/2...457/print.jhtml

On eGullet, the only references seem to be to restaurants that use it - like Trio near Chicago.

My questions are does anybody:

- Have any recipes themselves?

- Know of other sources (books, magazines, web sites)?


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You need a vacum machine 10- 15 thousand cdn.

suck the air out of the bag then pump in nitrogen.

You can sous-vide any thing.

dig in


good for a satilite location that does not have a lot of prep space.

Portioning things then freezing.

Cook To Live; Live To Cook
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I love to cook chicken breasts sous vide (ditto guinea hen, pheasant, partridge). You really do not need a recipe. Pre-season any way you prefer. If you want to add wine or any other liquid seasoning freeze it before adding it to the bag as any liquid will be sucked out when you vacuum.

The trick is to get the water in the pan to the right temperature and keep it there for about 40 minutes. I do mine at very low temperatures (around 120°F) as I like to brown the skin before serving and I like the meat to be a little pink. If you buy a cook book you will probably find they tell you to bring the water to 160° (USDA recommended temperature). Your choice. But this is a technique that is fun to experiment with.

Ruth Friedman

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Thanks for the chicken information.

Although I said that I wanted "recipes" the main thing I am looking for is some authoritative information on time and temperature.

In the few sous vide recipes that I have seen, there seems to be a pretty wide range of temperatures. They are all cooler than boiling, but they range from 190 degrees F at the high down to much lower - like the 120 degrees.

Last night I made salmon - I had two different sources - one saying that I MUST cook it no higher than 104 degrees F. The other said 113 degrees F. So, I tried both ways. There was a clear difference, but each worked.

The cooking times vary a lot - all are long, but the question is how long. I found a sous vide lamb shank recipe on the internet which called for 4 hours at 180. That is the same time as many conventional recipes at higher tempertatures. I tried it, and it clearly was not enough, the shank was not tender. So I tried 6 hours - that was better, but again clearly not enough. My guess is that the shanks really needed 8 or possibly more hours - which is a 2X difference from the recipe.

I am told that Daniel Boulud does short ribs sous vide for 36 hours - I don't know at what temperature however.

So, bottom line is that some reliable time and temperature information would be very useful.


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If you can get hold of the Winter 2003 issue of Art Culinaire (#71) you will find a whole section on sous vide cooking which will show how a number of different chefs use it. Paul Sale cooks a 6 oz portion of halibut at 135° for 10 minutes, frenched chicken breasts at 165° for 25 minutes and oxtail at 165° for 8 hours.. Alessandro Stratta coooks pork belly (after searing) at 200° for 12 hours. There are many other recipes in the issue whuch use the sous vide method.

The method is fairly new and I do not think there is any truly authoritative source. We just have to go by the good old reliable trial and error.

Edited by Ruth (log)

Ruth Friedman

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Hey nathan, I could be wrong but I thought the u.s came up with the idead of storing food in vacuum packaging during the second world war and then the Europeans enhanced it (Grace Cryovac) by doing a different style of papillote. We know that it helps to remove air causing less oxidation to happen. Also, It helps to ensure a better product by it's method of cooking at a lower temperature where less loss of valuable food components,(water, vitamins, and flavor) are now not compromised. These components are lost during open cooking.

As far as cooking: When we cook a 6 oz. piece of hake fish or salmon or something similar, we make a flavored beurre blanc (vanilla, caper, red wine,etc.) and place the fish inside and cookin a water bath at 58-59c (138f )or so and cook it for about 35-40 minutes. So I find it hard to believe that Paul Sale can cook his in 10 minutes(ART CULINARE)! Cooking Lamb and squab with other styles of marinades in the same fashion come out a perfect medium where it still takes on a rare look. No juices are lost during the cooking. When I was at The Fat Duck Heston changed the method of cooking the saddle of Lamb from oven top to water baths giving a better end product reducing the watch time cooking the lamb turning every few minutes. Also cooking foie gras in this fashion helps reduces shrinkage. So I would play with different marinades in cooking but change the times you may have seen, and use a probe (thermometer) if you have one to ensure stable temperature.

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Ducasse has been a major advocate of sous vide cookery in haute cuisine (I believe there are several sous vide recipes and parts of recipes in his Grand Livre, which is only available in French as far as I know -- here's one I found by googling). A couple of years ago I spent a week in Ducasse's kitchen at the Essex House and watched them employ the sous vide method with several dishes, most notably the signature Ducasse pigeon which so many have said is definitive. There are a few different ways to handle it, as best I understand this. One way is to use a water bath that is at the exact temperature you want your meat (or veg or whatever) to end up at. With that method, you cook for many, many hours -- possibly days depending on the size of the cut. You can never really overcook, because once the product reaches the temperature of the water bath it won't go any higher (for example in the Ducasse recipe cited above it says "Conditionner sous vide avec le confit d'oignons, les sommités de thym et les abricots (soudure à 6; pression 2,8), cuire par immersion d'eau dans une ambiance à 62 °C ( 143 °F) pour atteindre une température à coeur de 62 °C (143 °F) pendant 36 heures."). You can also handle it by using a high temperature of water (boiling or near boiling) which brings the package up to temperature much more rapidly. For that method, you really need a temperature probe in the center of the meat so you can cook to an exact number. The only way to avoid the temperature probe when using the higher temperature sous vide method is to have extremely uniform cuts of meat -- in terms of both mass and shape -- so you can essentially run a program specific to that cut, e.g., a 5-ounce piece of lamb loin that's 2" x 1" x 5" cooks in a 190-degree water bath for 42 minutes or whatever.

At the haute cuisine level, however, the water bath has in the past couple of years given way to the steam oven or combi oven. At Mix in New York, Ducasse's newest New York restaurant, all the sous vide cooking is done with steam not in a water bath. We have a good relationship with Doug Psaltis at Mix in New York, and could possibly get someone in there to talk to him, get some basic information, and take some photos -- though of course we'd have to clear it with him and the Ducasse organization. But we can certainly make the request. Nathan are you in New York? If so, and if we can set up a tutorial, maybe you can tag along.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Thanks for the information. I have the Grand Livre volumes, and I can read kitchen level French, but I don't tend to go there first for information. Thanks for the tip - I will read up on it.

I have had the pigeon at Ducasse in NY, and is very good indeed! I didn't realize it was sous vide.

I have Rational combi-ovens and I have been using low temperature steam mode to cook the sous-vide experiments I have done to date.

Heston Blumenthal of the Fat Duck in the UK is a big advocate of using scientific lab equipment - specifically a temperature controlled water bath for doing low temperature cooking. This includes both sous vide, and other methods like low temperature poaching, or low temperature confit. I bought one of these at a surplus auction and I am going to try it also. The potential benefit over the combi oven is that the temperature control is even better.

Yesterday's experiment was salmon "mi cuit" - cooked in oil as a kind of confit, in a sous vide bag at low temp. Blumenthal recommends 45 C = 113 F. Keller, and John Cambell (another British chef) recommend lower - not over 104F. So, I tried it both ways. THey are both good, but the higher temperature one looks a bit more like cooked salmon, while the lower temp one looks almost dead raw (but has mouth feel of being cooked).


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At the restaurant we do work a lot with sous vide a lot of foie gras bird and fish are done this way, but it is very important to be extra cautious with cleanliness when working with the sous vide techniques.A lot of experiments are needed to achieve good results but wow they are great.For example with cook confit of d uck sous vide...for 7 hours at 90 celcius, pigeon for 1h30at 54 celcius,rabbit legs at 58 celcius for 50 minutes...and it goes on. obviously it requires a final preparation example searing it to order..crisping the skin...we use retractable bags as well it is very important they are special bags to cook in..always adding some kind of fat or liquid and aromatics inside as well...it is great for cooking foie gras for cold preparations...anyways if you have a more specific question you could always ask me...salut...

Edited by bigorre (log)
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Sous Vide certainly seems to be the latest buzz. We have been using it at the restaurant I work at for a few yeras now, but we are really getting our balls busted by the helath inspector to come up with a thoroughly prepared HAACP handbook for sous vide in order to prevent them from taking the vac machine away from us. Does anyone else have this problem/issue with their health inspectors and sous vide preparations?


Crashed and Burned Cook

Current Wannabe

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