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Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques & Equipment (Part 6)


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>>is whether you actually want a vacuum sealer at all<<

I would ask the same question. Only reason to me is improved handling when fluids are involved or if you want to do other things like compression or flash pickling. I am using the ziplocs with the hand vacuum pump and sofar I have no complaints at all.

Somewhere in the main thread I think it was bounced around if the vacuum would help eliminate certain bacteria but I believe that is incorrect and the reason for the vac is only to optimize heat transfer and prevent trapped air from expanding turning the bags into "floaters".

As much as I like my chamber vacuum sealer, I would be just as happy using heavy duty freezer Ziploc bags for sous vide cooking --- I add about a quarter cup of liquid and use the water displacement method*.

You are absolutely correct that the only reason to vacuum seal when cooking sous vide is to allow for the efficient transfer of energy from the water to the food. Moreover, O’Mahony et al. (2004) found that the majority of pouches after vacuum packaging had high levels of residual oxygen --- which means vacuum sealing does not necessarily reduce the risk of aerobic bacteria.

* To quote the current draft of my upcoming book, "Sous Vide for the Home Cook":

"To remove most the air from the bag: (i) fill a deep container (such as a pan, pitcher, or bowl) with fresh cold water, (ii) submerge the bottom of the unsealed bag in the water until only the sealable top is above the surface of the water, (iii) start sealing one side of the bag and feed the sealed edge under the water as you go, (iv) when you have finished sealing the bag, it should be completely submerged in the water, (v) remove the bag from the water and check that the seal is good and little or no air remains in the bag."

My Guide: A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking, which Harold McGee described as "a wonderful contribution."

My Book: Sous Vide for the Home Cook US EU/UK

My YouTube channel — a new work in progress.

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Douglas - I'm pleased to hear that you're considering writing a book. Your generously free first pdf pamphlets have been tremendously helpful to many of us on this thread since the beginning. It will be nice for you to get some pecuniary recompense for the work you've done thus far. Good luck with it. Please don't let it take 3 years to publish (hint, hint!)

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Thanks. I believe my publisher wants to have my book on shelves early next year (2010).

If any of you would like to help me field test recipes, just send me an email (see my guide for my email address) with what equipment you have and your current level of sous vide experience.

My Guide: A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking, which Harold McGee described as "a wonderful contribution."

My Book: Sous Vide for the Home Cook US EU/UK

My YouTube channel — a new work in progress.

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I tried the "poor man's" sous vide and made boneless loin pork chops in a dijon mustard maple syrup sauce. I had brined for 2 hours and frozen 3 pork chops which were about 1" to 1.5" thick. I thawed them out half way and added 3 tablespoons dijon mustard, 3 tablespoons maple syrup and 3 pats of butter. The recipe I had found on the web said to do cook the chops individually but I wanted to experiment and cook them together. I filled my dutch oven with water and using my remote BBQ thermometer, got the water to a steady 140F. I inserted the half thawed bag of seasoned pork chops and watched the temperature drop to 129F. I heated the water back up to 140F and got it steady again. At that point, while I was continuing to surf the web, I came across the Sous Vide Supreme recipe for pork chops which recommended 150F and so I bumped up the heat and brought it up to 150F. In retrospect, I believe that this is one of the problems as I like my pork chops more medium rare than medium.

I cooked the chops for 2 hours and tried one of them. Juicy, perfect medium, but the texture was not as tender as I had hoped. One of the reasons is clearly the cut of the meat. Boneless loin pork chops are not that tender -- not enough fat. Adding the butter added a silkiness but did not replace real fat. I did notice that the band of fat that usually gets tough and constricts the chop was definitely tender and silky. I believe I read a recipe on Cooks Illustrated that talked about slitting the fat so it doesn't bunch up the chop.

I put back the chop and cooked for 1 more hour at 140F for a total of 3 hours. Again I tried and the meat was no different. Still a perfect medium, juicy but still too chewy. Again, I'm not blaming the technique. I was just hoping that sous vide might make my lean pork chops really tender but clearly that is more alchemy and hope than realistic.

The result -- a good pork chop but not the best I've had. My first impression of sous vide is that it is not that different, if you brine, than cooking at a steady 250F oven. My next try will be to brine longer, maybe 6 hours, in hopes that it might break down more of the protein and cook longer at 140F and not bump it up to 150F.

The night before, I took chicken breasts on the bone with skin, that had been brined for 3 hours, and after rinsing, I added salt and pepper and some EVOO and put in oven at 250F. I cooked for about 1:45. They came out wonderful. Juicy, flavorful and perfectly cooked 150F. If I was to nitpick, there was a bit of red at the bone, but no pink anywhere else.

Does using a jacard, make boneless loin pork chops any more tender? I know I won't get falling apart off the bone (there is no bone), but that getting super tender and lean pork chops would be great as I alternate between chicken and pork chops quite a bit.

Also, what difference, if any, is there between cooking 3 chops together or cooking them separately? I could see that if cooking conventionally, one chop might be thinner or smaller so cooking together might overcook the smaller piece of meat. But in sous vide, doesn't this not apply as you're cooking to a temperature and not over that temperature?



Edited by Roy Kim (log)
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Roy - I'd recommend extending the cooking time on the pork chops to try to get them tenderer... Try 8-10 hours first - it should be more tender than 2-3 hours... if not enough, keep increasing the time. I do a flank steak for 36 hours, and it comes out as tender as filet mignon. A jaccard will also help a bit...

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Interesting. I made pork tenderloin over the weekend. I did not brine, but used a spice mix and lots of sea-salt as well as a tablespoon of butter. Basically butter poached it.

I left it an 1:07 at 146f/63.5c (circulator), then I wiped off excess spice and salt and topped it with Maple/Dijon/chopped candied pecans and stuck it under a broiler for a few minutes.

That was the most tender and juicy pork I ever had (I don't eat a lot), even though I did not rest it long enough and lost a lot of juice. It seems even with low temp the resting is still important, I don't think the broiler had much impact since it was just to caramelize and firm up the maple mixture, less then 5 minutes.

For the chops, I will give this a whirl sometime this week. I don't think it should need so much time, in fact I like a bit of texture.

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I love doing pork tenderloin... but I cook my pork to 137F, which is a bit pink, and really moist and juicy... I also usually leave it in for about an hour or so... I don't really time it - I just make sure it's more than the calculated time should be... I don't brine either, but rub with a bit of s/p and some cumin... then in the bag with a couple of tablespoons of chipotle in adobo puree... At the end, I'll take the bag out of the water, slather the sauce from the bag all over the pork, then hit it with the torch... then a little more slathering, then more torch until I get a nice crust...

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Doug -

Is the flipside of that result on oxygen in the bag that botulism is likely an overstated risk?

I always assume the worst and proceed accordingly. I generally recommend either holding the food at or above 130F (54.5C) until serving or rapidly chilling it in an ice water bath (which is at least half ice) for the time listed in my guide. After rapidly chilling, the food should either be stored in the refrigerator for a few days* or (labeled and) frozen indefinitely.

* While foods cooked sous vide can be safely held at below 38F (3.3C) for three to four weeks, one study found that less than 2% of the refrigerators they tested in peoples homes remained below 41F (5C) during the entire monitoring period of their study!

My Guide: A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking, which Harold McGee described as "a wonderful contribution."

My Book: Sous Vide for the Home Cook US EU/UK

My YouTube channel — a new work in progress.

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I know it is probably too late but what I would be really interested in would be, how do I incorporate sous vide into a let's say "Gordon Ramsay makes it easy" or Jamie Oliver type of book. I want to try that 2010. Since I don't cook frequently enough I usually overcook my meats. I want to fix that with the circulator. For chicken breast and this weekends pork tenderloin as well as cheaper cuts of steak I had success.


The Thomas Keller book states you should not sous vide longer then 4 hour within the danger zone which is defined in the book as 40 to 140f. How does this go together with the 72 short rib and 8 hour pork chop?


I dropped a tablespoon of butter into my bag with the pork tenderloin and vacuumed it with the ziploc pump. The butter coated nicely the entire piece of meat once it was molten. Why would Keller waste an entire container (5KG Butter) of Beurre Monte on sous vide'ing lobster tail and not use bags if a few spoons in the bag should have done the trick?

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I dropped a tablespoon of butter into my bag with the pork tenderloin and vacuumed it with the ziploc pump. The butter coated nicely the entire piece of meat once it was molten. Why would Keller waste an entire container (5KG Butter) of Beurre Monte on sous vide'ing lobster tail and not use bags if a few spoons in the bag should have done the trick?

I can't say I know for sure, but my guess is that the answer to your question is the answer to a broader question, "We recently did actual testing and realized that the way we were taught to do things wasn't based on any good reason - So why were we doing things that way?" The answer is: tradition.

(The other factor is that Keller has a relatively insane food budget. I don't mean that he's wasteful - it's just that he doesn't have the kind of budget "stress" that would drive that kind of re-thinking.)

My guess is that Keller didn't know what Dr. M has figured out and tested - the fat doesn't/can't penetrate the meat.

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My understanding is that the current French Laundry technique for poaching a lobster tail (ie. poaching in beurre monte controlled by an immersion circulator) is a hybrid of the classic TFL technique (a traditional poach) and the technique used at Per Se in the early days (cryo-vac'd tail with small amount of butter).

As to why they've chosen to use this hybrid technique I don't know.

I do know that it's delicious.

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I dropped a tablespoon of butter into my bag with the pork tenderloin and vacuumed it with the ziploc pump. The butter coated nicely the entire piece of meat once it was molten. Why would Keller waste an entire container (5KG Butter) of Beurre Monte on sous vide'ing lobster tail and not use bags if a few spoons in the bag should have done the trick?

In the book it is explained why they do it. I'm too lazy to look it up, but they explain it in these lines. They cooked the lobster in a bag with some butter, but due to safety regulations the low temperature for shellfish was deemed unsafe and they were told to leave the poor lobsters out of the bags.

They reverted to the classical butter-poached method without an immersion circulator and felt such excitement at actually monitoring the 'doneness' of the lobsters (I'm just paraphrasing a romanticist story in the book), that from then on a big bucket of butter was used for the sake of tradition (note that the circulator was again introduced, just not the plastic bag), although the regulations were lifted. So there you go.

Edited by Jan Stoel (log)
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OMG Brisket Sous Vide


Using a Jaccard meat tenderizer, poke holes on both sides of a large brisket. Quarter the brisket into four equal-size pieces. Unless needed immediately put three of the pieces in evaluated FoodSaver bags, and store in the freezer.

Prepare a brine consisting of 1 liter of tepid water, 40 g Kosher salt, 30 g sugar, 2 tbsp crushed juniper berries, and 1 tbsp Liquid Smoke.

Score the fat side in a crisscross pattern, and soak in the brine solution in an evacuated FoodSaver marinade container in the refrigerator, for 2 to 3 hours.

Discard the marinade, and pat the brisket with paper towels, then spritz it with a olive oil pump and sear it briefly with a butane torch (or in a smoking-hot skillet, at high heat) to a light brown. (It will be seared again later, once it is though cooking.)

Cook for 48 hours at 135°F.

When cooked, remove and sear again, then finish with any desired sauce or vegetables.


Oh! My! God! Awesome!!!

I should have taken a picture after searing it, and again after slicing it, because it looked so nice. Next time, I promise.

It was a very pretty pink, perhaps on the rare side of medium-rare, and absolutely melt-in-your mouth fork tender. If I had set the table properly, I’m sure I could have cut it with a spoon.

I sliced it across the grain, like a London broil, into slices about 1/8” thick and three inches long. I didn’t serve the vegetables on top of the meat, because I wanted to taste the brisket by itself, but I did pour some of the juice from the vegetables over the meat.

In this case, I followed a recipe from Julia Child, and cut up a baking potato into slices, coated with pepper, and daubed with about 2 tbsp of butter, in a 350°F oven for a hour. After 30 minutes, I turned the potato slices, and added a white onion, cut into medium slices. 15 minutes later, I added some baby carrots (this probably should have been done earlier), and 15 minutes after that, I added 150 ml (1/2 cup) of beef broth, plus the juices drained from the sous vide brisket before searing it. I omitted the tomatoes she used, as it just didn’t seem appropriate for a medium rare dish, which I was planning.)

My initial plan was to cut up the brisket into four equal pieces, and then cook them one at a time at 135°F for 48 hours, 147°F for 48 hours (as the French Restaurant is said to use), and 176°F for 24-36 hours, as suggested by Douglas Baldwin.

But at this point, I simply can’t imagine getting a better result than the combination of 135°F for 48 hours, although I might push the temperature up to say 138°F. My wife isn’t that easy to please as regards some of my cooking experiments, but even she thought it was absolutely great.

Other recipes call for sweet and sour, barbeque sauce, etc., but I think that it would almost be sacrilegious to drown the taste and tenderness of the meat in such a way. Chacun à son goût!

I confess that I really couldn’t taste the Liquid Smoke or the juniper berries from the brining, so the next time I might try adding just a bit (perhaps 1/2 teaspoon?) of the Liquid Smoke, and some of the crushed juniper berries (maybe wrapped in a plastic sachet to keep them from being too overpowering) into the FoodSaver bag before sealing it.

All in all, it was extremely successful, and many thanks to Frank Hsu and Douglas Baldwin for blazing the trail .

Sous Vide Cooking Instructions:

I used the SousVideMagic™ 1500A controller (http://www.freshmealssolutions.com) with its attached thermometer probe, together with a 10-liter commercial rice cooker to control the temperature of the water bath. I double-checked the temperature with an All-Clad T201 thermometer, the only affordable ($50) thermometer I have found (out of the 10 or so I have tried) that agrees with my $350 calibration grade thermometer within +0.1 F, and includes a self-recalibration function for use with a distilled-water ice-bath. The temperature never varied within 0.1 degree F during all of that time.

For those who aren’t interested in buying another big pot, a simple Crock Pot will also work. The rice cooker maintains better uniformity, because it heats from the bottom instead of the sides. However, a $15 submersible pump of the type used for garden fountains (I bought mine at Home Depot) will solve that problem, and so will an aquarium bubbler. You don’t want to use one of the high-end micro-processor controlled cookers such as the All-Clad unit, because the SVM controller is going to be used to turn it on and off repeatedly.

The FoodSaver system is used to evacuate a food-safe bag and seal it so it is water tight, before immersing it in the water bath. Or you can use a chamber vacuum system, for roughly 50 times as much.

If this is your first time attempting low-temperature, long-duration cooking, be sure to pay attention to the important food safety issues. See “A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking,” by the inestimable Douglas Baldwin, http://amath.colorado.edu/~baldwind/sous-vide.html.

Good eating!


First off, hi all! This is my first post. After reading through this thread I decided to get a sous vide set up and start experimenting. I chose this as my first recipe (well the first was a strip steak just to see how it would turn out).

Since Bob didn't take a picture, here's how mine came out...


Excuse the low lighting and sub-par quality of an iPhone picture. I cooked it at 135 for 48 hours, and it was delicious. Unlike Bob I could pick out the flavor of the liquid smoke, but would definitely add more next time I make it.

Anyway, just thought I'd share. Next I'm going to attempt duck confit using foie gras instead of duck fat. I'll post how that turns out.

Edited by therippa (log)
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It sounds exciting but at 1500 pages of self published technical data sounds like it could be expensive.

The book project is coming along very well.

I know there will be people who will be upset about the price. I'm interested in getting feedback on this...

You can put me down for a copy also. Hopefully I can give it to myself as a Christmas present next year. :)

Larry Lofthouse

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Skinless, boneless chicken thighs were my first sous vice experiment. I used a package of four small chicken thighs, each less than an inch thick.

As preparation, I froze extra virgin olive oil in small containers, each with about a tablepoon of oil. (I found a bag of 250 3/4-ounce Solo cups at a local restaurant supply store and a bag of 100 lids, all for $5.) I roasted a garlic bulb (20 minutes at 400°F). I picked some fresh rosemary and chopped the leaves. I cut thin slices of Meyer lemon.

Then I rinsed the chicken thighs, cut off extra fat, seasoned with salt, pepper and rosemary. Then I bagged each with a Meyer lemon slice, a clove of roasted garlic and a glob of frozen olive oil.

Since this was my first time cooking sous vide, I tried an experiment. Two of the thighs were bagged individually in 1-quart Ziploc vacuum bags. The other two thighs shared a single 1-quart bag.

I pumped air out of the three bags to flatten them, then dropped them in my brand-new Sous Vide Supreme, which was set for 146°F. I knew from reading and re-reading Douglas Baldwin's informative "A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking" that these would cook in less than an hour at that temperature, but they could stay in the bath for hours without harm.

I left them in for about an hour and a half while I made mashed sweet potatoes as an accompaniment.

The results were pretty wonderful, but instructive.

I flash-cooled the two individual bags for future consumption and fished out the bag with two thighs.

Without thinking, I poured off the juices that accumulated in the bag.

Mine was evenly done and tasty. My wife's was not evenly done -- parts of the thigh were clearly still rare. I think the bag may have floated to the surface, or else an air bubble in the bag shielded one thigh from water contact.

The rosemary seasoning was evident and very nice, as was the touch of lemon. Neither of us could taste the garlic.

Next time I do this, I plan to use more roasted garlic cloves. I'll fuss more to make sure the food is in full contact with the water bath. I won't pour off the juices, but will use them to make a sauce to mask the beige-colored meat.

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I'm surprised that the rosemary came through but not the garlic. My small amount of experience with aromatic herbs in vacuum is that they don't work. In my case it was using fresh dill over salmon in a gravlax cure under vacuum. The cure worked fine, but the dill didn't come through. Note however, that Douglas warns against using garlic in sous vide. Though that might only apply to raw garlic.

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The reason the roasted garlic didn't impart much garlic flavor is because roasted garlic has a very mild flavor to begin with because all the pungent chemicals have been neutralized. If you want to impart more of a traditional strong garlic flavor to your SV preparations, there are a few things you can do: The easiest is just to use a high quality granulated or powdered garlic. Or, if this isn't to your aesthetic liking, you could cook some minced garlic until just beginning to turn golden in a little bit of fat, cool that down and add it to the bag.


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You're right that roasted garlic is too mild to assert itself in this application. The next day I cooked chicken thighs in mustard-dill-worcester sauce and added for or five roasted garlic cloves in each sous vide packet. The result was quite tasty, but the garlic was not noticeable.

Again with this batch, some of the thighs were not cooked through, though I checked their placement in the bath quite carefully. I think 146° F is not quite enough heat.

Yesterday I set out to read this entire thread to learn lots more and to try to avoid rehashing old topics. I made it through page 15. Today I'm gunning for 16-30. :smile:

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Just to be clear, you are either (i) vacuum sealing one thigh per pouch or (ii) vacuuming sealing several thighs in each pouch, but ensuring that they are in a single layer. You are then using the rack in the sous vide supreme (with the slots parallel to the counter) to hold the sealed pouches so they are not touching each other and are completely submerged under the water. And, you only start the cooking time after the water bath has beeped to tell you that the temperature has returned to the set point of 146F (63.5C). Moreover, have you checked the calibration of your water bath by setting it to 100F (37C), waiting 20--30 minutes after it beeps that it has reached the set temperature, and then measuring the temperature of the water with an oral thermometer?

All that said, I prefer to my chicken legs (thighs and drumsticks) cooked confit style --- 175F (80C) for 8--10 hours. Also, I typically cook by chicken breasts at 140F (60C) for at least 2 hours.

And yes, I was referring to raw garlic cloves. Roasted garlic can be used, but (as mentioned above) is quite mild. Most the time, I do not place anything in the pouch with the protein (meat, poultry, fish) and then just make a flavorful sauce to spoon/pour over the top after I sear the meat or poultry (usually in a smoking hot skillet). If I do use garlic in the pouch, I do exactly as slkinsey said --- I use powdered garlic or garlic which has been cooked in oil until it is golden brown and fragrant.

My Guide: A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking, which Harold McGee described as "a wonderful contribution."

My Book: Sous Vide for the Home Cook US EU/UK

My YouTube channel — a new work in progress.

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Has anyone tried to cook oatmeal / porridge sous-vide?

I am a big fan of oatmeal who has found that the best, custardy oatmeal takes a long time to cook (45 minutes using pre-soaked oats). Without a thermomix (I don't have one) this process requires constant stirring, which deters me from cooking oatmeal as often as I would like. I am however set up for sous vide cooking, which seems to me might provide a stir-free solution. And porridge at perfect temperature! Has anyone out there tried it? Can anyone suggest a starting point for experimentation in terms of temperature, time, or liquid - oat ratio? I assume I can overcome the liquid-in-the-foodsaver issue somehow, perhaps by using the oats as my buffer between the liquid and the vaccuum outlet.

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