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French Butchers and Preparing for Sous Vide


bleudauvergne
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Not long ago, a woman in front of me at the butcher shop asked for her purchase to be sealed up for sous vide. Apparently he is equipped for this and will seal it up if you ask. I hadn't known that my butcher offered this service. Can anyone tell me how common this is? I know that at the fois gras shops in Les Halles, they do this for you if you ask, but I'd never seen it at the butcher.

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Here in Barcelona vacuum packing machines are becoming more common in market stalls.

I tend to go do my shopping at the Boqueria market once a week, and then if anything is needed during the week I either go to Sant Antoni or El Ninot. Vacuum machines are less common in the "cheaper" Boqueria and Sant Antoni, but the majority of butchers have them now at the pricer El Ninot.

I've asked my butcher there to seal meat sous vide for me a few times, although I feel a bit silly handing him the aromatics and salt. :blush:

We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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Do you really bring your seasonings to add to the packet?  I have considered it.

Well, the butcher happens to be argentinian (as I am), I buy mostly argie cuts from him, and so that helped a bit :).

We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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As Jack said, there's a difference between sealing a product sous vide for storing it a bit longer and for cooking it sous vide. My assumption has always been that few people take the package home and cook the meat in it. I've had shops seal dried sausage and ham as well as hard cured cheeses. I'm not convinced it's really a good idea for the cheese, though. We had an amazing andouille not long ago that arrived sealed sous vide. They are usually eaten sliced cold, but the Breton who arrived with the sausage intended for us to make a hot meal of it. It was taken out of the package and "cooked" in hot water with potatoes. I'm getting off topic, but the sous vide sealing was simply a packing method. Heating the andouille sous vide might have preserved even more of the flavor.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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As Jack said, there's a difference between sealing a product sous vide for storing it a bit longer and for cooking it sous vide. My assumption has always been that few people take the package home and cook the meat in it.

My only concern when asking the butcher to vacuum pack meat for cooking is that the bags he uses are probably the storage type and not the cooking one. They are recommended for different temperature ranges, afaik.

We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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Sous vide just means vacuum-packed. Many meats you buy here in Switzerland do come sous-vide but you can't use the bag to cook in because it will pop and leak. (I have tried..even at low temperatures)

Here in German-speaking Switzerland, most cuts of meat come packed in a styrofoam tray or plastic container which allows air to contact the meat, so if I want to freeze a piece of meat, I ask if it can be vacuum-packed, because it insures you will not encounter freezer-burn, but I don't cook in it.

However, there are some cuts of smoked pork like Schaufele, Rippli and Rollschinken that are sold in a special, very heavy-duty vacuum-packed plastic bags that are specifically designed to be cooked in.

Generally speaking, I think the concept of cooking sous-vide with anything besides smoked pork is rather new and rare in many parts of Europe. I certainly have never seen any of my Swiss family use this method.

That having been said...it seems that all of my "cutting-edge" Swiss cooking colleagues seem to have invested several hundred bucks in heavy duty vacuum machines and scientific water baths with painstaking accurate temperature controls... having tasted the outcome of these experiments, all I can say is.... I am more than open-minded to this process! :)

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  • 2 weeks later...
. . . We had an amazing andouille not long ago that arrived sealed sous vide. They are usually eaten sliced cold, but the Breton who arrived with the sausage intended for us to make a hot meal of it. It was taken out of the package and "cooked" in hot water with potatoes. I'm getting off topic, but the sous vide sealing was simply a packing method. Heating the andouille sous vide might have preserved even more of the flavor.

andouille.jpg click

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I asked the butcher about cooking in the pouch and he said that it is just for packing and not for cooking.  Boy that andouillette looks deliious!

Lucy, this might be taking it a bit too far, but since you already have a good relationship with your butcher, why not take your own cooking-safe vacuum bags? They are pretty inexpensive, and might be a good solution.

We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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The local French butcher already thinks I am a mad Englishwoman. Just to confirm his worse suspicions I am going to ask him for something "sous vide" tomorrow, and take along a marinade - howabout veal escalopes and a lemon vinegar/garlic/shallot/olive oil mix, with the last of the fresh thyme thrown in?

I think that magret and some fois gras lobes are routinely sold sous vide in supermarkets here in south west France. Am I right?

There is a butcher in south west London that sells sous vide with superb marinades...I remember a juniper based gamey one and one heavily laden with apricot - leg of lamb perhaps.

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. . . .

I think that magret and some fois gras lobes are routinely sold sous vide in supermarkets here in south west France.  Am I right? 

There is a butcher in  south west London that sells sous vide with superb marinades...I remember a juniper based gamey one and one heavily laden with apricot  - leg of lamb perhaps.

Remenber that the meat may be vacuum packed solely for better preservation and that unless it specifically says it may be used for cooking, you probably shouldn't use it that way. It may not stand up to the temperature and it may be unsafe to heat food in that package.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Yes, please heed Bux's remarks about the cooking.

The local French butcher already thinks I am a mad Englishwoman.  Just to confirm his worse suspicions I am going to ask him for something "sous vide" tomorrow, and take along a marinade - howabout veal escalopes and a lemon vinegar/garlic/shallot/olive oil mix, with the last of the fresh thyme thrown in?

I think that magret and some fois gras lobes are routinely sold sous vide in supermarkets here in south west France.  Am I right? 

There is a butcher in  south west London that sells sous vide with superb marinades...I remember a juniper based gamey one and one heavily laden with apricot  - leg of lamb perhaps.

Bourdelaise, the juniper based marinade for a leg of lamb is very good - I take it (and my laziness) one step further and marinate the leg with green Charteuse periodically over two or three days, and pierce it with slivered garlic along with the grain of the meat to make sure you don't lose the juices when you cook it. I give it a good smear of duck fat and a corse salting and spin it on the broche (rotisserie). We did this just before Christmas. In winter, served with white beans with whatever aromatics I've got hanging in the kitchen, this is one of my favorite special meals for guests, one they won't forget. Remember to catch the drippings and make a sauce... If you get it sous vide with Chartreuse, you might only have to use about a half cup!

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These comments call to mind a recipe from the 1976 nouvelle cuisine cookbook by Michel Guerard that wrapped a rolled veal scallop and herbs in saran wrap/cling film into a tightly wrapped bundle, then steamed it. The veal needed little fat to cook, the juices stayed in the plastic wrap and a short sauce was made with a bit of butter and the juice. Perhaps a low-tech way on the preparation end, steaming rather than boiling, and the plastic wrap survived very nicely. What goes around comes around- again.

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