Sous vide, French for ‘under vacuum’, was first brought into practice for restaurant use in 1974, when chef Georges Pralus was searching for a new way to cook foie gras. His aim was to lose as little fat – and therefore, flavor – as possible during cooking, and he found that the best way of achieving this was to seal the liver in plastic and poach it at a precise temperature. Since then, sous vide cooking has been adopted by leading chefs around the world, and now, with more professional kitchen equipment becoming available at affordable prices, home cooks are able to experiment too.
How Does Sous Vide Cooking Work?
In sous vide cooking, food is sealed in a heat-proof plastic bag, and the air is removed. The package is then cooked in circulating hot water at a precise temperature, enabling it to cook evenly throughout. There are various appliances designed for sous vide cooking at home, spanning immersion circulators and water baths, but all allow you to cook the food to a precise temperature while preserving the flavor, some of which is lost in traditional cooking methods. The food cooks in its own juices, producing moist, tender results with an even consistency, an effect difficult to achieve through grilling, frying or baking. Meat and fish cooked in this way is then removed from the packaging and seared to enhance flavor, aroma and appearance.
What Can You Cook Sous Vide?
Meat and fish are the first things people tend to associate with sous vide cooking, and certainly the precision and flavor preservation lend themselves well to these ingredients. However, sous vide is not limited to these foods, and can produce perfect, restaurant-quality eggs and a range of vegetable dishes too. Sous vide carrots are reported to be amongst the most carroty carrots you can get, and a simple glaze can produce a show-stopping side for any dish.
Sous Vide Glazed Carrots
You will need:
- 1 pound of whole baby carrots,
- 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter,
- 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar,
- 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley,
- freshly ground black pepper and
- half a teaspoon of salt.
- Preheat your sous vide cooker to 183°F, and seal the carrots in a vacuum bag with the butter, sugar and salt.
- Cook the carrots in the water bath for about an hour, at which point they should be tender.
- Remove the carrots and their liquid from the bag, and cook over a high heat in a cast iron skillet for two minutes, stirring constantly, until the liquid has reduced to a glaze.
- If the glaze becomes greasy, add a small amount of water. Season the carrots with salt, pepper and parsley, and serve.
Once reserved for high-end professional kitchens, sous vide is becoming increasingly popular amongst home cooks, and delivers consistent, flavorful food every time. Best of all, it’s easy to produce restaurant-quality meals with very little effort.