Monday, February 27, 2012

Sous-Vide New York Strip

Here at Griller Instinct, we typically discuss the finer points of, well, grilling.  My friend John, however, has been talking up the sous-vide method of cooking: what it is, why someone would do it, and the fact that it's not as hard as I'd always imagine. 

Since John was kind enough to both teach me abou sous-vide and lend me some of the equipment necessary to do the cooking, I wanted to pass my experience along in kind.

What is sous-vide?

The simplest way to define sous-vide may be to refer to its French meaning, “under vacuum.” Anything associated with a vacuum machine is sous-vide. In restaurants, the sous-vide process usually (but not always) consists of:
  • placing products into impervious plastic bags
  • putting those bags under vacuum
  • heat sealing those bags
  • releasing the vacuum
  • further manipulating, processing, or storing

For our purposes, we had Stew the butcher vacuum seal five NY Strip steaks.  I placed them in a water bath and set a water circulator to 128 degrees, then let them "cook" in the water bath for 4 hours.  If I were to make the steaks again, I would have made the bath 130 degrees, so learn from my soue-vide mistakes.

Why would someone do this?

I see two uses for doing this at home: first,  the end results have a unique texture.  In the case of the steaks, the texture is unusual because the meat sits in the water bath for four hours, they turn out very tender.

The second reason you might want to try sous-vide is its precise temperature control.  I set the water bath to 128 (rare) and no matter how long I leave it in there the steaks won't over cook.

Can I do this at home?

Only if you have a water circulator.  You also will need access to a vacuum sealer (and I was lucky enough to have Stew vacuum seal my steaks).

After the steaks were in the water bath for four hours, I removed them from the plastic wrap and seared each side for on minute, on a screaming hot cast iron skillet (600+ degrees).

I let the steaks rest for five minutes and they came out great.

I poured the remaining juices that were left in the bag into a pan, added red wine, and reduced it for a sauce.

Do you like Chemistry?  If so, here is some good info on cooking sous-vide.  I would say sous-vide is 50% Chemistry 50% cooking, but 100% delicious.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Vermont Ski Weekend

We took Griller Instinct on location to Mount Snow, in West Dover, Vermont last weekend and though the weather has not been favorable this skiing season, we've managed to keep the food top-rate.

To ensure our food had a nice rustic touch to it, we cooked over an open wood fire, reducing some logs over an old Weber grill, down to embers.  This takes some extra time, but it's worth the effort, with the process taking about 90 minutes for 8 logs.

Once started, the fire becomes very hot! So hot, in fact, that it became tough to stand near it and the steaks cooked quickly. "But, Neil, how thick should my steaks be?" is something I'm sure you're asking yourself, and after much trial and error, I can tell you that I had my butcher cut my meats to 1 and 3/4 inch thickness.  All you need is a little salt, pepper and olive oil, and these steaks can cook in 9 and 1/2 minutes on a hot grill.

And, of course no lodge dinner wouldbe complete without a few sides.  To start, we made reduced onions, made with with five thickly sliced Vidalia onions placed in a big pot, with Olive oil in the bottom.  Cook this on the stove at medium low for about an hour until the onions reduce, the liquid boils out and they caramelize.  Then, they are ready to be served on top of the steak.

Then there is our easy Creamed Spinach.  Defrost three boxes of frozen spinach and put in a dish towel.  Squeeze as much water out as possible.  Add the spinach to a pan with about 2 cups of heavy cream, 2 tablespoons butter and some salt and pepper.  Cook this on the stove until it hot and thick.

Lastly, we rounded it out with Shrimp in a Boil Bag.  We intended to make it with garlic but someone forgot to buy some, so we audibled to lime and butter.  So, one pound of shell on shrimp, 3 tablespoons of butter,  lime juiced, salt and pepper.  Wrap in foil and grill for 5 minutes on a side.  One man's mistake is another man's tasty side dish!

Check out the video: