The Sous Vide Cheeseburger Project

July 5, 2013

So, as many of you know, I was the co-Founder of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters.

In the last 10 years, the phenomenon of Sous Vide, or thermostatically controlled water bath cooking, has caught on like wildfire, much of it due to the popularity of a massive set of discussions on eGullet about it.

Despite this massive amount of discussion about Sous Vide, I had no interest in the subject for the longest time.

In fact, I felt it was so geeky and so elitist and pretentious that the only way I was really interested in enjoying food cooked using this method was in fine restaurants, which could afford the expensive thermostatically controlled water circulators ($1000+) and had the need to utilize it for large-scale cooking efforts, for which the technique and the technology was originally designed.

But as with any technology, price does come down. And in the 10 years since the original eGullet threads started, microprocessor-controlled Sous Vide cooking systems have dropped down in price dramatically.

How cheap? How about $99 for the Dorkfood Sous Vide controller now sold on Amazon, combined with a cheap hot plate/cheap rice cooker or an electric crockpot and a package of Zip-Lok bags?

I was sent the Dorkfood controller to review by the manufacturer — I’ll have a more technical write up on ZDNet about it shortly.

But let’s get to the meat of the matter: Anyone with the willingness to do so can now cook Sous Vide, with minimal skill, budget and debugging required.

First of all, why would you want to Sous Vide anything? Well, the advantage is that you can cook a vegetable or a protein to its finished cooking temperature. Once it reaches that temperature, it is perfectly cooked. Because you are cooking it in a sealed bag in a water bath controlled by a computer, you have no loss of juices and the meat does not dry out.

The flavors using this process are absolutely intensified because you are cooking the meat in its own juices.

While Sous Vide is often used for extremely expensive cuts of beef, fish, seafood and poultry to cook right “on point” like the guys on Top Chef do, you can also use it to make the juiciest rare cheeseburger known to man.

And if that isn’t worth forgiving me for using a fancy French technique on the 4th of July to cook an All-American Cheeseburger, I don’t know what is.

You want to make one of these? Follow my lead, young Sous Vide padawans. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

Read the rest of this entry »

Get Ready for Tomato Day

August 3, 2008

Heirloom Tomatoes

Tomato Day at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morristown

Next Sunday is Tomato day at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morristown. Rachel and I went last year to the event (see pictures above) and we learned an awful lot about our favorite fruit. But best of all, you get to taste all kinds of heirloom tomatoes. The event is run in cooperation with Slow Food of New Jersey.

Lovers of Lycopersicon esculentum, take note! We’ll be sampling numerous cultivars and learning from experts how to grow them and save their seeds. A variety of talks, walks and demonstrations are offered throughout the afternoon. Cooking demonstrations sponsored by Slow Food NJ will be presented for a small fee on a first-come basis. Slow Food NJ is a part of an international organization committed to celebrating and sustaining the agricultural and culinary traditions of people around the world. The New Jersey chapters work to connect earth-friendly farmers, food producers, and chefs with New Jersey palates by spreading awareness and nurturing appreciation of healthy, locally-grown food. Celebrate the love-apple!