A night with ladies of easy virtue was on the wishlist, but a close second was a sous vide appliance. James wanted to get me a BMX. OK, only the last one was true. I was happy with a pair of trainers and a new Global knife.
Sous vide, or not to sous vide? Well, this was decided for me as a gift from friends and colleagues in the ED who very kindly bought me an appliance for my, ahem, four zero commiserations.
I’ve been discussing the technique for a while and not been overly convinced of it’s utility in a domestic setting where time is not a cost. In a restaurant, these can be precooked in their cryovac bags and hatched at convenience for the addition of flavour by searing to produce the flavours via Maillard reactions that tickle our umami taste buds. I’ve always felt 3hrs on a spit roast will produce a complexity that can’t be reached with 60 seconds in a pan, and is why a $15 chicken from Coles or Woolies tastes bloody good (even if the texture is shit). Interestingly the technique was developed in the States as an industrial food preparation method but first described by a British American, Count Mumford, in 1799. Awesome catch up by the chefs.
However, never to be totally bigoted and open to new ideas, here we go.
This is a slice through the middle section of sheer beef porn. A 7.5kg hunk of Wagyu rump. When our eyes met through the fridge door at Meat Direct, it was love at first sight. There was no way this was going to another home. So for the barbecue, I hacked off about half of this through the night and cooked it to varying states of rawness for the unitiated. Some people got medium…..
The next day, after my liver became somewhat fatted, it seemed rude to not try this sous vide. So, in it went at 50C for 1 hour, and then seared on the smoking hot electric ridged griddle. No chips (my gall bladder would resign), just plain boiled potatoes, salsa verde (parsley, shallot chives, mustard, cider vinegar and olive oil), roast shallots, cooked rocket (super peppery). The Yalumba signature 2008 (Cab/Shiraz), $60 from Vintage Cellars, was very, very good indeed.
Having roasted a kilo or so of shallots whole, it seemed a waste to ignore all the delicious sugary exudate (Maillard++) on the skins, so I swilled the skins in some water to dissolve this and boiled the mixture down with some (a lot, 100ml) balsamic vinegar to have as a condiment with the beef. It didn’t quite work as I think a huge amount of tannin got extracted from the skin. However, this leads to part 2 of sous vide, RABBIT.
Now if you Google sous vide rabbit, you get a lot of poor write ups. So no useful advice there. I decided to go with the chicken advice and cook for 2.5 hr at 82C. I jointed the rabbit into 6 (chest with front legs/ saddle and rear legs, all cleavered in half), and poured into the bags a few tablespoons of my balsamic/ shallot reduction. My aim here was to lose the tannins by polymerisation through cooking which is what happens in wine over years; the heavey sediment on a good wine (as The Signature, above, was developing at the bottle shoulder).
However, upon opening the next day, it was a rubbery bit of leather, so in it went again, this time overnight for 7.5 hours, at 82C again. We’ll see, yet to open……
Pumpkin and saffron risotto
Rosella and quince jam
Lamb, butterbean stew with crust