Will It Be Sous Vide? Three Whole Meals in a Bag

Hello everyone and welcome back toWill It Sous Vide? , a weekly column that I do all the crazy (edible) things you want with my immersion circulator.

The topic chosen this week (suggested by Antiphase) was an interesting challenge with a lot of moving parts and I think it went very well.

As you can see from his commentary, Antiphase did have a lot of great suggestions, which served as a great starting point for me. To be honest, I could play with this theme for a few months , but a line needs to be drawn, so I settled on three recipes. I used the ChefSteps Sous Vide Time and Temperature Guide as a template to choose which vegetables and side dishes to pair with the proteins. Based on this, I built three recipes, some more successful than others, but all educational. We study together.

Lesson 1: use fruits instead of vegetables when cooking proteins at a lower temperature

I like the sous vide pork chop, but I like mine cooked to a medium-rare 144 degrees Fahrenheit (yes, it’s a little pink, but USDA says it’s okay ), making it a poor candidate for pairing with tougher, more fibrous vegetables. Based on this nifty ChefStpes chart, I knew I needed to select plant parts that would either taste good, a little undercooked, or work well at a lower cooking temperature. While scrolling through the manual, I noticed a small section called “fruits.”

Fortunately, fruit gets “warm and ripe” at 154 degrees Fahrenheit, which, while slightly above the target pork chop temperature, is much closer to our cooking temperature than the 185 degrees needed to cook potatoes or broccoli. I settled on two fruits and carbohydrates: tomatoes, bell peppers ( peel first to make them silky ), and corn (because corn tastes good raw).

Pork chop Sous Vide with corn, bell pepper and cherry tomatoes

Ingredients (for 1 serving):

  • 1 pork chop with bone
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 bell pepper, peeled, seeded and cut into strips
  • 1 corn cob, kernels removed and discarded ears
  • 1 handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil

Set the submersible circulation pump to 144 degrees Fahrenheit. Season pork chop liberally with salt and pepper and sprinkle with ground ginger on both sides. Place in a gallon zip freezer bag of vegetables and drizzle with sesame oil. Squeeze air out of the bag by immersion in water and let it simmer for an hour.

Pros: The pork chop was perfectly cooked and juicy all over, although – as with all meats that are cooked this way – I had to brown it a little to get it a little bright. The bell peppers were silky and juicy, the corn was warm but crunchy, and the tomatoes were sweet and about to burst. There was a delicious meal. It was all very easy to prepare and took only five minutes to prepare.

Cons: While the vegetables were good, they would be even better if they had some charcoal on them.

Bottom line: Overall, it was delicious food. I’ll do it again in the future, but I’ll definitely finish off the tomatoes, peppers, and corn in a super hot skillet for a minute to give them a little color and make everything a lot tastier.

Lesson 2: A spiralizer is your friend, but broccoli is not.

The next protein I wanted to target was chicken, especially chicken thighs. To keep them from falling off the bones, ChefSteps recommends cooking them at 167 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes to 5 hours. Given the longer cooking times, I thought now would be a good time to try the tougher additions, namely courgettes (in a spiral so they cook faster), carrots and broccoli. I used butter and duck lard to make a super-rich sack sauce. (But let’s never use the term “bag sauce” again.)

Sous Vide Chicken Thighs with Spiral Butternut Gourd, Purple Carrots and Broccolini

Ingredients (for 2 servings):

  • 2 Chicken thighs with bones and skin
  • 2 cups or spiral pumpkin noodles
  • 4 stalks of broccolini
  • 1 large purple carrot (or whatever carrot you like), diced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons duck fat
  • 2 sage leaves
  • 1 sprig of rosemary

Set the submersible circulation pump to 167 degrees Fahrenheit. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and set aside. Arrange zucchini, broccolini, and carrots in a 1 gallon zip freezer bag. Add chicken thighs, butter, duck fat, sage, and rosemary to the bag and submerge to remove excess air. Cook for 1 hour. Then remove the chicken, skin and chop the meat. Place the zucchini and vegetables in a bowl and top with the chicken.

Pros: After an hour, the pumpkin was soft and sweet, but still slightly tasty, and the chicken was moist and well done. This was great news as it meant that artificial zucchini noodles and chicken thighs were ideal sous vide partners and would work well as a base for other dishes from the same package.

Cons: The carrots were still quite crunchy (which some of you may like) and the broccolini was too moist. That was nice, but I don’t like eating broccoli that is fried to the point that it almost burns. I tried to increase the cooking time to two hours to soften the carrots even more, but the pumpkin started to soften and the broccolini got even wetter. (The chicken was still good though.)

Conclusion: If you’re not a fan of boiled broccoli, I wouldn’t be looking at it at all, but I’m a big fan of pumpkin noodles, especially when paired with juicy chicken thighs. If you really feel like carrots, I recommend slicing them into ribbons or shredding them if you don’t like crunchy carrots. What’s more, you can slice the chicken into zucchini and fry the other two for the best of all worlds.

Lesson 3: Plant Proteins Are Prepared Like Plants

Not all proteins have to be meat proteins, and it just so happens that tofu-su has a temperature very close to that of most vegetables (180 degrees Fahrenheit versus 185 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively). Since it’s cooked at such a high temperature, I thought this was a good time to try the potatoes, and using this recipe from Anova’s website as a starting point, I added some corn and sugar peas for good measure.

Sous Vide Turmeric Tofu with Potatoes, Corn and Sugar Peas

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pack super hard tofu
  • About 15 fry (or other small waxy potatoes), cut into thin coins
  • About 20 pieces of sugar peas
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 corn cob, kernels removed and discarded
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • Sumac for garnish

Slice the tofu into 1/2-inch boards and place them on a baking sheet lined with a tea towel. Place another towel on top of the tofu, cover with another baking sheet, and place a heavy object on top. Leave it on for half an hour, or longer if you have time. Set the immersion thermostat to 180 degrees and cut the pressed tofu into cubes. Add tofu, vegetables, and garlic to a 1 gallon zip freezer bag and pour olive oil over everything. Season with salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with turmeric and shake the bag well to distribute the oil and seasonings evenly. Submerge in a water bath to release air and cook for two hours. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with sumac.

Pros: An hour later, the potatoes were still a little crispy, but the tofu and sugar came in handy, assuming you like soft tofu and the sugar cubes are still pretty quick. I was a little worried that lengthening the cooking time would have a detrimental effect on the tofu and the peas, but I’m happy to report that they just lingered just fine for an extra hour, which is how long it took to cook the potatoes. Oh, the corn was great too.

Cons: Again, I missed browning, so I tossed everything in a super hot cast iron skillet for a couple of minutes to color and the tofu to harden a little. Technically it was “cheating” but I don’t care because it tasted better.

Bottom line: I liked the seasoning for this dish and really liked how the vegetables turned out, but I didn’t like the texture of the tofu without additional toasting. If you don’t mind soft tofu, you can be completely satisfied with it as it is.

Returning to this age-old question: will there be a whole meal in a sous vide bag?

Answer: Yes, but you must choose your components wisely. Parts of the plant that are technically fruit, such as tomatoes and bell peppers, are good candidates for pairing with proteins that are cooked at lower temperatures, and small dicing, dicing, and spiraling can shorten the cooking time of tougher root vegetables and courgettes. I wouldn’t mess with broccoli, Brussels sprouts, or any other vegetable that gets disgusting when cooked, but that might be a matter of personal preference. (I think some people like boiled sprouts, although I’ve never met them and certainly don’t understand them.) Also, although it adds an extra step unrelated to sous-video, allowing you to quickly fry everything in a hot skillet. will really elevate your one-bag lunch from “decent” to “I’d cook and eat this again,” and that’s the whole point of it all.

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