Among the many other non-writing talents I hone regularly (demolition man, do it yourselfer, photographer, scuba diver, husband, etc) I also cook. All the time. And I like to try new techniques because I can get bored by my own cooking rather quickly, even though Mrs Thomson, the beneficiary of my culinary efforts, never seems to get bored. I suppose not having to do the work yourself makes one more appreciative. Over the non-snowy seasons, I tend to use my gas grill and charcoal smoker/cooker rather frequently, but even with the best of intentions and slow cooking techniques, one can only get so far in producing cuts of meat that are suitably charred on the outside and juicily tender on the inside.
Enter sous-vide cooking.
I recently acquired the means to carry-out sous-vide cooking by purchasing an immersion circulator. It wasn’t exactly inexpensive, but then, I do tend to take my food seriously enough that my doctor noticed (that means I need to lose some weight!). The technique is simple. Season the meat, seal it in bag with all the air removed and immerse it in water at a given temperature for ‘x’ amount of time. Once that’s done, sear it briefly with an open flame (grill, bbq or propane torch) and serve. So far, I’ve tried it with steak, pork chops, chicken breast, salmon and haddock. The steaks turned out medium rare from edge to edge, superbly tender with the tough parts mostly dissolved, the fish buttery and moist to the point of almost dissolving on the tongue and the pork chops moister than I’ve ever achieved. Only the chicken didn’t profit as much from sous-vide, but that stands to reason. Chicken breast is lean and tender to begin with. Tonight I’ll try lamb loin chops and tomorrow, wild boar medallions.
Eventually, I’ll tackle the more difficult cuts of meat, such as beef back ribs, which need to spend two days (yes 48 hours!) in the sous-vide bath to dissolve the tough connecting tissues and turn into something closer to fall off the bone tender. Pork ribs are on the horizon as well, although I’ve pretty much perfected my technique to slow cook those in the oven or smoke them on the Big Green Egg. One of the techniques I’ve read about was to smoke the ribs for an hour or so to get the flavor going and then place them in the sous-vide immersion. Things to try.
My editor has promised me that I’ll see her comments on Like Stars in Heaven by the end of the long weekend, i.e. in the next 48 hours or so. In the meantime, the first draft of Howling Stars stands at more than 40% completed and will possibly hit the 50% mark by Monday.
If all goes well, Siobhan Dunmoore’s third adventure will be published in August and the fourth Zack Decker sometime mid-autumn, say October. Three books in 2016! Not bad for my first year as full-time scribbler.
Instant Update: the sous-vide lamb loin chops were, hands down, the best I’ve ever eaten. Moist, tender, evenly cooked, flavourful. Delightful!