Thursday, 23 January 2014

Torch it.

I know I bang on about sous vides but they are to cooking in the 21st century what microwaves were to the 20th. Time and money saving devices that, when used correctly, can be a boon to both budget and taste. How many of us have used our microwave to soften butter ready for a sponge rather than killing ourselves trying to soften fridge bricks of butter and creaming it into sugar?

Sure, the sous vide is not cheap. You can pick up a basic model from Robert Dyas for £99 but, if you want a comfortable new machine for the kitchen then you need to invest around £250 on something like a sous vide supreme home machine. Trust me, used properly, it will pay for itself.

This weekend I happened to spot a rolled and boned half lamb shoulder at the supermarket at a greatly reduced price of £2.84. Purchased and brought home it went into a vac pac bag (these machines are around £50 but, again, save a fortune as you vac pack cooked meats etc.). Along with the lamb I put a sprig of rosemary, thyme, some basil and the peel of a clementine. I added two star anise pods and a touch of olive oil (just a teaspoon). The sous vide was set at 54C and in went the bag for 24 hours or so. Tonight, I took out this raw looking package.

Once cut open, the kitchen was flooded with a rich aroma of orange and herbs. I removed the herbs and peel and was left with this unappetising lump.

Now, the secret of sous vide, browning. You can either brown the meat by searing in a very hot pan before cooking or, as I am getting to prefer, searing the meat post sous vide with either a very hot skillet or, as in this case, by using a good blowtorch. After just a minute or two under a flame that can melt silver the slightly more appetising result:

Perfectly cooked lamb that was tasty, tender and pink. After the addition of a vegetables cooked off in the 20th century cooking revolution you have a hot and tasty meal in minutes (I don't count the long and hot bath in the sous vide as cooking time) .

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