Souvide (pronounced: S’ew- veed) Cooking/Heating

            I was not familiar with this method at all before we started the kitchen.  Essentially the method involves seasoning your item to be cooked, putting it in a zip-lock bag and then immersing it in water to cook in the bag.  The essential components to cooking are time and temperature, so those control over those two details are critical to get the desired effect.

The way to achieve this control is by using a Souvide Circulator.  There are non-commercial ones available locally (in Amherst, N.S.) and that’s what we use.   The circulator has a heating element, an impeller, and a timer.  The way it’s used is to fill a heat-proof container with water, place the circulator in the water.  Set the desired time and temperature.  The heating element raises the water temperature to the desired cooking or heating or reheating temperature and then tells you the temperature is ready.  You drop-in the ziplocked, seasoned food, and then leave it in the water until the desired time has passed. E.G. 165 Degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour to cook a steak to X.

Souvide cooked food has intense flavour.  The food with the seasoning in the bag cooks in its own juice.  There is little or no juice evaporated because it is trapped in the bag.  There is little or no effect from air, since most is squeezed from the bag before cooking.  Intense.  A meat cooked to the exact temperature to be done perfectly, and no more, means it’s exactly perfect.  It cannot cook to a higher temperature than the water (internally), so it will never be overcooked.  The texture is sometimes different from what we’re used to, because no juice has been lost.  In order to get any type of outer texture (like crispy), the cooked food has to be seared (in a pan) in order to crisp-up the outside.  It’s fascinating, and a very useful tool

            We use our Souvide Circulators to reheat and hold our vacuum-packed cooked foods at the right temperature.  We use boiled water (boiled on the stove in a pot) and add it to a heat-proof container.  The heat-proof (in our case lexan) container is on a cutting board or trivet so as to not lose heat.  The Souvide circulator is turned on to 165 degrees Fahrenheight for an hour.  The food is placed in the container, and in one hour the food is up to and holding 165 Degrees Fahrenheit.  We then turn the temperature down to 145 degrees Fahrenheight, to hold.  The food cooks ever so slowly (almost not at all) in the bag so it can be served (at 145 degrees) for a long time without modifying the quality of the food, since it has not been exposed to air and it will not cook to a greater temperature. – that’s why sometimes you see us take food (in a bag) out of the circulation container to serve it.

Home-warming our vacuum-packed food in the bag works very similar.  If you have bought a vacuum-packed product from us, it’s in a food-grade plastic that is safe for heating.  Put a pot of water on the stove, turn the dial to ‘7’, and put the food in the pot.  In 15 minutes, the food will be hot-enough to eat.  The water should be just shy of a boil.  Why do we say ‘not a boil’?  Many people think ‘boil in a bag’ is a way to cook.  We’re not sure where that comes from but we’re looking.  If the pot (itself) is too hot, the plastic can be melted, which allows water into the bag, and ruins the food (unless a boiled chicken-breast was what you were looking for… EW.  So, please don’t boil the products.

Dan Corbett

Author Dan Corbett

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