I’m speechless, I really am. It isn't often I’m at a complete loss of words. I’m calling this “writer’s block,” no I think this is more of a case of “eater’s block. The meal I ate last night has left me wondering how to explain just how amazingly wonderful this meal was. For those who love food as much as I do you know what I’m talking about. It’s that feeling you have when you sit down to a meal in a restaurant and pop that first bite, into your mouth, from a much anticipated meal and its so good you just smile and sigh.
Over the past couple of years, on shows like Top Chef and Top Chef Masters, I have been interested in cooking sous vide but have never had the means to get the necessary equipment to give it a try. That changed recently when I was asked to take part in a BBQ blogger challenge by Sous Vide Supreme.
The challenge consists of combining the use of a Sous Vide Supreme “water oven” and a normal outdoor cooking technique. I’ve already tried the water oven a couple of times and thought the process was pretty darn good. This is my entry for the Sous Vide Supreme BBQ Bloggers Challenge. When the contest goes live on the Sous Vide Supreme website and their Facebook page I hope you’ll vote for me.
The step in the cooking process was seasoning a rack of plate short ribs with Plowboy’s Bovine Bold. I wasn’t sure how 72 hours in the water oven would affect the flavor so I only used a light coating. As it turns out I could have used a lot more of the seasoning without out concern. It was an amazing how much the flavor of the rub permeated the meat, certainly more than just rubbing the meat normally does.
Because of the long time the meat spent in the water I double bagged the short ribs. I could have just used one bag because the bag help up to the long soak, but I just didn’t want to run the risk of taking a look in the water oven and find a soaking wet piece of beef. The vacuüm sealer that comes with the Sous Vide Supreme water oven works great and seals very well so double bagging may not be an issue. Depending on the cut of meat I’ll decide if two bags is worth the risk.
The short ribs were kept in the water oven for 72 hours at 139 degrees F (59.5*C). I thought the anticipation of a 15 hour pork butt smoke was great, but it doesn’t compare to what I felt walking past the Sous Vide Supreme on my kitchen counter for 3 days. It was the longest three days of my cooking “career.”
Since I wasn’t going to finish/grill the short ribs for a couple of days I stuck them in an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. After coming out of the water the meat looked, through the plastic bag, to be cooked and felt rare. At 139 degrees there was no fear of the meat getting over done, just more tender as the fibers in the meat are broken down. At least, at first glance, it appeared to have worked.
Next up was a little experimentation with Vidalia Onions. I knew I wanted a caramelized onions to go with the short ribs so I figured I’d try a little sous vide first. I filled a quart mason jar with two sliced and chopped Vidalia Onions, butter and big heaping spoonful of Terrapin Ridge Farms Passion Fruit and Jalapeno Jelly. The sealed jar was placed in the water oven for 12 hours at 165 degrees. What was a jar crammed full of onions turn into barely half a jar of cooked onion sweetness. Two thirds of the onions were caramelized for the top of the ribs and the rest became Vidalia Onion Butter Sauce I glazed the ribs with.
The sweetness of the Vidalia Onions along with the sweetness of the jelly made the caramelization of the onions that much easier. I did add a little more Passion Fruit Jalapeno Jelly. Again I wasn’t sure how hot the jelly would make the onions so I went a little light while in the sous vide. If you’re going to give sous vide a try I recommend a little experimenting until you understand how flavors are affected by cooking in the water oven.