From time to time London Branch arranges Masterclass events, typically given by leading chefs on methods of preparing particular ingredients. The latest was on Sous Vide (‘under vacuum’). A few of us had already used this technique in our own kitchens; others of us were complete beginners, curious to understand what it was all about and how it worked.
With sous vide, the food is vacuum-sealed, so that moisture, juices and aromas are retained, and cooked in water with precise temperature control according to what is being cooked. The lower temperatures, maintained for longer than with conventional heating, enable even cooking throughout the food.
It has been developed and is used by chefs in top restaurants: early on at the celebrated Troisgros restaurant in Roanne, France; also to mention Heston Blumenthal, Paul Bocuse and Joël Robuchon, among many.
The label of ‘Masterclass’ and the limit of ten participants might make it sound as though we would be actively working hard, but happily there was no effort on our part! The event was held at the Toolshed@W2, a shop with a training facility, specialising in sous vide techniques and equipment. Josh was our knowledgeable instructor, a professional chef who is passionate about the advantages and wide range of capabilities that the technique offers. He demonstrated several of the many foods that can be cooked in this way, including pork, beef and pineapple, clearly explaining the processes and the equipment, and answering all our questions.
We tasted chicken that had been cooked traditionally – the proteins were tighter and it had lost nearly a quarter of its original weight – to compare it with chicken cooked by three sous vide styles: no sear with salt; pre-seared, seasoned with butter, thyme, salt and garlic, and taken out of the plastic pouch to fry; no sear and 10% brine.
We concluded the session very satisfactorily by lunching on the food cooked sous vide during the Masterclass, with accompanying wines.
London Branch is planning to organise another of these sessions later in the year, and members from other branches would be very welcome. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in attending.