Sous Vide, Part 2: the Return of Sous Vide

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Cooking short ribs for 72 hours using sous vide makes them so mythologically tasty that even Bigfoot would refuse to believe they actually exist.
Sous vide is a cooking technique in which food is vacuum sealed, then cooked in a water bath at a very precise temperature for a REALLY LONG TIME. This is the second installment of a two- part series in which I chronicle the week I used sous vide to cook everything I ate.

My early success with sous vide eggs gave way to a spate of failures because I kept throwing a bunch of dumb shit into the sous vide machine. In my mind the oatmeal, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and cream that I stuck in the vacuum bag was going to be magically transformed into the silkiest breakfast cereal of all time. In reality, the oatmeal didn't cook properly and separated from the liquid, even after 48 hours, and ended up looking like the time I vomited a bunch of White Russians. Potatoes remained stiff and crisp, long after the butter I put into the bag with them became curdled. Beef jerky was the worst: I had the brilliant idea that I could reconstitute beef jerky into something approximating chuck roast using soy sauce. Wrong. Instead of turning into tender beef, the jerky became a spongy, shriveled black mass. It looked like a biopsy. I was afraid to eat it.

But then the successes began to accumulate. Brussels sprout halves, when charred in a cast iron pan and sealed in with a chunk of guanciale, became languorously tender and were so sweet they tasted almost like caramel after 48 hours.

Duck confit was also a winner. I sealed a duck leg with kosher salt, black pepper, and a couple milligrams of sodium nitrite. Twenty- four hours later I removed the duck from its swirly pink emulsion of confit jelly and rendered fat, seared it under the broiler, and ate it with the aforementioned Brussels sprouts. This was one of the best confits I ever ate, and I made it myself. It wasn't chunky and stiff like confits cooked at higher temperatures. It was succulent and pink and yielding and so erotic that if 7-11 sold the confit I made, they would have to seal it in a black plastic bag and keep it behind the counter because it would be considered porn.

Best of all were the famous "72 hour short ribs." I salted and peppered some beef short ribs and cooked them at 63 degrees C for 3 days. After a brief sear on the charcoal grill we tore these motherfuckers apart. They were damn tasty: charred and smoky outside, but a miraculous medium inside, juicy and veined with soft pinstripes of cartilage. These were so fucking good it didn't even make sense to me.

At first I thought sous vide was just an overachieving crock pot, but I grudgingly admit that I was wrong. While it clearly does a shitty job on starches, this technique works wonders on meat and vegetables. Sous vide is so awesome it could even make your mom taste good.

Rating: 9 space age technologies out of 10

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