Cooking Sous Vide at home – pork belly

We had mentioned the Sous Vide Supreme a few months back.  It is a new product that joins a few competitors in offering home consumers an appliance that they can use to create sous vide at home.  We were curious so we wrote to them and they kindly arranged to send a sample unit for us to borrow for 2 weeks (there was no compensation, promise of posts or other benefit – we will only review things we genuinely like).

The machine is attractive – stainless steel, simple controls and trimmed in black.

Cooking Sous Vide at home   pork belly Pork January Cooking Recipes

It is a simple interface.  Load with water, turn on the unit, set the temperature and wait for it to bring the water to temperature.  If you are familiar with sous vide (or have read our previous posts), there isn`t much more that I can say about the unit other than saying it is pretty and it was very reliable.  Once it looked on a temperature, it stayed within 1 degree fahrenheit of the target for 154 hours.  (Their website:  SousVide Supreme).

We hosted two friends for dinner.  Paul and Paul are also adventurous in food and we have shared many food adventures (including a trip to Chicago for dinner at Alinea).  We decided to cook 2 SousVide dishes and see what would result.

We had access to a few fancy zip-lock type bags that came with a small unit to remove the air from them.  I wans`t overly confident that the seal would hold for an extended time and considered buying a vacuum sealer.  I needed something that would allow me to seal food and food seasoning in a food safe bag.  So I cheated:

Cooking Sous Vide at home   pork belly Pork January Cooking Recipes

That`s right – salted pork belly!  I wouldn`t use this as a long-term solution but it did save buying an expensive sealer for a single use (though I can see how one would be otherwise useful).

The pork entered the machine at 8.30 in the morning.  It was well under the boiling point (around 165 F if I remember correctly – I will confirm and edit this post by next weekend when I return home to my notes).  They went in for 12 hours.

We were surprised with what came out of the water bath.  The bags had a tonne of liquid.  Fat had gently rendered off and the 4 small bellies almost filled a bowl with liquid.

The pork was also very pink.  So pink that it was difficult to imagine that it was actually cooked (which it was).  We often associate cooked meat with a crusty browned exterior and tender interior.  Since the entire piece of meat is brought to the same temperature, the outside will look exactly like the inside.

Loosely following a recipe from Thomas Keller, we quickly seared the bellies to give them a small shot of color and a crispy exterior.  We had to be carefull not to cook them for too long – the more we seared, the more we would alter the entire effect of the cooking technique.

Dinner was a combination of 3 types of roasted peppers, maple syrup squash, roasted tomatoes, orange beets (roasted in oranges), maple syrup pears stuffed with drained ricotta that infused with kalhua and the pork:

The pork was fascinating.  It was very salty (something that could obviously be altered by sealing it yourself) and the texture was  entirely new.  The fat was very gelatinous – each of us skipped most of it and the flesh was moist, soft and fell apart.  I easily carved mine with a fork and marveled that I had never felt something like it in my mouth before.  It`s not that it was necessarily better – but it was fascinatingly new.

We will post on Tuna tomorrow before introducing some breakfast options on Monday – stay tuned!

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  1. [...] was off to a rocky start – in the terms of traffic lights we had found a yellow light (the pork belly) and a red light (the tuna).  Sous Vide was proving to be interesting but challenging to the [...]

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