I can remember the excitement in his voice when chef and friend Justice Stewart called me with the news that he was offered a cookbook deal. From years working in construction to deconstructing some of the yummiest recipes on his blog, Gourmet De-Constructed, it was an opportunity well-deserved.
Our conversations over the years highlighted his love for wild game and exotic meats; one I can't say I share but enjoy learning about. The announcement of his cookbook left me wondering if he would finally have a national audience to share this with, but instead, he chose another one of his culinary loves to write about; sous vide cooking.
Until this book, I had only heard of the cooking technique from chefs such as Nigel Spence from New York’s Ripe Kitchen & Bar who shared with me last year that he felt more restaurants would begin to embrace it more and that he planned to upgrade his unit and menu choices. However, it was not until I read Stewart’s book that I finally understood what it is, how it works and how amazing the recipes can be.
I know I am not alone in asking the question, “What exactly is sous vide cooking,” so I reached out to Stewart to share more about what it is, how he got started and what recipe we should tackle first in his cookbook.
In the simplest of terms, please explain what sous vide cooking is and how you started using the cooking method.
Sous vide cooking is the process of sealing food in an airtight container; usually a vacuum-sealed bag and then cooking that food in a temperature-controlled water bath. In French, the term translates to “under vacuum.”
I discovered this method of cooking about eight years ago. I have always been a big fan of wild game meats (which are very lean), and I found the sous vide method to be most effective in producing the perfect doneness for these types of proteins. I soon learned that you can cook more than meat with the device. You can prepare things such as poached eggs, vegetables, desserts, infused oils and cocktails, condiments, and pickled items.
What do you need to get started?
Necessary equipment to get started should consist of a sous vide device, vacuum sealer (optional) and vacuum bags or Ziploc® freezer bags. You will also need a large enough container that can fit the items you are cooking. I use a polycarbonate container, but a large stockpot or even a cooler can work.
Tell us a little about your book and a few things that make it different from the other sous vide books on the market.
“Mastering the Art of Sous Vide Cooking” is a manifestation of my love of international cuisine. The book takes readers on a culinary journey around the world while utilizing the sous vide method to prepare restaurant-quality meals for friends and family.
For beginners, what are three recipes from the book to start with?
Most of the recipes in the book are beginner-friendly, but if you just purchased your device a great starting point would be the Espresso-Rubbed Porterhouse Steak, Sweet & Spicy Soy Glazed Pork Chops, Rack of Lamb with Butter and Garlic Asparagus or Dill Salmon.
What’s next for you and how can readers see you in action?
I am currently in the process of writing my second cookbook. In 2019, I am aiming to finally have my mobile food business up and running, possibly in Florida. I also plan on hosting pop-up dinners and public tastings.
There are a number of sous vide cookers on the market. One brand that Stewart recommends is Anova.
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