While cooking sous-vide creates decidedly
delicious results, no food is delicious enough to warrant a bad
case of botulism. Proper training and equipment are essential
prerequisites for attempting to cook anything sous-vide. Most
of today’s chefs who use the technique have undergone expensive
training that takes days to complete and many have also learned
from other more experienced chefs.
Chef Mark Hellyar of Blue Duck Tavern
in Washington DC cautions untrained cooks to steer clear of even
attempting sous-vide. Instead, precook the desired food using
conventional method, then vacuum in Cryovac, and reheat in water
when ready to use. This isn’t really an alternative to sous-vide
and you’ll lose its slow-and low-cooked benefits, like unparalleled
moisture and texture. But, the food will last longer under a vacuum
seal than it would with traditional cooking methods, and it’s
undeniably convenient to have braised short ribs at the ready.
For those who are ready to experiment with sous-vide,
these tips will help.
Cook the food long enough. While
this can be a subjective measurement, the point is, when in doubt,
cook it longer.
Cool the food long enough. This
is done gradually. Remove the food from hot water bath and store
at room temperature until its internal temperature stops rising,
then place in an ice bath. Hold the food chilled until ready to
reheat and serve.
Vacuum the food when it’s chilled,
otherwise the vacuuming process will begin to cook the food.
Brines, salts and alcohol help reduce
the risk of bacteria formation; they’re also great
Follow a method. Don’t
be haphazard or cavalier with sous-vide innovations.
Do your homework. Read everything
you can on the subject and then read some more.