Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Slo Mo Bento


It's getting to be that time of year, holiday season. Which means a bit of a slow down on the bentos since there are a ton of things happening around family and friends. As usual I'll post up what I get and any neat food related things I run into.

Anyhow, with all this work and experimentation with my new sous vide contraptions and trying out various temperatures to perfect my cooking debut, I got this idea to make a bento where the theme would be all slow cooked/Sous vide prepared items: Slow Mo if you will. It played out great in my head, I'll just throw a bunch of stuff in my two crockpots, vacuum up a few pouches and all I'd do is wait for magic to happen. I'll have a free day to do anything I want! Didn't quite work out that way. Yes, everything took hours to cook but I was chained to the house since everything had different timings and if I wanted to make sure everything popped out at roughly the same time all of it had to be prepared in stages. Anyhow on with the post.

Sous Vide cooking still amazes me in the type of texture you can achieve. I'm still learning about the process and the scientific procedures in which usually fly in the face of what I've always learned about preparing food (and I am not a chef so not all that much learning there). Yes, in the end of the day you're vacuum sealing a bag of food and dumping it in water. I still had to do some homework to understand why it was OK to cook a pork tenderloin at 140F for four hours as opposed to the normally accepted temperature of 160~165F for pork. I certainly didn't want to get anyone sick.



Here's the quickly researched answer that I know (so far). Above 130F you are pasteurize your food (killing an optimally safe number of the nasty bugs) given you hold it to temp for a sufficiently long enough time. What's long enough? Well depends on how thick the meat is (there are tables). According to the rules if served right away or immediately quick chilled (what I did) this is considered "safe". To be extra safe and get that nice crust that we all know and love as the Maillard Effect we give it a quick sear in the cast iron over the stove (around 500F). This really does two things one: gets that caramelized crust quick and two: one more chance to burn any of the little bad things to death. (ok my post has just earned it's yammering tag) As to seasoning I simply treated the pork with a bit of salt, pepper and ground ginger before it's water bath.



Next up I crock potted this creamy potato. This took about seven hours of total cook time and not exactly "healthy", but I figure everything else was pretty ok and it's the holidays right? Slow cooker recipes tend to be pretty easy things to put together, this had a lot of attributes to make it more of a potato casserole. Either way it was a big hit, it tasted like a really loaded baked potato. I think it would have been awesome with some bacon and green onions as a topping.



For a healthier veggie entry, I pulled the recipe for fresh green peas by none other than Richard Blais of Top Chef (season four) fame. This is actually the first time I played with vegetables in the sous vide supreme. It's a simple dish, I had to go with frozen peas as it's not easy finding fresh green peas, dropped in some olive oil, lemon zest, salt/pepper and a bit of garlic powder. 185F and 40 mins later, WOW. I mean you really get that hit of that flavor of green peas. It tasted really fresh as compared to other times I've worked with frozen peas. I think part of it is not losing any flavor to a cooking liquid and letting the peas heat to temperature and squeezed right up with the seasoning. The color wasn't spectacular, but the flavor was great. I'll have to try other vegetables sous vide side by side with traditional preparation to see the difference.




Technically even though this dish comes in the dessert slot it was meant to be eaten with the pork. I cooked down a big batch of apples and put in a bit of brown sugar and cinnamon. I went with a granny smith (green apple) I felt that it would hold up it's texture since it's pretty firm and that sour component paired with the sweet brown sugar would be a bold flavor to add to the pork which is very modestly seasoned. I got a "wow this was just like my Grandma made it", always a great compliment since we all know grandmas do some of the best cooking.


Anyhow nice to get out a post. Thanks for reading!

Box Contents:
  • Ginger Spiced Pork Tenderloin
  • Creamy Potato casserole
  • Fresh Green Peas
  • Cinnamon Apple Sauce

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