Thursday, March 25, 2010

FreshMealsMagic: Pollo Pibil Sous Vide

It has long been on my list to make that amazing slow roasted pork dish of the yucatan: cochinita pibil.    Soak pork or chicken in a marinade made with a base of brick red achiote, garlic and sour orange juice, boosted with powerful spices like cinnamon, allspice, and clove.

After an overnight marinade, wrap everything up in a banana leaf package, and let it roast for hours.  Serve with pickled onions augmented with the smoldering habanero chile.

Or in my case, toss it in a plastic bag, vacuum seal and put in a 146 degree waterbath for a two hours.  I was worried about several factors going into this:

Would the fresh garlic create that plastic-y, overly garlicy flavor that it is known to do?  The answer is: nope!

Would the flavor of the banana leaf transfer and would I like the flavor?  The flavor of the banana leaf did come through, and without any surprises! 

Chicken isn't pork, and its leanness doesn't really let you do any magic with longer cook times to achieve great results.  Would the chicken work?  The chicken was unbelievably juicy and tender, but I don't think this resulted in a superior flavor or texture.  I would much rather have traditional slow roasting over fire or even in an oven.  And I even finished the chicken in the oven afterwards.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

FreshMealsMagic: Sous Vide Short Rib

Short rib is by far the most amazing ingredient to cook sous-vide.  One person's cheap, fatty cut of meat is another's delicious and cost effective cut.  The last one I made was done using a short rib, removed from the bone, some roasted garlic powder, salt, pepper and some thyme.  Dropped into the FreshMealsMagic controlled water bath set at 136F and then left to slowly cook over a period of 72 hours.

Sous vide genuinely lets us do something magical here.  We can break down the chewy fats that are typically broken down by braising, while maintaining the rareness of the meat.  This is because collagen (our chewy enemy) will actually break down at lower temperatures, if we give it enough time.  I have done this a couple of times and there is no doubt that 72 hours is a HUGE improvement over 48 hours.

For our obligatory money shot, Here we can see a morsel of short rib, seared in a hot pan, with a roasted poblano puree.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

FreshMealsMagic: The FMM Unbox

I have in my possession a FMM for evaluation purposes. I got about as far as making sure that everything arrived before I had some travel that took me far away from my kitchen.  Now I am back and ready to shift into overdrive on the FMM.  I am going to write up a test plan for this, but in the meantime, let's walk through the different components:

BRAIN // The SVM 1500D PID Controller

Input: Power via Outlet
Input: Temperature of Water Via Temperature Probe
Output: Power -> FMM

This component regulates the temperature of the water bath via a temperature probe and power going to the FMM.  I promise I'll talk about the differences between the 1500D and previous models.  

MUSCLE // The Fresh Meals Magic Bubbler and Heater

Input: Power via the SVM
Input: Air via the Airpump

This is a submersible heater.  It is responsible for providing both heat and circulation via air bubbles.

LUNGS // The Air Pump

Input: Power via Outlet
Output: Air -> FMM

This little guy plugs into the wall and provides air to the FMM.  It has a dial that you can use to regulate air flow going to the FMM.  Turn up the volume, and the FMM produces more bubbles.  According to the documentation, more isn't necessarily better as you can cool down your water bath.


Input: 15 Minutes, Water, Power
Output: Pure Joy -> Pablo Escolar

Setup being tested in the 18L container that comes with the FMM kit.  Lots and lots of bubbles.  

I just tossed two duck breasts into the water bath as my first test.  

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