Yesterday, Thomas Keller, chef extraordinaire, offered a few lucky people the chance to meet and greet, have a cookbook signed, and even ask him question or two.
Keller, the creator of Bouchon in the Venetian, was in the restaurant to promote his new book, “Under Pressure,” which primarily discusses the sous vide method of cooking.
Sous vide, or ”under vacuum,” is a style of cooking that developed in France during the 1970s as a means to minimize shrinkage in foie gras. Though the French have been using sous vide as a method of cooking for over three decades, only in the past few years has the method been used in the United States. Think of a hopped up version of a vacuum seal food saver, where food is sealed in a plastic bag and all the air is sucked out. Then, the bag is cooked at a low temperature for a long period of time, depending upon the food.
The benefits include perfectly cooked vegetables, meats and fish (given a certain time and temperature) every time. Also, food keeps its flavor better than steaming or boiling because it is trapped in the bag. One drawback is not all food can be cooked sous vide. For example, green vegetables don’t do well because they need oxygen to stay green, otherwise they will turn brown.
Another drawback is if you’re thinking of trying sous vide cooking tonight for dinner, you may have another thing coming.
Keller admitted in the question and answer session of his appearance that sous vide isn’t a cooking style for the average home cook, mainly because equipment is large and expensive. However, it will benefit the restaurant chef in terms of time, preparation and guessing if the meat is rare or medium rare.
“Under Pressure” provides an insightful guide on how to cook sous vide and Keller’s passion for the cooking style was apparent last night.