In a last minute, unplanned trip to the farm this past weekend, we decided to live off the land—or, at least, out of the deep freeze. A search of the icy cavern turned up a couple of lovely venison loins and a bag of chanterelles from the last mushroom hunt. We wouldn’t go hungry.
Sous Vide, a Tender, Kitchen Companion
My daughter, Robin, thought to bring her Sous Vide (“sue-veed”) device. Sous vide is the cooking method that uses an apparatus resembling an immersion blender. It measures and maintains the cooking water temperature, causing meat to retain moisture and cook evenly. Superlatives fly! Fans rave about the extra juicy pork chops! The best shrimp and lobster ever! The tenderest chicken you’ve ever put in your mouth! And a steak cooked perfectly edge-to-edge!
I watched from the sidelines with awe as the meal unfolded.
The Secret of Professional Chefs Revealed
Professional chefs have used sou vide cooking techniques for decades, but only recently has it become a part of home kitchens. You merely place the “stick” into a pot of water, toss in a plastic bag of meat (in our case frozen venison), place the pot on the counter (no need for a stovetop), set the internal temperature you want, and go for a walk. Because the meat does not darken, it later requires a searing to add color to the outside. Devices are available from less than $100 to under $200.
Robin believes this is the ultimate way to cook tender, flavorful meats. “It’s a life changer!” she declares to one and all, especially to our friends who hunt. More on the clever kitchen devise here.
The Colombian Touch
JC, my son-in-law joined in the kitchen wingding with a couple of dishes from his homeland. Calling his mother in Bogota, Colombia, he got the recipe for a favorite tuna casserole and a vegetable-rice dish. Since the recipe was in grams rathers than tablespoons/teaspoons, it required some recalibrating. Fortunately, nothing was lost in the translation. Delish!
Flavorful Side Dishes
The mushroom dish we normally follow is enlivened with a splash of sherry and creme fraiche and served on toast points. But the classy, French cream is hard to find, even in St. Louis. Instead, Robin used light cream and still created a splendid sauce for both the mushrooms and the venison.
To start the meal, she served an appetizer of pesto-stuffed tomatoes made with the last of her homegrown cherry tomatoes. Side dishes included a platter of roasted Brussels sprouts and a super, zippy salad featuring assorted greens, figs, feta and more of the cherry tomatoes.
Sometimes the most eclectic and least pondered meals can be quite fabulous.