Heston Blumenthal, the celebrity chef and master of molecular gastronomy, is one of the many big-name sous-vide fans.Some see it as something of a fad due to the way the foodie media world has taken to this fancy-sounding French name, but sous vide is actually so common in fine dining restaurants that half the time they don’t even bother to mention it on the menu. Heston Blumenthal, the celebrity chef and master of molecular gastronomy, is one of the many big-name sous-vide fans. He goes as far to say: "Sous-vide cooking is the single greatest advancement in cooking technology in decades." But does it live up to the hype? The only way for a mere mortal, such as myself, to definitively know how much difference sous-vide cooking makes, was to cook something I always cook at home using conventional methods, except this time use a sous-vide machine. And so the cooking experiment ensued. I cook quite a lot of lamb at home, and in all honesty, I really like the lamb I cook! Even if it is made in one of those old-fashioned, archaic devices otherwise known as, erm, an oven. So I decided this was the best dish to let loose on my brand spankin' new Anova sous-vide cooker. I bought a rack of lamb, cut it into two halves and popped them in Ziploc bags along with some salt, pepper and rosemary. Next I set the temperature on the sous-vide machine to 56.5C, the timer to two and a half hours and clipped the bags of lamb to the edge of the pot. After two hours had passed - during which the sous-vide cooker was left alone to do its thang - I set to work on my sides: button mushrooms, sweet potato mash and red wine jus (see the sous vide lamb rack recipe). And when the sous-vide timer beeped to signal that the two and a half hours were up, I took the lamb out to 'finish' it. The thing about sous-vide cooking is that although it cooks the interior of the meat perfectly, it doesn't give you that lovely charred exterior we so crave, so I flash fried it in a hot pan with some butter. I then sliced my lamb, plated up my veggies and sauce, and voila! My sous-vide lamb dish was complete. I tell you what. The lamb had a superior tenderness that I reckon even my cheffy mates would be pretty impressed with. I'm certainly a very popular member of my household since my sous-vide cooker arrived, that's for sure.
The words ‘sous vide’ are popping up so often now on cooking programs and up-market restaurant menus that you might think it was just about the only acceptable way to cook decent meat these days. Otherwise, ya know, you’re disrespecting the meat – or something like that. I've worked as a professional food writer for just under a decade now and I've never seen a cooking advancement gain such an epic cult following in the way that sous vide has. For those who don't know, sous vide is a cooking method where food is vacuum sealed and cooked in a water bath under low temperatures, making it extremely tender and perfectly evenly cooked.