de Resistance

I can hear myself thinking right now. Not in a
“crazy person, end of the world, put on your tinfoil hat, Tea Party” kind of way. But in an actual, “Hey, wow! That’s the sound of my own brain, having original thoughts, not being drowned out by the sound of baby yelling or fear thereof” kind of way. It’s awesome. Because I’ve had some caffeine, nutrition, dropped the baby off at his Grandma’s for a couple of hours, and completed a load of dishes. Apparently that’s all it takes for my brain to start thinking things again. Who knew? So I’m going to write this blog and then take the dog for a run. I might even have an opportunity to brush my hair. I know! It’s like Mardi Gras up in this bitch!

Which reminds me, I should thaw something. I don’t know what yet, but I’m honestly considering a turkey. I’ve got a couple in the freezer from WhoFo’s day after Thanksgiving sale, and turkey pot pie sounds fantastic. As does a good brine, and then sous-viding the other parts. I’m eager to see how juicy a turkey can be when all of its parts are cooked to their ideal degree of doneness, and not a penny more.

Sous-viding has been taken up about 50 notches since the miraculous, post-Christmas birth of the full-sized immersion circulator. We bought the PolySci version shortly after Christmas, and it’s lived up to its hype. It’s mantastic enough to handle large pieces of tough meat with ease, leaving them tender and juicy and priceless.

It’s difficult to think of a better way to show off the benefits of sous-vide cookery than the short rib. Most omnivores have had them before, and they’re pretty beloved for their unctuous richness and flavor. The only downside to a short rib has been that they require braising, which breaks down the collagen well, but also can leave them stringy and, worst case scenario, dry.

The sous-vide, however, gently caresses them for about 50 hours in 131 F of warmth, allowing the collagen to break down, but the meat to remain medium rare. Try to imagine that for a second. Or, if you’re not familiar with short ribs, try to imagine your favorite crockpot meat. A roast, for example. Then, imagine if you could get all of that beefy goodness (not referring to Vin Diesel) and fork-tenderness, but keep the meat at medium rare.

What-what-in-your-butt, right?

The sous-vide makes it possible. Like the make-a-wish foundation for meat. And it really couldn’t be easier, though it takes a LONG time. Did you see that above? 50 hours of waiting. Which is about how long I think gestation should take.

Anyway, here’s a picture series of the process:

Step one–obtain grass-fed short ribs

Step two–season with salt and pepper, then seal in a chamber vacuum sealer if you have access to one. If not, use a Foodsaver.

Step three–Set immersion circulator to 134 F and insert packet o’ ribs

Step four–allow to swim in this bath for 48-72 hours

Step five– briefly sear the outsides and serve it up

I served them ontop a mound of pureed potatoes and celariac, redolent of cream and butter. I reduced and strained their jus, drizzling it ontop. And I made shredded, glazed carrots for a bit of texture and vegetable contribution. Celeriac and short ribs are BFF.

Now’s the interesting part.

Note the bright pink, uniform interior. Note the meat texture, which is ready to fall apart faster than Charlie Sheen’s life at the mere suggestion of a fork. Note the gorgeous fat cap that is straight up ready and willing to melt given a flick of your tongue.

It’s gorgeous. I’m not one to brag (I am totally one to brag), but this is where meat meets its destiny. I read once (can’t remember where) that sous-vide short ribs are everything that a prime rib wants to be, but can’t. I couldn’t agree more.

The major downside is that 50 HOURS OF WAITING gave me only about 15 minutes of eating payoff. So in the future, I’m going to make several vacuum packs at once, sous-vide them all, then freeze the remaining packets for “quick” sous-vide short ribs at a moment’s notice. Not sure how that will affect the texture, but I’ll let you know.

Now I’m starving, but I’ve got to go get a run in. We’ve got the Denver marathon and the Tough Mudder coming up this summer, and I’m prepared for neither. Babies allow you to train about as effectively as they allow you to clean, write and do dishes.

But they’re pretty cute.

4 thoughts on “de Resistance”

  1. While I'm pretty sure that my Viking blood leaves me immune to silly concerns like botulism (as we are working in an anaerobic environment), the rest of the US population should definitely be aware of the potential risks. Good point, Peter. Thanks!

  2. Did you get a new light box? The photos look really good. I still think an old-fashioned pressure cooker beats them new-fangled immersion thangs any day.

  3. Nah, I'm still just using the Lowell EGO light on my dining room table. Not a bad piece of equipment for how little it costs. More likely, I took a minute to set it up before shooting. Usually there's not enough time. Now that E is on solids, though, I can toss him a banana chunk in his feeder and take pictures of dinner while he goes at it.

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