Happy Valley Chow

gour-mand (noun): one who is excessively fond of eating and drinking

PolyScience, Sous Vide & Quesadilla Burger...Oh my!

These past 2 weeks have been very exciting, I've partnered up with the great people over at PolyScience and I received two new toys to show off! When I saw the email, I seriously felt like a little kid Christmas morning. I've been really getting into Sous Vide cooking and cooking technology in general. PolyScience is the mecca of modernist cuisine cooking equipment, they make the best stuff from Sous Vide equipment to the Anti-Griddle™ (Which, unlike a conventional griddle, freezes food at -30 degrees F), to the Rotary Vacuum Evaporator...seriously their website looks like a distributor for a scientific lab rather than kitchen supplies. So you can imagine my excitement when I found out I was going to be working with them and receiving a CREATIVE Series Immersion Circulator and The Smoking Gun.

Immersion Circulator
The Smoking Gun
"With a wide array of cutting edge products, Philip Preston, President of PolyScience is inventing culinary technology that helps chefs to find new ways of expressing their creativity. His passion for futuristic kitchen gear has also captured the attention of America's top chefs, like Grant Achatz at Chicago's Alinea. With the impulse of Chef Achatz, Philip developed the Anti-Griddle. He never expected to build more than two units: one for Chef Achatz and one for himself. However, the excitement from other great chefs and the attention of the Food Network's Award for Culinary Technology made it a big hit in the world of culinary creative."

Sous Vide Professional™

Before we get into the actual machine, lets talk about the history of Sous Vide. The method, first described by Sir Benjamin Thompson (Count Rumford) in 1799, was re-discovered by American and French engineers in the mid-1960s as an industrial food preservation method. The method was adopted by Georges Pralus in 1974 for the Restaurant Troisgros (of Pierre and Michel Troisgros) in Roanne, France. He discovered that when foie gras was cooked in this manner it kept its original appearance, did not lose excess amounts of fat and had better texture. Another pioneer in sous-vide is Bruno Goussault, who further researched the effects of temperature on various foods and became well-known for training top chefs in the method. As chief scientist of Alexandria, Virginia-based food manufacturer Cuisine Solutions, Goussault developed the parameters of cooking times and temperatures for different foods.

What is Sous Vide??
Sous Vide is a cooking method in which food is vacuum sealed in a plastic pouch and then cooked at a gentle temperature in a precisely controlled water bath. Compared to other cooking methods, it provides more control and allows for perfect, repeatable results every time. It is easy to learn and takes the stress out of cooking, because food can be held at a perfect level of doneness for a much longer time than usual methods allow.

What are the nutritional benefits of sous vide cooking??
Food cooked sous vide retains as much of the integrity and important nutrients as possible. Since they will not be lost to cooking liquids and the temperature is lower than with traditional techniques, more nutrients remain in the food. Fats in meats and fish, which can be easily damaged at high temperatures in the presence of oxygen, remain un-oxidized, intact, and more healthful.

How is Sous Vide beneficial for the home chef??
Sous vide eliminates all the stress and worries of overcooking because this technique offers a much greater window of forgiveness. With sous vide, overcooking is nearly impossible. It eliminates the guesswork! Perfect control guarantees that results turn out perfect every time. That gives even the less-experienced cook a chance to cook a perfect medium-rare steak or delicate fish filet. The Sous Vide Professional also allows preparing meals in advance and enjoying home cooked meals, without compromising quality, even on busy days.

Can you cook an entire meal Sous Vide??
Yes, there are two ways to cook an entire meal:
Foods with different foods cook at different temperatures
  1. Since food doesn’t overcook when holding at a lower temperature, one simply organizes the sequence from high to low temperatures. For example, first cook carrots and potatoes at 185°F/85°F for 45 minutes, then lower the temperature to 138°F/59°C for medium-rare beef tenderloin. Adding ice cubes helps to speed up the cool-down process.
  2. Pre-cook different foods, chill in an ice-bath and store in the refrigerator. Later re-heat all foods at the temperature that you’ve used for the food with the lowest temperature, which would be at 138°F/59°C for example when serving medium-rare meats. This especially nice, since you can basically cook any meal in advance, store it and simply reheat it. You'll have a quality product, cooked to perfection and the convenience factor is through the roof!
One-pot meals and stews:
  1. A Sous Vide Professional™  can be used like a slow cooker. Simply vacuum seal your stew into a bag or fill into a container that sits in the water bath and will be cooked by the surrounding temperature-controlled liquid.
How does a Sous Vide Professional™ precise temperature cooking system compare to other sous vide cooking systems on the market?
As an immersion circulator system, it is designed to control with excellent precision and to give you the most flexibility.
  • Clamp  Sous Vide Professional™  to any size tank with round or flat walls
  • Improved temperature consistency through circulating water versus still water baths.
  • Compact design makes for easy storage
  • Temperature control within 1/10th of a degree results in perfect texture throughout
The Smoking Gun
Is a handheld food smoker from PolyScience. Quickly finish food with natural, cool smoke. Surprise your guests by smoking ingredients that seem impossible to smoke: butter, oysters, cocktails, salads, chocolate, meringe, etc. 
This is the first time I have ever used a smoking gun before and I am blown away by the results. So far I have smoked the Quesadilla Burger (Recipe at the bottom of this post) and my Chicken Club Sandwich. The results were just incredible, I simply put whatever I'm smoking in a large ziplock bag, put the hose in from The Smoking Gun, fill the ziplock with smoke and seal it. Then after a minute or two, remove and serve. It leaves behind a beautiful, subtle smoke flavor. Onto the recipe!!
Quesadilla Burger

  • 1.5 Lbs Ground Beef
  • 1 tsp Ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1.5 tsp Dried oregano
  • 1 cup Mexican cheese mix
  • 4 tbsp Salsa, homemade salsa recipe
  • 1 Large Egg, whites
  • 2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

In a bowl, combine all the dried spices and mix to incorporate. Put the ground beef into a mixing bowl and add in the spice mix. Gentle mix to incorporate spices being careful not to over work the meat. Divide the meat into 4 equal 6 ounce portions and form into patties. 

Conventional Cooking Method: Fry or Grill hamburgers 

Sous Vide Cooking Method: 

Preheat  Sous Vide Professional™  to 140 degree F

Place patties in individual sandwich-sized zipper-lock bags. Seal bags, leaving one-inch open at top corner. Slowly lower bags one at a time into pot of water by holding onto the open corner. Press air out of bag as it is submerged. Seal bag just before last corner is submerged. Add burgers and cook for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours. 

Remove burgers from bags and carefully dry on paper towels. Heat 12-inch heavy-bottomed cast iron or stainless steel skillet over high heat with vegetable oil until oil begins to smoke. Add patties and cook until well browned on first side, about 45 seconds. Flip patties and cook until second side is well browned, about 45 seconds longer.

To assemble Quesadilla Burger:

Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a pan. Lay out your Tortillas on a work surface. Brush the edges of the tortillas with egg white. Add 1/4 cup of cheese, 1 tbsp salsa and the cooked hamburger to each tortilla. Fold the sides in on the tortillas so that they overlap, then fold down the top and fold up the bottom of the tortilla to enclose the hamburger, should form a box shape like a little package. When oil is heated add in burger folded side down and pan fry on both sides until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Enjoy!

Check out this video of the Smoking Gun in Action!

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