Monday, January 21, 2008

Expanding Poaching's potential

The above photos and the topic is taken from Food arts magazine
For many chefs, low-temperture cooking conjures images of vacum bags and avant-grade good,but one extremely classic technique well-suited to low temperature cooking is poaching in fat and it doesn''t require a bag.
Low-temperature cooking is often confused with sous-vide cooking. Sous-vide uses vacum packaging, regardless of cooking temperture. Boil in bag qualifies as sous-vide. Low temperature cooking is the technique with temperatures cloe to, or equal to, the food's final desired internal temperature, whether a vacuum bag is used or not. Only two things are required for low-temperature cooking: very accurate tmeperature control (in the world of low-temperature cooking, a single degree celsius can be a big deal; egg yolks go from liquid to creamy to set beteween 62 and 64*F or 144 to 147F) and a good heat ransfer medium, usually water or water vapor.
Immersion cirulators are fantastic little piences of equipment designed to do this job. Over the past year or so the price of ciruclators has dropped below $1,000, helping them to proliferate in kitchens across the country. They come in different varieites, but the type most chefs use plungs inot a normal 120 volt socket, takes up less space than a blender, and can be clamped onto any pot, bus tub or deep hotel pan. Essentially the cirulators consists of a 1,000 watt heating element, a temperature sensor, a stirring pump (to keep the temperature even throughout the cooking medium), and an electronic control cirucuit. Typically, these cirulators use water as the cooking medium, but water is not the only choice. They're designed to cirulate oil as well.
Circulators with oil has many advantages:
  • No speical sous-vde HACCP permits are required.
  • No expensive vacuum machine is necessary
  • poaching in oil or fat can add flavor and mouthfeel without leaching out the flavor as water would.
  • Oil paching and foods cooked a la confit are classic, respected, and customer accepted technique
  • A circulator can heat a larger volume of oil than it can water because it takes less energy to heat oil than water.
  • Treated properly, the oil can last a long time because it's not being overheated.
  • Oil des not evoperate as water does.

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