Efficient and flavourful winter classics with sous vide cooking

Hardly the new kid on the block, the sous vide technique has been quietly bubbling away in commercial kitchens since the 1970's. Initially a closely guarded secret, its acolytes have been steadily growing and gathering momentum over the past 15 years.

Sous vide – aka the chef’s secret weapon. For the uninitiated, this seemingly futuristic technique might appear more at home on an episode of Star Trek or, for those of you with long memories, The Jetson’s. Not to mention it also appears somewhat out of place in a time where chefs are reengaging with traditional cooking methods, such as fire cooking, smoking, foraging, preserving and fermenting. However, its value in a busy contemporary kitchen should not be underestimated.

According to Henri Gault, a French modernist food writer and critic in the 70’s, ‘sous vide cooking is to the kitchen what cinema is to theatre’. While some trends are transitional, serving to swivel the industry in new directions before fading to memory, some are keepers. Sous vide is one such quiet achiever that sits comfortably beside more traditional methods, offering a greater degree of versatility and consistency in the kitchen.

Rumour has it that the initial concept was developed by NASA while exploring ways to prepare nutritious food for astronauts, when a couple of clever French chefs cottoned-on and, using equipment purchased from laboratory suppliers, began experimenting with the technique in their kitchens. The rest, as they say, is history.

What is sous vide?

French for ‘under vacuum’, the sous vide technique is the process of vacuum sealing food into a bag then cooking it in a water bath at very precise low temperatures. Vacuum sealing food prevents evaporation, allowing efficient and gentle transfer of energy from the heated water to the food. This transformative cooking technique delivers unprecedented precision, consistency and convenience. While kitchen chemist extraordinaire Harold McGee doesn’t specifically discuss sous vide in his bible On Food and Cooking, he does mention ‘cooking below the boil’ as an excellent method to cook proteins to an ideal texture while avoiding overcooking, shrinking and drying. Describing it as an ideal ‘compromise between gentle and efficient cooking’. Unlike traditional cooking methods, where temperature and cooking time can vary depending on the dish and environment, sous vide guarantees consistently evenly cooked food. Also, unlike conventional techniques, food cooks uniformly edge to edge, with a perfect texture and no loss of moisture or volume, locking in natural flavours whilst also infusing added flavours with greater intensity and complexity.

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From the perspective of a commercial kitchen, sous vide ticks some big boxes. It’s wonderfully precise and marvellously convenient, simultaneously streamlining prep. Batch cooking that is low waste, light on resources and can be portioned and stored for longer periods.

A winter warming selection

So, what’s better than having access to a sous vide yourself? That would be having someone do it for you. The Jeffersons range is just that – your kitchen fairy godmother – offering delicious sous vide dishes that are tailor-made for excellence and exceptionally well suited to street eats or casual dining. A showcase of all-American flavours inspired by US diners, this heat and eat range is big on taste and little on prep, with endless possibilities.

Fully cooked with maximum locked-in flavour, the dishes only require gentle heating. Simply immerse the bag in simmering water, or portion and heat gently on the stove top. For the perfect finishing touch, add a little caramelisation with a short blast of high heat under a salamander or in a hot oven.

With cold weather on our doorstep, Jeffersons’ dishes are winter winners. Heart and comforting classics, like Lamb Shanks Cooked in Red Wine & Rosemary (212780), or Beef Cheeks in Tomato & Red Wine (191212), make for delicious menu headliners. These quintessential winter comfort meals are timeless and nimble, pivoting to your unique menu style. Excellent as shared mains or individual servings, they are reliable menu favourites. To complete the picture, pair with hearty sides. For traditional US diner or American BBQ vibes, think mac n cheese, potato gratin, confit potatoes, fries, mash or even creamy grits. The Smoked Beef Brisket (212828), Texas Beef Rib Fingers (190390) and Spicy Pulled Beef Pastrami (190389) are equally versatile and excellent street food classics, ideal for fork free dining – brisket and pickle sandos, pulled pastrami and slaw burgers, and lip-smacking tender BBQ pork ribs are utter perfection when they conspire with a Jeffersons sauce or two. A hassle-free kitchen in a couple of easy steps.

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There’s no denying that Jeffersons sous vide range of meats is a game changer – the king of pre-made meals. Ticking all the boxes for kitchen efficiency: precision, consistency, flavour-packed deliciousness, waste reduction and, all importantly, time saving. This translates into precious dollars saved and seamless results every time.

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