I’m a sucker for planning our dinners each day about 1-2 weeks in advance. It allows us to shop for exactly what we need, with the least amount of waste. Well, the least amount of waste when I don’t constantly forget to do things… Which is quite a lot. So when a roast dinner suddenly fails at the first hurdle (I forgot to get the chicken out of the freezer) we don’t actually have very much in our fridge that we can fall back on as it’s already allocated to other dinners.
Our freezer, however, is usually loaded to the max with goodies. We often over-cook with the intention of freezing the leftovers to enjoy at another time. But, as with the chicken, we need to defrost these dinners overnight in the fridge! So having forgot to do that, I was in a bit of a fix. Do I abandon the roast entirely? Go to the shops to spend more money on replacement meat?
Fortunately, this is one of them times when sous vide cookery can come into its own. Because, as you may have guessed already, we can cook sous vide from frozen! Man, I love my sous vide immersion circulator.
Wait a minute – won’t this be unsafe to eat? We can’t cook in an oven or in a frying pan from frozen (in most cases at least), so why can we do it sous vide?
The key to this is in what is actually going on with the heat when we cook via other methods. When we fry or oven cook, we set the temperature of the oil or oven to something like 200C/400F. But we don’t want our food to be this temperature! So essentially, we overcook from the outside inwards, until the most inner core of the food has reached our ideal temperature, then we’re done.
But when the meat is frozen, the outside of the food will be far FAR FAR too overcooked by the time the interior is even close to a safe temperature. We could oven cook from frozen at a really low temperature, but it will dry out to cardboard by the time it’s ready to eat.
Sous vide cooking, being our ever resourceful flexible chum, overcomes this issue brilliantly. Firstly, because we hold the water at far lower temperatures – the temperature we want the food to be cooked to internally – we can never overcook the outside while waiting for the inside to get up to temperature. Also, because sous vide cooking is done ‘under vacuum’, we can cook straight from the freezer – meaning less opportunity to introduce bacteria.
So there we have it! Yet another tool for our sous vide shaped tool-box – another example of how sous vide cooking is in fact a FASTER way to cook!
(If you’re looking for closure on very long winded story regarding my roast dinner – I had a rib of beef already vac-packed and in the freezer. 7 hours at 55C later, my dinner was unbelievably excellent! It simply couldn’t have happened without Sous Vide cooking. Woo! 😀 )