Sous Vides or BBQ Thrill Factor?

Is sous vides effective or is it a ploy to cook beef without having any real human technique?

Sous Vides is a ploy, but then again what isn’t a ploy in the kitchen, except kitchen love. The idea of cooking accuracy shouldn’t be criticized, it should be embraced by anyone who is interested in a perfectly cooked steak.

I step back a few years, a moment that always sticks out in my mind, I am not sure why. But I was at a friend’s house in Toronto, and we were cooking steaks and drinking some Burgundy wines. He made it clear he liked to use his Weber BBQ, his only means of cooking his favorite steaks, and I wasn’t sure why until I stepped outside and I saw the heat raging. It is was what I call the perfect BBQ experience; more about the experience on a cold night, or a warm summer afternoon and a raging hot zing on the surface of the meat as you flip it on the BBQ – the idea of your brain saying “wow” it looks good and I can’t wait. That is food anticipation and preferences we develop over time. It is like your favorite eggs, at the local diner.

There are some things by association and they come in all kinds of pans and pots, like your Mom’s chicken soup. These have little to do with technique or lack thereof, they have more to do with routine and comfort and enjoyment.

But why is BBQ so perfect or is it? I always thought BBQ was nonsense until I discovered why it works so well. For the most part people destroy meat on the BBQ, and in the process of trying to cook, they cannot be cook consistently. The high temperatures often dry the meat and burn the outside when actually what should happen is you BBQ to enhance flavour and texture. So BBQ requires true technique, and there are two schools: flavour meat with a rub, so you enahnce the flavours through maillard and or by the very nature of fat sizzling and creating texture pathways, or simple the smoke compounds that only a piece of beef and a BBQ can claim.

Yes it is true and for those of you who know the Pittsburg steak, you would understand and I had a friend who only ate his meat Pittsburgh, an odd way to eat meat, yet a good example of why BBQ:

The BBQ works well if you have the right combination of charcoal and technique, and if you’ve met chef’s like Heston Blumenthal he’ll tell you his charcoal is the best on planet earth. It is excellent but I won’t get into the discussion of what is the best charcoal, and we cannot agree or disagree until you define if the burn rate is key, or the wood used is what counts the most, or a combination al all three. In Italy they always soeak about olive wood as being a dense wood for BBQ, and in Japan we never use it.

In Japan sumi charcoal is terribly important when it comes to cooking BBQ, and the main difference here is the type of charcoal is the burn rate, it burns slowly and consistently for a long time. This kind of charcoal delivers a consistent intensity of heat, something important in BBQ cooking.

If you look at the Modernist cuisine cook book, their claims are more about the distribution of heat and distance from the heat source is one of the keys to finding the sweet spot on your BBQ is probably true, but BBQ is a man’s game of eye on the ball, or a womens game of making her man happy and enjoying a glass of wine on the porch, while her man chugs watches TV, or screams with his friends. In Japan there isn’t any of that so go figure.

But there is one thing that I consider key in BBQ, os that the skill to BBQ requires a multiple of tasks all at the same time, and BBQ isn’t like dropping beef in a vacuum and walking away. It takes memory skill to get it right and you can decide as you are cooking if the exterior needs more color, but there is no doubt you cannot control what is going on inside and that is key to any successful steak on a BBQ.

So you may thiunk I BBQ over using Sous Vides but in an ideal world, I reccomend both, and what I do at home to avoid the hassle of the BBQ, is use a skillet to get the color and I add the flvours at the end of cooking to avoid hot spots and burned flvours. If I use shoyu to de-glaze I can get the same intensity of flavours and for anyone compoaring the look = taste it can be diffocult to choose.

Yes I miss the smoke compunds but I avoid the backyard in the winter and I preserve the integrity of the soft juicy Japanese beef.

Categories: Meaty Days