Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide (The Thomas Keller Library)

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9781579653514: Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide (The Thomas Keller Library)

A revolution in cooking

Sous vide is the culinary innovation that has everyone in the food world talking. In this revolutionary new cookbook, Thomas Keller, America's most respected chef, explains why this foolproof technique, which involves cooking at precise temperatures below simmering, yields results that other culinary methods cannot. For the first time, one can achieve short ribs that are meltingly tender even when cooked medium rare. Fish, which has a small window of doneness, is easier to finesse, and shellfish stays succulent no matter how long it's been on the stove. Fruit and vegetables benefit, too, retaining color and flavor while undergoing remarkable transformations in texture.

The secret to sous vide is in discovering the precise amount of heat required to achieve the most sublime results. Through years of trial and error, Keller and his chefs de cuisine have blazed the trail to perfection—and they show the way in this collection of never-before-published recipes from his landmark restaurants—The French Laundry in Napa Valley and per se in New York. With an introduction by the eminent food-science writer Harold McGee, and artful photography by Deborah Jones, who photographed Keller's best-selling The French Laundry Cookbook, this book will be a must for every culinary professional and anyone who wants to up the ante and experience food at the highest level.

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Review:

The ground-breaking under-pressure method, usually called sous vide, involves submerging food for minutes or even days in sealed, airless bags at precisely the temperature required to produce perfect doneness. Flavors and textures unattainable by other cooking methods can also be achieved.

The technique has been in the pipeline for awhile--one forerunner is the boil-in bag mom used to put veggies on the table--but has only recently attracted top chefs. One is Thomas Keller, famed chef-proprietor of The French Laundry and Per Se. His mightily sized, gorgeously produced Under Pressure explores every inch of sous vide, including the ramifications of using this precision-cooking technique (once time and temperature are established, best results follow automatically) on the craft of cooking, which has always meant a potentially rewarding engagement with the possibility of failure.

The book makes no bones about being addressed to professionals. Typical recipes, like Marinated Toy Box Tomatoes with Compressed Cucumber-Red Onion Relish, Toasted Brioche, and Diane St. Claire Butter, involve multiple preparations and dernier cri ingredients, and thus resist home duplication. There’s also the matter of the pricey equipment required--chamber vacuum packers and temperature-maintaining immersion circulators--not to mention the precautions required to ensure that foods, usually cooked at low temps, are safe to eat.

What the book does offer the home cook is, however, thrilling. It introduces something new under the sun--an exciting, transformative technique of great potential. Anyone interested in food and cooking--not to mention lovers of extraordinarily well produced books--will want to explore Under Pressure. --Arthur Boehm

From the Inside Flap:

"Under Pressure," writes Harold McGee in his introduction to this, the first book written in English on cooking sous vide, introduces cooks to one of the most important culinary innovations of modern times.
An uncommonly grand claim coming from so precise a scientist and writer, but such is the power of this controversial method. Thomas Keller and his chefs, McGee continues, illustrate the powers of precision heating with dozens of dishes that wouldn t be as fine, or even conceivable, without it.
Sous vide method comprises a group of techniques that allows the cook to realize flavors and textures that no other cooking method can. By sealing food in plastic and submerging it at exact temperatures for minutes or for days food that is traditionally braised, sauteed, roasted, or poached we can attain astonishing results. The tough cuts of meat we once braised in simmering stock can now be cooked sous vide to a medium-rare pink, juicy and meltingly tender. Lamb loin, veal tenderloin, and other larger cuts of meat, difficult to cook evenly, emerge uniform throughout. Delicate fish is enhanced and the margin of error reduced. Vegetables and fruits, cooked in an oxygen-free environment, remain vividly colored. And, because the food is sealed in plastic, its flavor is never lost to the cooking water or the atmosphere. Carrots taste more like carrots, apples more like apples. Small amounts of herbs and other aromatics can have dramatic effects. Cold techniques are valuable as well. Marinades used with meats "en sous vide "are powerfully effective. Various fruits and vegetables, such as melons, cucumbers, and pineapple, become new when compressed.
"Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide "is an invaluable contribution to our culinary world at a time of unprecedented interest in food and cooking, both in the restaurant kitchen and at home. The most critical aspect of sous vide lies in discovering what combination of time and temperature achieves the most sublime results. The answers, as discovered and practiced during the past decade by the chefs of The French Laundry and per se, two of the most respected restaurants in the world, are all here, within the innovative recipes from Keller s landmark restaurants.
"Under Pressure "is a source of instruction, technique, and recipes for anyone who wants to experience the new ideas sous vide makes possible, inspiration for what is possible and what might be.

"

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