Foodstyle Review Magazine
Venison so tender
Sous vide (sue-veed) cooking is simply cooking food in a sealed, air-tight bag that is immersed in a water bath and cooked at constant, low temperatures (between 50-60 deg C for meats, higher for vegetables) for various lengths of time.
The result is a very evenly cooked and tender cut of meat, which is then usually seared in a hot pan to caramelise and crisp the surface. Some may find the result too rare.
Food engineers in the 1960s developed this method for industrial food preservation and French chefs picked it up with the 1970s to cook expensive proteins in a way that kept their original colour and shape. While the low temperature technique didn’t catch on here until the last decade, I recall Sydney chef Tony Bilson at the Sydney InterContinental in the mid 1990s doing a confit of salmon immersed in duck fat and cooked at low temperature that was succulent pink with a very consistent colour that was mind boggling at the time. A variation of this recipe using ocean trout has been immortalised by another Sydney chef, Tetsuya Wakuda, at his eponymous restaurant.
Sous vide at home - you can cook like this without fancy expensive equipment, but you will need a slow cooker and a digital thermometer. Be very careful with food hygiene and handling when cooking at low temperatures.
We used a domestic slow cooker and after experimenting with the thermometer (absolutely essential) found that at low temp with the lid off, the water, filled high, remained at 52-53 deg C. It did take a long time for the water to reach this temperature from cold, but it is important the food goes in at the desired temperature.
Our venison recipe
Our 500g packet of Silver Fern Farms venison conveniently held four to five medallions which weighed between 60 and 70g each.
Using polyethylene plastic sandwich snap bags we placed two medallions in each bag. They came straight out of the packet trimmed and ready to cook, all we needed to do was wipe them dry.
We placed a couple of tablespoons of neutral oil into each bag and got as much air out of the bag as possible. We did this by ‘rolling’ the bagged medallions up tight before sealing. The sealed meat must be fully immersed in the hot water while the sealed tops remain above the water line.
Timing came into the ‘practice’ department, but we found this cooking method very tolerant in that five minutes did make a lot of difference to the finished result. We could also take the bag out (they are not hot) and ‘feel’ for tenderness as you would a steak.
Our medallions after 1¼ hours were at even rareness. At another time 1½ hours was OK too.
For vegetables in the dish pictured we simply used spinach (try and get your hands on some NZ spinach – not really a spinach but a great wild Kiwi green) and carrots, cut in wide thin strips and, like the spinach, quickly blanched until tender.
For the butters
In a saucepan over heat we combined spinach and butter chunks, emulsified, and refrigerated overnight so the flavours concentrated. The next morning the mixture was re-melted in a saucepan and strained through a fine sieve to get a vibrant green butter sauce. Don’t throw away the spinach/butter residue – it makes a good spread and great for putting over the likes of boiled potatoes.
For the carrot butter we bought 500ml of fresh carrot juice in a saucepan to a simmer and threw in 300g of unsalted butter chunks and emulsified on low heat for about half an hour stirring frequently.
mixture was also refrigerated overnight and the then the rich butter
spooned off the liquid that had fallen to the bottom. Like the spinach
butter, it was then re-melted in a saucepan and filtered. The finer the
filter, the more translucent the colour. Again, the ‘residue’
made a very tasty spread.
2012 Foodstyle Review. All
This sous vide venison recipe was inspired by the Sous Vide Steak recipe as illustrated on page 194 of the beautiful Modernist Cuisine at Home cookbook, by Nathan Myhrvold with Maxime Bilet.
Silver Fern Farms recipes
Medallions are bagged with a few tablespoons of neutral oil.
Blending butter and blanched spinach.
Prepared spinach and carrot before blanching.
Straining butter from spinach mixture.
Sear all sides of cooked medallions in a very hot pan.