Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sous Vide White Paper

Here follows an extensive treatise, or primer on Sous Vide Cooking; I'm a novice and have just come to this cooking philosophy even though it's been around for years. I once heard a story of a restaurant in France that has 2 cooks for 300 seats and their whole menu is Sous Vide. I was always curious about a product that can be cook at 56 degrees Celsius for 30 hours and come out Medium rare through out the entire loin. Properly chilled the product undergoes pasteurization; and because of which the product remains pristine for up to 3 weeks. There is a passive pasteurization process championed by Pan Saver where they use a high heat bag, metal clamps and utilizes the craftiness of the cook to properly top and seal a bag with little to no oxygen when sealing. Chilled properly, down from 220 degrees to 160 degrees F within 2 hours and the rest of the way down from 160 to 40 degrees F within the remaining 4 hours.
The result is a demi glace, fume or chicken stock that can used up until 3 weeks after production. Try that with a lexan of pomodoro sauce in chilled down overnight in a cooler; anyway I digress....

Since the paper is 38 pages long - I'd like to suggest that anyone interested in the document by Douglas Baldwin and is very detailed and scientific where it needs to be, including time and temperature logs, graphs and charts - it's well worth the time to email me at and I'll get it right out to you.

A taste is found here; 
              Introduction by Douglas Baldwin
sealed plastic pouches at low temperatures for long
times. Sous vide differs from conventional cooking
methods in two fundamental ways: (i) the raw food
is vacuum sealed in plastic pouches and (ii) the food
is cooked using precisely controlled heating.
Vacuum packaging prevents evaporative losses of
flavor volatiles and moisture during cooking and inhibits
off-flavors from oxidation (Church and Parsons,
2000). This results in especially flavorful and
nutritious food (Church, 1998; Creed, 1998; GarcĂ­a-
Linares et al., 2004; Ghazala et al., 1996; Lassen
et al., 2002; Schellekens, 1996; Stea et al., 2006).
Vacuum sealing also reduces aerobic bacterial growth
and allows for the efficient transfer of thermal energy
from the water (or steam) to the food.
Precise temperature control is important when
cooking fish, meat and poultry. Consider the
problem of cooking a thick-cut steak medium-rare.
Cooking the steak on a grill at over 1 000°F (500°C)
until the center comes up to 120°F (50°C) will result
in everything but the very center being overcooked.
A common solution is to sear one side of the
steak in a pan, flip the steak over, and place the pan
in a 275°F (135°C) oven until the center comes up
to 131°F (55°C). For sous vide, the steak is vacuum
sealed in a plastic pouch, cooked in a 131°F (55°C)
water bath for a couple hours, and then seared in a
smoking hot pan or with a blowtorch; the result is a
medium-rare steak with a great crust that is the same
doneness at the edge as it is at the center. Moreover,
the flavorful flat iron steak can be cooked (very safely)
in a 131°F (55°C) water bath for 24 hours and will be
both medium-rare and as tender as filet mignon>>

By way of explaining the detail in the paper I've included the email string between Greg and I where he tries to hip me to finer details and how he makes it work at his restaurant, The Charles Court at The Broadmoor. In particular you'll see these suddenly chic techniques on his Dinner Menu September 2010

Our conversation, like much of life is done moving forward but can only be clearly understood in reverse so if you don't mind...he sez....

    Ok, we do add some corn syrup to boost the simple sugars and also baking soda 
for ph so that the amino acids in the protein morph to sugar faster for the 
"crisp" texture you speak of.  As far as testing, I just let go and let God on 
that one.  If you set the temps right on the circulator and then properly shock 
at the end, you should be in good shape.  Celsius is we can set the temps to a 
tenth of a degree as opposed to our clunky forms of U.S. measurements only by the 
1/4 of a degree.  You don't see any measurements in lbs in any science book right?  
Short ribs we cook for 3 days in the circulator with a dry rub cure for 24 hrs, 
rinse, bag with herbs, garlic, shallots, butter and then the cooking for 3 days 
at 65c.  For the reheat, we don't put back in the water but reheat in pan for 
maillard and add either demi or remi and you have short ribs on the plate in 
like 5-7 min. P h is specific to proteins.  You need to research on the USDA web 
site to get the low down, but leaner animals like venison, buffalo have less and 
you need to add sodium-bicarbonate as well as  fructose to get the result you 
want.  With the braised items you need to leave in the bag with all the natural 
juice until you are ready to serve, just like leaving it in the braising liquid 
for the traditional way.  Important: sous vide intensifies everything so you 
use like half or less salt, seasoning, garlic than normal.
Hope this helps....


From: Adam M Lamb
Subject: Re: Hey Now
  In regards to the Maillard reaction do you find yourself adding any extra 
sugars to facilitate a nice crisp exterior? How would one test for any remaining 
pathogens or spore outbreaks to ensure proper pasteurization? Do you find that 
you're referring to your temps in Celsius because of the settings on the 
circulator or just because most of the literature is in metric? Keeping the 
sauce separate makes perfect sense so how do you handle something that would 
have been traditionally braised such as short ribs? Oil, seasonings, bag, poach, 
chill then build the sauce separately - upon order reheat in hot water, sear, 
sauce and a quick simmer to replicate the traditional process? At what point do 
you concern yourself with the ph of the product; is it specific to a particular 
protein? Questions Questions, love love
    ~ be a river ~

    Subject: RE: Hey Now
    Well,  we don't sous vide with sauces at all.  We add aromatics and oil or butter 
to the protein and usually pasteurize it to a nice medium rare or 55c.  The most 
important thing is to shock it after the circulator bath so there is no chance 
of bacterial growth.  At service all we have to do is the maillard reaction to 
caramelize the meat, bring it to temp and were done.  The egg deal is pretty 
much if you want safer eggs, then pasteurize them.  Same as the old coddled egg 
for Caesar of yore.  However, we cook them at 64.5c for two hours for the most 
perfect poached egg that you have ever seen.  They come out egg shaped!!  On one 
of our dishes we take the perfectly poached egg, bread it and fry it and serve 
it with shrimp and grits.  So the deal is you have this egg that looks like hard 
boiled and crunchy, but you cut into it, the yolk runs out and the whites are 
soft.  Kinda mind blowing when you first see it.  The sauces we do separately 
with the bones and what not and we do bag them, but just for storage.  We have 
them in 1qt bags and just throw them in the steam well just before service to 
bring them to temp, and then mount au beurre to finish.  The other really cool 
deal about all this is that first the vac machine pumps air into the bag, 
opening up the cells of the meat, then when it vacuums, it puts all the flavor 
of the herbs and oil directly into the meat so it basically marinates in like 30 
seconds instead of 12-24 hours.  Also, the compression process is great for 
tomatoes, apples, pears and etc as it intensifies their flavor 10 fold just like 
reducing a sauce.  The time tables are not accurate for us at 6500 feet, but 
most likely would be for you.  The thing to remember is that once the item gets 
to the temp you set, it cant go over so there is little to no chance of over 
cooking anything.
     I haven't found the right time to see if we can have you out yet.  I will be 
doing a benefit dinner tomorrow night with chef Sigi and that should be the time 
then. I will let you know.
much love 

     From: Adam M Lamb 
     Subject: Re: Hey Now
     wow, what a great piece - I'll have to reread it in order to get the math 
right but have you found that generally the time/temp tables to be accurate? In 
almost all recipes he doesn't address the addition of sauces much even though he 
does point out the the addition of a sauce impact the pasteurization time 
significantly; any reliable rules o' the road that you've developed/discovered 
in your mad scientist experiments?
      still trying to wrap my head around the pasteurization of the eggs; are they 
to be used like regular eggs in like a mousse recipe?
      many questions, hell I just gotta come and see it done - did you ever ask 
about a site visit for me and the liability ramifications? Will I be able to hold 
a knife?    
       you're a gift to me, my brother - in gratitude, I remain always, yours
       Sent: Mon, Sep 20, 2010 2:03 pm
       Subject: RE: Hey Now
        here is something to start with; refer to the white paper, available from
        From: Adam M Lamb 
        Subject: Re: Hey Now
        Hey that was arousing in a strange yet wonderful way - thanks my 
brother; we'll need to get into a complete dissertation on sous vide; I have a 
feeling that it'll come to the forefront of my efforts soon enough.....
       Sent: Mon, Sep 20, 2010 1:44 pm
       Subject: RE: Hey Now
       not yet but hope they do so I can sell your ass to them.
       Miss you too my brother
       Subject: Re: Hey Now
       Nothing as of yet but I can already see myself there, coming up with 
ideas, procedures and products to make a difference!
       All good things, positive mind set regardless of what my reality 
might look like now; sowing the seeds of success with my thoughts, intentions 
and deeds
       Loving you! I take it that no one has called you for a reference or 
rave reviews?
       Love to the family!
                 And so it goes between my friend and me....


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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sous Vide

Just got blown up by my best friend and a true culinary visionary, Greg Barnhill, Executive Chef at The Charles Court at The Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs. Over the last three days we've been going back and forth about Sous Vide cooking and he schooled me but good.
It started easily enough, 'What are the three most used pieces of equipment in your kitchen?' It's a simple question that draws a lot of heat because in three small words it illustrates, and illuminates a lot. In less than a paragraph, if one reads between the lines well enough, one can get an incredibly detailed look at what's going on in a kitchen 1500 miles away.
'The Dehydrator, The Circulator & my CryoVav.
Once a procedure that was frowned upon as 'shock cooking' and lacking in the finer points of finishing Sous Vide has become one of the preferred cooking methods and if this can apply to one of the most adventurous kitchens in this country then it'll apply to just about anyone, anywhere.

I'll be posting a link to a basic dissertation about this process, or more appropriately processes that'll give you the leg up on the competition and a complete thread of our conversation - properly redacted to protect the guilty.
Back in the day we would send experiments/specials/eat that type of dishes to each other in cabs, pizza delivery trucks or anything that would get it there in one piece.
It was our way of keeping our 'saws sharpened' in a good natured, competitive way but the reality is if there's not someone in your life who challenges you, your perceptions, your skill set AND does it in a loving but in-your-face-way that precludes any denial of the opportunity to learn and grow, well hell - you gotta go get you one.

Or several; everyone needs a coach AND a Master Mind Group made up of friends, co workers or professionals who you look up to and who put you back on your heels with their experience, insight and skill.

I read a great quote today. "Your growth is directly linked to how willing you are to have uncomfortable conversations" and a Master Mind Group is a great way to have uncomfortable conversations in a way that's constructive and actionable because everyone understands that their participation is for everyone's higher good and holding back or fluffing only keeps everyone, and in this case me, small.

My friend Darren Jacklin has perfected the Master Mind concept to his credit, and his bank book, guided by a moral sense that keeps him pointed Due North towards his goal of helping a million, that's 1,000,000, people have the life that they dream of - all by the time he's 45. You can find him at

It can be a life long commitment to excellence by the participants; it's essential for growth that means something and leads somewhere as long as the basic covenant of mutual honesty, integrity and understanding is honored

I'd rather come to this life as a novice, with the slack jawed awe that comes naturally to a rube in the big city than the smug complacency that comes from an expert who thinks that he's been there done that, yawn.

There's still so much to learn joyfully, laughingly and Greg, Clive, Christopher, Darren and others all support me in ways they'll never know and I'll spend the rest of my life looking for the appropriate words to express my gratitude for the gift they are to me.

If you turn up your nose and turn your back on something this powerful, don't be surprised if your competition beats you to it - the smart ones are always looking for a good tool to beat the pants off you - go now, seek, read, understand and apply

One of the Best

Authors; one to ponder possibilities with: