Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Sous-Vide (Adding Herbs to the Bag?)

You ever wondered why people add herbs to the Sous-Vide Bag? Everyone assumes the essence of the herb somehow makes it into the protein. They would be wrong. The only thing that can penetrate the protein is salt. Now I am not saying the herbs don't add to the flavor of the purge.... au contraire. 

And if you want to read more on this subject here's a great Article by my buddy Norm King on "The Nose Rules The Tongue, And Why That Matters. 

Here's a post that explores this very topic. This experiment and post is written by my buddy (Robert Ziegler) with pics and all. Here's his post in it's entirety. 

My additional thoughts are at the bottom....

Ok. I promised a writeup on aromatics and seasonings in the sous vide bag, so, here we go.

I started with a nice chuck roast. 

I applied liberal amounts of soy sauce powder, garlic powder, msg, black pepper, and thyme. 

I vacuum packed then sous vide at 132 degrees for 43 hours. 

I then placed it in the oven on low broil to form a crust. I clarified the purge juices for a sauce.

Once I removed it from the oven, I split it in half right down the middle, then sliced  a strip off, and sliced the strip into slices so that I had pieces of the "outside" removed from the "inside" that had no direct contact with the seasonings. The outside pieces had some thyme flavor, but not very strong. There was a hint of garlic, but also not strong.

The meat on the inside had no discernible flavor other than nice beef flavor. My oldest daughter said that she could pick up a faint hint of thyme flavor, but honestly, I think it is because she saw me pull it off of the outside before searing. 

I really figured that with all of those flavors going into the bag, that the purge would have been overpowering. I was pleasantly wrong about this. A light drizzle over the meat, once sliced, brought a very nice herby umptiousness that really elevated the flavor of the meat.

Kosher Doshers thoughts- Here’s a caveat to herbs in the bag. Thomas Keller suggests (I believe one of his chefs) placing herbs (if you must or find a need) in a plastic wrap sachet. Place sachet (simple folded plastic) in the bag on both sides of the protein. The released juices will intermingle with the herbs and perfume the meat. Again this is only a surface treatment. If you’re expecting more than a surface treatment you need to lower your expectations... LOL. Placing herbs directly on the protein is not an great technique. 

Herbs pressed up against the protein will most likely have a (undesirable) robust and intense flavor that is isolated. If the protein is huge and you add a twig or two (rosemary or thyme) the overall treatment will be small with an intense flavor where the herb made contact.