Probably to the surprise of some readers, the Clown is quite the chef, O.K., cook, to be more precise. On a recent trip to the City of Light, the Clown took yet another cooking class, this one dealing with the delicate soufflé. Two, actually, one cheese and one chocolate. Both of the Clown’s efforts puffed up (“soufféd” in French). Our souffflé instructor was a Texas transplant, but not from Paris, Texas, which would have been really cool. The resulting soufflés made for a nice brunch in a small dining room overlooking the Seine. Very cosmopolitan, what?
Over the years the Clown has taken several cooking classes, including one learning how to make Cajun gumbo (it’s all about the roux), some classes featuring exotic seafood and poultry recipes and, of course, the introductory PB&J for beginners.
On certain evenings of the week and Sunday mornings, it is the Clown’s duty to prepare the meal. He has carte blanche on Sunday mornings but the evening menus during the week are strictly controlled by the current wife who believes that we are what we eat and if left up to the Clown, he would eventually become a 165 pound slab of creamery butter. The Clown is very French in that regard.
The current wife subscribes to several food-related periodicals and as a result, comes across kitchen gadgets that just have to be owned. In the past year we have acquired two stainless steel skillets; a carbon steel skillet, in case the stainless ones don’t do the trick, whatever the trick is; two non-stick skillets for veggies; two high-tech meat thermometers; three Japanese knives so sharp that merely thinking about using them creates small cuts to the hands and fingers; one enormous roaster with rack and, the latest, a sous vide dohicky, delivered overnight (thank you Amazon Prime!).
In a nutshell, here is what the sous vide does: heats water.
But wait, there’s more. The water heating can be controlled via Bluetooth or wi-fi. Operators are standing by.
Here’s the benefit of the sous vide, it heats the water to a selected degree and then holds it there indefinitely. So, say that you are hosting a dinner party for 10 friends and plan to serve beef tenderloin. If all of your guests want their beef medium rare (135°), simply vacuum seal the meat in a waterproof freezer bag, heat the water to 135°, submerge the sealed meat in the water for an hour or so, longer if the pre-meal shouting about politics and religion runs long, and when it’s mealtime simply slap the perfect medium rare meat onto a hot skillet to sear it on each side for 30 seconds or so and serve. The meat will never overcook in the sous vide.
Of course, if your friends request more variation about the temperatures of their meat, you will have to own several sous vide dohickies, set them at the appropriate temperatures in several pots of water for rare (130°), medium-rare (135°), medium (145°), medium-well (160°) and/or what is known among chefs as the Donald Trump special, well-done (1245°, basically charcoal).
If you are unfortunate enough not to see the value in preparing food, especially costly beef tenderloin, in a sous vide dohicky, you have several alternatives:
- Never invite 10 friends over for a steak dinner.
- Never invite 10 friends over for a steak dinner unless they all want their meat medium-rare, just like the host, take it or leave it.
- Use three or four skillets, or better yet, the outdoor grill, start the more well-done steaks first, then start the lesser done steaks a bit later and so on. Use a high-tech meat thermometer to insure proper temperatures. If you are unsure, use a second high-tech meat thermometer.
- Make soufflé your dinner-party specialty.
The Clown has to bring this post to a close because it is his night to prepare the meal. The current wife’s menu for tonight includes a delicious kale salad with fresh kale, braised kale and wilted kale over a bed of dried kale (no dressing), kasha surprise with pine nuts and rosemary (Mmmmmm), whipped turnips using fat-free milk plus cumin and paprika and, as I think the French say, the piece of resistance, steamed broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and tofu melange.
Observoid of the Day: If your well-done steak seems tasteless, add a stick of butter.