Monday, May 26, 2014

Now I'm cooking carrots with sous vide - sooooo good!

Okay, I'll admit it. I'm kind of like a kid in a candy store with this Sous Vide machine from Anova Culinary. I've been experimenting with all sorts of things. I saw a post about how great carrots are when they're cooked sous vide, how they're so much more ... carrot-y.

So I figured I'd give it a try. I found a discussion of sous vide vegetables that said that vegetables became tender at 183 degrees, and the idea was that they'd be done in an hour.

Well, okay then. I sealed some carrots in a bag, put them in a pot with the water temperature set for 185 degrees (for extra cooking insurance) and at about 45 minutes, I noticed that my bag had puffed up with a lot of air. It was ballooning like crazy.

Hmm. And the carrots weren't even thinking about becoming tender. Nope, no way. I opened the bag and resealed and plopped them back into the water. And ... it got to the point where I REALLY needed them to be done so I gave up and microwaved them to finish.

I don't know what went wrong with those carrots, but an hour wasn't nearly enough time to get them tender. And they weren't huge, old gnarly giant mutant carrots. They weren't teeny ones, either. But they were normal not-huge carrots.

I tried again, this time raising the heat to 190 degrees and planning on cooking them a lot longer. Turns out, six hours got me what I wanted - the carrots were tender all the way through. They were still firm rather than mushy, but they weren't crisp or crunchy.

And ... the bag didn't fill with air this time. Or at least it didn't turn into a giant balloon. At one point it did seem puffy, but then it shrunk back down again. It never got to the point (or at least I didn't see it) when it got so air-filled that the bag was bobbing on the surface of the water. I don't know if it had to do with the temperature I cooked at this time, or if my previous batch of carrots was weird.

If you're a fan of the tender-crisp carrot that's cooked on the outside but still raw in the middle, of course you want to adjust your cooking time. But me, I like my carrots cooked all the way through, or all the way raw. That tender-crisp thing just doesn't do it for me.

Meanwhile, I had gotten some macadamia nut oil from a company called Emile Noel, and this seemed like a fine use for the product. Macadamia nut oil isn't generally used for cooking - it's more for drizzling on warm vegetables or for salads or for drizzling onto vegetables. But I figured that since the heat was relatively low, this could be a good use.

And I figured the flavor would be a good pairing, as well.

These carrots had the deep flavor that you get from roasting, but without shrinking or drying out. I really loved them this way.

Sous Vide Carrots with Macadamia Nut Oil

1 pound carrots, peeled and trimmed
2 tablespoons macadamia nut oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar

Put the all the ingredients into a vacuum-seal bag and seal according to manufacturer's instructions.

Cook, using sous vide at 190 degrees for 6 hours.

Serve warm, drizzled with extra macadamia nut oil, if desired.

These were perfect as is, but I could see cooking these in advance - for a party or holiday - and then warming them by roasting them briefly or heating them in a pan with a bit of butter. I left the carrots whole, but there's no reason you couldn't slice them.