Saturday, November 20, 2010

Cooking with Brewing Equipment - Sous Vide Style!

I came across an article earlier this week about Dr. Nathan Myhrvold, a Microsoft millionaire who decided to follow his passion for cooking and develop a cookbook.  This cookbook ( started as a pet project that was supposed to be 300 pages and ended up taking over three years to develop and is 2400 pages long!  In the article it talked about his use of Sous Vide ( which is a style of cooking re-discovered in the 60's and 70's that has been slowly spreading around the world.

Right now, it is used mainly in high-end restaurants around the world.  However, there has been a slow adoption among home based chefs and it has been increasing in popularity recently.  This website has some interesting information on it (  The basic idea of the cooking style is to use precise temperature control to cook a meat EXACTLY to the desired temperature of serving, without the possibility of overcooking it.  To do this, the meat is vacuum sealed with some spices/herbs. 

Then the vacuum sealed package is placed into a temperature controlled water bath.

Coincidentally, my Hot Liquor Tank has a PID controller on it which can precisely control it's temperature.  This is where it relates to brewing beer.  Anyone with a brewing setup that can control water temperature for an extended period of time has the equipment to try this cooking method!  We decided to make some Chicken Marsala, so... we placed some flattened chicken breasts, salt, pepper, and sprigs of fresh thyme in a vacuum sealed bag and put them in 141 degree water for approximately two hours.  At 141 degrees, it takes about 20 minutes for all bacteria to be killed (  As the meat remains in solution, it becomes more and more moist as the proteins continue to break down.  Ours came out IMMENSELY moist and tender.  It really was amazing. 

Once removed from the pouches, we patted them dry while heating some extra virgin olive oil until it was smoking.  We then floured the chicken and flash seared them on both sides (less than a minute on both sides).  This achieved the proper maillard reaction to brown the chicken up both for added flavor and for presentation. 

After searing, we added some butter and baby portabello mushrooms to the skillet for 5 or 6 minutes until they soaked up all the EVOO and goodness.  After that we added 3/4 cup Marsala wine and 3/4 cup chicken stock and let it reduce for 10-15 minutes on medium.  We added 2 tablespoons of butter and poured over the chicken.  Finally, we garnished with some chopped Italian parsley. 

The chicken took on a new texture that was more moist and tender than any chicken I have had before.  It was absolutely delicious.  We paired it with some steamed broccoli and citrus/pecan/spinach salad.  All of it was delicious.  This is the recipe we loosely followed (  The cooking process itself is amazing because you CAN'T overcook it, which means it is basically error free.  The only work is vacuum sealing it, and setting the temp., after that a quick searing in a pan or on the grill and it is set to go!  I would highly recommend trying this out if your brewing equipment is capable.  It was really fun, interesting, and we look forward to perfecting the style to impress our guests! 

Please try this out and post results!  We'd love to hear from other people who have tried this! 


  1. Wow, nice work! I've been in the process of piecing together a HERMS type system for my brewing when I thought it might work well for sous vide cooking. So I did some searching to see if there were any other twisted minds like mine out there. I figured it would work just fine, but now I can't wait to get everything up and working so I can test it out myself!

  2. Excellent read. I like your style...have a good one!/Nice blog! Keep it up!

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