Can't make it to Per Se for Thomas Keller's "Cryovacked watermelon"? Or can't afford $8,000 for four days of sous-vide training? Just head to your nearest grocery store - and you too can have sous-vide - made E-Z!
Sous-vide is just the French term for "under-vacuum" - which is basically those boil-in-bag meals. The ones in the photo above are by legendary chef Joel Robuchon - only the cabillaud/cod is sous-vide - the accompanying ravioli are in a separate bag. The others are in disposable bowls.
But you don't need to come to France for sous-vide supermarket food. Ever try Stouffer's Chicken a la King? That's sous-vide too. I had it once - a memorably bad, bland, and flabby experience. But their Escalloped Chicken & Noodles - not sous-vide - is surprisingly good-eatin'. It's a buttery-breadcrumb topped frozen casserole - especially tasty with homemade, oven-roasted broccoli that you can bake at the same time - and then serve it all over fresh, hot white rice for a deeply comforting carb-induced bliss. But I digress.
I like sous-vide for some things - especially foie gras. It was interesting to learn from the article that the gastronomic use of sous-vide in France started at the Michelin three-star restaurant Troisgros for foie gras. In the past few years, I've cooked hundreds - maybe a thousand of those precious fattened livers - most of them sous-vide - in a steam oven. But sous-vide is not some futuristic be-all-end-all cooking - where I can plug in a raw liver, punch in some coordinates, and - voila! - perfect foie gras every time. No. Before those livers get anywhere close to getting bagged, they need to be deveined, seasoned, and prepped. I'm lucky to have learned a beautiful deveining technique at Ducasse - from a cook-friend who coincidentally worked at Troisgros.
For those racing to get their very own sous-vide systems or El Bulli TeppanNitro - or Alinea Antigriddle - I have an insider tip for you on the next big thing at El Bulli - they're planning on installing a bad-ass barbecue.
So with Stouffer's and Weber, you too can be on the cutting edge of gastronomic technology in your very own home.