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The chefʼs secret? Cooking low and slow
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The chefʼs secret? Cooking low and slow

Sous-vide preparation yields intensely flavourful, tender results, as demonstrated in this three-course Canadian menu by executive chef Devan Rajkumar

Sous vide – French for “under vacuum”– is a gentler, more relaxed way to cook. But don’t confuse modern sous-vide cooking with boil-in-the-bag TV dinners. Nothing is boiled, nothing gets that hot. Cooking temperatures in sous-vide cuisine mostly range between 57 C (134 F) and 71 C (160 F), and cooking times tend to be longer, but can also be surprisingly rapid. Foods such as fish, meat, fruits and vegetables, even eggs, are vacuum-sealed in a durable plastic bag, along with a drop of oil or butter and some seasonings, and are then – traditionally – circulated in a hot water bath or, better yet, steam cooked in Gaggenauʼs 400 Series Combi-Steam Oven.

Chef Devan Rajkumar pops a tray of vacuum-sealed salmon into the Gaggenau 400 Series Combi-Steam Oven. This gorgeous built-in unit generates steam heat for even, moist and gentle cooking, and since it cooks with both wet and dry heat, it eliminates the need for a separate sous-vide countertop unit. The vacuum-sealing unit is tucked neatly away behind a sleek steel drawer.

Photo: Thomas Bollmann

What results is meltingly tender, delicately poached, intensely flavourful and more nutritious, because nutrients aren’t killed by extreme heat and they can’t escape. Many chefs agree, it’s a healthier way to cook. And because flavours are intensified by being under pressure, less salt or added fats are needed. And there’s more – literally – because the bag is airtight, all of a food’s natural goodness and volume is retained – there is no shrinkage.

Sous vide has been an integral part of industrial-scale cooking – think airline and railway caterers, institutions and the military – for decades. Recently, though, some of the world’s top chefs – Ferran Adria, Grant Achatz, Heston Blumenthal and Toronto’s own Claudio Aprile – have brought the process into the spotlight. Now, Gaggenau is bringing it to the home cook, too.

A fan of what sous vide brings to cooking, guest executive chef Devan Rajkumar was thrilled to work in the Gaggenau Luxe Appliance Studio. “I love the gentle nature and pinpoint precision of sous-vide cooking, and the unmatched craftsmanship found in Gaggenau appliances,” he said.

Click right through the arrows to follow the poutine preparation
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Photo: Thomas Bollmann
Rosé and poutine? Mais oui. Sommelière Rebecca Meir-Liebman joined forces with chef Devan Rajkumar to pick the perfect pairings for his iconic Canadian dishes. “Poutine is quite an interesting dish to pair [with] wine,” says Meir-Liebman, “because most of the elements – fries and cheese curds – are quite neutral in flavour, and that means the wine pairing really depends on the gravy. The caramelized onions and balsamic vinegar in the short rib gravy are rich and have some sweetness, which makes it pair well with a dry rosé. This one cuts through that richness, and the wine’s freshness lightens up this hearty dish.”
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Photo: Thomas Bollmann
For the very best fries, chef Devan Rajkumar insists on twice frying. His instructions; “Blanch the potatoes in cooler-than-usual oil first, let them cool -- some cooks put them into the fridge or freezer to chill quickly -- then fry them in properly hot – 350 F – oil until golden and crisp.” Deep frying on this Gaggenau induction range is safer and more accurate as there are no flames and induction heat is super-controllable.
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Photo: Thomas Bollmann
Sometimes you just have to use your senses to know when something is done. With sous-vide cooking, timing is important and precise, but with deep frying, it’s all about that golden colour and crispy crunch. Chef Devan Rajkumar transfers perfectly cooked fries to a large, light bowl – stainless steel is best; it’s easy to hold with one hand, and it can withstand the hot oil – for seasoning before presenting his twist on a French-Canadian classic.
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Photo: Thomas Bollmann
Tossing the cooked fries with salt as soon as they come out of the fryer is the key to perfect seasoning; the salt clings to the residual oil. Although no one expects you to toss them has high as chef Devan Rajkumar.
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Photo: Thomas Bollmann
Since the rest of Canada discovered Quebec’s signature dish, poutine, chefs across the country have played with toppings – luxe, regional and seasonal – from lobster to duck confit. Chef Devan Rajkumar’s poutine is a double decker of decadence with two layers of fries, curds, caramelized onions and sous-vide short-rib gravy. It’s wonderfully decadent without being over-the-top. He arranges the caramelized onions using his trusty kitchen tweezers, but if you’re making this at home, no one expects you arrange the onions like a chef – go ahead, use your fingers.
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Photo: Thomas Bollmann
If it doesn’t squeak, it isn’t poutine. Some folks are very serious about this stuff, and some say, when it comes to poutine, it’s all about the cheese curds. For our money, the best cheese curds are local, white cheddar – not those neon orange ones – and they have to squeak when bitten in half.
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Photo: Thomas Bollmann
With sous-vide steam-heat cooking, chef Devan Rajkumar achieves a depth and richness of flavour in the gravy in a fraction of the time it would normally take in a Dutch oven or on the stovetop. Since it’s made sous-vide in a vacuum bag, his meaty, short-rib gravy can be made well in advance, then simply reheated in a saucepan. Sous-vide technology is convenient and can help reduce food waste too, food scientists say. Once food is properly vacuum-sealed in plastic, it can keep, cooked or raw, in the fridge for several days and in the freezer almost indefinitely.
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Photo: Thomas Bollmann
Perfect poutine is served with caramelized onions, short-rib gravy and chives, care of chef Devan Rajkumar and Gaggenau’s cutting-edge sous-vide, induction and gas appliances.
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Photo: Thomas Bollmann
It’s been said that one of Marilyn Monroe’s favourite indulgences was salty potato chips and Champagne, and why not? The dry bubbles of Champagne are just the antidote to the tasty yet tongue-coating chip oil. We’re taking a page out of Marilyn’s guide to good times with this pairing of rich, fatty poutine and dry – if not sparkling – rosé wine, and it works wonderfully.
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Photo: Thomas Bollmann
Sous vide and fish were made for each other. Cooking fish just right can be a tricky business – overcooking and drying out are the most common crimes home cooks commit against seafood. But with sous vide, that’s just about impossible. Chef Devan Rajkumar’s stunningly beautiful salmon dish is multilayered, fresh and flavourful. And yes, the salmon was cooked to moist, flaky perfection sous vide in the Gaggenau 400 Series Combi-Steam Oven. Sommelière Rebecca Meir-Liebman chose Hidden Bench’s pinot noir to compliment this dish. “It’s quite a soft, delicate, light- to medium-bodied red, which makes it possible to pair with a lighter fish dish. The earthiness of the wine works beautifully with that of the black rice; and the ponzu compliments the red cherry notes in the wine.”
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Photo: Thomas Bollmann
Nanaimo bars are truly a Canadian classic. Here, chef Devan Rajkumar adds his own twist with sous-vide crystallized ginger. Sous-vide cooking isn’t just for savoury foods; desserts come out beautifully, too. Sommelière Rebecca Meir-Liebman paired this sweet, creamy, gingery confection with a blushing late-harvest cabernet franc dessert wine. Meir-Liebman explains her somewhat unorthodox choice: “There is a widely accepted wine-and-food pairing rule that says the wine served with dessert should be sweeter than the dish. But, if the dessert is sweet and the wine is even sweeter, the whole experience can be overwhelmingly, cloyingly, palate-stupefyingly sweet. That’s why I chose a late-harvest wine that is less sweet than icewine, yet sweet enough to be served with sweet desserts. The ginger works to create an even more pleasing pairing, giving the palate a spicy break from all that sweetness.”


To book a visit with one of our product consultants or for a cooking demo with Gaggenau’s Executive Chef, call 1-888-966-LUXE. And take advantage of special offers on Bosch, Thermador and Gaggenau appliances.


Poutine with caramelized onions, short rib gravy and chives

Prep Time: 20 min Cook Time: 25 min Serves: 2

Photo: Thomas Bollmann

Once a Quebec secret, now claimed by all of Canada as our national vice, poutine is a guilty pleasure made more decadent with the addition of luscious caramelized onions. Here, the magic of sous vide gives the short-rib gravy a depth of flavour and richness that would normally take hours and hours to achieve.

Fries

  • 2 russet potatoes, washed, skin on
  • 1 cup cheese curds
  • 5 chives, finely sliced
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup short rib gravy (recipe to follow )
  • Caramelized onions (recipe to follow)

Method

Line a baking sheet with kitchen towel; set aside.

Fill a pot suitable for deep frying one-third the way up with oil. Set over medium heat to begin. Adjust heat and use a thermometer to bring oil to approximately 250 F.

Cut potato into fries of desired thickness.

Once oil is hot, add fries in small batches – don’t overcrowd or the temperature will drop too low and the pot may boil over. Blanch for 4 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer batches of blanched fries to prepared baking sheet. Set aside and allow excess oil to drain until ready for the final fry, which can be done once the caramelized onions and short-rib gravy are ready.

Heat oil to 350 F. Add the fries to the oil and cook until golden brown, approximately three to five minutes. Then transfer to a medium bowl and toss with salt, pepper and cheese curds.

Tip: whenever deep frying, keep a tight fitting lid nearby to suffocate the flames in case of an oil fire.

Caramelized onions

  • 2 red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tsp butter
  • ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/3 teaspoons fresh cracked black pepper

Into a skillet over medium-low heat, add all the ingredients for the caramelized onions. Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring from time to time, until richly dark and meltingly soft. Cover and set aside.

Short-rib gravy

  • 8oz fully cooked short rib
  • ¾ cup demi-glace; homemade or store-bought

Place short rib and demi-glace in a bag and vacuum seal. Cook sous vide at 175 F for 20 minutes. Remove from the water bath and carefully squeeze the bag to break up the meat into small pieces. Set aside.

Assembly

Serve this elegant poutine in a stack. Into two bowls or soup plates, start with a layer of fries and curds, then top with gravy, then with a layer of onions and chives. Repeat, finishing with a garnish of chives, and serve immediately.


Maple syrup and olive oil sous-vide salmon with cauliflower purée, charred corn, ponzu, black rice and crispy onions

Prep Time: 20 min Cook Time: 35 min Serves: 2

Photo: Thomas Bollmann

Sous-vide salmon

  • 10 ounce fillet of salmon, skin removed
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 cups cooked black rice
  • 1 ear of corn, shucked
  • ½ cup ponzu sauce, divided
  • ½ cup store-bought crispy onions, divided

Method

Add the salmon, maple syrup and olive oil to a vacuum-seal bag. Seal and place in the Gaggenau 400 Series Combi-Steam Oven. Set at 150 F for 28 minutes.

Roast corn over an open flame or under a broiler – turning often – until nicely charred in spots. Using a sharp chef’s knife, shave off kernels, trying to keep them in clusters.

Remove salmon from the oven and vacuum bag, and using a fork, flake the meat into bite-sized pieces.

Cauliflower purée

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 2 cups cauliflower, stem and florets, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup half and half (10%) cream
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅓ teaspoon white pepper

Put vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onions and garlic and cook for 10 minutes or until translucent. Add cauliflower, cream, honey, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and increase heat to medium. Cook, stirring often, for 20 minutes, or until cauliflower is falling-apart soft.

Use an immersion blender (or wand) to purée. Then, for an even finer texture if desired, press through a fine sieve with the back of a spoon or rubber spatula. Cover and set aside to keep warm until ready to serve.

Assembly

Assemble the dish in this order: black rice drizzled with one to two teaspoons of the ponzu sauce, followed by the salmon, cauliflower purée, corn, and finally, crispy onions. This dish should be served warm. Optional garnishes are cooked edamame and thinly sliced radish.


Nanaimo bar crumble with maple ice cream, orange ganache and crystallized ginger

Prep Time: 20 min Cook Time: 50 min Serves: 4

Photo: Thomas Bollmann

Nanaimo bars

  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, divided
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup flaked, unsweetened coconut
  • ½ cup chopped raw pecans
  • 2 tablespoons custard powder
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • Maple ice cream, to serve
  • Crystallized ginger
    • 1 4-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
    • ¼ cup water
    • ¾ cup sugar

Combine 2 ounces of the chocolate and ½ cup of the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat; stir occasionally to melt and combine.

Add vanilla, egg, graham crumbs, coconut and pecans to the melted chocolate and press into the bottom of a greased 9-inch square baking pan and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside on rack to cool completely in the pan – approximately 1 hour.

In a medium bowl, whisk custard powder and milk together. Add ¼ cup melted butter and icing sugar; continue to whisk until fully incorporated. Pour over cooled crust and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until set.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt remaining 2 ounces chocolate; when smooth, spread evenly over cooled and set custard layer. Refrigerate overnight before cutting.

Orange Ganache

  • 8 ounces ready-made dark chocolate ganache
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • ¼ teaspoons kosher salt

In a saucepan over low heat, combine ingredients for orange ganache, allowing flavours to blend. Remove from heat and transfer to a squeeze bottle.

Crystallized ginger

  • 1 4-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¾ cup sugar

Add ginger and water to a vacuum bag. Seal and cook sous vide at 147 F for two hours. Remove from the bag, place on a wire rack and sprinkle liberally with sugar. Allow to dry overnight on a wire rack.

Assembly

To serve, cut a 2-inch by 2-inch piece of Nanaimo bar and coarsely chop. Add this to the bottom of a dessert bowl. Add a scoop of the maple ice cream, drizzle with the orange ganache, top with the crystallized ginger and garnish with a few more crumbles of Nanaimo bar, if desired.

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