Saturday, March 18, 2017

Thai Marinade Pork Chops - Sous Vide

Pork chops are one meat you don't want to overcook. Much like beef steaks, you want a juicy perfectly cooked chop every time. One way to ensure this happens consistently is to use the sous vide method.

Julian's Sous Video Thai Glazed Pork Chops
Sous vide is a method of preparing food by vacuum-sealing and heating in hot water until the meat reaches the water temperature. The words sous vide are french for “under vacuum”, although this is not a requirement as many just use zippered storage bags for cooking. The problem with that method is of course, the bags want to float and you must find a way to keep them down in the hot water. I use a vacuum system.

Juicy and perfectly cooked.
Now you might think that food would be unattractive even if perfectly cooked using sous vide. Most meats are actually finished for a minute or two on each side in a hot skillet, to give them that perfectly grilled look. A technique used extensively by fine restaurants, banquet houses and caterers, sous vide gives you the flexibility to put the food in the water to cook and know that it won't ever over cook because it can't get hotter than the water temperature. What you need to make this water bath stay hot is of course, a sous vide device (sometimes called a water oven.)

Joule in a plastic water tank with lid on to prevent evaporation.
After much research I select the Joule by ChefSteps. It's smaller than many other devices and sits in a pot or plastic container. It has a clip on the side to hold it to the container/pot and it is also magnetic on the bottom. I selected Jouse because I was trying to minimize yet another device that I would have to store, but also wanted one that was well rated. It's powerful enough for steaks for 8, and at 11 inches, it’s small enough to squeeze into my kitchen drawer. I also like the Smartphone app interface and it also connects to our Amazon Echo so I can asked Alexa what the water temperature is at any time. The app itself is pretty amazing and I usually select the guided approach. For these chops I selected the types of chops I was cooking using the photos, and then it asked me about my desired degree of doneness (again using photos to guide me) and asked for the thickness of the chops (one inch in my case.)  She set the temperature automatically, started the water pump and said it would take one hour for the chops to reach the desired temperature once cooking began. When she signaled that the water was at temperature, I lowered the vacuum bagged chops into the water bath.

Julian's sous vide chops, without marinade.
As you can see from the photo above, I've made chops several times. The first time they were not seasoned before they hit the hot skillet to finish. The second time I made a Thai marinade and put that right in with them in vacuum bag. They came out quite delicious both times. My marinade recipe is below.

The beautiful thing about the sous vide is that after the hour of cooking, you can let the chops sit in the hot water for an additional 90 minutes. They will NOT over cook. So you can finish them in your hot skillet whenever you're ready for them.

Thai Pork Chops - Marinade and Glaze

(enough for 3-4 chops)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lime juice


Whisk the ingredients together, reserving about 1/4 cup for later use.

If using sous vide, place the marinade in the bag with the chops, seal and place them in the hot water and cook per your devices instructions. I like them just a bit pink. I'd call them medium-well. For that the water should be at 60C or 140F. For one inch thick chops that takes about an hour. The chops will hold in the water bath up to 90 minutes after they've finished cooking. When you are nearly ready to serve, heat a heavy skillet with a little vegetable oil until it is quite hot. Remove the chops from the bags and discard the bags and used marinade. Place the chops in the skillet for 1-2 minutes. Turn and use the reserved marinade as a glaze on the chops. Let rest five minutes and serve.

If using this for traditional pan fried or oven baked chops, place the chops in a large zippered storage bag or baking dish. Pour the marinade over the chops and cover. Refrigerate for one hour, turning once halfway through.  Bake or pan fry as usual.

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