Imagine cooking pork shanks confit not in a pot on your stove or in your oven but in a plastic tub on your counter top. How about a 20-pound brisket cooked in an ice chest. Or a steak cooked perfectly medium rare – every time. Welcome to cooking sous vide.
I got tired of dry roasts. I cooked them in a crock pot completely submerged in liquid – how in the hell could they be dry. Then I realized that my crockpot, even on low, was boiling the juices out of the roast and into the surrounding liquid. My son’s a chef and he had told me about cooking sous vide – he explained how it worked and said that it was used a lot in restaurants. He said that you season what you’re cooking and then vacuum seal it in a heavy duty plastic bag and then you submerge the bag in a water bath that’s circulated and controlled to an exact temperature. If you want a medium rare steak then you cook it in a water bath at 130 degrees. You don’t have to cook it very long because you’re not trying to break down a bunch of connective tissue – 1-2 hours max.
Pork shanks are a different story – lots of connective tissue to break down – but well worth your effort. My daughter, Megan, and I had pork shanks confit – so pork shanks cooked in fat – at a place called “The Pig” in Washington, D.C. One of the best meals I’ve ever had. So of course, I had to figure out how to make my version. The first time I did it I cooked it in the oven in a big caste iron dutch oven and covered it in pastured pork lard. It tasted delicious, but that required a lot of pastured pork lard to cook 4 pork shanks. The next time I cooked it I decided to give the Anova a crack at it. I brined the shanks for 24 hours and then I dried them off, gave them a generous slathering with pastured pork lard and vacuum sealed them with a Food Saver. Then I put them in a water bath with the Anova and cooked them at 150 degrees for 48 hours. I crisped the outside of the shanks on a screaming hot grill and served them with some incredible collard greens. Damn, sometimes I scare myself!
Grab an Anova and a Food Saver Vacuum sealer and let the magic happen.