What is the best way to cook vegetables? This has been a big question in our world. We have been taught and have ourselves taught a variety of techniques for cooking vegetables. Recently we have been re-examining why we've cooked vegetables in certain ways.
Let's take a look at carrots. For the longest time we would peel carrots, then cut them into shapes from brunoise to macedoine to oblique. We would place the carrots in cold water with a sugar and salt, slowly bring them up to a simmer, cook them to desired tenderness, and shock them in an ice bath. Upon reflection it seemed clear that we were washing away a good percentage of the flavor in both the boiling water and the ice bath. It seemed apparent that we needed to experiment with carrots cooked sous vide. Eventually we determined that cooking whole, medium sized, peeled carrots at 84 degrees Celsius for one hour rendered them tender with a bit of structure, much like the texture of a bar of good milk chocolate. For us this is a perfectly cooked carrot. During the process we discovered that the carrots were easier to peel and slice after cooking and that they cooked more uniformly than did the pre-cut versions that we began with. Cooked in their skins they developed a sweet earthy flavor which was like carrots on steroids and overall the sous vide technique simply produced a better ingredient.
The picture shows carrots cooked sous vide, sliced on a mandoline, impregnated with calcium, brushed with pectin, and vacuum sealed to enhance the bond. The carrot sheets are functional, beautiful, and delicious. We'll see what vegetable talks to us tomorrow.