To create the sous vide process, chefs need a Cryovac or other similar machine that vacuum-packs food in plastic bags. A durable commercial-grade vacuum-packer is critical, says chef Todd Gray, and can cost $3,000 or more.
The bags of food are then cooked in what chef Fabio Trabocchi of Maestro calls "little Jacuzzis" -- water baths that have a special machine that precisely regulates the temperature and keeps the water gently circulating. They can range in size from countertop models to huge machines capable of cooking hundreds of portions at a time.
At Maestro at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Tysons Corner, Trabocchi uses sous vide to make goat -- the leg is cooked 36 hours sous vide and served with grilled rack and tenderloin of goat wrapped in pancetta. He also makes intensely flavored orange and lemon ices using sous vide to cook the fruit mixture before freezing.
In the Washington area, three other top chefs also are creating dishes using sous vide:
* Gray, of Equinox in downtown Washington, makes leg and breast of duck with baby spinach and kumquats; salmon crusted in brioche with lentils and autumn vegetables; and lamb shoulder with rosemary, thyme and garlic.
* Chef Michel Richard of Citronelle in Georgetown uses sous vide to make virtually all his entrees, including 72-hour beef short ribs with potato Napoleon, salmon with onion carbonara, and basil-breaded roast lamb with artichoke heart barigoule.
* Chef Eric Ziebold of CityZen at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington makes breast of Grimaud Farms guinea hen with chanterelle mushrooms and oven-dried prune plums; lemon marmalade; and duck breast cooked in truffle juice.
-- Candy Sagon