This was a test run at the magic cooking number of 83C. The controlled cooking yields incredible textures with vegetables (especially potatoes) because it breaks down the starch while leaving vital structure-maintaining pectin intact. I tried a variety of starches that we normally utilize... the most exciting part of the results was that even after a long 7 hours of cooking, the potato texture was never compromised. Overcooking was virtually impossible... perfect potatoes in 2 hours or 20 hours.
These are bars of sweet potato cooked with orange juice (a typical Peruvian application).
Some boniato with roasted garlic oil and salt.
Yuca cooked with mojo... this was unfortunately the big dissappointment of the trials. I really wanted to achieve a firm texture of yuca with all of the starch broken down into creaminess... didn't happen. After 7 hours of cooking, the yuca was still too hard and had a raw bite to it. I fried a piece for a short time afterwards out of curiosity. The result was so/so, but not 'get all your hopes up' promising. The idea was to achieve a great texture through sous-vide (with mojo flavor infused) and keep the pieces in mis en place to fry a la minute.
This next photo was an attempt to create a solid Peruvian causa, which is a cold potato dough. I bagged the Yukon gold cubes with aji amarillo, lime juice, olive oil, and salt. This method would allow 'causa' to be made out of whatever shape we decided to cut the potato and use it in ways that typical causa could not be used. Just chill after cooking. The result... very good.
The very last trial was not based on potato, but on corn. After seeing Bruno Bertin make polenta with sous-vide cooking (of course, he used a CVap), I could not get the idea of cooking grits out of my head... for professional and personal reasons. After gaining the benefit of waking up to perfectly cooked eggs, I felt that waking up to perfectly cooked grits would be like the gap-toothed dixie fairy paid us a visit overnight.
The results of the grits were simultaneously promising and dissapointing. If you want the most creamy melted down grit feel, then it's a dissappointment. The promise was an entirely new texture. I modified Bertin's recipe a bit to be more compatible with the American southern palate. The texture was soft, but pliable. These were grits that you could scoop up with your hands and shape like clay. Chef K mentioned that it was reminiscent of cornbread to an extent... perhaps with some ingredient changes this direction could be interesting. He is right that the texture is of a batch of cornbread that did not fully cook in the center. I did learn that (as much as I want to thrown it into the mix) butter doesn't fair well in the bag at 83C... it broke down, and had to be re-kneaded in afterwards by massaging the bag.
We'll see where we go with this in the future. At 7 hours of cooking time, these definitely are not the instant grits that no self-respecting southerner would ever admit to eating.