Learning to Cook Sous Vide at Market District Robinson

Back in October, a few of us local food bloggers were invited to attend the grand opening of Giant Eagle Market District at Kingsdale, and we enjoyed a day full of open access to experts and a grand tour of the place. During the course of that day, I spoke to Donna, who handles online marketing, asking about the differences between our Market District here in Ohio and the original ones in the Pittsburgh area. She explained that there’s a cooking school in their store, but that the square footage difference wasn’t all that much. We bandied about the idea of me coming out to take a class (since Pittsburgh is so close), but I put it at the back of my mind.

Fast forward about two months, and I receive an email from Donna inviting Paul and I to come to Pennsylvania for a cooking class, with accommodations for the evening provided by them. The timing couldn’t be better, with Paul getting ready to go on furlough. So we accepted their invitation and made plans to visit a few other places while in the Pittsburgh area.

After about a three hour drive from Columbus, we arrived in Robinson Township, Pennsylvania, and outlying suburb of Pittsburgh. To be honest, it reminded me of a Columbus suburb, but then again – aren’t all suburbs pretty much the same? Our accommodations were in the very nice, very new Courtyard at Marriott hotel across the street, and we took a couple of minutes to settle in and freshen up before heading up to the store for the cooking lesson. We met Donna and a few other Market District employees and headed up to the second floor for the cooking class, where we met the instructors. Chef Keira (on the left) is in charge of the Cooking School, and for the class we were taking, Chef Lawrence (middle) and Chef Scott (right) were the instructors.

Chefs Keira, Lawrence and Scott

To take the edge off our hunger, we snacked on some nuts and cookies that they had laid out for us.

Pre-Class Snacks

The topic for the evening was Sous Vide Cooking, wherein one vacuum seals their food and then immerses it into a circulator where water temperature is controlled exactly, leading to some pretty stellar results. Although I’ll describe the class in detail and leave the original recipes intact, I’ll also provide suggestions on how to make a similar dish without the Sous Vide equipment.

BLT with Smoked Pork Belly

Smoked BLT
recipe courtesy Giant Eagle Market District

6 slices of Brioche bread, toasted
1 batch of roasted Roma tomatoes
1 head of hydroponic Bibb lettuce
1 lb. pork belly, cut into slices
1/2 c. aioli
1 tbsp. apple wood chips
12 sprigs of rosemary, bottom leaves removed

Season the pork belly with fresh cracked black pepper. In a large skillet, over medium low heat, add the pork belly to the pan and start to render the fat out of the pork. Then start to dump the fat as it accumulates in the pan to help crisp up the bacon. Turn up to medium high heat and cook for 5 minutes a side to brown up the pork belly. Once the pork is cooked, place on paper towels to absorb the excess grease. Transfer all of the pork belly to a mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap and cut a small hole. Place the apple wood chips into the smoking chamber of the smoking gun and put the hose in the bowl. Light the chips with a lighter and turn on the machine and let the bowl fill up completely with smoke then turn off and cover hole with another sheet of plastic wrap. Let this sit for 10 minutes to absorb the smoky flavor.

In the meantime, place 2 leaves of Bibb lettuce on the bottom piece of bread, then place tomatoes on top. Spread 2 tbsp. of aioli on the top piece of bread, then place 4 strips of smoked pork belly on top of the tomatoes. Place the 2nd piece of bread on top and secure with 4 sprigs of rosemary. Then cut from quarter to quarter to form small triangles. Before serving light the rosemary on fire to smoke and serve.

If you don’t have a smoking gun: skip those steps and use double-smoked slab bacon instead – cut into slices and proceed as usual.

The smoking gun is a neat little gadget, though – here Chef Scott is demonstrating for us how to use it.

Chef Scott Demonstrating Smoking Gun

But this isn’t the type of class where you can sit back and rest on your laurels while the chefs do all the work. This is hands on, baby! All the ingredients for each recipe were already set out for us.

Mis En Place for Steaks

Chef Scott walked us through vacuum sealing our bags – a secret to getting it right is getting the contents of the bag as flat as possible so it cooks evenly.

Chef Scott Demonstrating Vacuum Sealing

Off they went into the immersion circulator so we could get started working on the next dish.

Immersion Circulators

I was super psyched that we were making risotto – it is one of my favorite dishes to prepare because although it’s time consuming, it’s hard to screw up.

Mis En Place for Risotto

Paul grabbed a knife and went to work chopping shallots.

Paul Chopping Shallots

While Chef Scott demonstrated the proper way to do it at the instructors stove at the center of the room. That’s the only thing about a cooking class that frustrates me a bit – needing to work at the pace of the chef. Because Paul and I do know how to cook, risotto making is old hat for us and we have our own methods. For one night only, you need to set all you know aside and follow directions.

Chef Scott Working on his Risotto

We also made some sous vide filet mignon. Mmmm…

Sous Vide Filet Mignon

Filet Mignon Sous Vide
recipe courtesy Giant Eagle Market District

1 oz. grape seed oil
4 petite filets
4 sprigs of thyme
2 sprigs of rosemary
4 sage leaves
6 cloves of roasted garlic
4 tbsp. truffle butter
Salt & pepper to taste
2 vacuum seal bags

Clamp the immersion circulator to the side of a large hotel pan or cambro and add hot water to the fill line and set the machine to the desired serving temperature. Heat a large heavy bottomed skillet over high heat. Season filets with salt and pepper on all sides and add oil to the pan. Then sear the filets for 1 minute, then flip and sear the other side until you achieve a nice brown crust. Place the meat in the vacuum seal bags and submerge the bag in an ice bath to chill down to 40F. Once the meat has thoroughly chilled, place half of all seasonings in each of the bags. Seal the pouches according to the machine’s recommendations. Then place the pouches in hot water bath and cook until the meat reaches the desired serving temperature. Once cooked, remove pouch from water bath and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Note for those without an immersion circulator: grill or prepare steak as usual, spoon truffle butter on your steak when it is done to your liking.

However, there is a benefit to cooking it sous vide – even though it looks kind of grey on the outside, check out the inside – evenly and perfectly cooked from edge to edge.

Close Up of Sous Vide Filet Mignon

The risotto was a perfect side for this. This recipe is definitely a keeper, although I think it only needs 1 cup of cream (already whipped) rather than whipping a whole cup of cream and folding it in. Here at home we just mix the mushroom duxelle through.

Risotto with Mushroom Duxelle

Porcini Scented Mushroom Risotto
recipe courtesy Giant Eagle Market District

2 tbsp. grape seed oil
1/3 c. shallots, chopped
1 c. Arborio rice
1/2 c. white wine
4 c. Market District chicken stock
1 c. heavy cream, whipped
1/4 c. Parmesan Reggiano cheese, grated
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 tbsp. dried porcini mushrooms, chopped

Heat oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat, then sweat the shallots until translucent. Toss in the Arborio rice and cook, stirring, until the rice is toasted, about 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and cook until the wine is absorbed. Start to add in the stock about 1/2 cup at a time, allowing each addition to fully absorb before adding more liquid. Once the rice is close, the absorption of the stock will start to slow down. Repeat the process until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Add in the cheese and taste, then season accordingly with salt and pepper. Then fold in the whipped cream.

If you have access to a smoking gun: Place plastic wrap over the pot and cut a small hole and insert the tube from the smoking gun. Place the dried mushrooms in the burning chamber and light with a lighter, then turn on the smoking gun. Let the machine run until the pot is filled with smoke, then turn off and place another sheet of plastic wrap on top after removing the house to seal. Let the risotto stand for 5-10 minutes to absorb the mushroom flavor, then serve.

If you don’t have a smoking gun: mix the mushroom duxelle (recipe below) into the finished risotto.

Once again, the ingredients were already set out for us:

Mis en Place for Mushroom Duxelles

Mushroom Duxelle
recipe courtesy Giant Eagle Market District

3 tbsp. unsalted butter, sliced
2 tbsp. shallots, chopped
8 oz. crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, finely chopped
1/4 c. heavy cream
1 tbsp. fresh sage, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and melt butter. Once the butter has stopped foaming up, add in shallots and saute for 2 minutes. Then toss in the mushrooms and cook until the liquid has cooked out and the mushrooms have browned. Pour in the heavy cream, fresh herbs and the Parmesan cheese and simmer until the mixture has thickened up to a paste-like consistency. Taste the mixture and season accordingly with salt and pepper to taste.

-

The biggest surprise for me is the carrots. I loved them prepared this way. But since I don’t have a sous vide unit at home, I found another way to make them that gives a similar end result. Their recipe first, then my adaptation after that.

Sous Vide Carrots

Tri Color Carrots Sous Vide
recipe courtesy Giant Eagle Market District

1 tbsp. grape seed oil
2 lbs. tri color carrots, cut on the bias
3 sprigs of thyme
1 small shallot, sliced
3 tbsp. good quality unsalted butter
2 vacuum seal bags

Clamp the immersion circulator to a large hotel pan or stock pot and add hot water to the fill line and set the machine to 185F. Cut the carrots on a hard bias to expose as much of the carrot to the water as possible. Toss carrots in a bowl with 1 tbsp. oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Then place carrots in the vacuum bags in a single evenly spaced layer then toss in the thyme, shallots and butter. Seal the pouch according to the machines instructions. Place the carrot pouch in the water bath and cook for 40 minutes or until tender. Remove the carrots from the water bath, season again with salt and pepper and serve. You can saute them lightly to get a little color on them and glaze the carrots with the remaining liquid from the bag.

Adaptation: Cut carrots as described above, and steam them until tender. Toss with a couple tablespoons of butter, salt and pepper, and Lighthouse Salad Herb Blend to taste.

The best part of the cooking class is that you get to eat what you made after. Doesn’t this look delicious? Paul and I had the foolish idea that we would eat dinner after this class…no friggin’ way. I was so full.

Plated Sous Vide Meal

They provided dessert as well, but I didn’t get around to eating it that night and boxed it up for later.

Dessert at Sous Vide Cooking Class

Now, a couple of things going on at the Robinson store that I thought was really neat. For the most part, it’s like the one we have here, but the layout of our store flows better, I think. In their produce section, they’ve got this hydroponic garden set up, growing things like butter lettuce, basil and other herbs, which they later either use in making the prepared foods in the restaurant area or sell to the public.

Hydroponic Growing System

And having lived in Pennsylvania with my husband, I know that beer in grocery stores is a no-no there. So color me surprised when I saw beer for sale in the market. There’s a catch, though. It’s licensed as a restaurant, and that’s why they are able to do it. Because of this, though – the divisions between store and restaurant are more closely enforced than is in our Market District.

Beer? In a Store in Pennsylvania?

We never did get the chance to explore Pittsburgh. We were too stuffed the night before, and when we left, we were trying to beat the snow home (we failed – it caught up to us in Cambridge, OH).

All is not lost, though – close to Pittsburgh is a convenience store/gas station that makes the best darn nachos ever. Piled on with as much good stuff as you want for like $3.50 or so. It took me most of the trip to finish them! Lord, how I wish we had a Sheetz closer to us.

Nachos from Sheetz

A big thank you to Donna Pahel and her marketing team for putting the event together – they’ve got a bunch of people working there who are passionate about what they do and truly seem to enjoy their work. Their enthusiasm is contagious!

For more information and the cooking school schedule, visit the Market District Robinson web site.

FTC Disclosure: In the course of the event, we received the following considerations, which did not affect our final review in the least: 1 night hotel accommodations, free cooking class for two (including meal, wine, and other beverages), swag bag of Giant Eagle products.

6 thoughts on “Learning to Cook Sous Vide at Market District Robinson

  1. Pingback: Learning to Cook Sous Vide at Market District Robinson | CookingPlanet

  2. Pingback: Columbus Foodie » Blog Archive » Learning to Cook Sous Vide at … | TOPCOOKINGREVIEW.COM

  3. Oh, it has me half tempted to buy one. They're around $250, and I'm hoping that P. will take the hint and buy me one for my birthday. Or Valentine's Day. Or just because. :)

  4. Pingback: Wine Glaze » Columbus Foodie » Blog Archive » Learning to Cook Sous Vide at …

  5. Have you tried J. Liu in Worthington?

    I had no review of J. Liu from friends so our party of 4 took on the challenge to wring them out. From the greeting at the front desk and onward, it was a professional and foodie-oriented establishment. The decor was interesting without being distraction. The reception and wait staff were pleasant and very well informed – how many servers know the exact count in each appetizer dish? Ours did. How many chefs make the table rounds not once but twice? Ours did.

    My colleague has an extensive wine cellar and was pleased to find many of his favorites on their list, as well others he was interested in trying.

    We ordered a variety of dishes including appetizers, soup, salad, and entrees (including one special). Each was pronounced exquisite.

    Even the smaller details like the cocktail glassware (the thin-walled truncated conical glasses as well as the wine glasses had beautiful lip feel) and the quality of the coffee were flawless.

    Highly recommended, and we will certainly be there again . . . and again. .

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