Ever since the sous-vide hype-train left the station, I've been on board.
Sous vide essentially means without air, but another term associated with the kitchen trend is precision cooking. One of the most common sous-vide machines out there is the immersion circulator (the sous-vide oven is also an option), which, put simply, is a device used to heat a container of water to a specific, consistent temperature and cook food in vacuum-sealed bags — or food-grade ziplocks — at said temp throughout.
The beauty of this magic wand is that you can prepare proteins at whatever temperatures you desire and walk away, without overcooking them. It's like a slow cooker, but with more control. The gadget isn't hard to find, either. What was once a tool exclusive to restaurants can now be acquired by home cooks for under $100 on Amazon.
So, after months of fawning over the glorious device, I received one a few months ago for Christmas. Woohoo! I couldn't wait to start cooking the next day. In all my excitement, however, it didn't occur to me until later that the sous-vide machine had a far better use: cocktails.
Longtime readers know I'm a huge proponent of infusing spirits with fresh ingredients. Some store-bought flavors are OK, but infusing your own booze is always better when possible. And now, thanks to the ability to sous vide, this behind-the-bar technique is easier. No longer do you need days, or weeks, to pull off tea-infused gin or Thai basil syrup — it takes hours.
Even better is that the flavor possibilities are endless. I would've never thought to infuse rum with banana (this week's tropical sipper is more reminiscent of a piña colada than a Painkiller, though it is National Painkiller Week), but the immersion circulator's subtle, delicate heat makes the extraction process more precise.
Pro tip: Remember to keep the temperature under 173 degrees. Otherwise, you'll burn the alcohol out of the spirit.
Easy enough for me.
Sous Vide Infused Banana Rum:
1 ripe banana, peeled
1 cup white rum
Fill a food-grade ziplock bag with your banana and rum. Fill a large container, like a pot, with water and attach the sous-vide machine to the side, but don't turn it on. Close all but the one corner of the bag and place it in the water. Hold the bag under water, excluding the open corner. Use pressure from the water to force out as much air as possible, then seal the bag. Turn on the sous vide and set its temperature at 140 degrees. (You might have to use something to keep the bag from floating to the top. I used tongs.) Cook your banana and rum for 2 hours. Drop the bag into an ice water bath to cool for 5 minutes. It yields about 1 cup.
1 1/2 ounces Sous Vide Infused Banana Rum
1 ounce coconut cream
3 ounces pineapple juice
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice, then shake until well-chilled. Strain your cocktail into a rocks or tiki glass filled with ice. Garnish with 3 pineapple leaves.