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Enhance flavor of food with truffle salt

Today’s light reading may annoy some people in that I will be discussing some things not available to the general public … yet. We will take a fascinating journey into sous vide cooking, liquid nitrogen and truffle salt.
Since the truffle salt is the most recognizable and available, I’ll start with that. To begin with, there is nothing – and I mean nothing – better than fresh French fries fried in duck fat, sprinkled with truffle salt. Adding some freshly minced herbes de provence will certainly help, but it is not necessary. This is hands-down one of the best late-night snacks ever. Of course, poutine is a very close second, so maybe I’ll write about that next week.
Truffle salt is one of the most uniquely addicting seasoning devices that I’ve ever run across. It is simply good sea salt that has been infused with summer truffles. The best brand that I have found is Sabatino Tartufi and you can buy a 3-ounce jar online for about $12. Considering how long this will last, it’s not that hard of a sell.
The beautiful thing about truffle salt is what you can use it on: Everything! Well, maybe not on a bowl of Captain Crunch, but anything that you would salt could be greatly enhance with the truffle salt, but proceed with great caution.
Many people don’t understand the fragrance and potent flavors of truffle salt, as it can be a little overwhelming on the senses at first. But, once you get a liking for it, it suddenly becomes irreplaceable in the kitchen. That is, until you tire of its amazing taste. Too much of a good thing …
Now on to the sous vide cooking technique. There are volumes written about sous vide out there, and a smattering of information in a small article can hardly do it justice, but basically sous vide (French for “Under Vacuum”) is cooking things in vacuum packaging in a meticulously controlled water bath until it is done.
In this case, I vacuum packed some beef tenderloin with herbs and butter and cooked it in a 140F water bath for about two hours. What happens is that the steak is an absolutely perfect medium from top to bottom.
Sous Vide Supreme is a company that makes sous vide cookers for the home cook. I’m not sure how much they run but I know multiple people who own them and adore them.
You can have Michel Richard’s world-famous short ribs and grits with one of these countertop tools, but I’m fortunate enough to use the commercial one that we have at school. You should also use a vacuum packer, FoodSaver being the closest one for disco in the home. Some people use Ziploc bags, but just make sure to get out as much air as possible. I can’t recommend this method, but it is an option.
Then, and here is where I will probably lose many of you, I dunked it in liquid nitrogen for 35 seconds to freeze the outside. Next, I drop it in 360F fat (duck or beef work the best) for about 45 seconds, remove and pat off the fryer oil. The 688-degree difference lends an amazing crust. Then I season again with truffle salt, drizzle with brown butter and serve. This is incredibly easy but you have to have the right equipment.
And now we get to the one thing that practically no one has at their home: liquid nitrogen. This is a new addition to our school kitchen this semester and we have made some simply amazing dishes with it.
Something that we learned a month ago is in using LN to make sorbets. I’ve made ice creams with liquid nitrogen in the past but not sorbet. When you do so, the sorbet is creamier than I’ve ever had. The liquid nitrogen causes practically no crystallization so the concoction retains its smooth and creamy consistency, as the crazy chemists intended.
Coming back to the task at hand, LN is at -328 degrees Fahrenheit, so it is darn chilly. You have to be very careful with it. Once you get the hang of it, it’s just another kitchen tool, and one that is becoming more common as days go by.
By the end of the day, we have an amazing steak, simply cooked albeit very meticulously, and the perfect texture and flavor. It’s all in a day’s work, and hopefully you will get to play with some of these things soon. They’re that good.

Flash-Fried Truffle Steak
Serves 4
24 ounces beef tenderloin, cleaned
1 tsp. Truffle salt
1 stick butter
3 sprigs thyme
Liquid nitrogen, to cover beef
Beef or Duck fat for frying

Vacuum pack the steaks in a single layer after seasoning with the truffle salt and adding the butter and thyme
Heat the water bath to 140F and add the bag
Cook for at least two hours and up to four hours to ensure that the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees
Remove from the bag and pat dry. Discard bag and juices
Carefully put the steaks in liquid nitrogen for 35 seconds or until the outside is frozen solid
Remove and drop in the 360F fryer for 45 seconds
Remove, pat dry, adjust seasoning and drizzle with brown butter
Allow to rest for a few minutes and serve