Review : The Instant Pot Pressure Cooker

The InstaPot : Now a permanent fixture in my kitchen.

The Instant Pot : Now a permanent fixture in my kitchen.

I had been flip-flopping on purchasing a pressure cooker for much of 2016, but had been driven to extreme procrastination through troubling flashbacks to the almost Lovecraftian culinary horrors that my Mother can utilised hers to summon back in the 70s and early 80s. I also have fuzzy memories of an explosion at some point, and our kitchen being completely covered in molten pea and ham soup. It was Mini Kievs for dinner that night.

Indeed, when I mention the words “pressure” and “cooker” together to my Chef friends, 90% of them reply with words along the lines of “terrified”, “intimidated”, and/or “explosion”. It appears that many a usually fearless Chef is frightened by the prospect of a pressure cooker encounter.

It took an extremely hungover Autumnal morning in a friend’s Edinburgh kitchen in order for me to take the next step towards Instant Pot nirvana.

I was nursing the wounds of the previous night with a nice cup of tea in his kitchen when I spied his Instant Pot.

“What’s this thing here? Is that a pressure cooker?” I asked.

“Ah, that’s my Instant Pot. I use it almost every day. You can make almost anything in it. I use it for soups mostly… and stocks… you can do a stock in around 45 minutes”

And that was it.

Perhaps it was the Caledonian 80 Shilling still pounding through my cardiovascular system, but I immediately opened up my Ebay app and hit the BUY IT NOW button.

Two weeks later when I arrived back in Toronto there was a large package sitting on the dining room table. Having completely forgotten about my impulse purchase, when I open the box I was overjoyed.

And that was me right down the Instant Pot rabbit hole.

Getting used to the Instant Pot and its eccentricities takes a little while, as it’s not entirely intuitive, and despite the fact that it bills itself as an (almost) do-it-all wonder, it certainly does some things better than others.

To be honest, I don’t think that the enclosed recipe book (2nd edition) does the unit any favours. My first foray into pressure cooking was with the Beef Roast with Potatoes and Carrots One Pot Meal from this thin pamphlet, and it was an unmitigated disaster. The beef was nasty, tough and dry, the vegetables absolute mush. The family were most disappointed, and I was worried that I had thrown away a couple of hundred dollars on a useless gadget. But I decided to persevere…

I was directed to the website Hip Pressure Cooking (terrible name, but some great recipes and tips) and went to the library to pick up Diane Phillips’ Easy Pressure Cooker Cookbook. With these two resources at my disposal I was primed to join the cult of the Instant Pot.

After having the Instant Pot for three months, I have say that I am pretty impressed. I use it a couple of times every week to make stews, soups, legumes, eggs, chillies, and stocks. I think that it is in these areas that it really excels. For the record, I’ve still to try out the yogurt and rice functions.

Making stock is one of my favourite things to do in the kitchen, and with the Instant Pot, a few chicken carcasses, and some vegetable scraps one can rattle off a beautifully clear chicken stock in 45 minute. Well, it’s never quite 45 minutes as the unit has to come up to pressure first, and then after the cooking time elapses one has to depressurise the thing (natural or forced release). So let’s say an hour for a delicious chicken stock. And the best thing is that once one has added the ingredients and programmed the Instant Pot, one can bugger off and do other things whilst the cooker does everything independently of human interaction, with none of your usual manual bring-to-boil-then-reduce-to-simmer action required. The same goes for soups, that are made in around the same time.

The sauté function comes in really handy for softening vegetables and browning meats before cooking without the need for another pot. One can also use the sauté function to reduce the liquidity of the contents after cooking is completed.

I’ve always promised to include more beans, lentils, and peas in my family’s diet, and it is in cooking these that the Instant Pot really shines. Castelluccio Lentils in around 15 minutes? Yes please. If you don’t have time to pre-soak dried beans or peas then one can simply double the cooking time at pressure and use the natural pressure release method for superb results.

A friend reminded me of the included steaming rack, and explained that one could make perfectly cooked soft or hard “boiled” eggs in six and 12 minutes respectively. It took me around two weeks to actually find said steaming rack as I had squirrelled it away somewhere “safe” when I first opened the packaging, but after using it to place a half dozen eggs in the Instant Pot the results were tremendous. After a brief cold water bath they peeled like a dream. I’d recommend the steam function over the pressure cooking here though, as with the latter one again has to wait for it to come to pressure before the cooking time begins.

It’s also bloody amazing for tenderising chicken gizzards, but that’s a story for another post.

Where I find the Instant Pot falls a little flat is pressure cooking vegetables. Every time I have cooked vegetables at pressure (outside of soups and stews) the results have been overcooked and mushy. I still enjoy a bit of bite to my vegetables, and so I’ll probably stick to steaming or sautéing on the stovetop.

I did attempt a whole chicken in my Instant Pot but found the results quite disappointing. I happen to have a thing for crispy skin and so in the future I’ll be using the oven for that. In fact don’t ever expect anything crispy to come from your Instant Pot. It’s a texture that it simply doesn’t do.

Now, the question remains… is it safe? And do my tough Chef pals have a right to be scared?

Well, as soon as the unit comes to pressure the lid locks firmly in place, and so theoretically one couldn’t open the thing whilst it was full of superheated molten pea and ham soup. With the internal electronic thermostat monitoring the temperature at all times during operation, unlike the old stovetop versions there appears to be no chance of any explosions happening, and scouring the interwebs I can find no stories pertaining to such an experience with the Instant Pot anywhere.

My only words of advice regarding safety would be:

  1. Don’t fill even a millimetre above the maximum fill line on the internal pot.
  2. Be careful when you choose a forced pressure release, perhaps wearing a heat-proof glove of some sorts, as that is some superheated steam channeling out of that valve there. It usually smells damn good though.

The Instant Pot is an extremely versatile little gadget that would be particularly useful for someone in a smaller kitchen who could use this small countertop unit to replace their sauté pan, stock pot, slow cooker, microwave, rice maker, steamer, and yogurt maker. Contrary to what I mischievously told Pay Chen, it does not also make cotton candy and “the best espresso I have ever tasted”, but it is mightily impressive nonetheless.

I’m hooked, and I understand the love many are feeling for this Ottawa-based success story.

(Four and half apples out of a possible five)


Jamie DrummondEdinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And he sure does love that hungover purchase.

On The Hunt For Good Food In Prince Edward County

You intrepid GFR reporter tries his hand at a spot of ice fishing on the Bay of Quinte, apparently one of the very best places in Canada for Walleye. I have to admit that it was a little nerve-wracking. Who knew that one could ice fish on only three inches of ice? Thank goodness for the tumblers of whisky.

Your intrepid GFR reporter tries his hand at a spot of ice fishing on the Bay of Quinte, apparently one of the very best places in Canada for Walleye/Pickerel. I have to admit that it was a little nerve-wracking. Who knew that one could ice fish on only three inches of ice? Thank goodness for the tumblers of whisky as I was pretty damn anxious… especially with the CC-177 Globemaster III transport planes from nearby Trenton airbase flying right over our little fishing spot.

Just last weekend I had the extreme pleasure of spending a weekend with Vicki Samaras and Jonas Newman of Prince Edward County’s Hinterland winery and County Road Beer Company. Ostensibly I was there to learn some hunting basics (see my New Years Resolutions) as Jonas is a seasoned compound bow and recurve crossbow hunter. Little did I know that the very same weekend Jonas and Vicki had partnered with both Norman Hardie Winery and Angéline’s Inn to present a game dinner cooked by Hinterland Chef Neil Dowson and a fishy lunch prepared by Scout Canning’s Charlotte Langley, as well as accommodations at the aforementioned Angélines. Oh, and especially for me Jonas decided to throw in a little ice fishing too.

Their next dinner is on the 25th of February featuring Chef Daniel Usher preparing a southern European dinner at Norm Hardie’s with Chef Dowson assembling a Danish Smorrebord Sunday lunch at Hinterland. Check out the Hinterland website for further details as they are made available. The cost for last week’s dinner/accommodation/lunch package was $500 per head.

As sun retreated we experienced the magical hour. And it got even colder. Much colder. The ice started freezing up even more, and I heard and felt my first ever ice quake. Utterly terrifying. Did we catch anything in our two hours on the ice? Nope. But it was a truly amazing and exhilarating experience, and I think that's the point. I'd love to do this again soon.

As the sun retreated we experienced the magical hour. And it got even colder. Much colder. The ice started freezing up even more, and I heard and felt my first ever ice quake. Utterly terrifying. Did we catch anything in our two hours on the ice? Nope. But it was a truly amazing and exhilarating experience, and I think that’s the point. I’d love to do this again soon.

Hinterland Chef Dowson hails from England, with his last job in the UK being Scotland's luxury Torridon Hotel (located next to the Balmoral estate, where he learned a thing or two about preparing game. All of the meat and fish served had been hunted/caught by Hinterland's Winemaker Jonas Newman.

Hinterland Chef Dowson hails from England, with his last job in the UK being Scotland’s luxury Torridon Hotel (located next to the Balmoral estate, where he learned a thing or two about preparing game. All of the meat and fish served that evening had been hunted/caught by Hinterland’s Winemaker Jonas Newman. Note the Venison heart and liver from one of Jonas’ hunts ready for prep on the table at the County Road Beer Company brewery.

Upstairs above the Hinterland tasting bar, hidden behind their sparkling library, is this wonderful little gastronomic sanctuary, available for private parties and special events.

Upstairs above the Hinterland tasting bar, hidden behind their sparkling library, is this wonderful little gastronomic sanctuary, available for private parties and special events. Seats 16 comfortably.

The mild-mannered Jonas Newman turns out to be a seasoned hunter. Here he is pictured with one of his compound bows and his recurve crossbow. Behind is a sturgeon skin courtesy of Cornel at Acadian Sturgeon.

The mild-mannered Jonas Newman turns out to be a seasoned hunter. Here he is pictured with one of his compound bows and his recurve crossbow. Behind is a sturgeon skin courtesy of Cornel at Acadian Sturgeon.

Chef Neil Dowson serves up a piping hot pot of Bullshot, and delicious mix of game consommé, spices, and gin. Just the thing to warm you up on a chilly Canadian Winter evening.

Chef Neil Dowson serves up a piping hot pot of Bullshot, and delicious mix of game consommé, spices, and gin. Just the thing to warm you up on a chilly Canadian Winter evening.

Smoked Trout Rillette, something that worked incredibly well with a glassful of bubbles from Hinterland's range.

Smoked Trout Rillette, something that worked incredibly well with a glassful of bubbles from Hinterland’s range.

Venison Heart Tartare, from the heart pictured above. Exquisite.

Venison Heart Tartare, from the heart pictured above. Exquisite.

Seared Venison Liver on Crostini with Apple. A favourite of mine.

Seared Venison Liver on Crostini with Apple. A favourite of mine. From the liver pictured previously.

Game Paté-En-Croute, stuffed with pheasant, duck, goose, rabbit, and venison. Served with cressy mustard and cornichon. Mind-blowing, and served with some vintage Hinterland Rosé.

Game Paté-En-Croute, stuffed with pheasant, duck, goose, rabbit, and venison. Served with cressy mustard and cornichon. Mind-blowing, and served with some 2013 vintage Hinterland Rosé.

Lake Pickerel (Walleye) Paupiette with a Salmon Roe Beurre Blanc and Fleuron, served alongside the gorgeous 2013 Les Etoiles from HInterland.

Lake Pickerel (Walleye) Paupiette with a Salmon Roe Beurre Blanc and Fleuron, served alongside the gorgeous 2013 Les Etoiles from Hinterland.

Haunch of Venison with Gratin Potato, Maple Roasted Carrots, Pickled Red Cabbage, and Celeriac Purée. Served with two vintages of Ontario Syrah, the first from the Lake Erie North Shore Project (made with Will Predhomme) and the second the Red Herring Wismer-Parke Vineyard from Niagara. Both were distinctly different, but a superb match for the venison.

Haunch of Venison with Gratin Potato, Maple Roasted Carrots, Pickled Red Cabbage, and Celeriac Purée. Served with two vintages of Ontario Syrah, the first from the 2012 Lake Erie North Shore Project (made with Will Predhomme) and the second the 2015 Red Herring Wismer-Foxcroft Vineyard from Niagara. Both were distinctly different, but a superb match for the venison. I haven’t had wild venison for nigh on 21 years since I left Scotland. This was really special.

And of course some cheese (served at a perfect temperature) : The perfect end to a delightful evening... paired with even more Hinterland bubbles.

And of course some cheese (served at a perfect temperature) : The perfect end to a delightful evening… paired with even more Hinterland bubbles.

Just a touch more of that 2012 Syrah please?

Just a touch more of that 2012 Syrah please?

The next morning at Norman Hardie's for some sparkling and oysters around the brazier.

The next morning at Norman Hardie’s for some sparkling and oysters around the brazier.

A fascinating barrel and tank tasting with Winemaker Norman Hardie in the cellar of his winery. It was pretty chilly down there...

A fascinating barrel and tank tasting with Winemaker Norman Hardie in the cellar of his winery. It was pretty chilly down there…

Scout Canning's Charlotte Langley was in charge of our fish-focused luncheon, and after a night of game meats it went down a treat.

Scout Canning’s Charlotte Langley was in charge of our fish-focused luncheon, and after a night of game meats it went down a treat.

B.C. Albacore Tuna with Whipped Bacon Fat and Celery Foliage.

B.C. Albacore Tuna with Whipped Bacon Fat and Celery Foliage, served with Le Portage Laurentian, a wine made by Norman Hardie specially for Montreal’s Joe Beef.

Lightly-Smoked Lake Trout with Carrots and Fennel.

Lightly-Smoked Lake Trout with Carrots, Fennel and Roe.

Lightly-Smoked Lake Trout with Carrots, Fennel and Roe.

Lightly-Smoked Lake Trout with Carrots, Fennel and Roe.

Whitefish Pie (from a can) with a Pickled Egg.

Whitefish Pie (from a can) with a Pickled Egg, served with the 2014 Norman Hardie Cuvée Des Amis… an excellent pairing.

Charlotte created this amazing canned dessert too. It was really quite special... and I never usually eat dessert!

Charlotte created this amazing canned dessert too. It was really quite special… and I never usually eat dessert! Honey Yogurt Pancotta, Raw Blueberry Flour Crust, Pistachios and Citrus.

It really was an astonishing weekend, with some stellar food and wine coupled with the very best in company.


Jamie DrummondEdinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And that was a truly unique experience.

Jamie’s GFR Resolutions For 2017

Entertaining Horsemeat Disco's Severino at Toronto's Bar Raval. See #19

Entertaining Horsemeat Disco’s Severino at Toronto’s Bar Raval (see #19).

  1. I will attempt to bake my own bread at least once a week.
  2. I will learn how to icefish, documenting the process for Good Food Revolution.
  3. I will spend more time in Niagara visiting vineyards thanks to the daily flights there.
  4. I will go through the proper training to ethically hunt, field-dress, butcher, preserve and prepare my own game meat, documenting the process for Good Food Revolution
  5. I will endeavour to have more of an open mind when it comes to “natural wines” and their inherent qualities… *cough*.
  6. I will never eat another KFC Big Crunch Sandwich again.
  7. I will attempt to eat outside of my cliquey little downtown Toronto bubble, venturing to the Greater Toronto Area and beyond for restaurant sustenance.
  8. I will spend less time reading recipes and more time attempting them.
  9. I will spend more time in Prince Edward County (as I am now able to drive myself there).
  10. I will shed some of my superfluous cookbooks once again (see #8).
  11. I will visit more Toronto restaurants now that our son is nearly three (we have hardly been out to eat at all in the past three years!).
  12. I will attempt to make my own sausages, documenting the process for Good Food Revolution (probably linked to #2).
  13. I will purchase a small chest freezer and somehow work out a place to put it (linked to #2, 4, 8, and 12).
  14. I will organise at least one event to raise money for The Stop again.
  15. I will spend less time winding up wine agents, coffee bar owners, and fellow sommeliers with obtuse messages from fake email addresses.
  16. I will go through our cupboards and make up a box of kitchen stuff/gadgets we really don’t need and give it to Goodwill.
  17. I will attempt to prepare fish once a week.
  18. I will finally finish this piece on gout that I have been working on for three years.
  19. I will enthusiastically host as many out-of-towners seeking Toronto’s gastronomic delights as possible (see pic above), and attempt to be the very best culinary ambassador for our city possible.
  20. I won’t leave my GFR resolutions until the very last moment in 2018. Promise.

Jamie Drummond

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And here’s to a fantastic 2017 for all our GFR readers.

Sharpening & Honing Knives Using Wüsthof’s Whetstone And Steel With Chef Brad Long

In association with Wüsthof Canada we present the seventh of an educational video series featuring a selection of Toronto Chefs showing us their knife skills using specific knives from the Wüsthof range in the home kitchen environment.

In episode five we have Chef Brad Long of Cafe Belong showing us how to take care of our knives using both the Wüsthof Classic Ikon Sharpening Steel and the Wüsthof Whetstone.

If you are having trouble viewing this video please click here.

Knife skills videos are something that we have been looking to produce for quite some time at Good Food Revolution, and so we are delighted to partner with Wüsthof for this ongoing series.

Wüsthof are a Good Food Fighter. Please support the businesses and organizations that support Good Food Revolution.


Jamie Drummond

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And now he is kind of addicted to honing his knives.

Scottish Food Culture With Finitribe’s Davie Miller

Finitribe's Davie Miller shares a laugh with the Convenanza festival's Bernie Fabre in Carcassonne.

Finitribe’s Davie Miller shares a laugh with the Convenanza festival’s Bernie Fabre in Carcassonne late last year.

Last year, it was with great pleasure I had the opportunity to spend a few days in the southwest of France with a Scottish gentleman named Davie Miller at the Convenanza festival in Carcassone.

Davie Miller was one of the founder members of seminal Edinburgh band Finitribe, a production collective probably most well known for De Testimony, a impressively striking, shuddering track that found itself become a perennial anthem on dance-floors of all stripes, from Industrial and EBM clubs to the fog-filled dens of Acid House enthusiasts.

Deciding to put Finitribe on hold in 2000, Davie has in the interim been pursuing other interests outside of the music world, returning to re-release De Testimony in 2014, as well as the classic 101 the following year. He is currently working with his long-time accomplice John Vick on some new material that should see the light of day sometime in 2017.

As Davie and I were enjoying the gastronomic and vinous pleasures of the Languedoc, conversation turned to the food that we had grown up on in Scotland in the 1970s, and a few drinks later we decided it would be a superb idea to create a video around said subject matter.

Apologies for the wind interrupting us a couple of times.

If you are having trouble viewing this video please click here.


Jamie Drummond

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And that was a lovely week in Carcassonne.

Review : Sansaire Sous Vide Immersion Circulator

Starting off simply, getting to know the Sansaire Sous Vide with a couple of New York steaks.

Starting off simply : getting to know the Sansaire Sous Vide with a couple of New York steaks.

Sansaire Sous Vide Immersion Circulator – Approx. $260 through Amazon (at time of writing)

It was whilst reviewing Chef Chris McDonald‘s excellent Complete Sous Vide Cookbook that I was given the opportunity to try our the Sansaire Sous Vide Immersion Circulator, with MacDonald having told me that it was one of his favourite units throughout his extensive recipe testing.

Having never cooked anything sous vide previously, it was with some trepidation I launched myself into an exploration of the method, and I can think of no better unit for the novice than the Sansaire.

Looking not unlike a 48cm high pen cap, the Sansaire clips onto the side of your water-filled pot (as pictured above), switches on simply, and your target temperature (Centigrade or Fahrenheit are chosen by a button to the right of the power button) is set through the turning of a grey-coloured collar at the top of the unit. A blue LED display let’s you know where the temperature is currently at, and your target temperature can be viewed for a few seconds by pressing the target button to the left of the power switch. And that’s pretty much it.

A shot to show the layout of controls on the top of the Sansaire unit.

A shot to show the layout of controls on the top of the Sansaire unit. Here you can see that I am using a standard Ziploc freezer bag rather that splashing out on a vacuum sealer.

I decided to forgo the additional expense of a vacuum sealing unit (approximately another $200), instead opting for the water displacement method using freezer bags as outlined in MacDonald’s book. While this workaround does the job adequately enough, I cannot stress enough the need to use decent brand name freezer bags, as the cheaper ones just don’t cut it. Even using the hardiest of Ziploc bags, displacing the water from them can be a little tricky, and you always run the risk of having water get into the bag as you are sealing it, or the seal to break during the cooking process. Still, in a pinch, this method does a decent job.

Another thing I learned pretty rapidly is to ensure that your sealed bag or bags all fit into the pot alongside the immersion circulator BEFORE the water gets hot. I tell you, the air was absolutely blue as I made this amateur’s mistake with my second adventure with the unit, attempting to submerge three bags of two lamb shanks each into some pretty damn hot water. I won’t be doing that again any time soon.

If you are sous viding before browning, the post sous vide steaks are not the most attractive of things.

If you are sous viding before you brown, the post-sous vide/pre-browing New York steaks are not the most attractive of things.

I played about with pre-browning and after-browning and seemed to achieve the best results with the latter. As you can see in the picture above, meat coming from the sous vide pre-browning does not look the most appetising. But slap them into a really hot grill pan (preheated) for a few seconds each side and BANG!

They looked perfect, tasted delicious, and the texture and the juiciness was simply extraordinary. My first jaunt with the Sansaire had been a real success, with my wife telling me she thought them the best steaks I had ever cooked.

If anything, I had left them just a little too long in the grill pan ; witness the touch of grey around the outsides of the slices. I’m guessing that using a blow-torch one would be able to achieve even better results… maybe I should add that to my Xmas list for 2017?

We were both really pleased with our very first foray into sous vide with the Sansaire unit.

We were both really pleased with our very first foray into sous vide with the Sansaire unit, although, in hindsight, I probably left them a little too long in the grill pan. Looks as if I am going to have to add a Sansaire blow-torch to my kitchen wishlist.

Next up were some (pre-browned) lamb shanks. They were in with the circulator for 24 hours at 158 degrees Fahrenheit. This was an interesting one, as with the sous vide method the fat that is usually rendered out of the meat during braising remains within, meaning that the resultant shanks have a particular succulence that is almost otherworldly, and a little disarming at first.

The lamb shanks were undoubtedly a success with our dinner guests, as they finished off each and every morsel from the bones. Another terrific performance from the Sansaire unit.

This is where I hurt myself quite a bit... attempting to fit three bags of two shanks each into water which was already hot. That's right folks... you should see if they all fit and adjust the water level when the water is still cool.

This is where I hurt myself quite a bit… attempting to fit three bags of two shanks each into water which was already hot. That’s right folks… you should see if they all fit and adjust the water level when the water is still cool.

These were served with sauce that also involved a little sous vide preparation : Coq au Vin with balsamic pearl onions, that left as a byproduct some amazingly powerfully-flavoured vinegar that worked a real treat with some bitter salad leaves and pressure-cooked chicken gizzards a few days later.

Another observation (for the longer cooking times) is that the user should be especially mindful of the water level in the vessel. You’ll lose some water through evaporation unless you cover the pot with plastic wrap, and even then it pays to keep a close eye on it, topping up with hot water when necessary. The Sansaire unit does have low water level protection built-in, but I was pretty vigilant in keeping the level up high enough to cover all of the shanks.

The six lamb shanks post-sous vide.

The six lamb shanks post-sous vide (these ones had been pre-browned). Even with the meat being sealed within the bags, the smell of lamb was just tremendous, filling the entire ground floor.

My next experiment with the Sansaire unit was for the traditional family get-together upon Xmas day. I was cooking for five of us (plus two tots) and so I decided to attempt a three bird “roast” consisting of a capon, a heritage chicken, and a guinea hen, all done sous vide individually and then finished off on the day, at the location, in a really hot oven together.

This allowed me to take my time with the preparation in the days leading up to the 25th, then transport them to the family member’s home still under vacuum, and finish them all off at the same time. And boy, it worked out well!

The guinea hen spent six hours getting ready for Xmas day. If you are going to do whole birds just be sure to fill the cavity with a lemon or something to displace the air that would keep it buoyant.

The guinea hen spent six hours getting ready for Xmas day. If you are going to do whole birds just be sure to fill the cavity with a lemon or something to displace the air that would keep it buoyant.

In the case of these three birds I had the butchers kindly stuff them with a single lemon and then vacuum seal them for me on-site. If you had a vacuum sealer at home it would be possible to fill the cavity with something more complex, but the aim of this butcher-assisted stuffing was simply to make the birds less buoyant in the pot so they would cook more evenly.

Sous vide makes you reassess how you gauge a meats doneness, as often we do all of this by colour. Because of the nature of the method you have to rethink all of this, as can be witnessed with the “raw blood” in the picture below. Remember, these three birds are already fully cooked when they emerge from the sous vide.

Post sous vide and pre browning I thought that all three birds looked quite tasty. Interesting to note is the gelatinous juice that formed with the capon on the left. In the oven this melted and created a fabulous pan juice.

Post-sous vide and pre-browning I thought that all three birds looked quite tasty. Interesting to note is the gelatinous juice that formed with the capon on the left. In the oven this melted and created a fabulous pan juice.

For the record, all three were cooked (read : pasteurised) with the Sansaire at 156 degrees Fahrenheit for six hours each, and then finished off in a 450 degree oven for 25 minutes after being brought to room temperature and then smothered in a liberal application butter, salt, pepper, garlic salt, and paprika, then laid on a bed of peeled garlic, rosemary, and thyme.

The resultant three bird "roast" was an real hit with the family, the skin being so crispy, and the flesh of each being so amazingly moist and flavourful.

The resultant three bird “roast” was an real hit with the family, the skin being so crispy, and the flesh of each being so amazingly moist and flavourful. If I have the time I’ll probably be cooking all my poultry like this.

All in all, I don’t think I could recommend the Sansaire immersion circulator enough. I’ve had tremendous fun messing around with it, and if you have the time and the patience (and a copy of MacDonald’s cookbook) you’ll be able to produce some simply stunning dishes at home without learning any tricky techniques. The Sansaire is easy to use, easy to clean, and feels pretty sturdy compared to other models I have seen recently.

While it’s not the cheapest immersion circulator out there, I take Chef Chris McDonald at his word when he tells me of his preference for this unit, seeing as the man spent two years immersing himself (bad pun intended) in the exploration of sous vide.

I’ve only had mine for a few weeks, and yet I’m wondering how I ever did without it.

Incredibly highly recommended.

(Five apples out of a possible five)


Jamie Drummond

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And he’s grown to love his Sansaire Sous Vide.

Try This : A Young Vines Xinomavro

2013 Thymiopoulos “Young Vines” Xinomavro, Macedonia, Greece (Alcohol 13.5%) LCBO Vintages $17.95

And the award for LCBO bargain of 2016 goes to this stunning Young Vines Xinomavro. Simply astounding.

This last-minute candidate for my most recommended wine of 2016 was brought to my attention by the intrepid Will Predhomme, and I’m so very glad that I followed up upon his endorsement and travelled across Toronto to track down a few bottles.

As far as I can see, the west end of the city is now pretty much devoid of inventory, but if you live outside the city or in the east you should be able to scour the shelves for some. I’ll be out on the hunt for some myself this very afternoon, so if you spot some downtown please be in touch ASAP.

These young vines appear to be able to produce the impossible, an eminently approachable Xinomavro with only three years of ageing, and in a wallet-friendly offering present all of the delicious things that this much under-appreciated varietal is capable of.

You’ll find some of the gorgeous, fresh, pretty fruit that one often finds in better Pinot Noirs, as well as a gentle but determined tannic architecture that is in many ways reminiscent of the Langhe Nebbiolo. Bright berry fruit abounds, with pleasantly striking cranberry-like acidity that really comes to the fore with a bit of a chill on the bottle.

Gorgeous, and way under-priced.
5 apples out of 5
(Five apples out of a possible five)


Jamie Drummond

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And that one cracking bottle of wine.