Guest Post: Fennel Fondant Sous-Vide Without Special Equipment

I love it when someone prepares one of my recipes, and I love it even more when someone lets me know how it turned out!

Recently I did a post on Fennel Sous-Vide Fondant.  I bet some of you are curious about sous-vide after reading about it on this blog, but haven’t tried it yet because the equipment is pricey. Well, some recipes can be made without owning expensive equipment. One of my readers, Clayton from San Francisco, reacted as follows:

Fennel is a vegetable that I have always enjoyed eating. Its anise or liquorice flavor gives salads a subtle flavor-kick which I like. But I have never cooked with it. I don’t own an electric sous-vide water bath but I do own a large stock pot and Ziploc bags. So all that’s left to make this recipe are the ingredients. 

Since most of my readers do not own sous-vide equipment either, I inquired whether Clayton would be willing to do a guest post to share his results with you all.  And so here, with a big thank you to Clayton, is the first ever guest post on StefanGourmet.com!

How to cook fennel sous-vide without special equipment

I was able to make Stefan’s Fennel Sous-Vide Fondant recipe without a sous-vide cooker by using: a large 8Q/7.5L stockpot, a Ziploc bag, a candy thermometer, and a gas burner.

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I filled the stockpot with cold water to within 2 inches of the rim. I placed the stockpot with the cold water on the kitchen table.

I placed the quartered fennel bulb into the Ziploc bag along with 1/4 cup of chicken stock and 1/2 tablespoon of butter. I did not seal the bag completely but left a small opening for the air to escape when I did the water displacement method.

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Water displacement method: Keeping the unsealed portion of the bag above the water, push the rest of the bag below the surface of the water until the water in the pot has “squeezed” the air out of the bag through that small opening. Then completely seal the bag and removed it from the pot.

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I placed the stockpot on the stove and turned on the gas burner to high. I checked the water temperature with the candy thermometer.

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When the water reached a temperature of 85C/185F, I placed the Ziploc bag into the hot water.

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The bag floated a bit so I weighted it down with a heavy stainless steel skimmer. I monitored the temperature and adjusted the gas flame so that the temperature stayed around 85C/185F. After 45 minutes I finished the recipe following the Preparation section of Stefan’s recipe. It was delicious!

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12 thoughts on “Guest Post: Fennel Fondant Sous-Vide Without Special Equipment

  1. This is a really useful post Stefan and Clayton!!! I’ve wanted to try one of the sous vide recipes for a while, but always assumed that it was impossible without the equipment. Stefan, in regards to this Ziploc bag method – which of your sous vide recipes do you think would be suitable? I saw your answer to Conor above; I’m guessing that the Ziploc bag might not fare very well when immersed in water for 48 hours (plus, the cook would need to stay up all night… not the nicest way to produce a delicious meal!). Thanks for this guest post!

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    1. Hi Laura, glad you like it! All sous-vide recipes are suitable, as long as you are able and willing to ‘babysit’ the ziploc bag in a pot for that long. A ziploc bag suitable for food storage should be able to withstand sous-vide cooking temperatures for 48 hours or longer, so that should not be the issue. Just remember that the longer the cooking time, the more important the cooking temperature. A difference of 1 degree centigrade or 2 degrees fahrenheit is acceptable, and for times less than an hour even differences of 2 degrees centigrade or 4 degrees fahrenheit won’t make a very noticeable difference.
      This means that all recipes for vegetables, seafood, and tender meats are feasible. Most feasible are seafood (because of the very short cooking time, usually less than 30 minutes) and vegetables (because the exact temperature is not as critical and the cooking time is less than an hour in most cases). Would love to hear about how it works for you!

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      1. Thanks so much for the tips Stefan! I appreciate your feedback and knowledge a lot. Hm, I don’t think I’d have the patience to do 30 hour short ribs whilst babysitting a pot (!) but I might give some of the shorter vegetable or seafood recipes a go. I’ll update you when I’ve tried the technique! Thanks again

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  2. Fennel is one of my favorite vegetables, Stefan. I often roast the fennel bulb, stalk and even fronds (for a crispy garnish!). The sweet, anise or licorice flavor is so lovely (have you ever paired it with roasted carrots and lamb? A win!).Lovely post – Of course one can sous vide fennel any day, anywhere – thank you for the education. Best, Shanna

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  3. Looks scrumptious! I use sous vide all the time for meat and recently made yogurt in it, which turned out great. But I need to up my sous vide veg game. Going to try this and maybe put it on the Thanksgiving menu if it turns out as good as it looks! Thanks!

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