Use Ice Packs Instead of Precious Ice in Your Ice Baths

Use Ice Packs Instead of Precious Ice in Your Ice Baths

My precision cooker gets far more use in the summer than it does in the winter. Precision cooking meat means I don’t have to turn on the oven, and combining a long spell in a constant-temperature water bath with a few minutes on the grill is my favourite cooking method (especially if I’m making ribs).

The grill, however, is at my boyfriend’s house, which means I usually precision cook the meat the day before, then chill it and take it over cold. This requires an ice bath, which uses up all of my precious ice. So I started using ice packs instead of ice, and my life has gotten much, much better.

Now, I understand that some of you out there have large freezers, freezers that come with built-in ice makers, or even an entire, standalone freezers in your garage that (in my mind) are dedicated entirely to ice. I love this for you, but this is simply not the world I live in. I can currently only make a tray or two of ice at a time, and I need that ice for cocktails, iced coffee, and Diet Coke that I forget to refrigerate.

Reusable ice packs cannot be used in cocktails so, unless I’m packing a lunch for the beach or icing my increasingly finicky back, they just hang out in the freezer waiting to be called into action, and they are very good at chilling a bath for rapidly chilling sous-vide cooked meat (which you pretty much have to do if you’re not finishing it right away).

Of course, they can be used to shock and chill other foods; you just have to make sure you clean them first. A bag of ribs has, well, a bag to protect it from anything less than pristine that might be hanging out in an ice pack-chilled bath, but a bunch of blanched asparagus has no such defence system. It’s not a big deal — just remember to wash your ice packs.

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