SLIDESHOW: Italian food with a french flair is here as Sous-Vide cooking arrives at Pizzeria Credo
If you’ve never heard of a method of cooking called Sous-Vide (pronounced Sue Veed) it’s not surprising. It’s unusual and commonly found only in high end gourmet restaurants such as the Herbfarm and Canlis. But Jacques Nawar, owner of Pizzeria Credo in the West Seattle Junction is aiming to change that.
Sous-Vide is a cooking method that involves preparing meats, eggs or vegetables and seasonings in a specially made pouches, from which the air has been removed, and then immersing them in a temperature controlled water bath (less than boiling) for longer than normal cooking times. Sous-Vide bags can cook for example at 131 to 140 degrees for many hours, in some cases as long as 96 hours.
The result is food infused with deep flavor, that is tender and evenly cooked.
Food safety of course is important.
Lead Butcher for Rain Shadow Meats 2 in Seattle's Pioneer Square Jeffery Wiltbank said, "meat items such as poultry, often being suspect of salmonella normally require a higher cooking temperature of 165° F for pasteurization. At that temperature pasteurization is achieved in under 10 seconds. Sous-vide poultry, cooked between 130°-140°, is pasteurized approximately an hour into the cooking process. It comes down to temperature over time.
The protein in meat starts to aggregate (clump together) around the same temperature that the sous-vide meat is cooked at. Not exceeding that temp during the cooking process is in part why the meat retains a texture we are not used to experiencing as consumers."
Nawar is not only introducing this kind of cooking to West Seattle, he is doing so at a reasonable price point and continuing his personal practice of blending cultures and cuisines.
That means a steak or chicken dish at Credo will be under $18 not priced so high you need to get a loan. But beyond that even the pizzas, already highly praised will be available with sous-vide prepared meat and vegetable toppings. Credo Pizza is made with Italian Caputo 00 flour, meaning it is the finest texture possible with less gluten. This makes the crust less elastic, more crunchy.
Getting approval for the process is not easy and Nawar explained that concerns about food safety are literally the most important aspect of the method. It must follow what is called HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) a process developed by NASA and the military which while not very appetizing represents the means by which foods are rigorously controlled from source to serving.
He has sought and gotten approval from the Health Dept. for five meat products, beef, chicken, salmon, duck and pork. All of them locally sourced.
Main dishes, prepared this way will be available on the regular menu this week. Vegetables (also cooked sous-vide) will accompany the meat.
Nawar, originally from Marseille France, came up through the ranks in the hospitality business and had a successful restaurant , Cafe Europa in Washington D.C. for more than a decade, where he enjoyed a series of glowing reviews, often blending different cuisines on his menu.
When he lost his lease he and his wife Sophia chose Seattle as their next place to own a restaurant. Abbondanza in the Morgan Junction became available and Nawar purchased it. Then a little more than two years ago he noted that the former Garlic Jim’s Pizza location in the Junction was available and for a time owned and operated both spots, later choosing to sell Abbondanza which later became Peel and Press.
Sadly, his wife Sophia died and Nawar was crushed, but the support of his friends and customers kept him going. He celebrates her memory today with a unique salad named in her honor. The Sophia Salad contains as many as 80 ingredients including roots, nuts, vegetables, edible flowers, even chocolate. It must be ordered a day in advance and costs $13. “I wanted it to be as I see her. Beautiful ingredients in harmony together. She had so many qualities, witty, beautiful, wonderful,” he said.
Credo also makes their own mozzarella cheese from curds produced locally, adding it to both the pizzas and Caprese Salads they serve.
Pizza from the brick oven at Credo typically runs between $11 to $14. Also on the menu are a range of unique salads, and a few pasta dishes all under $12.
Nawar is renaissance man with interests in photography, and music which he pursues when he is not working. His photography reveals his deep love for the Pacific Northwest with numerous photographs of Sophia in beautiful mountain scenes or here in West Seattle at the beach. And tucked away in a corner, is a curved soprano saxophone that he takes out when everyone is gone, playing music in his own unique style, exactly as he creates his blend of italian food with french flair.