Modernist Cuisine/sous vide/butchering. Last night I put a boneless rib eye roast into my sous vide. As I was preparing the roast, again I wondered how much more a roast or a steak or say a rack of lamb ribs need to be butchered. Obviously, silver skin needs removal. My instinct is to shave off the larger caps of fat one finds based upon my guess that at the lower temperatures of doneness, the fat does not sufficiently melt. If I were conventionally roasting, the melting of the fat would take place and further act as a basting or at least render more. Should we cut off the extra fat, but leave the excess in the bags or does this not aid much in flavor development? My practice is to season, sous vide and then sear, while I have seen opinion that pre-searing may be better.
Which also brings up the second question of how 'hot' meat done sous vide is at the table, versus the still sizzling one might find from a steak just off the grill. To compensate and give the expected warmness someone expects when dinner is served, do you heat the plates or how exactly do you keep the food warm?
research chef Grant Crilly answers:
There are several thing to consider when cooking a steak (rib steak) sous vide.
One is the thickness of the meat. If it is much thicker than an inch or two, I would not preseason it. In the amount of time that it takes to reach your core temp, the salt will toughen the surface of the meat and remove lots of moisture.
A second consideration is which cut/rib along the rib primal does your steak come from?
Steaks cut toward the front of the animal contain a larger portion of the tender muscle known as the “deckle” or “cap.” In such cases, you might want to separate the muscles and cook them at different temperatures (a procedure we describe in the book). Toward the rear of the primal, the eye increases in size and starts to become the New York. You can cook a steak of that kind in one piece with no problems.
You have several approaches to remedy the fat problem. You can cook the meat at a slightly hotter temperature, such as 58 °C / 136 °F, for a touch longer. Doing this helps to soften the fat in a rib eye quite a bit. The average rib steak is a touch more tender at this temperature anyways. I usually use this approach at home.
Alternatively, you can remove the fat completely. Or you can sear the fat, and place it back into the bag. Yet another option is to pierce the fat with a pin many times to help rupture the cell walls that contain it. In the book, you'll find an illustrated step-by-step procedure for preparing duck that shows how to do this with a dog brush. (Be sure to use a new one!)
I myself always prefer to sear after the cooking, for a couple of reasons.
First, you lose your crust if you presear; it sort of steeps in the bag like tea. The color in your sear will pale and leach out, making for a pretty sad-looking piece of meat. If you want the flavor, slice off a little bit, and sear those pieces, then place them in the bag.
Second, searing just before serving brings the surface temp up considerably. You can fry the steak, place it in a very hot convection oven, or sear traditionally in a very hot pan. Always take care to sear in a hotter-than-normal method, however, so that searing occurs as fast as possible. This helps get it to the table at a good eating temp.
As for warming the plates, that is always a nice thing when serving hot food.
One last thing to keep in mind with a cut like the New York and rib steak: the muscle fibers run parallel to the thickness of the steak you are cooking. Yet most people still cut along the fibers on the plate at the table. If you as the cook simply precut the steak at a 45° angle, you will effectively tenderize the steak a great deal. A cheaper steak prepared this way will often enough seem more tender that a more expensive steak prepared and cut in a typical way. For a large roast, cutting very thin slices achieves similar results.
You'll find many more tips and techniques like this in the book.