Posted 12 March 2010 - 04:50 PM
OK, been experimenting quite a bit with some successes and some failures. Experimenting on temps, amount of product in the 35 cup Rice Cooker with SV Magic ("Water Oven") and struggling with new ziplock bags and learning to use foodsaver. Cooked short ribs, prime brisket, spare rib cuttings, and chicken breast.
First of all, has anybody else noticed that the ziplock double zip freezer bags have changed? Now, not only is the zip portion double, but there is a liner bag inside of the bag. This makes removing air really really difficult. Has anybody figured out how to get the air out of these new bags? This forced me to take out my foodsaver (does not have the "pulse" button) and really making the SV process much harder than before. I need to score some of the "old" ziplock gallon freezer bags.
1. Short Ribs. After trying short ribs at Providence and then Cache here in Los Angeles, I can proudly say that neither of them are as good as the SV short ribs. Both efforts tasted more like pot roast then the wonderful steak-like texture from SV short ribs. Let alone, I have found that if you go to the Costco Business Center (different than the regular Costco -- targeted to restaurants, delis, etc.), you can buy 10 to 15 pound choice boneless short ribs for $2.69 per lb. These ribs are double to triple the size of the short ribs I get from the regular Costco and I can trim them the way I like. They're also $0.80 to $1.30 per lb. cheaper than at the regular Costco. If you can use the entire case (75 lbs), then it drops to $2.49 per lb. Nothing special in the prep -- granulated garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, fresh thyme, marjoram and rosemary and a nice slab of salted butter. 131F for 48 hours. On 1 effort, I tried it without the butter as suggested by Kenji Alt in the Serious Eats blog but for my taste, I do like the extra fat from the butter in there assuming you are aggressive in trimming the fat from the meat. The other effort had the extra butter and I decided I like it better that way.
2. Brisket (prime). Another "find" at Costco Business Center -- $3.19 per pound for USDA Prime brisket. This effort followed Kenji Alt's advice and so, it was trimmed aggressively, granulated garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, rosemary, marjoram and no butter. I bought some mixed herb plants at Costco a couple weeks ago and went a little heavy handed on the herbs on the brisket. Cooked at 135F for 48 hours. I typically cook brisket, pork shoulder, and tri-tip at 131F. The purpose of cooking it at 135F instead of my typical 131F was to see how different 4F degrees would make on the finished product as well as to see if there would be additional collagen breakdown.
When I pulled it, there was lots of liquid in the foodsaver bag -- 1/2 way up the bag. I cut the bag, drained the liquid into a sauce pan and boiled/strained the liquid and saved for later. The meat came out much too herby. Lesson learned -- do not use too much fresh herbs in SV. I know that this topic has been written about before but I learned first hand this time. Also, I learned that there is significant difference in perceived "juiciness" between 131F and 135F. The brisket was incredibly flavorful (too much herbs though) but next time will be done at 131F and for 36 hours. My alternative preparation on SV Short Ribs is to do my version of kalbi marinade with less salt, honey instead of sugar, worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, ginger, scallions, and a touch of sesame oil. I also do this with flap meat which seems to have jumped in price over 30% in the last 3 weeks.
3. Spare Rib cuttings. Typically, when I do ribs, I take a whole spare rib slab and cut it into St Louis Style ribs and then save the cuttings. They're great for stews, chili, nachos, or anything you might want pork shoulder/carnita like meat. Salt, pepper, gran garlic, onion powder, thyme, marjoram, and rosemary. Cooked it at 135F for 36 hours. Came out GREAT!!!. Just gnawed on the soft cartiledge and the meat was super flavorful and juicy. The meat came out like I wanted my brisket to come out. So, lesson learned -- higher temp on the fattier pork cuts (so not for pork chops or pork loin) results in better break down of the collagen without losing any juiciness.
4. Chicken Breast. Brined whole chicken breast, bone in, skin on, for 4 hours. Rinse, drained, added thyme, rosemary, marjoram, and foodsavered it. Cooked it for 2 hours at 135F with the Spare Rib cuttings. Took it out at the 2.5 hour mark and threw it immediately into the fridge for dinner the next night. I had previously done chicken breast at 140F for 3 hours and it came out fine. This time, I throw the chicken bag in to the Water Oven (with the spare rib cuttings that are still cooking) for 20 minutes to warm up. Take it out and make preliminary cut and totally raw on the inside. Not a little pink -- totally raw. Oh well, spare rib cuttings look good so I crank up the oven at 300F, and throw in the chicken breasts for 25 minutes. Came out great.
1. Temperature really matters. Certain cuts of meat, like fattier pork cuts, benefit from higher temperature. Other cuts of meat, even though it might be USDA Prime, like this brisket, prefer the lower temperature. 5F for cooking chicken is the difference between perfect and raw.
2. Need to learn how to use foodsaver or better yet, find old stock of ziplock freezer bags.
3. Amount of food cooking at one time matters. Stacking of food in Water Oven needs to be done carefully. One of the reasons why I believe the chicken was so raw was that I had the spare rib cuttings and the chicken cooking at the same time. I'm going to need a water bath and circulator before I can successfully SV larger amounts of food at the same time.
4. Less is better when using fresh herbs.