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Posts posted by e_monster

  1. For some reason, I'm not happy with the cooking of my tender cuts of beef anymore. Since I got interested in cooking, I've become very sensitive to overcooked meat. When I started doing sous vide, it was such an improvement, since I really sucked at cooking meat before that.

    Recently I've been on vacation and eaten a lot of steak in good resturants (non sous-vide I think). I usually order it medium rare. And yes there's a temperature gradient, but I still like the meat a bit better. The center looks raw and almost not denatured, but in fact isn't. When I cook a piece of beef tenderloin at, say 130F, it feels almost a bit dry and pappy in comparision. Could it be that my pieces of beef are too thick, thus spending too much time in th waterbath? Or should I go lower with the temperature? Or use a higher water-temperature and use a probe? I've tried around 126-127F too but I still don't absolutely love it.

    Same thing goes for pork. When I cook a loin to, say, 135F in the oven, it's way more pink/juicy/tender than the sous vide version, which feels overcooked.

    How long are you cooking the tender cuts? Truly tender cuts shouldn't spend too long in the cooker -- even at 130F there will be changes that happen over time. Tender cuts are best not left too long in the cooker -- for example, a nice thick filet or thick ribeye that is great after 30 minutes or an hour will have a noticeably changed texture after 3 hours. I don't know exactly what the safe time period is, but I do know that the one time that I left a ribeye in the bath for close to 4 hours that it was not nearly as good as when I pull it after 30 or 40 minutes (which is what I normally do).

  2. I fear that at the 400 rotisserie temp to get the inner meat temp to 125 will give you a pretty thick bit of "well done" outer rim.

    this sounds a lot like conventional roasting, which you had hoped to avoid.

    my 2 cents.

    Well, Im not sure what you mean. If your saying 400 is too high, I can use the PID controlled one i have for a lower temp. If your saying 400 is too low to get a crust before the center reaches 125F then i could as you mentioned before, use the blow torch to assist in crust development. Im really not sure where you were going with this post. I have in the past done a rib roast sous vide, then straight to a regular oven for i believe 20 minutes @450F and there was a decent crust with very little "grey outer rim". But It just didnt have that nice rotisserie flavored crust that i want.

    Easter is comming up fast and the rib roast has been fully thawed and i need to have a plan in place asap so any help on what would be the best approach going sous vide first, then rotisserie would be greatly appreciated.

    What he is telling you is that you take your pre-cooked roast from the refrigerator and put it in a 450F oven that by the time the center is 125F, you will have a lot of the roast that has been cooked well above that. If you use a hot oven to heat the meat, you will end up with something that is more well-done than medium rare. The scenario you describe will be very different from cooking at 130F sous-vide and then sticking it in an oven for a brief time to get a crust.

  3. a little blow-torch on the rotisserie wouldnt hurt either!

    I do use a blow torch alot but the crust and flavor from a blow torch just doesnt come close to the flavor and crust you get from a rottiserie.

    ....Oh i see, your saying hit it with the torch while on the rottiserie. Good idea, but my blow torch might kill the heating element and warp the inside of the rottiserie if not careful. It gets rediculously hot!

    I have two thoughts: since you have a rotisserie that can cook at low temperature, I would be inclined to do the cooking that way rather than sous-vide. If you blowtorch first then cook at 150-200F, you will get some nice tenderization and a nice crust as well.

    Both Heston Blumenthal and Thomas Keller recommend hitting a roast with a blow torch before the cooking starts. It does two things: sterilizes that outside AND jump starts the crust formation. You don't even need to get the meet browned -- you just need to get it 'gray'. I read an article by Harold McGee where he says that he was skeptical that this would work but that he tried it and that it works well. I have done a few roasts where I blowtorched and cooked at about 175F and the crust turned out really nice. I did a tiny bit of touching up with the torch after the final rest.

  4. Cabella's brand vacuum seal rolls and pouches seal really well. I havent had a leak yet. Im using a foodsaver vacuum sealer with them. Ironicly Ive had the foodsaver brand pouches leak on me many times.

    You can get a good deal if you buy the 6 roll box from cabella's. You get an extra 2 ft per roll then foodsaver brand.

    Cabella's rolls say right on them "Boil, Freeze, Store"

    Interesting. I have used Foodsaver rolls for 15 years and haven't had any leaks yet.
  5. Why pre sear at all? Many of us don't. It is fine to cook from frozen. The additional time is dependent on the thickness of the product rather than just an arbitrary time.

    I mainly pre sear steaks. I find that little bit of charred fat adds a bold flavor to the meat while cooking. It also gives the steak a nice color straight out of the bag, and sometimes i find no need to post sear. To each their own, but i swear by pre searing.

    I use a blow torch to do my searing. Pre searing takes 30 seconds per side and has no effect on outer ring color. Steaks come out med rare all the way through with no grey ring at all.

    Check out this post on Serious Eats. As far as I have seen when people run experiments with blind tasting there is no difference between pre-searing + post-searing and post-searing alone.

    I read that article over a year ago, and do not agree. I can definitely taste the difference between a 2 inch thick filet mignon that has been pre charred and cooked for 4 hours vs one that has not been pre charred. Anybody that know how to cook will tell you the best part of a sauce or gravy is the brown bits that get deglazed in the pan, when you char a steak and vacuum seal it, your basicly letting the steaks natural juices mix with those charred bits and marinate the steak as it cooks.

    If you have not done a blind tasting, you don't really know. I believed the same as you until we did a blind tasting. No one believes they are biased by knowing what is what, but we seem to be more influenced than we admit by our expectations.

  6. I had a catamount that broke. Besides flavored oil, try good olive oil and a pinch of granulated garlic, a healthy (unhealthy) dose of salt, and a pinch of sugar. In my microwave, I need to use 3/4 power. I have found that JollyTime yellow works best for me using this method. Better than generic or Orville Reddenbacher.

    While cleaning out the garage for a yard sale I unearthed a Catamount glass microwave popcorn popper that I picked up at a flea market for $2 a few years ago. I never used it. The brand was briefly mentioned uptopic.

    Determined to leave commercial microwave popcorn behind I started playing around with the Catamount. The sleek design with chem-lab look appealed as well as being able to see the corn popping. In order to avoid burning, at least in my microwave, I have to use more kernels than needed and end up with quite a handful of completely unpopped ones. I tried both Orville and generic kernels so far. I like the firm texture.

    What got me excited yesterday was reading back through the topic and deciding to play with some flavored oil. I had a basil and garlic chive infused olive oil and shook a bit of that with some salt and freshly ground pepper. That transformed it. Not just the flavor, but it was enough to make the sort of cardboard boringness of it no longer an issue. I will be playing with flavored oils.

    For clarity mine is an older one and the lid is solid. When you go tho their website they are all about the slotted lid that you can put butter on and let it drip on the corn as it pops.

    I still want to nail good old fashioned stovetop popcorn but for now this is simple, clean and tasty.


  7. Just a few thoughts...

    .... Basically, seafood lives in temperatures approximately around 0 degrees C, and all of the seafood's enzymes and biochemistry etc etc have evolved to work optimally at those temperatures. ...

    Hi Chris,

    You seem to be implying that all or most seafood lives in 0C water. This belief is mistaken. A lot of of seafood -- both wild and farmed comes from water considerably warmer than that. Even fish and shellfish from tropical waters decompose very quickly.

  8. Thought I'd mention that I am still alive after re-heating and eating some pork ribs that have been sitting in my fridge for almost 6 months.

    I bought a rack of marinated pork ribs in January, and split them into two bags. I cooked them for 3 days (about 72h) at 58C, ate one bag immediately and popped the other in the fridge where I thought they'd make a quick meal at some point. While sous-vide is perfect for the cook now, reheat later approach there's not a clear indication of how long cooked food should last, in the bag. For one reason or another the bag just ended up sitting there for month after month.. Because I'd cooked the ribs for 3 days - and the bag was still airtight - I was sure the meat had been fully pasteurised and should be safe to eat. I heated the ribs up at 60C for a couple of hours, opened it and it smelt fine. Ate it and it was great - as if it had been cooked yesterday.

    I would've been more cautious if I hadn't cooked the meat for so long, but I'm curious to know what the guidelines are regarding the shelf-life of cooked sous-vide meat...


    As an fyi, smelling meat won't tell you if it is safe to eat. Spoilage bacteria (which cause the bad smells) are different from the deadly pathogens. You can have "spoiled" meat (i.e. smells bad) but won't make you will -- and meat laced with pathogens that will kill but has no off-odor.

    So, don't use your nose to determine safety.

  9. I have been trying out long (2-3 days) cooking times for the first time and have mixed feelings about the results so far.

    I have tried Chuck steaks at 55C for 48 hours and short ribs at 57 for 72 hours and in both case the texture has been great but the flavour is very strange... almost like corned beef (silverside). As for seasoning, I only used salt and pepper on the chuck, whereas I used a decent beef stock (but no additional seasoning) on the short ribs. In both cases the flavour was lacking.


    Any thoughts?

    If the flavor is suspect then it sounds like your meat is not of very good quality. I also would not put stock or anything like that into the bag with short ribs. I have done a lot of shortribs and the only times they were anything short of amazing was when the quality of the meat was not very good. I wouldn't put stock in the back. A little bit of salt is all you need -- I have sometimes put a small amount of liquid smoke. Cooked like this and seared, you should get something that is as tender as a filet and more flavorful than a great prime rib.

  10. I personally would be cautious about this unless you have sterilized the outer surface of the meat before making the incision since you aren't pasteurizing the meat.

    When you make the incision, you will be making the interior non-sterile. So, when you cook you are going to be incubating any pathogens that managed to migrate with the cut -- and they won't be killed during searing.

    So, unless this is beef that you would be comfortable eating raw and serving raw, you might want to consider sterilizing the outer surface of the meat prior to cutting it open. And, these should be scallops that you could eat raw, also since the surface of scallop's is also not going to be cooked enough to kill any pathogens on its surface.



    This is an idea I posted a few pages back that several of you helped me get some ideas on how to execute. This is my Surf & Turf.

    Top Left: The patients, one prime ribeye, and one cape U10 cape scallop

    Top right: Surgery complete, the knob of fat under the rib cap was removed and replaced with the trimmed scallop, glued in with Activa RM.

    Bottom Left: I knew the scallop and steak had different ideal times/temps, so I went with setting the bath hotter than my final temp to make sure the steak got to temp while the scallop didn't spend too long in the bag. Calculation showed that about 40 minutes in a 56C bath would hit a core temp of 52C. Seasoned simply with salt and pepper and seared in a cast iron pan.

    Bottom Right: Science! The scallop had just the right consistency to stand in for the Ribeye fat, and brought that nice briny sweetness that scallops have.

    All in all I'll call it a win and something I'd try again.

  11. Double-blind tests seem to consistently point to pre-browning having little impact on the flavor if there is going to be post-searing. Pre-searing with no post-searing has minimal impact compared to post-cook searing (also based on double-blind tests). If you want to maximize the flavor, you might brown some bits and stick them in the bag. I periodically have done that with chicken. I will carmelize a few chicken wings (which I eat) and save the drippings and bits that stick to the pan and put them in the bag when I do a sous-vide cooking of boneless breasts or thighs.

    is there a consensus here with the SV crowd re:

    browning before or after SV?

    im assuming that the 'after' group enjoys the volatile aromas and that slight 'crunch'

    Im looking more for the flavor:

    on my list of experiments with Beef will be:

    Roulade: thin beef, mustard, bacon rolled up. these I used to make 'braised' after browning


    Braciole: Beef, maybe flank, thin not pounded with spinach, Italian cold cuts, provolone tied up and braised.

    note Beef Not Rare !


  12. Agreed about the quality of vodka. When I make this again (yhis weekend), I'll buy something a bit better than the no-name six-dollar bottle.

    BTW -- everything was at room temperature.

    All my infusions were done at room temperature as that was what Dave recommends in the article. My harsh infusions were done with Smirnoff and Burnett's. Both were very harsh and put the lie to my belief that cheap vodka wouldn't be that much different from a half-decent vodka.

  13. My nibs came from Whole Foods, and are not so good. I'll try the brand you recommend.

    What temperature was the vodka during infusion?

    By the way, I recommend using decent vodka. I made a few infusions with cheap vodka and the results were definitely sub-par. Stoli seems to work pretty well and is not terribly expensive. If there are cheaper brands that are smooth, I'd love to know.

  14. I tried a cocoa infusion using the method on the Cooking Issues blog. The end result had a very faint cocoa flavor - next time, I'll try grinding it in the food processor to increase surface area. Definitely did something, though.


    Did you use the kind of cacao nibs he mentions? Everyone that has posted about the cacao infusion has mentioned that the results are highly dependent on the quality of the nibs.

  15. Just my two sense, i have never cooked scallops in sous vide. But, with steaks, once they reach thier desired temperature, you can keep them there for quite awhile over the suggested time. So, if scallops work the same, and the temp is the same for the steak and scallops, time should not really matter in this case.

    With tender steak, keeping them at temperature too long degrades the texture in my experience. For example a filet left in the bath for four hours can taste mushy. Egg yolks also can change texture significantly. The only way to know with scallop is to try.

    If you cut a hole in the steak, you will need to sterilize the steak (with a torch or a quick dunk in boiling water) before you cut the hole unless you ate planning on cooking to pasteurization).

    If he's cooking and serving the dish within 2 hours of coming out of the fridge then pasteurization isn't necessary.

    Is this beef that you would feel comfortable eating raw?

  16. Just my two sense, i have never cooked scallops in sous vide. But, with steaks, once they reach thier desired temperature, you can keep them there for quite awhile over the suggested time. So, if scallops work the same, and the temp is the same for the steak and scallops, time should not really matter in this case.

    With tender steak, keeping them at temperature too long degrades the texture in my experience. For example a filet left in the bath for four hours can taste mushy. Egg yolks also can change texture significantly. The only way to know with scallop is to try.

    If you cut a hole in the steak, you will need to sterilize the steak (with a torch or a quick dunk in boiling water) before you cut the hole unless you ate planning on cooking to pasteurization).

  17. 1. Cavitation in ultrasonics is the collapsing of the bubbles, not the bursting of bubbles.

    2. I am not sure how deep the nitrogen can actually penetrate the meat (food), and if nitrogen can indeed penetrate can it bring other flavors into the meat (food).

    3. If bursting of the molecules is what is happening, would this make the food completely musshy?

    In one of the link above showing the disappearance of soy sauce. It seems to me that the soy sauce had not disappeared into the meat. The soy sauce was coating on all the chicken pieces. I can see disolving gas into liquid (carbonation), but I cannot see forcing liquid into meat.

    I am just curious if all the above successes of infusion are due to another mechanism.


    I have no idea what the mechanism is, but the method works. The material does not become mushy. When making the jalapeno vodka, I ended up with crisp flavorless pepper pieces.

  18. Has anyone tried adding sodium metabisulfite? It seems like it might solve the preservation issue.

    Has anyone had a problem that requires the use of preservatives?

    I have a very low alcohol tolerance. The "Cooking Issues" blog suggests that many infusions have a short shelf life, and I'd rather not have to dump any.

    On the subject of "Anti-craftiness", I would consider that this is the same additive found in high quality wine; if it's found naturally on the outside of some grapes and added to $100+ fine vintages, why not use it ourselves? I may try ascorbic acid in the pepper infusions, though.

    Also, a side note to the sulfite-allergic: The use of metabisulfite in homebrewing appears pretty common, both as disinfectant and preservative.

    How long do you anticipate needing to preserve it.

  19. My mint-infused rum and jalapeno and habanero vodkas have all been consumed over about a two month period and there was no degradation in flavor. I have no idea about how well they keep beyond that. The flavor didn't reach its maximum potential until several days after the infusion was done. I slice the jalapenos and habaneros and the result is so flavorful, I haven't had any inclination to mince. I also slice ginger and that worked great.

    I cut the mint leaves but a few people have told me that it wasn't necessary that they used whole mint leaves. I will try that after we get some decent rainfall up here. Some ingredients might need mincing but nothing that I have tried so far.

    Can anyone comment on the longevity and and preservation of their n2o infusions? I've finally broken down and bought a big carton of cylinders, and hope to make the best use of them. I don't drink very much, so the ability to preserve infusions is very desirable, but I recognize that some flavorings (e.g. coffee) remain intact far longer than others.

    Also, what's the thoughts on chopped vs. whole? It seems to me that using finely minced ingredients would be more efficient than whole ingredients, but reality is rarely so intuitive. I've had good luck reducing things to a paste before making liqueurs, though avoiding the lengthy filtration process would be a major benefit.

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