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Everything posted by e_monster

  1. Brisket has a lot of collagen -- that is why it is so tough if you don't braise it -- and why it takes long time to cook even by traditional methods (it takes about 18 to 20 hrs for my smoker to get a brisket up to temp). At low temperatures like 135 and 147F, the collagen takes a lot longer to gelatinize than at higher temps (collagen breaks down a lot faster above about 170F -- I think that is about where it speeds up a lot). I have done 26, 36, and 48 hr SV brisket. At 48 hrs, the brisket at 135F was fork tender but also nice and meaty and held together -- not stringy at all. The meat was a nice bright pink, too - at 147F the meat was pinkish gray. At 26 hrs, the brisket was tasty but not as tender as I wanted. 36 hours wasn't as tender either but edible. I suppose results will vary with the quality and marbling of the brisket. The French Laundry does theirs at 147F for 48 hrs. But I found 147F to yield a result dryer than I hoped for. I will have to do some more at 135F to confirm that the moistness was the result of the cooking temp and not just because that particular brisket was naturally juicier. I want to try on some Wagyu brisket next as the marbling of the flat should be better than the briskets I have worked with so far.
  2. I haven't had the problem with the steak breaking apart. But I do understand what you mean. It isn't that odd to not bring it to room temperature first. With conventional methods, the cooking time is so quick that when it is added to the time for the meat to come to room temperature, the total time in the 'danger zone' is small. When you are cooking at LOW temperature, however, the situation is very different because the meat will be in the danger zone for a fair bit of time. All of Nathan's tables are based on the meat going from the refrigerator into the water, btw. Best, E
  3. Here are a couple of thoughts In my opinion, ribeyes are a great steak to SV with (btw, that is the cut that Grant Achatz uses at Alinea -- at Alinea the ribeye is wagyu beef flown in from Japan). With ribeye, I would alway go with a really thick steak 1.5 inch minimum (in my opinion). I find that thinner steaks are really no better SV than cooked by conventional means. Also, there is no advantage to keeping it in the bag longer than necessary to bring it up to temp. When cooking a steak sous vide, I wouldn't leave it out beforehand to get to room temperature. There is no advantage and there is probably an increased risk of contamination. Also, there isn't any real reason to pat it dry. Moisture from inside the steak will come out when you sous vide--even when the bag is properly sealed. You will want to dry it off when it comes out of the bag before searing it (either in a super hot pan or with a blow torch). I wouldn't recommend putting raw garlic in the bag. Most people find the flavor not quite right (even people like me that love raw garlic). The flavor doesn't develop as it does at a higher temp. When I want garlic in the bag, I usually use some cloves that I have already roasted, or garlic confit (I make it by cooking it in olive oil for a few hours at 170 or 180). Anyway, those are my thoughts.
  4. As a point of reference, I like strong smoke flavor, too. I have now done 3 briskets at 147F for 48 hrs and 1 at 135F. I liked the one at 135 better. 48 hours was plenty of time for the collagen to break down completely (and the fat doesn't render at either temp). The one at 135F was quite a bit moister than the other (the moistness might be because it was the deckel end and the other were all flats). It was fork tender.
  5. Great post. I have been interested in a hybrid experiment like this but haven't had a chance with brisket yet. What temp and time did you use on the SV brisket? I suspect that one doesn't even need 2 hrs in the smoker to develop a fair amount of smoke flavor when it is going to be finished SV.
  6. I have cooked up to an 11 pound brisket (which took up a significant percentage of the surface area) and the temperature distribution remained quite even when the air pump was in use. (Within 0.75F everywhere that I measured when the brisket was in the bath). With a less massive piece of meat, the temperature distribution is much more even than that in my cooker. With my setup, the heat changes slowly enough that the circulation provided by the air pump is enough to keep the heat evenly distributed. You can search this topic for posts by me to read more about the setups that I use.
  7. How significant the difference in water temps will be in the bath depends on where the heat source is located and the insulation characteristics. A number of us have found that an aquarium air pump (less than $10) will provide ample circulation for most baths. They can be used with or without air stones.
  8. I use the Auber controller and have had a great experience. There is a similar (is it the same unit) sold as 'Sous Vide Magic'. For heat sources, there are cheaper things than the 25-cup ric e cookers (which run over $100 around here anyway). If you are cooking smallish items like chicken breasts and steaks and eggs then you can get away with something Crockpot-size (when cooking small items i use a 6 qt Presto multicooker -- which can be had for less than $30 on Amazon)). For cooking large cuts, I use a tabletop roaster (mine is Hamilton Beach brand but there is also Nesco which seems identical). The cost was $10 at a local thrift shop but they can be bought new for less than $50 new from places like Amazon or Fry's electronics. When using the roaster, I also have to use a $5 aquarium air pump to make sure that the water circulates. The table top roaster is large enough for a rack of ribs and a 10 lb brisket.
  9. I wanted to post the results of my recent 48 hr brisket (@ 147F). The brisket was dry rubbed before being bagged. The meat came out tender and pink-tinged and flavorful -- the guests enjoyed it quite a bit. It was a bit drier than I would have liked -- but the texture was great -- not mushy and falling apart. The brisket itself was a grocery store variety purchased as a whole brisket (about 15 lbs) that I cut in half -- I cooked what I guess was the flat. I am guessing that there just wasn't enough marbling to create a 'juicy' brisket. When I look at the slices there are a few big veins of fat but not fine marbling -- so the meat is pretty dense hence the 'dryness'. I am wondering if a Wagyu hybrid brisket has finer marbling and would result in a moister brisket. I also am wondering if the salt in the dry-rub could have cause the juices to be drawn out of the meat (there was lots of juice in the back). Has anyone had their brisket come out 'juicy'? If so, what was your meat source and how was it prepped?
  10. The roaster is kind of like a giant crockpot. The heat comes from the sides. There is no exposed heating element and there is a pan within a pan that holds 18 quarts. The Auber comes with recommended settings for various devices and explains the parameters that can be tweaked. I basically started with their recommendations and explored variations. For the multicooker, the default settings work perfectly. The recommended settings for the tabletop roaster worked ok but it took a little longer for the temperature to stabilize than I wanted -- a little experimentation got things working nicely. For the aquarium pump, you just need a cheap air pump (less than $10) and you run the air hose into the water (I use a long airstone that I put under the meat -- but a bare 1/4 inch tube would work just as well). It does not take very much water movement to keep the heat evenly distributed. I have the heavy duty Auber -- I figured it was worth an extra $30 to not have to worry about the wattage of my devices. The cheaper one would probably be fine AS LONG AS you start with water that is more or less up to temperature. I always get the water close to the target temperature before adding it to the cooker.
  11. I use my Auber PID with a $25 Presto Multicooker for small cuts of meat and an 18 qt Hamilton Beach Table Top roaster for large cuts like baby back ribs and brisket. I got the roaster for $10 at a thrift shop; you can buy them new (or the Nesco or Rival versions -- which are virtually identical) for less than $40. With the table-top roaster, you will want to use an aquarium air pump (less than $10) to ensure even heat distribution. (When switching between heat sources, it is necessary to change the PID settings -- the roaster has much more thermal latency than the multicooker and needs very different settings).
  12. Collagen actually does break down at this temperature BUT it takes a lot longer than at higher temperatures. The temperature usually given for collagen breakdown is the temperature at which it breaks down in a reasonable time -- but some chemical reactions (like this one) will take place at a slower rate at a lower temperature. The breakdown of collagen is related to both temperature and time. Given enough time at 147 the collagen does break down. I suspect that is why Keller cooks it for so long. (The fat however doesn't really render at this temp it just softens). I did a small brisket (no marinade just a dry rub) a few months ago at 147F for 27 hrs -- the taste was great but it was not as tender as I would have liked (although my diners gobbled it up and claimed it was the best that they'd had). When I did it for 48 hours, the collagen so completely broke down that the meat fell apart (I suspect marinade in the bag was a big mistake and contributed). Has anyone done brisket at a lower temp? I have been curious about something in the 135F range.
  13. Tomorrow I am going to start another 48 hr brisket attempt. Have any of you found a temp/time combination that works great for you. I know that people say that the French Laundry does brisket at 147F for 48 hrs -- but I had a problem the last time I tried that (meat fell apart entirely). If anyone has cooked brisket and had a great result, please let me know the temp/time you used. (This time I will use a dry rub and put no liquid in the bag as that might have contributed to my last attempts mushiness). Thanks in advance.
  14. Rice vinegar (with maybe a hint of added sugar and maybe a little soy sauce or miso) would work nicely. When you aren't cooking for a very long time -- it isn't a problem and I am generally finding that a little flavorful acid (such as cider or rice vinegar or lemon juice or orange juice) adds nice depth/contrast without overwhelming the meat or changing the texture. I have NOT had good luck with marinades in the bag when doing long cooks (such as 48 hr brisket). You also only need a small amount of liquid. When I did the pork, bagged it with the marinade the day before cooking (that hadn't been the plan but it worked out well). I hadn't intended to marinade overnight but we had a change of dinner plans between the time that I prepped the pork and the time it was supposed to go in the bath. I was a little concerned before hand that it might have a negative impact on the texture but it didn't at all.
  15. We did a pork tenderloin on Sat. at 60C for a couple of hours and our guests raved that they had never had pork that was so tender and flavorful. I am now relying on sauces added post-cook to provide 'big flavor' and using subtle seasonings in the bag -- since one doesn't want to overwhelm the flavor of the meat. This time, I rubbed the pork down with my favorite rub recipe and dumped a marinade in the bag made of: 1/4 tsp of liquid smoke, a teaspoon of apple cider, a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce and a splash of olive oil. After slicing the tenderloin and being plated, some slices were dressed with true artisanal aceto balsamico and some were lightly dressed with a homemade spicy bbq sauce.
  16. I do eggs at both 140F and 147F overnight (I put them in the bath before I go to bed so that they will be ready for breakfast in the morning). I prefer the 140F as I like very soft yolks and at 147F they start to firm up (they are still tender and translucent and yummy at 147F just a bit more set than my preference). The drawback to 140F is that even when left overnight the whites are softer than some people like. Both time and temperature matter. When cooking at 140F, the yolk and white are firmer when left overnight than when cooked for must a few hours. My wife prefers the texture at 147F due to the whites.
  17. \ In my opinion, 8 hours is too long with chicken breast at 60C. I have done a lot of chicken breast and have found that when cooking at 140F (60C) the texture and mouth-feel degrade if cooked overlong (I have found the same to be true of turkey). With chicken breast or any other meat that does not need tenderizing there is usually not an advantage in using long cook times. For chicken breast, I would use Nathan's tables to determine how long it takes the meat to get to the desired temp and add the amount of time needed to make it food safe (see the FDA tables). Once it is food safe, I wouldn't leave chicken or turkey in the bath indefinitely. At 140F, I have found that if I cook for more than an hour past the 'safe' time the result does not seem as good as if I stop the cooking earlier. Also, the quality of the chicken is of the utmost importance.
  18. MikeTMD, I don't know where you have come by this (incorrect) belief that using an Auber PID makes a system not TRUE SV. You are simply wrong. There are at least two list members who have both an Auber PID and a lab-quality immersion circulator and one has posted that they get the same quality of results with an Auber setup although it is not as convenient as using a lab-quality immersion circulator. Since there is at least one person that has your 'Nascar' setup and a low-budget setup like mine who says that the results are identical in quality, I tend to give credence to that person rather than to you since you have no experience with a setup like mine You can do professional quality sous-vide with an Auber PID and an appropriate heat source (and, in some cases, a $10 aquarium air pump). It does require some extra work (tuning the PID parameters to the heat source). It would certainly be more convenient to have an immersion circulator, but it is not necessary. (NOTE: I am not saying that I would use a setup like mine in a professional environment -- but that is not because of the quality of the food that one can produce with it.) Please provide the background that you have used to come to your conclusions rather than making blanket proclamations without a hint as to what experience provides the foundation for your claim. As far as I can tell, you have no experience with a setup like mine (or you did not tune it correctly) and so have no basis for comparison. If you have an empirical basis for your claim, please share it. Otherwise, please stop making pronouncements of fact that are pure conjecture on your part. I hesitate to post because you have shown a tendency to flame people that disagree with you. However, I am afraid that someone will read your posting and think that you know what your talking about in this regard, and I would hate for someone to think that they need to spend hundreds of dollars more than they actually do just because you have decided that an Auber PID is not capable of producing excellent results. Given your past mis-statements about the role of vacuum-sealing in the killing of pathogens during SV cooking, I would think that you would tone down the disrespect in your posts and offer them as your opinion rather than fact. But hey, what do I know I don't have a NASCAR setup.
  19. If you are on a budget, an inexpensive alternative that works well for larger volumes are the Rival tabletop roasters. I use one when I am cooking large cuts of meet like brisket or a rack of ribs. I use my smaller Presto multi-cooker for anything that will fit in it because the temperature stabilizes so quickly and there is rarely any overshoot. There is a caveat with the table top roasters, you will need to tweak PID parameters and it takes some time for the temperature to become stable. Also, a $10 aquarium air pump is useful for making sure that there is enough circulation to keep the water temperature uniform since the heat comes for the sides (hence little natural convection). They run about $50 from Amazon and places like Fry's Electronics (if they have those where you live).
  20. Mike, what kind of ribs (spare ribs or baby backs) are you asking about. For spare ribs, I would agree with Nathan. But if you are cooking baby backs, I would a shorter time will be more than enough. See my post up-thread. If you are cooking baby backs, 170F for 6 hrs is sufficient for falling off the bone meat -- or rather a degree of tenderness where all of the meat come of the bone clean without the bones actually falling out when you unbag -- and the fat rendered too. The people that tried these loved them and all agreed that they did not feel that longer cooking would have improved them. I found 15 to 20 minute in a stovetop smoker sufficient to add plenty of smoke flavor.
  21. See my message up thread (short version 6 hrs at 170F -- they were tender enough -- without the bone slipping out -- that the cook time could have been shorter). I didn't do any blanching and I didn't have any smelly scum. At 170F for 6 hrs (temp was a few degrees lower for the last hour), the meat became tender without the bones slipping out. (Even though collagen breaks down at this temp, the meat didn't fall apart when cooked for this amount of time.) Before serving, I gave a quick blast with a propane torch to do some browning.
  22. I am talking about changing the temperature before the meat has entirely come up to temperature. I am talking about large cuts where after an hour or two the meat has not come up to temperature. Also, keep in mind that the 'doneness' of a piece of meat that does reach 170F for a minute will be very different from one that has been at 170F for quite a while. The chemical reactions are not instantaneous. If it is a large cut of meat, after a couple of hours the meat will not have all gotten up to temperature. This technique is very common when cooking large pieces of meat via traditional methods and with some adjustment for the difference in media. Not all the chemical processes happen at the same rate -- quite a bit of the outer fat will soften and render before the protein has done all its denaturing -- especially if you lower the temp before the inner core is up to the bath temperature. I might be wrong but I hardly think that this line of exploration/inquiry is silly.
  23. I didn't phrase my message well. You are correct that there is irreversible muscle fibre shrinkage/tightening/denaturing and that cooling does not reverse the de-naturing, but there is also some amount of re-absorption of the moisture that has been expelled if the meat rests--I have read that it is partly due to the relaxing of the fibers--perhaps that is not why the moisture gets reabsorbed, but I have found it to be worthwhile to rest anything that I cook at over 140F. Ever since I read Blumenthal's book Family Cooking, I have taken to resting meat and have found his assertion to be correct that resting the meat (even when cooked at fairly low temperature results in some juices being re-absorbed that would otherwise end up on the plate. It may be (it seems likely) that there is a temperature above which the proteins/fibers are so-denatured that no re-absorption is possible. In any case, I think resting is worth a try. And I won't mind being found wrong if it doesn't work. In those cases where it does make a difference, the difference can be huge.
  24. Good job. Did you let the meat rest in the bag to come down in temp (which will take a bit longer than out of the bag)? You probably know this (but maybe others don't), even if you cook at only 140F, you will want to let the meat rest to let the muscle fibers relax and re-absorb the juices. I recently discovered that I have habitually not been giving meat enough time to rest. For complex cuts of meat, I am wondering whether a multi-temp cooking process might not be best for some large cuts of meat: an initial stage around 170F to render some of the outer fat followed by a drop in bath temp to something like 135 or 140 for the rest of the cooking. After reading Harold McGee's recent NY Times article about heat, I am thinking that this might be a worthwhile area to explore.
  25. When cooking steaks sous-vide, the cooking is primarily to bring the meat up to serving temperature and not for tenderizing the steak -- the fat will soften (which results in a nice mouthfeel) but don't expect the steak to be made more tender by the sous vide process ( tenderizing takes many hours which for steaks also compromises their texture). Was the center of the steak at the degree of doneness that you wanted? If so, the cooking time wasn't an issue. Here are questions that might help you figure out how to get a better result next time. Perhaps the quality of the steak was a problem? How thick was the steak? Did you brown the steak post sous-vide in a hot pan? If so, how long did it spend in the pan and how hot was the pan? Ideally, you want the pan so hot that 20 to 30 seconds will be enough to create a great crust. In my reading (about cooking steaks), the most commonly mentioned tip that I have seen is that people often don't get the pan hot enough. You want the crust to form as quickly as possible.
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