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e_monster

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  1. Smoky Baby Back Ribs Sous Vide 1 rack baby back ribs Smoked in a Cameron stovetop smoker briefly to impart some smoke flavor (I had the heat on for 10 minutes to get the smoke going then let it rest without heat for 10 minutes and repeated). Then I rubbed the ribs with my favorite dry rub (Magic Dust from the recipe in Peace, Love and Barbecue -- a book I recommend) and vac'ed it with my FoodSaver This went into a 170F bath (I wanted the temp high enough to render and not just soften the fat). I let it go for 5 hrs at 170 then set the thermostat to 160F for the last hour (the temp never actually dropped that low). I let the ribs rest in the bag for about 10 minutes then removed them, brushed them very lightly with bbq sauce and made a pass with a propane torch to get a little Maillard action going. The ribs were very tender and there was plenty of smoke flavor. I will repeat and may try lowering the temp a bit earlier to see what the texture is like -- although I don't feel that the texture needed improving. p.s. The bath was a Hamilton Beach roaster oven (which I picked up for $10 at a local thrift store -- it isimilar to the Nesco 18 qt roaster) connected to an Auber PID. I used an aquarium air pump for circulation. The 1/4 hose was stuck in the water sans airstone which kept the temperatures uniform. There was an initial 2F oveshoot but within an hour the temperature was rock solid. I will experiment with settings to see if I can eliminate the initial overshoot -- the roaster has a lot of inertia so some tweaking will be needed to find the ideal settings. (NOTE: when using a system with less inertia, like my 7 qt multi-cooker, there is no significant overshoot -- there isn't a lot of residual heat in the multi-cooker's heating element).
  2. As an fyi, I have read a few places that the temperature stall is related to the transformation of collagen to gelatin rather than the rendering of the fat. I have found a number of references to it on the web BUT haven't found an authoritative quotation (from someone like Blumenthal or Harold McGee).
  3. Mike, Try a really big thick steak. Would only take a couple of hours and then you take it out and sear it nicely. Very tender and a really nice effect to see a couple of inches thick steak perfectly evenly cooked all the way through with a nice crispy outside. ← Thanks for the advice. Any suggestions on what temp to cook at? ← What is your heat source going to be? How bloody do you like your steak? I like mine at the rare side of medium rare. If you are planning on searing it afterwards (which I recommend), you don't need to cook to sterilization -- which will be just as safe as pan frying to rare/medium-rare. I cook mine somewhere between 125 and 131. Since you aren't tendering the meat, there is no need (or even benefit) for leaving it in the bath longer than needed to bring it up to temp (use Nathan's tables to determine how long that is). Here are a couple of searing tips: 0) Use a THICK high-quality steak. Rib-eye is my favorite and I prefer a steak (when cooking sous vide) that is an inch or so thick (or more). 1) Heat your pan (preferably NOT a non-stick pan since they don't like really high temps) for at least 10 minutes on a high flame/burner. You are looking to get the cooking surface hotter than 750F. 2) Use a paper towel on the steak after taking it out of the bag. Removing the moisture allows the crust to form very quickly. 3) Sear for only 30 seconds or so per side (if the pan is hot enough you won't need even that long). ALSO, if you like poached eggs, try cooking eggs at 145F or 146F overnight. They don't need that long but it is really nice to put the eggs in the cooker before going to bed and wake up with delicious poached eggs ready to eat. My wife has become addicted to them.
  4. My trusty FoodSaver seems to be dying after several years of service and I will need to replace it in the not-too-distant future. I am having trouble deciding which model to getl I have a question for anyone that has experience with both those FoodSavers with the PulseVac option vs. those with the extended seal time option. Costco has one with the PulseVac option for around $100. Tuesday Morning has an older model that has no PulseVac option but has an 'extended sealling time' button. Any thoughts of the relative merits of these options -- especially vis-a-vis packing food for sous vide?
  5. Do you make the smoked salt yourself (if so, could you share your recipe/method) or purchase it?
  6. When cooking below 130F, you basically need to keep the cooking time as short as is necessary to get the food up to temp. It can be held a little bit longer (as long as you keep it within the safe limits for food in the hot zone) but you don't want long cook times. (All items that cook for a long time are done so at temps that are outside of the danger zone). A few hours at under 120F is dangerous rather than overkill. At 113F to 130 F (especially under 120F), your bath is an incubator -- the pathogens will multiply much faster at these temps than at room temp. So, take a look at Nathan M's tables up-thread and base your cooking times on the time to get the food up to temp. Also, find Nathan's posts where he discusses the safe time that food can be in the 'hot zone'. He lays out valuable little understood information very well. [Maybe a FAQ or thread that contains just that information could be started? Everyone should really have that info on hand.]
  7. Sounds yummy. Thanks (to you and all that posted tips/recipes today).
  8. Sounds intriguing. I have been wanting to experiment with hybrid smoke/sous vide techniques. (I have considered smoking brisket for a couple of hours before packing it and putting it into the waterbath). Would you consider sharing your smoked bacon stock recipe? I have also wanted to try exposing chicken breasts to smoke before sous vide-ing, but my one attempt didn't get much smoke flavor into the chicken (I didn't want to dry the chicken out so I reduced the flame in the stovetop smoker once the smoke got going to a temp that was so low that I don't think there was much smoke in there). I would love to hear from anyone that has succeeded in creating a smoke/sous vide hybrid. (The following faux smoke technique has been successful for chicken breasts but am embarrassed to mention it: slice a lemon into 1/4 inch slices, sprinkle the slices with liquid smoke, season plump skinless/boneless chicken breasts with salt and pepper and some granulated garlic. Put a lemon slice or two on each chicken breast. Put the chicken in the vac bags with a pad or two of butter per breast. Cook at 145F for an hour -- and drop bath temp to 135 if the food needs to be held in the bath for a longer time).
  9. 52C (126F) does not sound like a safe temperature for poultry. At 126F, one is incubating salmonella rather than killing it off. Chicken is not like beef (where the concern is surface contamination) in that you can't just cook the outside and feel confident that the interior of the meat is safe. Chicken in a 56C (132F) bath for just one hour doesn't sound like it is in the safe range either by itself (the chicken is not going to spend much time at 132F in this scenario). Or do you mean that the chicken spends an hour in the bath after getting up to temp? If you are cooking again for service, the temperature/time at which you cook the chicken is important. You need to know the temp that the meat reaches during your secondary heating. Crisping the skin (unlike searing the outside of a steak) does little to make the chicken safe to eat if the meat itself was not cooked long enough to be safe. I have cooked chicken breasts quite a few times at temperatures throughout the range from 130 to 150 and if one doesn't cook it too long at 147, the chicken should come out as plump and moist as the chicken cooked at 130 but the texture is different (I prefer the texture at 140F but that is a matter of taste). From what I can tell (after a lot of trials), when chicken comes out dry when cooked at 140 to 147 for a reasonable time (one to 1.5 hours) it is a problem with the quality of the chicken. (There isn't any benefit that I have found in cooking chicken any longer than is necessary to be safe). For this reason, I drop the temperature in the bath to 135F once the chicken is safe to eat if I need to hold the chicken for service. I have never done 160F but on Top Chef Hung (the winner of the most recent season) cooked chicken at 160F for 20 minutes and got rave reviews from the judges. It is on my list of things to try.
  10. Poultry at 130F for 45 minutes is not long enough to be considered safe. While many people eat poultry that hasn't been sterilized without getting sick, I wouldn't recommend it. The odds are low that you will get sick any particular time that you undercook poultry but if you do get sick with any of the nastier strains of salmonella that have been created by the modern world, you won't want to take the risk again. According to the FDA safety tables (which everyone cooking poultry sous vide should download) the time that chicken needs to be at 136F is 63 minutes to kill off salmonella. Remember that is the time AFTER the food is completely up to temperature. For poultry, the tables only go down to 136F. (The FDA tables that I have go down to 130 for beef but not for poultry). At 140F, the time needed is only about 25 minutes. At 147F the time is about 5 minutes. As you can see the time needed goes down drastically with temperature. I have cooked poultry at 131F (leaving ample time for sterilization) but found that I preferred the texture at 140F -- plus the sterilization time is so much shorter. The texture at 147F is really nice, too and it cooks a lot faster and is safe to eat a lot faster than at lower temps. I find Nathan M's tables plus the FDA safety tables to be essentials.
  11. Interesting. Thanks. It makes me wonder whether the size and/or quality and/or trimming of the brisket OR the prep was the problem with mine. The 48 hour brisket had marinated for a few days and there was a fair amount of the marinade in the bag (whereas my 27 hour brisket had been dry rubbed and packed with no additional liquid). Any thoughts?
  12. Tonight we ate a smallish (4 lb) brisket cooked or 48 hours at 147F which is what the French Laundry is claimed to do. With this brisket 48 hours was too long at this temperature (at least with this particular piece of meat). The brisket was tender to the point of mushiness and was inclined to fall apart when sliced. The folks eating it enjoyed the concentrated flavor but I was disappointed. The texture of the brisket I did last week for 27 hours was much better although that one felt like it would have benefited from a bit more time. My next experiment will probably involve getting a larger brisket and cutting it in half so that I can cook half for 27 hours (which is what I did last time) and the other half for 36 hours. Has anyone else gone that long at that temp with brisket?
  13. How far from the end of the bag do you put things. I don't have any problem making the seal. So the problem isn't in the sealing strip area. The bubbles (small ones) seem to form on the side of the meat closest to the bottom of the bag and get caught in the wrinkles that form as the air is sucked out. Maybe I am putting the meat too close to the bottom of the bag. The amount of liquid in the bag doesn't seem to make a difference. They don't always appear. My particular unit doesn't have either the pulse or extended vacuum feature.
  14. Could some of you with Foodsavers share your tips for minimizing the air bubbles in your bags. I get inconsistent results. Sometimes there is no residual air but sometimes I end up with a few bubbles that (of course) expand when the bag gets hot. I'm curious what people do to eliminate bubbles. Thanks in advance.
  15. maybe something like this? http://www.bigalsonline.com/BigAlsUS/ctl36...ydorpico300pump or I think one of those electric coffee milk frothers like the aerolattes could work or could adapt it with an aquarium impeller assembly. What I saw is not a water pump. What I saw was basically an assembly that you connect to a low power aquarium air pump. So, nothing with moving parts is going in the water -- so the heat won't be a problem (someone else on the board used a pump similar to what you linked to but it died after 8 hours -- possibly because it wasn't really made to be in hot water). What I saw was similar to this: http://www.bigalsonline.com/StoreCatalog/c...filter+air+pump One could easily cobble together (as I will do) something from $2 worth of pvc fittings if one already has the air pump. If you don't have an airpump, this thing might be worth it since it includes one. (NOTE: For an awful lot of applications, a circulator is not necessary -- especially if a rice cooker is used which has decent circulation via convection. I often use a Presto Multicooker and for things like chicken breasts and steaks and don't find a need for a circulator. When I use my larger setup -- which involves a low power cup warmer type immersion heater and a stockpot -- circulation is definitely required because the heater is on the side of the pot and without it temperature on one side of the pot can be several degrees colder than near the heater. Using a low powered aquarium air pump, the temps in that setup stay even -- i.e. within a degree F)
  16. I would guess that the controller whose text displays as some Asian font is probably the lower-powered one. I suggest emailing them. They have always gotten back to me within 24 hours and have been very helpful. ON ANOTHER TOPIC ... water circulation If one is using an Auber setup with something that actually needs water circulation to keep the water temps even, I noticed that for less than $10 one can buy an air-pump driven "filter system" that includes the air pump. You could use that to circulate the water (I would remove the actual filter cartridge since it isn't necessary).
  17. Nice rig. You can use a cheap ($8) aquarium air pump to increase circulation. The pump won't be in the water -- only the 1/4 inch pvc tubing coming from it. I have used one with an airstone and was told by someone here that they got fine circulation with just the bare hose. With the heat coming from below the air should do a fine job of keeping the heat distributed once the setup has come up to temperature. Even with a brisket (my setup can only handle a smallish 4 lb one) there was uniform heat distribution when the pump was running.
  18. I am posting because I don't want newbies to get the impression that one needs a laboratory immersion heater/circulator or lab bath to create delicious sous vide meals. (Don't get me wrong, if you can afford it, go for it -- but you can create some great sous-vide without it). The specs you mention (or specs very close to them) are attainable with the Auber units. With an $8 aquarium pump, you can get adequate circulation (as at least one other person has mentioned). And in some situations even that isn't needed as natural convection will often cause temperatures to be evenly distributed in the vessel and equalize fairly quickly. The Auber units control things tightly enough that eggs at 145F consistently turn out the similarly and are consistently different from 147F eggs (which remain self-consistent as well). Your judgment of what is "right" seems fairly doctrinal and binary. You talk about having tried a number of techniques that failed. Since none of the equipment you mentioned is even similar to the equipment you are disparaging, I don't think that you are really in a position to judge. Based on the smiles at the table and the requests for second helpings when I have served the food is adequate proof to me that such a setup can create delectable food. As I have mentioned previously, stringent temperature control is absolutely necessary for some recipes but not all. I wouldn't do a 36 hour brisket with something less stable than an Auber (or better controller) or salmon mi cuit. But there are a great many other recipes, where a swing of a few degrees F can still result in excellent meals that will be appreciated by very discerning diners (based on actual experience). You keep implying that a discernible difference in food created with different setups makes it pointless to use the "lesser" of the two setups. But that is silly, if the lesser setup creates 4 star food as opposed to 5 star food, that will be acceptable as a starter system for a great many cooks (even demanding ones).
  19. I agree 100%. The discussion reminds me a bit of a discussion on a coffee roasting list to which I used to subscribe. There were people that would act as if one could not pull a decent shot of espresso with any machine that cost less than $1500 -- and would act as if a Rancilio Silvia (a decent inexpensive pump machine that while finicky can create great shots) was no better than a steam machine -- which is plain wrong. MikeTMD, come on man, just because one can tell the difference between SOME items cooked with lab-gear and that cooked with an Auber setup that does not mean that an Auber setup is not a decent way to go. I content that it is the RIGHT equipment and does a much better than adequate job for a wide variety of applications. Just because there might be "a difference" does not mean that the other gear is not appropriate. Quite a few people on this list are cooking great sous-vide food without an immersion-circulator. One can tell the difference between food cooked in a $3000 commercial oven and that cooked in most home ovens, but it doesn't mean that very good food can't be cooked in a home oven. A foodie friend of mine that has recently eaten at some very expensive restaurants that do sous-vide has been consistently impressed with the results I am getting with my budget sous-vide set-up. If I had the money to burn, I would get higher-end equipment, but that doesn't make the equipment I am using a waste of time. Some people get scared off sous-vide by the notion that they need to get expensive equipment to get started, and I think it is a shame. Anyway that is my opinion.
  20. No, but it is not relevant. I am not saying that I get identical performance to lab equipment (as I mentioned in my earlier post). I am simply saying that I get very good performance and can cook delectable food. Not everyone can afford to have the absolute best equipment -- but one does not need the absolute best to get great results.
  21. I did 147 degree eggs over night and the texture was pretty much the same as the 2 hour eggs I had done. The yolk was a bit firmer than the 2 hour egg but it was pretty close. My next experiment is going to be 145 overnight. The whites were nearly identical in the 2 hour and 8 hour versions that I did.
  22. A number of us are getting excellent results with the Auber Instruments temperature controller -- which is a fairly simple PID controller and would be fairly easy to build oneself (although the price from Auber is not terribly much more than the cost of buying all the required parts). When coupled with a heat source, they work great. It might be as great as having a laboratory immersion heater/circulator but the results are excellent nonetheless.
  23. I have had some sous vide chicken breasts that are amazing. I wouldn't be so quick to write off chicken sous vide. If you ended up with something that was not plump and tender, you should post your results so that the group might help you trouble shoot. When good quality chicken is cooked correctly in this manner, the result will be something plump with a shockingly tender texture that is so tender that it is more reminiscent of halibut (in texture not in flavor) than chicken. My wife was a sous vide skeptic until she had chicken breasts sous vide. We have found with chicken that the quality of the ingredients has a huge impact -- much bigger than when cooking chicken with other methods. Chickens from the big commercial poultry companies have been terribly disappointing. This sounds either like the chicken was cooked way too long (or too hot) or that the quality of the chicken wasn't very good.
  24. Would there be any problem using *two* of the 300w heaters (controlled together, as though one 600w) ??? Or three.. ? ADDED: A charity/junk shop pan (of about the right size) could donate its lid to be customised to provide openings for heater(s) probe, etc... ← Adding more immersion heaters could work but isn't the right solution for me, personally. For me the solution of adding more and more of the 300 watt immersion heaters would be less than ideal -- the cost would then approach the cost of getting something like the 18 qt roaster Auber mentions in its application notes (they can be had for about $40 new and even less in thrift shops) or of the Hamilton Beach multicooker that is basically an immersion heater. The solution would also get messy and require using extension cords which is best avoided for long cooks since they can be fire hazards (the immersion heaters say clearly that they aren't to be used with extension cords) Using a single water heater element like JB mentioned is an interesting idea to me -- but I am not really sure how to put together an appropriate housing for the element that would ensure that it is safe. I hope someone out there has an idea. If anyone has ideas about putting together a reliably waterproof enclosure for the power junction, please post it. The other thing that I have wondered about is aquarium heaters. But I haven't found one (at least not an inexpensive one) those thermostat can be turned off (and all of the ones I have seen have a maximum temperature that is far too low).
  25. To answer my own question, this 4 lb brisket cooked for 27 hours at 147F came out nicely. It was on the firm side of tender. It was not tough and was very tasty. Next cook will be for 48 hrs with the identical prep (rubbed with my favorite dry rub) so that I can compare. (I also want to try a cook at 135F for 48 hrs) The setup that I used was an 8 qt le creuset pot setup with a 300 watt el-cheapo immersion heater (the $10 variety used to heat water in a mug) contolled by an Auber Instruments PID controller. The pot was put on a burner of my gas stove. The flame was set very very low (low enough that the temperature of the pot would drop slowly without the assistance of the immersion heater). The immersion heater's job was basically just to assist the gas. (For anyone wondering why I didn't just the stove without the immersion heater, the reason is that with the flame turned up even slightly more the temperature slowly kept rising in my earlier tests so that after a few hours the temperature had risen a few degrees).
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