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Everything posted by e_monster

  1. Thanks for the response. It probably would be the right thing if I knew of a safe way to mount/house it and connect it to power in a safe way. If anyone has ideas how to easily and inexpensively do that I'd love to know about it. Preferably, one would be able leave the lid on the pot (even loosely) since that reduces power consumption considerably.
  2. I wanted to post an update on my experiments. I am about 20 hours into a 147F cook using a 12 qt dutch oven and a 300 W immersion heater, Auber instruments controller, airstone, and a gas stove. I have found that the immersion heater is not strong enough even at 100% power (i.e. plugged directly into the wall) to maintain, let alone heat, the water in the stockpot BUT if I set the gas flame very very very low (at which setting the gas flame is not quite enough to maintain temperature). the immersion heater controlled by the Auber instruments controller adds enough heat to maintain temperature. I have set P to 0 since at any higher setting, the setup cannot maintain the temperature. With this setup, there is more temperature cycling than when I use my 6 qt Presto multicooker (where the temperature appears to stay constant) because the immersion heater is a bit underpowered for this particular application and takes longer to make up for heat loss.. So, with a pot of this size, the immersion heater is a decent solution when used with another very low constant heat source but not enough by itself (whereas it would be fine in a pot of the size that TheSwede used). Also, the temperature cycling might not be ideal for cooking something like eggs but then again for eggs I wouldn't need to be using a large pot. In the pot I am using, I can do a small brisket (about 4 lbs). So, the immersion heater plus aquarium air pump seems to be a nice inexpensive solution for small pots but not ideal when one needs a larger pot. I'll update as my experiments continue.
  3. FWIW, Thomas Keller at FL uses 147° for 48 hours. ← I am about 20 hrs into the cooking of a 4 lb brisket at 147F. I was originally planning to cook it for 48 hours but due to a schedule change, it would be better if I finished cooking tonight which would put the cook time at about 26 or 27 hours. Can anyone with brisket experience tell me if it will be a disaster to eat the brisket at only 27 hours? (I.e. will it still be tough or will 27 hours have been enough time to make it tender). Thanks!
  4. Thanks for the clarification. I am glad I asked. I mistakenly thinking that you were completely submerging the thing. What size/how deep was the pot that you were using this with?
  5. One similar to this one ($ 5): http://www.amazon.com/Nordic-559-Immersion...JGCWREHKMQ12ZMW ← I looked at an immersion heater like that at the store and I have a couple of questions. It looks like the one I saw is very much like the Nordic one and is designed to hang over the side of the cup with the handle staying dry: 1) The one that I saw seems to have a tiny little "trip-wire" (for lack of a better term) near the junction of the handle and heating element that would cause it to shut off if the heater were completely immersed 2) Since these aren't designed go be totally immersed, is the seal where the cord enters the unit waterproof enough? Could you post a picture of your immersion heater in action? Thanks, E Monster
  6. I recently got the Auber Instruments PID controller and have used it for a couple of days with a 6 qt Presto multi-cooker (which can be had for about $25 or so). The controller is working as advertised. I am about to experiment with brisket sous-vide (I may need to use a larger vessel with a cheap immersion heater as TheSwede as done since even a small brisket would be pretty large compared to the water volum). I have looked through the archives to see if there is a consensus on the best settings for brisket. But there aren't many data points. I see that Nathan has recommended 130F for 36 hours and that someone else recently did one at a higher temp for 48 hours. If anyone has a 'killer' time/temp combo for brisket, please post it. As an aside, I see that Hamilon Beach makes a multicooker that is really an immersion heater and goes for about $40. If the el-cheapo 300 watt immersion heater doesn't work, I may hack the Hamilton Beach thingie and use it in a large stockpot. More notes on my setup (for others looking to do sous vide on the cheap). The temps have been quite stable with very little initial oveshoot (I am starting with water that is close to the target temperature) and the temps have been pretty uniform inside the cooker. If the bag is too large there can be temperature gradients of a few degrees but using a cheap aquarium pump and airstone solves that. I happened to have an old aquarium pump in the garage but they can be had new for about $10.
  7. Thanks for the post. I just received my Auber Instruments controller Sat. and I am impressed at the stability with my 6 qt presto multi-cooker. I am going to try an immersion heater in a large pot of water (that will by brought to temp on the stove). Where did you place the airstone? Did you use a little one? (Any pictures of your set-up?) Do you use any kind of 'rack' to keep the food off the bottom of the pot? Anyone know where one can find those little immersion heaters? I tried a few hardware stores and Target with no luck. Thanks, E
  8. 140F is safe IF you make sure that the chicken is at 140F for a long enough time. Nathan has posted tables for calculating how long you need to cook a particular thickness of meat at a particular temperature to attain the target temperature. There is also a link on the list to the FDA tables that describe how long poultry needs to spend at a particular temperature to be sterile. You add the sterilization time to the time it takes the meat to get completely to temp. An hour or so for most of the chicken breasts that I have cooked has been more than enough time for them to be safe to eat -- but get the tables to be sure. The time goes up dramatically the thicker the meat is. I have cooked chicken breasts as low as 132 (they need to spend a lot longer at 132 to become sterile than they do at 140 by the way) but prefer the texture when cooked at 140 or so. At 140, I find the result tender and plump. At 132 I find the texture a little mushy -- but some prefer the texture at 132. If you do a search in this topic for "tables" you should find them.
  9. I am wondering when using an immersion heater, I wonder if it doesn't make sense to bring the water close to the target temperature on the stove and then turn the stove off and let the immersion heater/PID combo maintain the temperature. If one has a gas stove, it is probably more energy efficient as well to do that since a gas stove is a more energy efficient heat source than an electric immersion heater. Have you tried that?
  10. The application notes say the following about hot plates This implies that there is not sufficient convection when using a hotplate and pot to keep the temperatures uniform given the rapid heat loss from the sides.
  11. According to the application notes from Auber Instruments, hot plates work less well than crockpots and rice cookers. Apparently the lack of insulation that pots have on the side make maintaining temperature trickier. They also claim that there is less convection with a hotplate than with the other options.
  12. When people talk about using a blowtorch to brown meat and crisp poultry skin, what kind of blow torch are we talking about? Is this something different from the propane torches one finds in a hardware store? I've just been reading about Heston Blumenthal's technique for low temp roasting of a prime rib and he mentions using a blowtorch (and says that those creme brulee thingies aren't strong enough to do flash browning of a large piece of meat). I'd like to try using a blowtorch post sous-vide to compare against flash browning in a very hot pan. Thanks
  13. The best temperature to use probably depends on the quality/precision/stability of your set-up. My setup has a few degrees F of fluctuation (which I am hoping to reduce by adding a PID in the near future). I didn't want my tempt to drop below 125 while cooking. If your system is more accurate than mine, I would experiment to find what works best for you. When I do 128-130, I get something that I equate with the rare side of medium rare but distinctly not rare. slkinsey has more or less summarized the reasoning behind my comment. I don't have a blowtorch; so, I can say nothing about what to do with a blowtorch.With pan-browning, I have found (with quite a few trials leading to the same results) that sous vide of a cut like a rib-eye that is 3/4 inch or less yields product not sufficiently different from pan fried steak to merit the effort. On cuts an inch or thicker the difference is pretty noticeable. My personal preference is for nice thick cuts in the 1.25 to 1.75 inch range. The softening of the fat all the way through is something that is hard to get without sous vide. I was underwhelmed by my one attempt at sous-vide steak without browning afterward--because I really missed the flavors you get from the maillard reaction. Browning on one side should work fine but I have no experience. I stopped experimenting once I found something that was so close to my ideal. Anyway, that is just my experience filtered through my personal taste. I encourage experimentation so that you can fine-tune to your taste.
  14. I have cooked many market steaks/rib eyes and even some filets. I cook for about an hour or so at 128 and then toss the steak into a cast-iron skillet that has very hot (on a high gas flame for about 10 minutes prior to putting the steak in). It only takes 30 seconds per side for a very nice crust. Thickness is important. With steaks 1.5 inches and thicker the result is amazing and much better than simple pan-frying. With steaks 1.25 inches and thinner, the results are less stunning. With the thick steaks there is a softening of the fat that is otherwise hard to achieve when cooking to rare/medium-rare. I cooked a nice filet at my wife's behest and was amazed that it too improved by being brought to temp sous-vide before crusting. --E
  15. I did my first experiments with pork tenderloin and was really happy (140F more or less for about 2 hrs) with the results. The meat was very tender and had a great mouthfeel. One tenderloin was vac'ed with a few tablespoons of a marinade made of roughly equal parts soy sauce, rice vinegar and mirin rice wine and little bit of sugar. The result complimented the sweetness of the pork without overpowering it. The other tenderloin had been rolled in my favorite bbq dry rub and left to sit in the fridge for a few hours before being bagged (with a little bit of cider vinegar added to the bag) and cooked. I also wanted to add that after a lot of experimentation with chicken breasts (which I prefer done at 140F for enough time to sterilize but not much longer than that since increasing the time doesn't seem to improve the sublime texture) that it is pretty clear that the quality of the chicken makes a much bigger difference in the result than any other form of preparation that I have tried with chicken breasts. So, if anyone is doing chicken breasts with standard grocery store brands, I recommend trying premium chicken from smaller providers. My wife is still raving about the chicken that we had the other night. It came out amazingly well despite the temperature swinging more than usual during cooking (between 138 and 146). --Emonster
  16. I was wondering if all the folks with an Auber Instr. (or other) sous-vide set-up could post their basic setup and their thumb's-up thumb's down on the unit. It seems like everyone is pretty happy so far. Is there anyone unhappy with their purchase? Thanks in advance!
  17. All this duck talk reminded me that I had a nice plump organic muscovy duck breast in the freezer. I thawed it in the fridge then seasoned with salt and pepper and a little garlic power. I sliced a blood orange from the garden thinly and covered the non-skin side of the breast with the slices and sealed it all up in a bag. I cooked it for just under 2 hours at 128 to 130. I pan seared the skin side and put it under the broiler for a couple of minutes. After removing the breast to a plate, I put the pan (which now had some lovely duck fat) back on a medium flame and added the jus from the bag and reduced. The skin LOOKED great but was a bit tough. So, I removed it. What I was left with was heavenly. The seasoning and blood oranges had worked better than hoped for. The duck was very tender and infused with a hint of orange which accentuated the flavor rather than over-powered it. I will have to give some skinless chicken breasts the same treatment. Pretty clearly I should have removed the skin before cooking and cooked separately as Brian recommended. Other than that, I was thrilled with the result. I don't know if anyone else is finding this, but I am finding that seasoning with some garlic powder when cooking sous-vide seems to result in better flavors than trying to use fresh garlic. Has anyone added a little roasted garlic to the bag to infuse with garlic?
  18. 120 degrees F sounds like a dangerous temperature to cook at for so long -- at that temperature you can be incubating some nasty microorganisms -- especially when cooking for a long time. My impression has been that for lengthy cooking 130 F is pretty much the minimum temperature that one can use without the water bath becoming an incubator. Hopefully Nathan will chime in -- as he seems to have a very good handle on this topic. Anyone?
  19. I think that you are underestimating the cost of putting together, manufacturing, storing and supporting a product like that -- given that the PID kits at Auber are $60 to $90 by themselves. Remember that a real manufacturer of such an item needs to be able to manufacture something for a fraction of the retail price. So, if the target price were $100 -- the manufacturer would need to be able to manufacture it for something like $25 to $35 dollars. They would need to think that there is a sizeable market to get into manufacturing something like that -- even as a kit. (Also, keep in mind that the second they include something like a heater they are going to have to think about liability and getting UL approval). And the market is small. There is not a huge demand for sous vide in the home market. Even among my peers that think of themselves as being really into food -- many of whom have lots of cooking gadgets -- there is not a lot of interest home sous vide. The Auber Instruments approach makes a lot of sense to me and hopefully other companies will get into the game. too. They are leveraging equipment that people have on-hand or can procure inexpensively.
  20. One of the nice things about sous vide is that because the heat is so gentle, you don't have to worry about making the cut uniform as you do when using high heat. So, in many respects it is more forgiving than traditional methods. It doesn't matter if the thin part gets to the target early -- because the target is generally a temperature that it can stay at for a long time without becoming overcooked. You can measure the thickest part of the meat you are cutting and cook for the length of time need for the thickest part to hit your target temp (plus however much longer you want to cook it). This is especially true when cooking in the 130 to 140 degree range because the muscle fibers stay pretty relaxed.
  21. I noticed that Auber Instruments claims that a thermistor is a better choice than a thermocouple. I don't know enough to know if they are right, but their turnkey system uses a thermistor rather than a thermocouple. What sort of temperature stability do you have with your set-up? The Auber Instruments application notes discourages use of a hot plate because they say that it results in less uniform distribution of the heat throughout the water than the rice cooker or crockpot. I am curious to know more about your results as I am on a budget and would like to upgrade my setup with a PID but want to get a better sense of the results that people are getting with their PID setups before I take the plunge. Thanks, E p.s. I am also curious to know the temperature/time that anyone is using that has managed to get a sublimely poached egg.
  22. Thanks for that link. The Auberins people seem to be taking this pretty seriously and doing some decent testing of the relevant factors (like temperature stability and uniformity of the bath temperature). It seems to me that since the granularity of the temperature setting is in integer units that it would make sense to use the unit in Fahrenheit mode as it would give greater granularity in terms of the temperatures that you can set (roughly equivalent to .5 C). It is nice to see that they tested the temperature stability and found it to be within about .2 C once the system had stabilized). Please -- everyone using similar PID units -- keep us posted on your experiences with them.
  23. Ruth, it was actually your post that had me choose the 71ºC and looking back to what you actually said, it was that you usually cook it at 120 ºF, but safety charts would suggest 160º F. I then scratched down 'chicken breast 120 - 160 º F 40 minutes'. I'll go back and correct that. ← I find 140F (abotu 60 C) to be my favorite. I have also done 160F (which is about 71 C) because I noticed that was what the winner of Top Chef cooked at when he did sous vide and also 132F (about 56C). I think it is worth trying a variety of temps to find what you like best. It is all about what you like best. I personally prefer the texture at 60C to 55-56C but some people prefer higher or lower temp. Make sure to use the tables that Nathan provided. It takes a LOT longer to cook chicken to sterilization at 130F than it does at 140F. So, be sure to increase cooking times appropriately. On a non-sous vide note, we have also 'roasted' chicken per Heston Blumenthal's recommendation at 165F in the oven and it was delicious (I crisped the skin briefly under the broiler) although it also took forever. --E
  24. Nice looking meal. Can you share some details about the PID that you are using? How steady did it keep the temperature?
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