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Everything posted by e_monster

  1. What type of proteins are you cooking? In my opinion, torches are mostly useful for beef. They aren't so useful on poultry or pork (except perhaps very fatty cuts like ribs). Using sugar will make matters worse. The reducing-sugar wash trick is for browning in pans to allow the browning to happen at a lower temperature than usually required. I have never used MAPP gas, it is hard for me to imagine that there is much advantage in this context to using it over Propane or Butane. Personally, I think the Iwatani Butane torch is the way to go. It is inexpensive, powerful and has a very adjustable flame and the refill cartridges are cheap. I used to use Bernzomatic propane torch before switching to the Iwatani. There is some practice required. I find that it is important to keep the torch moving back and forth over an area and far enough away from the meat that it doesn't burn the meat instantly. I start with the flame far away and move in and find the distance where if I move the torch back and forth I have control over how browned the meat gets. I picked up a MAPP torch from Home Depot but haven't figured out how to achieve appealing browning on my SV proteins with it. The flame is so hot it burns surface irregularities before browning the overall surface. I've only used it 2-3 times so far, so I need to experiment a bit more with how far to hold it away from the food, how quickly to move it, etc. Perhaps drying the protein surface and/or coating with a light glucose solution would help. I'm also thinking about getting a flame spreader attachment. Does anyone have advice on technique using MAPP torches? I'm also now wondering if the extra heat of the MAPP gas vs. propane is useful in culinary applications. If you have to hold the flame farther away or move it faster across the protein then it seems the extra heat is not really being taken advantage of. nathanm said something similar ("A propane torch is already hot enough that there is no increased utility in MAPP.") a few years back, but seems to prefer MAPP now. Perhaps there are some other advantages to MAPP?
  2. Air is not a very good heat conductor. So, it takes a lot longer to get foods to temperature in the air than it does in a water bath -- and there are no tables that I know of that would give you an idea of how long it would take to get your food to temperature. I think that there is serious risk of food being in the danger zone too long if using air as the conductor.
  3. I have found that in this temperature range there can be differences between how much watery white there is in eggs that are from different purveyors or that have different ages. Yolks seem pretty consistent in this time/temp range -- but if one is trying to totally nail that point where the yolk just barely starts to gel I think you need the same types of eggs that are the same age. There seem to be subtle differences based on the eggs' age and also the diet of the chickens. It isn't so critical unless you are trying to get the yolk in this particular state -- where it looks like a softboiled yolk but when you cut into it, it is like a tender curd. Anyway, that has been my experience.
  4. The mystery of why the chicken cooked at 140F never got to 140F has been solved. Due to evaporative cooling on the surface of the chicken, the maximum temperature that the outside of the chicken reaches is lower than the oven temperature if the relative humidity in the oven is low. The temperature reached will depend on the the moisture content of the surface, airflow and humidity. This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as wet-bulb and dry-bulb temperature. So, to get this to work, either the humidity needs to be higher in the oven or one needs to use a higher oven temperature. If you leave it at 140 long enough, the surface will completely dry out and the temperature will start rising again until it hits 140F but at these low temperatures that stall time can be quite long. (This is the same reason that -- contrary to conventional wisdom -- that briskets have a long temperature stall when being smoke at low temperature). There is an interesting discussion of briskets and wet-bulb/dry-bulb temperatures in the sous-vide techniques discussion.
  5. For a change of pace, we went back to the pan sear method for ribeye (I get the pan SUPER hot) and the results were nice but I have to say that we all liked the torched steaks better. We also cooked a nice thick ribeye using the Ducasse method -- the crust looked gorgeous but the consensus was that while the crust looked better than the torched steak, it actually was less tasty than the torched crust. And much more of the steak was 'overcooked' than sous-vide plus torch. I wouldn't say that pork isn't worth the effort. I would say that if you are looking for transformation, you won't find it as much in pork as in other cuts (you might find it with pork belly or shoulder, but I haven't tried belly and my pork shoulder experiment was very good but nothing compared to my 14 hour slow smoked shoulders). I agree with Merridith that sourcing seems even more critical than with beef. I also never cook pork sous-vide without brining first.
  6. Thanks! I do not know if it is skirt or hanger, the butcher said it is from the diaphragm and in German it is "Rinds-Leistenfleisch", it looks well marbled, the cubes are 15-25mm thick, I marinated and spiced it, the main portion will be 55°C/24h and a small portion will be just seared for comparison. The price was 2/3 the price of brisket. If it is a skirt steak, you are in for a real treat. So far, everyone who has had my sous-vide skirt steak has said that it is the best beef they have had. Skirt steak I would cook for no longer than 24 hours. It comes out as tender as a high-quality filet and even more flavorful than a rib-eye. With a really nice luxurious mouth-feel. Sadly, in the U.S. skirt steak is no longer cheap like brisket. 15 years ago, it was a very cheap cut. And here are my results: The two mouthfuls seared without sous vide were tasteful, but rather chewy and dark red inside, after a few seconds more in the skillet it was more pink, chewyness and taste unchanged. The main portion was SV 55°C/24h, dabbed dry and seared in smoking hot rice bran oil. It came out with a nice crust and pink inside, definitely less chewy than without SV (but not perfectly fork-tender), and very tasteful. This was my first experience at all with beef diaphragm, it was pleasing, but not the ultimate "treat" as e-monster predicted. One reason may be that we have grass-fed beef in Switzerland and never ever the quality of beef you have in the USA. Another reason may be it was pre-cut in cubes and from a supermarket's self-service shelf, not the real "butcher's steak". I will definitely try to get skirt steak from the butcher who dry-ages his beef, and maybe I should increase SV-time to 36h. Time for grass-fed would be probably be different--as will the taste/mouth-feel. While I like the idea of grass-fed beef, the quality of grass-fed beef here is very variable -- so we don't quick with it a lot in our house (really good grass-fed beef being extremely expensive). I would get it from a butcher. And make sure that they remove the membrane. I wonder if what you got might have been hanger steak -- it is also from the diaphragm. While wikipedia indicates that hanger steak is more flavorful, we have consistently liked skirt steak more. Hanger steak (for us) has (like flank steak) turned out very well but hasn't wowed us the way that skirt steak has. You might want to print out a picture of the cut from a U.S. site that shows beef cuts and show it to your butcher since it might be butchered differently in Switzerland than it is here.
  7. Bland in, bland out. Pork chops are a pretty bland cut. Sous-vide can influence texture but it won't make something bland taste better. I have yet to find a cut of pork that is transformed dramatically but maybe I haven't tried enough. Many are tasty and convenient to cook sous-vide but I don't think they are transformed the way tasty, rich but tough cuts of beef are. I mean if you love pork chops, sous-vide will make it possible to reproducibly cook them to whatever degree you like them done (the way that it makes cooking perfect ribeye a no-brainer) but it won't turn a pork=chop or a chicken breast into something rich like a spare rib.
  8. If you are looking to cook dishes that show of the 'transformative' nature of sous-vide -- where you get results unlike anything that you can get by conventional methods, I would do 24 hour skirt steak or 48-hour short ribs and 116F salmon. Chicken breasts at 135F are lovely, too. But not as radically different from what you get by traditional methods as the aforementioned items. These dishes all come out very different from anything that you can do with traditional techniques. If you love beef, skirt steak (24 hours at 133F) and short ribs (48 to 60 hours at 133F) will give you dishes that will have your guests inviting themselves back to dinner. And wanting those sous-vide eggs for appetizers. Use the search field at the bottom of the page to find the postings about these. In my opinion, you can make lovely pork dishes and cook perfect steak -- but those are all dishes where you are getting reliable easy-to-reproduce high-quality results but you aren't getting a result that is dramatically different from what you get by doing executing a conventional method with great skill.
  9. If your PID controller is working well, there really is no reason other than convenience to spend money on something like the PolyScience. Convenience, of course, is no small thing. I have been in contact with several people that "graduated" and all said that the results they got with their PID setups was equal to what they got with the PID. You might find that getting a tabletop roaster or a large rice cooker will come in handy when cooking things that won't fit in the crockpot. But those are items that you can add cheaply. I personally haven't felt the need to get a fancier rig. My 2 Auber PIDs are serving me well. These rigs will do awesome eggs at the temperature of my choosing and salmon mi-cuit. These are items that put a setup to the test. If the amount of money that a PolyScience rig would run feels like "real money", I think that you would be better served by spending the money on something else: better knives or pans or Nathan's books when they come out. That's my opinion.
  10. If it is a skirt steak, you are in for a real treat. So far, everyone who has had my sous-vide skirt steak has said that it is the best beef they have had. Skirt steak I would cook for no longer than 24 hours. It comes out as tender as a high-quality filet and even more flavorful than a rib-eye. With a really nice luxurious mouth-feel. Sadly, in the U.S. skirt steak is no longer cheap like brisket. 15 years ago, it was a very cheap cut. Thanks! I do not know if it is skirt or hanger, the butcher said it is from the diaphragm and in German it is "Rinds-Leistenfleisch", it looks well marbled, the cubes are 15-25mm thick, I marinated and spiced it, the main portion will be 55°C/24h and a small portion will be just seared for comparison. The price was 2/3 the price of brisket.
  11. When I have done hanger steak it, I have cooked it 24 to 36 hours at 132F and it was super tender. It was very good but I didn't find it nearly as flavorful as skirt steak nor did it have the same lovely mouthfeel as the skirt steak. The hanger steak that I had would have been too tender if cooked longer. But I suspect there is a lot of variation in the quality of the steaks out there. I would check it at 24 hours and judge how much longer it needs.
  12. I agree with Chris A. Smoke them first. They only need 10 to 20 minutes in the smoker. I would do that at a lower temp than 235 F if you can. Then bag them. The earlier in the cooking process that the smoke is introduced, the better in my experience. Smoking after the meat is cooked doesn't seem to work as well. !0 minutes in the smoker before sous-vide should be adequate. The smoke flavor is then locked in the bag during cooking and penetrates nicely. Use the search button at the bottom of the page to look for 'ribs'. I posted the temperature/time that I used for some killer baby back ribs that came out smoky and tender.
  13. Has anyone tried this with Keller's Ad Hoc recipe? I like the idea of SVing the chicken first but it seems like with a recipe as precise as his that could lead to over cooking. Or do you bring the chicken to room temp or something beforehand? I have done it a few times. It comes out well BUT when blind tasting was done of the sous-vide and non-sous-vide versions side-by-side the non-sous-vide version was the hands-down winner. The crust forms better on the non-sous-vide version -- it simply doesn't stick as well if the chicken is cooked sous-vide. Don't get me wrong -- the sous-vide version was very good -- just not as good. And since it is a lot more work to do it sous-vide we now stick to doing it non-sous-vide. The one advantage to doing it sous-vide is that you could brine and then cook a lot of chicken parts and bag them in meal-sized lots and freeze them so that you could have them on-hand for cooking later.
  14. Thanks and yes I was being vague although I have no recent specifics other than some recent drab but tender chicken breasts. As a point of experimentation, can you give me a suggestion for a newly purchased skirt steak? A chewy childhood favorite,I would think this could be really delicious SV. Any suggestion for time/temp and marinade would be appreciated. Enter 'skirt' in the Search Topic field near the bottom of the page. You will find specific skirt steak recommendations.
  15. Interesting - I never thought of putting a brine in the bag with the meat... I've always pre-seasoned and put some type of oil/fat in the bag. At such low temps/short times, I've never had problems with any liquid being exuded... definitely not true for long time stuff like 36 hour flank steak, etc (there's lots of exuded liquid)... I have to try the brine next time. I just use a small amount -- but I am doing it because I always notice a few teaspoons of liquid in the bag after the ribeyes have been cooking (typically one to two hours). If your meat isn't losing the liquid, there might not be an advantage to the brine. I just do it to compensate for that little bit of loss. I haven't done a side-by-side comparison so I could be fooling myself. But since the results have been so good, I haven't messed with it. (I also often put a tiny bit of liquid smoke in the brine to give the meat a hint of smoke).
  16. The amount of moisture that comes out during cooking varies -- a number of factors influence it -- including the original moisture content. In your case, using fine dry-aged beef, I think I would season just before searing I don't think that there is an advantage to putting salt and pepper in the bag with meat like you are cooking and there might be some disadvantage. The seasoning won't be any better if it is in the bag than if you add the seasoning after removing from the bag and drying off. And an argument can be made that there is an advantage to waiting if you are using salt with an uneven grind. (Because the tongue will be coming into contact with different sized/shaped salt crystals which apparently has an important psychological impact on the perception of saltiness).
  17. I typically use a couple of tablespoons of 5% to 8% brine per steak in the bag to season them. It seems slightly more effective than just salting and bagging the meat, and I find that the steaks turn out a tad-jucier this way than if salted and put in the bag without added water. I think that if you salt the meat without adding a little bit more water that the salt seems to cause a bit more liquid to come out of the steak. Or you could season the steaks and add a tablespoon or two of water. If you don't have time to experiment, I think you are safest waiting to season until they have come out of the bag and been dried prior to searing.
  18. I think Kenneth is right on. If the steaks are good quality, I wouldn't leave the in the bath any longer than 3 hours. And one to two hours will be sufficient. I notice already tender steaks degrading in texture after about 3 hours or so -- some people don't mind it but I find it less appealing than in its original state. I also personally, would recommend cutting the steaks a bit thicker (personal pref is 1.5 to 2 inches thic) and making sure that the crust is really nice. A nice crust goes a long way. I find that with thicker steaks it really highlights the nice rare/medium-rare meat in a way that doesn't happen with steaks 1-inch thick. Anyway that is just my personal pref.
  19. I don't think that leaving the chicken to cook longer will result in significant fat rendering during the sous-vide cooking of the chicken unless you raise the temperature significantly. At least that is my experience.
  20. A couple of things. I have done expensive and less expensive skirt steak (less expensive isn't cheap but maybe 8.95/lb) and I have been impressed even with the cheap ones. I am personally not particularly fond of top sirloin/london broil done sous-vide. Yes, they come out tender -- but for me the taste/texture is inferior to many other cuts. I think that short ribs are the cheap cut that undergoes the most luscious transformation. They are juicy and beefy and are great if you have decent quality short ribs. A marbled chuck roast (you want fine marbling not but chunks of interior fat) is very nice but the final result while very tasty resembles other meat with which one is familiar. Short ribs when the quality is good are really unlike other cuts -- even better than prime rib. Anyway that's my personal taste -- others will have their own prefs.
  21. 135F is definitely moving into medium rather than medium-rare. I would say 131 to 133 is a better temperature range. 4.5 liters is pretty small for a large piece of meat. I would only do 131F if you are certain that everything is calibrated correctly. It is a good idea to check the reading on the PID unit against a fairly accurate thermometer. Fat won't render at these temps. So, you don't want to use cuts that have large interior chunks of fat. Btw, you mention this as preparatory experimentation before doing a prime rib sous-vide. I don't think that there is any benefit to doing prime rib sous-vide. Prime rib is a pretty tender cut. I have done quite a few chuck roasts and they can rival prime rib when done sous-vide. For non-wagyu chuck roast, I think that 48 hours is probably better than 24 hours. Beef-cooked sous-vide doesn't look pretty on the outside. So, there isn't anything unusual about what you found. For your first experiments I strongly recommend skirt steak for 24 hours at 132F or or short-ribs (trimmed of excess fat) for 48 hours. Those two cuts are the ones that really demonstrate the transformative nature of sous-vide. Also, when considering USDA grading, it is telling you more about marbling than the actual quality of the flavor and tenderness of the meat. Not all USDA Choice beef is of equal quality.
  22. As I've mentioned elsewhere in the thread, in my opinion, torches are great for beef but not really useful for poultry or pork. For poultry, the best results are hot oil (Heston Blumenthal recommends peanut oil). A good broiler in an oven that has NOT been brought up to temperature works pretty wel for poultry skin thou not as good as hot oil. (If using a broiler, don't use it if you have been cooking in the oven because then you will also overcook the meat while the skin gets crisp). In my experience, a glucose wash does not work very well for poultry skin. I think it works best for meat (although I have never gotten the same results as I have with a torch, but I might not have been doing it quite right). I should also point out that using the torch right with beef (which is all that I would use it for) requires a little practice. You want to keep the torch moving. With a little practice (with beef), you can get a nice even crust all over.
  23. I used to exclusively use a VERY hot pan (somewhere around 700F) for searing but for many cuts of meat I find that a torch works better for developing crust without cooking the meat and even for cuts with an even surface (like rib eyes) I have switched to a torch because the result is just as good as with a pan and there is much less work involved. Do you get less smoke when using a torch instead of a pan? I use a pan right now and the main problem is that the hood above the stove is ancient and practically useless (rental so there isn't much I can do about that), which means that the kitchen quickly fills up with smoke. Yes, there is less (much less) smoke using a torch.
  24. That is the right torch -- you can probably find it for less. My local restaurant supply store had them for under $30. There are also quite a few other brands of butane canisters that fit the torch. If you search the archives for Iwatani, I mentioned another brand that is pretty common. 12 cans for $21 is a good price but probably overkill. I bought four cans of fuel when I got my torch about 8 months ago and I have only gone through slightly more than one can. (It gets used a few times a week). Basically, the torch needs a butane canister designed for using with portable butane stove -- they have a notch in the collar and are pretty common. The brand I use is $8 to $10 for a four pack.
  25. In my opinion, hot pans with oil are less effective than a torch for pieces of meat that have irregularly shaped surfaces. Brisket, skirt steak, or any other cut that is not essentially flat on both sides benefits from the torch. Given how much more time it takes to clean up a pan after pan-searing (not to mention the 10 minutes or so that it takes to get a pan to temp), I now use the torch for all my beef searing. Torches aren't very useful for pork or poultry in my experience. I used to exclusively use a VERY hot pan (somewhere around 700F) for searing but for many cuts of meat I find that a torch works better for developing crust without cooking the meat and even for cuts with an even surface (like rib eyes) I have switched to a torch because the result is just as good as with a pan and there is much less work involved.
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