Jump to content


participating member
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by e_monster

  1. Sadly, just because beef was grass-fed doesn't make it good quality. If a ribeye is tough and/or flavorless then its quality isn't very good. Good grass fed beef will be just as tender as grain fed. The big difference is that the fat renders at a lower temperature so that when cooking with traditional means one has to treat it differently. How thick was the steak? The flavor of grass-fed beef's fat is different from grain-fed beef's. Some people don't like it because it is so different from the flavor of grain fed. My impression after trying grass-fed beef from various sources is that there is a lot of poor quality grass-fed beef. My suspicion is that some ranchers whose beef is of marginal quality have switched to grass-fed beef to try to earn more money by selling it as a premium quality product -- knowing that many people assume that grass-fed beef is automatically going to be of good quality. Because there isn't a lot of competition for the market there is some pretty mediocre grass-fed beef out there. Good quality grass-fed beef is awesome -- but hard-to-find and pricey. I have had more consistent results with grass-fed ground beef.
  2. In my opinion, if you use good quality salmon and freeze it for 24 hours to kill the parasites, you are much better off not pasteurizing it. I find that for salmon 116F for about 20 minutes is extraordinary and I have served it many times and people always wish that I had prepared more. Brine it for 10 to 20 minutes as Doug Baldwin indicates it in his sous-vide guide. I put a little liquid smoke in the bag and sprinkle the salmon with a small amount of garlic powder and put some strips of lemon zest in the bag or a few thin slices of lemon.
  3. I wonder where they got their numbers. According to the USDA tables that I have, it takes up to 82 minutes to pasteurize chicken at 58C. They have different tables based on the fat content of the item being pasteurized. If the fat content is low enough and you don't have any fat in the bag, it can take less time -- but I think it is best to be safe. But since most people don't know the fat content of what they are cooking, it is my understanding that it is recommended to use the most conservative table. It may take far longer than 10 minutes for the meat to get up to temperature. It all depends on thickness. It would take a one inch thick chicken breast just under 37 minutes to get to temperature. Nathan posted tables that you can use to determine the time that it takes a particular thickness to get up to temperature. I recommend finding them and downloading them -- or using Doug Baldwin's tables. So, to pasteurize, a 1 inch thick chicken breast takes about 119 minutes (two hours). Btw, I don't believe that natural or organic poultry is significantly less likely to have salmonella. A lot has to do with the butchering and whether they manage to get the entrails out without them becoming pierced at all. A very large percentage of poultry tested in markets has salmonella. (An awful lot of what people call 'stomach flu' is salmonella poisoning, btw).
  4. After several months of use, I am satisfied that non-Iwatani-brand butane is fine with the torch as long as it is a canister that has the right notch -- basically any butane canister that was designed to be used with a butane burner. They are available for a couple of dollars apiece at most restaurant supply stores, many Asian markets and Smart & Final as well.
  5. Just ate a skirt steak cooked for 29 hours at 132F with a little liquid smoke and a couple of tablespoons of 5% brine then seared with an Iwatani blow torch. This might be my favorite cut of beef now. More flavorful than a ribeye and as tender as a filet. And it was nice and juicy. This wasn't even prime beef and it was one of the most flavorful steaks I have eaten.
  6. I have never cooked Japanese Wagyu, but I have cooked plenty of American Wagyu from the same purveyor that the French Laundry uses. I have never found the fat to actually render at temps like 135F and below (which are the only temps that I have used with it). The fat cap definitely did not render at all--though it was nice and soft. I have seen the claim about Wagyu beef fat having a melting point less than 100F but must admit that it strikes me as hard to imagine -- since steer have an average body temperature of 101F. It is my understanding that mammalian body fat is not liquid at a mammal's normal body temperature. Perhaps, I am mistaking. It seems that the percentage of monosaturated fats (which do render at temps less than 100F) in Wagyu fat is higher than that of standard beef. That is also true of grass-fed beef that isn't wagyu. The monosaturated fats however aren't "free". They are mixed with the saturated fats and so don't behave as if they were in isolation. Perhaps I am mistaken, but I think that if you took that Japanese Wagyu and cooked it sous-vide at 129F for 1/2 hour or an hour and then did a very quick sear in a very hot pan (no more than 30 to 45 seconds per side) that it would turn out well.
  7. The safety issue is largely the spores as they are much harder to deactivate than the bacteria. I would stick to Doug Baldwin's recommendations.
  8. I would prepare a Wagyu strip steak the same way that I would prepare any tender steak. Wagyu fat renders at lower temps than 'standard' beef but NOT so low that it will render when cooked at 133F or below. Cook at whatever temp you prefer. Personally, I find 127F to 130F to be ideal for tender steaks. Lower than that and even tender steak feels a bit chewy. The thicker the steak the better. If you want to serve small portions, I would cut them into cubes after searing. Personally, I find strip steak not to be nearly as flavorful as rib eye. With Wagyu beef, you get a special tenderness but it is no more tasty than traditional beef -- at least in my opinion. Btw, at Alinea they cook their wagyu steaks sous-vide. Then chill them then warm them to a lesser temperature right before searing.
  9. I have found that sourcing of briskets makes a big difference. I cooked brisket from a few different sources before I found one that I really liked. Keep in mind that the "flat" section of a brisket is often not very juicy due to the marbling pattern. So, it can have a pretty dry mouthfeel even if it is a good quality piece of meat. If at 48 hours it was fork tender, try 36 and see how it is. Some briskets need a solid 48 hours at these temps to be tender, but the Wagyu brisket that I mentioned recently, was fork tender at 24 hours.
  10. The question is how much variance is there in the bath. Having more sides heating does not necessarily translate to better convection. For example, a stockpot on a heating plate or a simple rice current have great convection that results in very minimal variance in the bath. By contrast, my tabletop roaster has heating on the sides, too and there is enough variance to require an airstone. With the airstone there is next to no variance in the bath. I would say that if you have temperature differences more than 1/2 degree Celsius that it is worth using a bubbler (the air stone itself doesn't matter. It doesn't require a lot water movement to stabilize the temps in something like this). It looks like your bath is well-calibrated. So, maybe you are looking for your meat to be red rather than pink? Btw, you mentioned cooking the brisket at lower temps -- keep in mind that safety issues aside, the collagen breakdown gets much slower as the temperature goes down. So, even if were safe to cook it below 55C, it would take a long time to get tender. And if the meat at 55C isn't red enough you would have to go down more than a couple of degrees for there to be a substantial difference. (Note that I am not recommending doing that but thought that the issue was worth mentioning)
  11. Air stones are quite effective for things like rice cookers and tabletop roasters (probably anything whose heat source is not in a concentrated area) as long as there is space beneath and above whatever is being cooked.
  12. I agree with Paul. First just set the PID to 38C and a few minutes after the temperature has stabilized, see what the fever thermometer says. Right now, you are just checking to see how closely the temps match. The most likely problem is an offset rather than a non-linear response.
  13. Traditional duck confit is usually salt-packed for a few days before being cooked. That will carry spaces into the meat(those molecules are smaller than fat molecules and can transport well especially since salting apparently causes some relaxation of the muscle fibers). So, I would recommend doing the same. Coat the meat with your salt and spice mixture and cure it in the fridge for 24 to 36 hours. Then wash off the salt and bag the meat with a few tablespoons of fat and you should be good to go. There is no harm in having extra fat -- it just doesn't have any practical impact.
  14. As far as something being a laboratory bath -- they still need to be checked and calibrated regularly. As for food safety, I believe that you are not quite right in concluding that 52C should be safe. It is my understanding that most of these pathogens don't multiply over 49C but that is different from saying that they DIE at 49C. Cooking at 49C may keep the e coli from multiplying but it won't kill the e coli that is there. And some strains of c perfringens, if I read the material correctly aren't killed until the temperature is close to 54.4C. I can't see anywhere that considers it safe to cook meat for longer than 4 hours at a temperature less than 54.4C -- and nowhere that suggests that meat can be pasteurized at a temperature less than that. Keep in mind that if the microoranisms aren't killed that you have been incubating them and they have been multiplying as the meat approaches 49C. Given the penalty for being wrong, I think you would be wise to stick to 55C and above. The strains of e coli that have emerged in the last 20 years are nasty enough that you really really don't want to risk it. The difference in 'pinkness' between 54C and 55C is subtle at best. Doug, Nathan? What do you think about cooking or long periods of time at temps below 54.4C?
  15. As an fyi, it makes no difference if the fat is in the bag with the duck or added after cooking. Nathan did double-blind taste tests and found that it doesn't matter -- and there is reason. Duck meat is relatively dense and fat molecules are very large. So fat can't make its way into the meat. The mouth-feel is entirely the result of the fat that is coating the meat.
  16. You mention that you want to cook the brisket next time at less than 55C. In my opinion, it would not be safe to cook meat sous-vide for a long time at less than 55C. In fact, I don't advise cooking at 55C for a long time unless you have a lab grade thermometer in the bath since you are right at the edge of the lowest temperature approved for pasteurization. The Maverick is not very good quality. I have one and mine is always 4 to 6 degrees off with the offset being random in that range. I called the company and they did not consider that degree of error to constitute a defect -- and refused to replace it or exchange the probe. Btw, while we like sous-vide brisket our best briskets have been very good but not sublime -- whereas short ribs can be sublime. But that is just my taste.
  17. If it was only slightly pink, I am suspect of the calibration. If you haven't checked the calibration against something (you can use a good quality fever thermometer at 100F to get a good idea--though keep in mind that the fever thermometer might be .4F off) Take a look at my pictures (search this thread for brisket). At 133F which is about 56C, the meat is very pink. Here is a picture of a recent brisket I cooked at 135F Also, I would not marinade for days. Just put a little marinade in the bag before you cook. My experience is that long marinading before a long cook has a negative impact. Fat won't render at these temps. So, if you trim less, you will have more solid fat on the meat. Brisket will be a bit dry unless you have a really good quality brisket in my experience.
  18. Thanks. I hope you don't mind a bunch of questions. Your project's success has me intrigued. I don't suppose you took pictures of the various stages of construction? How did you create the holes and seals where the heater element enters the bath? How is the heater element mounted/connected to the PID? For your other waterbath, what sort of heater did you use? Did you use the same Auber PID?
  19. Very cool. Thank you for posting. Where did you get the water boiler heater? Is there a relay or anything between the PID and the heater? Or does one really only need the PID unit and the heater? Does the PID have a fuse?
  20. You need to trim aggressively. At 134F the fat will soften but it won't render. So you only want fat in there that you are going to want to eat. A thin layer (very thin) can be nice if you do a good job searing -- because the browned fat is very yummy. If I cook a whole brisket, I will reserve the fatty end for making hash. The place where I get the Wagyu brisket trims it nicely but they only have the center cut. It is only $5.99 a pound which blows me away. It is the only brisket that I have done that is tender after 24 hours. Let us know how yours turns out. I have never tried prime-rated brisket.
  21. Just a quick note that I did some experimenting with Snake River Farms Wagyu brisket cooked at 134 for 25, 31, and 48 hours. We found the differences between the 24 and 48 hour wagyu to be fairly minimal but preferred the 24 hour version as it was slightly juicier than at 48 hours -- but both were delicious and quite tender. The Wagyu brisket is the only one that I have cooked that was tender enough after 24 hours to be considered a success. It was bagged with a few tablespoons of 6% brine and a cap of liquid smoke. Next time, I will put two caps of liquid smoke. We ate it with creamed horseradish. We also had some 48 hour boneless short ribs last week, and we have decided that we like them more than the brisket. The brisket is great but there is something about the short ribs that is almost sinful.
  22. When you seared, did you make sure to sear the fat nicely? It can be browned nicely with a torch and has a delicious flavor.
  23. Glad that helped. You can individually pack your burgers and pasteurized a bunch at once. Then rapidly chill following the instructions in Doug Baldwin's sous-vide guide and freeze them. That way you won't have to wait so long when you want a sous-vide burger. Then when you want to eat a burger you won't have to leave then in the bath so long since they will be already pasteurized. I also recommend experimenting with some ground chuck that has a somewhat higher fat content, too.
  24. I just want to add a little emphasis to Pedro's point that might be lost. With sous-vide, just about anyone can prepare a perfect steak that is the equivalent of one prepared using traditional means by a skillful chef (a perfect steak by traditional means requires a lot of baby-sitting and is easy to overcook). People that we have served our sous-vide/torch-seared ribeye consistently say that it is the best steak they have had. I am sure that if you use Alain Ducasse's traditional method that you will get one just as delicious -- but that requires that the steak have been brought up to room temperature followed by about 45 minutes of active participation including baby-sitting the steak on a medium-low flame and if you don't pay attention you burn the butter and ruin the steak or you over or undercook it. Also, that method really requires a steak at least 2 inches thick for the center part to not get overcooked. With sous-vide, the only critical issue is not leaving it in the bath too long and then searing it quickly so that you only brown the outside. But once you have done it once or twice, it is hard to mess it up. Anyway, that is my feeling.
  25. The first thing you should do is download Doug Baldwin's guide to sous-vide. It will save a lot of heartache. In short, for steak, if it is a decent cut you only want it to be in the bath to bring it up to temperature. Leaving good steak (ribeye, filet, porterhouse, new york strip steak and the like) in the bath for a long time will result in a mediocre steak. For sublime steak, put it in the bath for an hour or so at the temperature of your preference from 125 to 135 and then sear it. Since bacon won't do anything interesting at these temperatures, I would leave it out of the bag. For searing I would either use a very hot pan for 45 seconds (or even less) per side or use the torch. Bacon really turns out best when cooked at a lower temperature than is optimal for flash searing. So, I would leave bacon out of the process entirely. Also, I recommend using the search this topic field at the lower-left of the page -- you will find a lot of advice about cooking steak. To my palate (and those of almost everyone that I have served) a thick GOOD QUALITY ribeye done sous-vide at 128F and then quickly seared is a great experience. If you leave a good steak in a bath too long, the quality deteriorates noticeably after a few hours.
  • Create New...