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Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques & Equipment (Part 5)

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Thanks guys.

I was not referring to scum but to the fact that the sauce (which I did not dilute much) once it got cold turned into jelly. Obviously I could dilute but the flavour was good and fast to make. I didn't think about xanthan, that might be a great double purpose item.

Which corolase would you suggest for sauce made from poultry or beef?

"The only way to not have this fat is to trim it out, preferably before cooking. If you can get your hands on some Activa, you could trim out most of the hard pockets of fat and re-bind the meat before cooking. I've done this with a chuckeye roast."

Sadly that's what I figured, but sometimes you guys have answers out of left field. I really like chuck eye for a potentially super cheap steak frite. I'll have to see how much the Activa would add to the cost per plate. Do you use the powder or liquid?


Edited by howsmatt (log)

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I've used both the powder kind and the kind you mix with water. My thinking is that the liquid kind is a little easier to apply to something that's likely to have a bunch of crags and slivers and little crannies in it like a chuckeye that you've dug around in with a knife to remove the sinews and the big pockets of hard fat. You can just brush it on with one of those silicone brushes and really get it in to all the hidden places where you need binding.

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I assume you're referring to the "scum" that coagulates when you boil the exuded meat liquid from a sous vide bag?  That's not gelatin.  I find that it's quite easy to remove this by skimming as much as possible while gently simmering, then turning off the heat and allowing the coagulant to settle, then pouring off the clear liquid (through a fine sieve, if you like).

Can I follow this up? I find when you remove the scum, pour off and strain the liquid, this very clear liquid is almost pure beef flavour.

Does anyone know what this is? What is the scum? The latter looks like the residue that you get in a pan when you don't have it hot enough to grill and it starts to stew in its own juices.

My interest is that the clear liquid provides the basis for some of the best sauces I have made for beef.

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Its what was called in the old days "osmazone" the heart of the beef.

Its the intramuscular fluid sqeeezed out as the muscle fibres contract - the fluid part of the muscle cells.

The scum is the remaining proteins in the fluid coagulating as the temperature increases.

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Drat! Partial success with a coffee urn, but with a limitation.

I got ahold of a coffee urn (Mr. Coffee "45 cup" CBTU45). My new Auber PID controller seemed to auto tune very nicely, ending up pulsing periodically to keep the temp at 60C.

One big plus is that the urn heats water from a depressed "pit" at the bottom of the tank. You can watch the currents of heated water moving up and away from this point, and the sides are uninsulated, so it would seem to generate a fair amount of convection currents. I had the PID probe pretty low in the tank, and another thermometer pretty high and to the side of the tank. They agreed pretty consistently. This was without bagged food in the tank. I will probably get a bubbler, regardless.

The problem is that the urn has two modes - an initial full heat "brew" mode and a lower temp "serving" mode. That "serving" mode seems to be limited to about 63C, with the PID on (to some degree) continuously. For the hour or so that I ran it in this mode, the PID did not feel warm on top or bottom. My inference is that the "serving" mode pulls a pretty small number of watts to maintain that temp, so the PID should be OK in terms of heat.

So, for most meat cooking, a practical max. temperature of 60C would be just fine, but I'm hoping to do various vegetables (typically cooked around 85C) and "well done" eggs (70C to 80C). Along the lines of eggs, I'm also hoping to experiment with egg preparations like creme brulee and cheesecake. There should be some potential for savory and/or cheese egg preparations. Low temp water bath should allow for "perfect" cooking of these, without a risk of overcooking.

Well, I'm going give some meat a try, and get back to looking for a big, cheap rice cooker.

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It sounds to me as though your unit has a thermostat limiting it to that 63° (in 'serve mode').

Or maybe two elements, one with that thermostat.

Anyway, you need to keep that stuff out of play, so that the PID has control.

It seems the best hot baths for retro-fitting with PID control are the dumbest.

If you could keep it in 'brew mode' you should be fine.

If not, you'll need to bypass that thermostat. And preferably the whole brew/serve thing. If you don't have prior experience of tinkering with mains electronics, see if you can find a friendly (and adventurous) repair shop.

Ideally, you want to bypass ALL the controls (except maybe a simple on/off switch) - basically connecting the heater element directly to the power (via that on/off switch). And then supply the power via your PID.

Just tell the repair shop that you want to use an EXTERNAL thermostatic control (which you already have), and you want to use it because it is ADJUSTABLE, and they should understand!

Wattage.

To maintain a specific set temperature, the energy consumed will depend on the heat lost from your urn. Which will increase with a higher temperature setting.

But once it is 'up to temperature', the power used does NOT depend on the rating of the heater element.

If you use a higher wattage heater, it will run for fewer seconds on each PID (2 minute?) cycle. The product of watts times time (energy) will be the same.

And so should be the heating of your PID's solid state relay. (As long as you observe the current (wattage) limits the supplier has indicated.

Most appliances (so likely your urn) have a plate (or sticker) with various details like model ID, serial number and the maximum wattage rating.

The only thing you really need to watch is that the power drawn during 'warm up' - until it gets close to the set temperature - is going to be greater at that stage with a higher wattage element - so it will warm up faster!

Two ways around that. Either fill it with pre-heated water, or bypass the PID (plug the urn directly to a power outlet) and watch the temperature for yourself until it is in the right neighbourhood, then switch off and reconfigure to use the PID.

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Dougal - Thanks! I'm right there with you on all those points.

I'm focusing my "hobbyist energies" on actual cooking currently, so I don't think I will be reverse engineering the pot's wiring or busting out the soldering iron. (Unless I come across a similar unit in a junk shop for very cheap....) I'm just going to track down a big, cheap, dumb rice cooker and go with that. Sadly, that may involve some trips to Chinatown and the suburban Asian Megamarts. Oh, poor me. :biggrin:

For now, I'm slogging through this very long thread looking for appealing recipes that don't require temperatures over about 60C.

I hope our input is helpful to anyone who may have one of the awful devices collecting dust in their pantry. These percolators certainly shouldn't be used for burning coffee!

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Its what was called in the old days "osmazone" the heart of the beef.

Its the intramuscular fluid sqeeezed out as the muscle fibres contract - the fluid part of the muscle cells.

The scum is the remaining proteins in the fluid coagulating as the temperature increases.

Thanks Jack,

That was exactly what I was looking for. Interestingly when researching this on the web, I came across this quote which apparently addresses howsmatt's question. It is from 1850 and seems marvellous to me that new techniques lead us back to our heritage to again move forward.

Extract from Alexis Soyer, “The Modern Housewife Or Menagere” 1850, copyright dated 1849, D. Appleton & Company (this is well out of copyright so am including the quote in full).

“66. Pure Osmazome, Or Essence Of Meat

Take two pounds of the flesh of any animal or bird (the older the better for obtaining the true flavor), as free from sinew as possible, and mince it well; place it in a Florence oil-flask, and cork it; put this in a saucepan filled with cold water, leaving the neck uncovered ; place it on the side of the fire until the water arrives at 160° Fahr., at which temperature it must remain for twenty minutes; then remove it, and strain the contents through a tammie, pressing the meat gently with a spoon; should it require to be kept for some time, put the liquor in a basin or cup, which place in the saucepan; subject it to a boiling heat until it is reduced to a consistency like treacle, removing the scum ; this, when cold, will become solid, and will keep for any number of years. Osmazome is known under various names in different cookery books, as "fumet, essence," etc, but which are obtained in a different way, which causes the gelatine to be produced with the osmazome; but, by the above plan, it is left in the meat, and the osmazome, with a small quantity of the albumen, is extracted, and the albumen is afterwards removed as the scum.”

At 160F (or 71 C), the temperature used is higher than sous vide and I'm not sure how the essence solidifies without gelatine -- perhaps the gelatine is not really "removed" in the process.

Perhaps we could use this process to create the ozmazome by long sous vide, discarding the meat used in its creation much as we do when making stock.

Logic suggests that if the resultant liquid were to be dehydrated, we'd end up with a refined stock powder or, if pressed, a stock cube.

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I think that you will find that tabletop roasters (Nesco, Hamilton Beach, etc.) are cheaper than rice oookers of equivalent volume. You will definitely need to auto-tune then and use a bubbler, too. They can be had for about $40 and hold a lot of water. The rice cookers do have some advantages, though.

Dougal - Thanks!  I'm right there with you on all those points.

I'm focusing my "hobbyist energies" on actual cooking currently, so I don't think I will be reverse engineering the pot's wiring or busting out the soldering iron.  (Unless I come across a similar unit in a junk shop for very cheap....)  I'm just going to track down a big, cheap, dumb rice cooker and go with that.  Sadly, that may involve some trips to Chinatown and the suburban Asian Megamarts.  Oh, poor me.  :biggrin:

For now, I'm slogging through this very long thread looking for appealing recipes that don't require temperatures over about 60C.

I hope our input is helpful to anyone who may have one of the awful devices collecting dust in their pantry.  These percolators certainly shouldn't be used for burning coffee!

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Drat!  Partial success with a coffee urn, but with a limitation.

I got ahold of a coffee urn (Mr. Coffee "45 cup" CBTU45).  My new Auber PID controller seemed to auto tune very nicely, ending up pulsing periodically to keep the temp at 60C.

One big plus is that the urn heats water from a depressed "pit" at the bottom of the tank.  You can watch the currents of heated water moving up and away from this point, and the sides are uninsulated, so it would seem to generate a fair amount of convection currents.  I had the PID probe pretty low in the tank, and another thermometer pretty high and to the side of the tank.  They agreed pretty consistently.  This was without bagged food in the tank.  I will probably get a bubbler, regardless.

The problem is that the urn has two modes - an initial full heat "brew" mode and a lower temp "serving" mode.  That "serving" mode seems to be limited to about 63C, with the PID on (to some degree) continuously.  For the hour or so that I ran it in this mode, the PID did not feel warm on top or bottom.  My inference is that the "serving" mode pulls a pretty small number of watts to maintain that temp, so the PID should be OK in terms of heat.

So, for most meat cooking, a practical max. temperature of 60C would be just fine, but I'm hoping to do various vegetables (typically cooked around 85C) and "well done" eggs (70C to 80C).  Along the lines of eggs, I'm also hoping to experiment with egg preparations like creme brulee and cheesecake.  There should be some potential for savory and/or cheese egg preparations.  Low temp water bath should allow for "perfect" cooking of these, without a risk of overcooking.

Well, I'm going give some meat a try, and get back to looking for a big, cheap rice cooker.

I have used an urn with a PID controller and it works ok. BUT watch out for the heater at the bottom - it gets quite hot. I put a folding steamer platform on the bottom so it would not melt the bags.

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For cheap rice cookers of limited capacity (1.8 liters or "10 rice cups," which doesn't seem to have any correlation with any other form of standardized measurement I have found), the plastic shell 500 watt Ikeda (made in China, although a Japanese name) costs about $21, whereas the 650 watt stainless steel Tiger (Made in Japan) of the same nominal capacity cost $145 but looks more "professional" and might be more durable. The Ikeda is marked "For Home Use Only," whereas the Tiger is not.

A Chinese "50 bowl" (another rather ambiguous measurement) 10 liter 1500 watt apparently well-made and well-insulated commercial rice cooker/warmer made by the Tar Hung Mfg. Thunder Group, Inc. cost me $185 (marked down from $240) in a Chinese restaurant supply store in Milpitas, CA.

I have seen a 22 quart electric powder-coated black "turkey fryer" with mechanical controls that would be suitable for sous vide, for $79 at www.masterbuilt.com. They say that you can store oil in it, but not water (I suppose it might rust). There is also a 28 quart stainless steel version for $145 but it might have to be modified to disable the digital controls for use with a PID controller (probably not hard, for anyone with a soldering iron). The bad news is that these fryers aren't insulated and therefore won't be nearly as energy efficient as a rice cook for slow, low-temperature cooking, but the good news is that they are almost surely easier to control, with less overshoot or undershoot, because of their lack of insulation.

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Did a brisket. My usual 40 or so hours at 131. Good-not great.

Lamb shoulder and chuck steak still tops.

The lamb I put into wonton wrappers after searing with mint and oregano. Pan fry the wrappers which are Folded like a tortellini. Filled with tzatziki, tomato, purple onion and cucumber. This is a big hit-crunchy, savory, fresh.

If I sear a piece of meat on all sides what's the lowest temperature I can safely cook it for 40 hours or so? Is it still 131 (aka over 127.5)? I would like the beef to be a little more rare.

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I've done the experiment to extract ozmazome from mince.

One kilo of mince was cooked sous vide for 14 hours at 56 C (133 F). It threw a relatively large amount of liquid.

I snipped off the corner of the bag and removed the juice. Having the bag mostly intact, I could squeeze the mince to get as much juice out as possible.

The resultant liquid went into a gravy jug. 1 kg gave around 150 ml of liquid along with another 50 ml of fat. I poured off as much as I could from under the fat.

jug.jpg

This went into a saucepan over relatively high heat to coagulate the proteins. This can be seen in the following four pictures.

pan1.jpg

pan2.jpg

pan3.jpg

pan4.jpg

This was then filtered through doubled cheesecloth with this resultant residue.

sludge.jpg

Some additional liquid was trapped in the gravy jug under a layer of fat, which I put in the fridge to set. I then poked a hole in the fat and poured off the residual juice. This was again heated and filtered.

The resultant light brown/transparent liquid went into the fridge and solidified.

gel.jpg

The gel yielded from 1 kg of meat is 80g. The mince is destined for my dog.

I'm not sure how this compares with the output from the extraction technique quoted above from Alexis Soyer but it seems relatively efficient.

The taste of the ozmazome is pure essence of beef. I use it in sauces. Needless to say, it doesn't need to be reduced.

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Fascinating!!! What cut of meat did you use for the mince?

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... The mince is destined for my dog.

What a dog's life! :-) Pépin (in his popular English-language La Technique, 1976) said this leftover minced beef can also make a good meatloaf "with addition of eggs, bread crumbs, and seasonings."

Osmazome is one of those concepts frequent in older food books. (Where I get most of my food-history info -- relatively little is online.) Samples below. Note (1) anything albuminous (raw meat juices especially blood; eggwhite; etc.) coagulates at moderate temperature to nickrey's residue ("scum" to us stock skimmers) and (2) it's written that lean beef leaches out maybe half its weight as soluble products if simmered long enough. I gather osmazome meant the flavored part of soluble extracts, vs. simple gelatin, though in years of making meat glazes I never tried to separate them.

Brillat-Savarin, 1826 (Physiology of Taste in MFK Fisher's edition): "Osmazome is that preeminently sapid part of meat which is soluble in cold water, [unlike] the extractive part of the meat," defined as soluble only in boiling water. He goes on about its properties. Brillat was incidentally an evangelist for chocolate.* Alexandre Dumas (Dictionary of Cuisine, 1873, Colman's ed.): "There are five principles in meat from which bouillon derives its flavor ... fibrin, gelatin, osmazome, albumin, and fat." ("An old pigeon, a partridge, or a rabbit roasted in advance, a crow in November or December," can impart more osmazome to a bouillon.) Remember that next Autumn: crows are overabundant in many places. André Simon's gastronomic encyclopedia (1952) says Thénard named osmazome and defined it as the part of meat extracts soluble in alcohol.

For the science behind this, Belle Lowe's remarkable Experimental Cookery (3rd ed. 1943) doesn't mention osmazome as such (the concept became obsolete, replaced by more specific chemical information) but is crammed with food-science data, solubilities, literature refs. (the index has maybe 150 entries under "meat," many of them relevant here), all focused not on abstract science but flavor.

* Example, typical Brillat: "When you have breakfasted well and fully, if you will drink a big cup of chocolate at the end you will have digested the whole perfectly three hours later, and you will still be able to dine . . . Because of my scientific enthusiasm and the sheer force of my eloquence I have persuaded a number of ladies to try this, although they were convinced it would kill them; they have always found themselves in fine shape indeed, and have not forgotten to give the Professor his rightful due."

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Did pork tenderloin at 131 then seared. It was no more pink than I normally cook it. Personally I wouldn't go above this temp-although I am more adventurous than some. Good result-quite juicy. Needs flavour in the bag though, sauce on top isn't enough. Next time I will add fat and jalapeno pepper jelly to the bag.

N.B. Jalapeno pepper jelly on a pork roast (done in my little rotisserie) is awesome, sweet, spicy, sticky gooey, with fatty pork...MMMmmmmm.

Has anyone tried a turkey, chicken or regular burger with SV?

Matt

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Isn't any sort of sv 'burger' (or other ground/minced meat product) a rather bad idea from the food hygiene standpoint?

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As it was an experiment, I just grabbed some lean beef mince from a local butcher, ensuring that it was pure mince with no added preservatives: of what cut, I'm not sure although topside is a favourite cut for mince here in Australia.

The beauty of the technique is that you are not interested in texture but rather, for want of a better term, the "meat juice".

The quote from Alexis Soyer I gave earlier says the older the better to get the true flavour of the meat but, like most stocks, I suspect that this will come to be made from whatever is available.

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... The mince is destined for my dog.

What a dog's life! :-) Pépin (in his popular English-language La Technique, 1976) said this leftover minced beef can also make a good meatloaf "with addition of eggs, bread crumbs, and seasonings."

When the meat was packed away in the fridge, it was rolled tightly in the sous vide bag. Even without the addition of binders, when cool it formed into something resembling meatloaf that could be cut with a knife into slices. I can see where Pepin would have come up with this concept.

The cooked beef had a nice texture from the sous vide process but, as you would expect from what was done to it, tasted like a significant amount of the beef flavour had been leached out.

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Has anyone tried a turkey, chicken or regular burger with SV?

Isn't any sort of sv 'burger' (or other ground/minced meat product) a rather bad idea from the food hygiene standpoint?

I would say not really, provided to achieve proper 5/6d reduction times maintaining an intact surface isn't really a concern. in fact given adequate temp and time, a sv burger would be considerably safer then a regular grilled burger.

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What is the maximum size pot I could use with an immersion circulator? It would be for a restaurant so getting up to temp time is not important--I just need to keep it steady all day/night. Obviously the more prep I can do at once the better.

Thanks again.

BTW the xanthan did a great job with the sauce.

Matt


Edited by howsmatt (log)

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Howsmatt, I can try to answer your four recent questions.

1. I can't speak to immersion circulators, as I believe they are overkill for most applications, unless you have a large restaurant and are really doing volume cooking with an extremely large one. I'm using a 10 liter rice cooker with the Sous Vide Magic (SVM) PID controller from www.freshmealssolutions.com. The 20 liter rice cooker is way larger than I personally need for the two of us, but there are 24 liter (and perhaps larger) rice warmers that are relatively efficient, and use only only an 85 watt heater. They won't bring the water up to a temperature, at least not quickly, but they will hold it there. So you should fill it from your hot water line, and perhaps top it off with a tea kettle, to bring it up to temperature. For the difference in money, you could buy four rice cookers with SVM controllers for the price of one PolyScience circulator, and have one for medium rare, one for medium, and one for medium well, plus one left over for vegetables or whatever.

2. For brisket, try 48 hours, rather than 24. It will make all of the difference in the world in terms of tenderness. Been there, done that. Note -- that wasn't a corned beef brisket, which seems to be more common in grocery stores.

3. I'm sure that Thomas Keller would roll over in his grave at the thought (so to speak, as I certainly hope that St. Thomas is still alive), but I have been doing hamburger sous vide for a month or so and loving it -- had it tonight, as a matter of fact. (Perhaps I'm not the greatest backyard chef, especially when the wind was blowing 50 mph and the temperature was below 50F, even here is balmy San Jose when the power went out last night -- its tough to cook sous vide with no electricity! But I digress.) My grilled hamburgers were never consistent -- too tough, too rare, not juicy enough, etc. With sous vide, you can control those factors one at a time. Currently, I'm using 55.5 C on my Sous Vide Magic 1500B for about an hour and a half for burgers that are about 20 mm thick, and according to Douglas Baldwin's table 5.8, 1:37 should be sufficient to pasteurize beef for a 6D reduction of Listeria. Since we used to eat steak tartare, albeit 40 years ago, that doesn't seem unreasonable. For a restaurant, I might add another 30 minutes or so, and I might also grind my own meat, and add some onions into the grind while I was at it.

4. If you look at St. Douglas's tables again, 5:14 is enough for even a 70 mm thick piece of meat at 131F, vs. 4:26 at 136F. I cook my steaks at around 131 because my wife doesn't like really rare roast beef, and it isn't worth firing up two SVM systems (although I now have three -- a 1500A, 1500B, and 1500C,. and three rice cookers of varying sizes from 1.8 liters to 10 liters). So if you are talking about 127.5F, extrapolation would suggest that another 38 minutes (5:52) would be more than enough, even for the thickest steak or brisket you are likely to serve to an individual, and 40 hours is way over the top. (This assumes you aren't picking up exotic bacteria from undersea lava vents or the pools at Yellowstone, or from Mercury or Venus.)

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...

Has anyone tried a turkey, chicken or regular burger with SV?

Isn't any sort of sv 'burger' (or other ground/minced meat product) a rather bad idea from the food hygiene standpoint?

I would say not really, provided to achieve proper 5/6d reduction times maintaining an intact surface isn't really a concern. in fact given adequate temp and time, a sv burger would be considerably safer then a regular grilled burger.

How does that work for Clostridium botulinum?

Isn't that the major worry (in terms of seriousness of outcome) with any 'comminuted meat' product in a low oxygen, non-acid, environment at these 'warm' temperatures? And where the centre is not going to benefit from post-sv searing?


Edited by dougal (log)

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3.  I'm sure that Thomas Keller would roll over in his grave at the thought (so to speak, as I certainly hope that St. Thomas is still alive), but I have been doing hamburger sous vide for a month or so and loving it -- had it tonight, as a matter of fact.  (Perhaps I'm not the greatest backyard chef, especially when the wind was blowing 50 mph and the temperature was below 50F, even here is balmy San Jose when the power went out last night -- its tough to cook sous vide with no electricity!  But I digress.)  My grilled hamburgers were never consistent -- too tough, too rare, not juicy enough, etc.  With sous vide, you can control those factors one at a time.  Currently, I'm using 55.5 C on my Sous Vide Magic 1500B for about an hour and a half for burgers that are about 20 mm thick, and according to Douglas Baldwin's table 5.8, 1:37 should be sufficient to pasteurize beef for a 6D reduction of Listeria.  Since we used to eat steak tartare, albeit 40 years ago, that doesn't seem  unreasonable.  For a restaurant, I might add another 30 minutes or so, and I might also grind my own meat, and add some onions into the grind while I was at it.

I am ssuming you are searing the burgers after CSV. Right?

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...

Has anyone tried a turkey, chicken or regular burger with SV?

Isn't any sort of sv 'burger' (or other ground/minced meat product) a rather bad idea from the food hygiene standpoint?

I would say not really, provided to achieve proper 5/6d reduction times maintaining an intact surface isn't really a concern. in fact given adequate temp and time, a sv burger would be considerably safer then a regular grilled burger.

How does that work for Clostridium botulinum?

Isn't that the major worry (in terms of seriousness of outcome) with any 'comminuted meat' product in a low oxygen, non-acid, environment at these 'warm' temperatures? And where the centre is not going to benefit from post-sv searing?

My understanding is that botulism needs time to germinate and produce nasty toxins. I don't think you should cook and hold burgers or any ground meat, but if you grind some beef, make a burger, cook the burger and then eat the burger in the time it takes you to do this, I can't see it being a problem but I am not a micro-biologist.

Also its not like you have to cook burgers low and slow, you just want to bring them to temp, they are already plenty tender.

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      In his introduction of Ferran Adria, Thomas Keller -- perhaps the most celebrated American chef ever -- described four elements that go into making a great chef. The chef must be aware. Once aware of one’s culinary and other surroundings that chef can then be inspired, which leads to the ability to interpret those surroundings. But a great chef does not stop there. Instead, the great chef continues to evolve. Ferran Adria, perhaps more than any other chef who has ever lived, is the embodiment of those four elements.

      The moment that Ferran Adria strode towards Thomas Keller on the stage at the CIA/Greystone’s World of Flavors’ “Spain and the World Table” Conference was electric -- as if a giant Van de Graf generator had been turned on. The feeling didn’t subside when Adria took the stage from Keller; it only became more pronounced as the packed crowd rose to its feet, raining applause, admiration and love on the Spanish master. Adria accepted the response with aplomb, and gave it right back to the audience -- and to his fellow Spanish cocineros, who were standing off to the side. He brought each one up to join him on the stage for a rousing thank-you to the conference organizers, sponsors and participants. Once this emotional release subsided, Adria got down to what everyone had been waiting for -- his discussion and demonstration.

      Ferran Adria, with eyes sparkling like the finest cava, began speaking Spanish in a voice as gravelly as the beaches of the Costa Brava, while Conference Chairman Jose Andres translated. The crowd, hushed and straining for every word, moved forward in their seats as Adria explained El Bulli and himself, with a lesson in recent culinary history thrown in. Ferran explained that El Bulli is not a business. While offshoots of El Bulli are operated on a for-profit basis, the restaurant runs without profit as a primary motivation. For example, he said, the greatest difficulty they have is distributing reservations. Given the extraordinary demand and the severely limited supply, he explained that they could simply raise the price of a meal to the point where the supply and demand met. Indeed, the price of a meal at El Bulli is in itself quite reasonable given the stature of the restaurant and well within means of most motivated diners should they be able to get there, and this is how Adria prefers it. He stated that he was not interested in cooking solely for those with the most money. He prefers to work for people with a true interest in exploring the limits of cooking with him. To this end he showed a short film depicting “A Day in the Life . . .” of El Bulli set to the Beatles’ song of the same name. The film showed a couple’s response to the experience.

      Ferran’s voyage into creativity began with a visit to Jacques Maxima at Le Chanticleer Restaurant in Nice, France. He learned from Maxima that to be creative is not to copy. This idea changed his entire approach to cooking -- from making classic cuisine to making his own. Aware of elaborate books of French cuisine, Adria resolved to catalogue his work, the results of which are the richly detailed El Bulli books, published by period. These books, as wonderful as they are, are huge and extremely expensive. During his presentation, Adria announced -- and demonstrated -- that the individual dishes photographed and described in a chronology within each book are all now available online at elbulli.com.

      He finished the philosophical discussion by talking about the general style of haute cuisine that he and others are engaged in. While others have coined the term “molecular gastronomy” to highlight the scientific component of the creativity involved, Adria rejected it, saying that all cooking is molecular: most of his techniques are in fact rather simple and don’t employ radical new technology. Most of the technology that they do use has been around for some time; they have simply adapted it to their own purposes. Nevertheless, he applauds contributions to gastronomy from Harold McGee and other food scientists, and welcomes their collaboration in the kitchen. He has yet to find a term that describes the movement: as of now, he feels that there really is no good name for this style of cooking.

      More than any other single thing, Ferran Adria is known for the use of “foams” in cooking. While he is proud of his achievements with foams, he stressed that while appropriate in some circumstances, the real utility of foams is limited. He bemoans their ubiquity -- and wishes to not be blamed for others’ poor deployment of the concept. In the course of describing this and other techniques, Adria made a point of stating that using them should not be inferred as copying. Techniques and concepts are to be used and shared. He invited everyone to learn and harness whatever they found interesting, and to employ it in to their own pursuits.

      Another set of techniques discussed and demonstrated by the master and his assistant, Rafa Morales from Hacienda Benazuza, included three types of spherification. These included the use of calcium chloride (CaCl) and sodium alginate as well as the converse, and exploration of a new agent, gluconodeltalactone. The original combinations of alginate into CaCl for “caviar” production, and CaCl into alginate for larger “spheres” have chemistry-related limits as to what can be sphericized. In private correspondence, Harold McGee explained to me that Adria described encapsulating a mussel in its own juice. While this would make the dish technically an aspic, unlike conventional aspics it remains a liquid. Adria said that though gluconodeltalactone is very new, and they are just beginning to get a handle on it, he is very excited by it. He also demonstrated a machine for spherification on a larger scale than they had originally been able to do, as well as liquid nitrogen and freeze-drying (lyophilization) techniques. At the conclusion of his demonstration -- and thus the Conference -- the audience once again awarded him a standing ovation.

      While Adria’s appearance was the culmination of the conference, the energy it produced was not just because of his stature in the world of gastronomy -- it was also due to the excitement generated by the conference that preceded it. If there had previously been any doubt, Thomas Keller’s welcome of Adria was a clarion: Spanish cuisine has landed on North American shores and is finding a niche in the North American psyche. Spanish cuisine -- in its multifaceted, delicious entirety -- lives here, too.

      + + + + +

      John M. Sconzo, M.D., aka docsconz, is an anesthesiologist practicing in upstate New York. He grew up in Brooklyn in an Italian-American home, in which food was an important component of family life. It still is. His passions include good food, wine and travel. John's gastronomic interests in upstate northeastern New York involve finding top-notch local producers of ingredients and those who use them well. A dedicated amateur, John has no plans to ditch his current career for one in the food industry. Host, New York.
    • By docsconz
      About Jose Andres
       
      Throughout his career, Jose’s vision and imaginative creations have drawn the praise of the public, the press and his peers. José has received awards and recognition from Food Arts, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Saveur, the James Beard Foundation, Wine Spectator, and Wine Advocate. In addition, José has been featured in leading food magazines such as Gourmet as well as the New York Times, the Washington Post, Good Morning America, Fox Sunday Morning News with Chris Wallace, the Food Network, and USA Today.
       
      Widely acknowledged as the premiere Spanish chef cooking in America, José is a developer and Conference Chairman for the upcoming Worlds of Flavor Conference on Spain and the World Table at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, November 2 – 5, 2006.
       
      In 1993, Jose moved to Washington, DC, to head the kitchen at Jaleo. From there, Jose took on executive chef responsibilities at neighboring Café Atlantico and later Zaytinya. In July of 2003, Jose embarked on his most adventurous project to date with the opening of the minibar by jose andres at Cafe Atlantico. A six-seat restaurant within a restaurant, minibar by jose andres continues to attract international attention with its innovative tasting menu. In the fall of 2004, Jose opened a third Jaleo and Oyamel, an authentic Mexican small plates restaurant and launched the THINKfoodTANK, an institution devoted to the research and development of ideas about food, all with a view toward their practical applications in the kitchen.
       
      Every week, millions of Spaniards invite Jose into their home where he is the host and producer of “Vamos a cocinar”, a food program on Television Española (TVE), Spanish national television. The program airs in the United States and Latin America on TVE Internacional.
       
      Jose released his first cookbook this year, first published in English, Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America (published in the United States by Clarkson Potter) and shortly after in Spanish, Los fogones de José Andrés (published by Planeta). The book is an homage to Spanish cooking and to tapas, one of Spain's gifts to the world of good cooking.
       
      Jose Andres is passionate, intelligent, dedicated, witty and a fan of FC Barcelona.
       
      Jose has been a member of the eGullet Society since 2004.
       
      More on Jose Andres in the eG Forums:
      Cooking with "Tapas" by Jose Andres
      Vamos a Cocinar - cooking show with Jose Andres
      Jaleo
      José Andrés' Minibar
      Zaytinya
      Oyamel Cocina Mexicana, Crystal City
      Cafe Atlantico
       
      Jose Andres recipes from Tapas in RecipeGullet:
      Potatoes Rioja-Style with Chorizo (Patatas a la Riojana)
      Moorish-Style Chickpea and Spinach Stew
      Squid with Caramelized Onions
    • By gibbs
      With Modernist Cuisine I waited a couple of years and ended up with a copy from the 6th printing run the advantage of this was that all errors picked up in the erratta had been corrected in the print copy.  I am looking to get modernist bread soon and wondered if someone had purchased it recently to check or if someone knew of hand if they have printed any additional corrected runs 
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