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

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For what it's worth, I cut the large flat-iron muscle across the grain, and did not worry about the connective tissue that runs down the middle of the steak.  I could have cut that out, but the steaks were already relatively small, and cutting them in half would have made them worse.

Had I realized that the Jaccard was going to flatten them so much, I would have cut them much thicker -- perhaps 2" or so.  Next time.

The first attempt at 12 hours was definitely "blah" in both taste and texture.

Tonight, I served another batch cooked for 24 hours.  These were better, but still not a home run.  They were still a little dry, and any fat on the edges was relatively tough -- almost surprisingly so.  Maybe I need to use the blow torch, rather than the hot skillet to sear the meat.

Another package is in the rice cooker tonight, still at 131F/55C, in order to try 48 hours -- the way I have done brisket very successfully.  Since the brisket is from a close neighbor of the flat-iron, I hope it will work as well.

One question that I have concerns the au jus that is poured off of the steak.  It is rather red, presumably indicating some blood.  I've tried adding a little wine, with or without some flour, to make a quick gravy, but the results are an unappetizing gray, and not particularly flavorful.

Any suggestions from anyone?

MikeTMD, I will put the Stampfer book on my list, after the Joan Roca book arrives, and after I order the Fat Duck cookbook.  How good is the translation?  Although I can read and perhaps speak German from 50 years ago, I'm certainly not fluent.

Try filtering your liquid from the bag to get rid of the protein which when heated will turn into scum and it is not very appealing. After filtration, you will have a much better medium to make your au jus or gravy.

Good luck

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Seems to me that it's a lot easier and more effective to bring the liquid up to a hard boil so that it does coagulate, then run it through a fine sieve.

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It is safe to jaccard without pre-searing if you are going to cook with a temp/time combination that pasteurizes the food (24 hours at 131F for instance would be totally safe to jaccard but 131F for 30 minutes would not).

e_monster, that's an excellent point, and one that pretty well diffuses the argument, I think.

Even in the case of a expensive prime rib-eye, I follow Douglas Baldwins tables and SV a steak up to 30 mm thick for 2 hours at 131F, although sometimes I cheat a bit and use 128F. (This is for life style convenience after I come home, as much as it is for food safety.) But at that point, it doesn't matter whether I Jaccard the steak or not, because it is within the pasteurization zone, even disregarding the probabilities.

The original context was for flat-iron steak, and so far I have concluded that 24 hours is not enough, and I'm currently waiting for 48 hours to elapse. At that point, assuming the tables (calculated for salmonella) have any validity at all in the general case, I am way, way, outside of the risk zone.

Nonetheless, we may still have a disagreement. If I understand what you are saying, "contamination" is binary -- it is or it isn't. But I believe that the total number of bacteria is what is more important, and the extent to which they may overwhelm the body's defenses. If you consider the surface area that is exposed to the knife at the outer edge of the presumably contaminated meat, vs. the surface area of the newly cut edge, I submit that is almost proportion is almost miniscule, and then further reduced in the case of the Jaccard.

Frankly, I would bet that the assumption that the interior of a muscle is sterile and uninfected is less likely to be true than the probability of carrying contamination into the meat via this path.

Respectfully,

Bob


Edited by Robert Jueneman (log)

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Seems to me that it's a lot easier and more effective to bring the liquid up to a hard boil so that it does coagulate, then run it through a fine sieve.

Can't agree more Sam.

See my earlier post on extracting ozmazome for pictures on how easy this is.

Thickening it by simple addition of a roux is easy. Adjust the seasoning and there you have your sauce.

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I have been corresponding with a doctor in Switzerland regarding the calibration and optimization of the Sous Vide Magic PID controller. He just sent me two very interesting links from the Hospitality Institute of Technology and Management, a group dedicated to food safety in the retail food industry.:

http://www.hi-tm.com/RFA/food-path-summ.pdf <http://www.hi-tm.com/RFA/food-path-summ.pdf>  

http://www.hi-tm.com/homeprep/titl-tabl.html <http://www.hi-tm.com/homeprep/titl-tabl.html>

The first is a Food Pathogen Control Data Summary, which provides a useful summary of various bacteria and other hazards.

Clostridium prefringens is cited as the fastest growing pathogen in foods, and it dictates the maximum slow rate of heating foods for 40F to >130F in <6 hours. Likewise, the time for continuous cooling from 130F to 45F must be within 15 hours. This also sets the high temperature growth standard at 127.5F (53C).

The second link is a pamphlet that is directed towards consumers, and does an excellent job of educating them about safe food preparation. The last page is a convenient time/temperature scale that I intend to post on my refrigerator.

Of course, the casual take away from all of this is that you certainly can't eat beef, pork, chicken, lamb, fish, shellfish, vegetables, fruits, or grain; nor can you drink the water; and breathing the air will certainly kill you, assuming global warming doesn't roast or drown you first!


Edited by Robert Jueneman (log)

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Flat-iron steak, take four.

48 hours at 131F yielded a streak that was acceptably tender, but the taste was rather mediocre. Perhaps the enzyme activity was too much. So 24 hours or less was relatively tough, and 48 hours was too much. Assuming I don't give up on the entire shoulder clod, I guess I'll try 36 hours next time.

I tried the suggestion of boiling the meat juice, then strain the residue and adding some flour to make a sauce/gravy. Marginal at best, I thought, with not much juice left after boiling it.

Bob

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Hi Robert,

Are you sure that you are using good quality beef? Flat-iron steaks should be quite flavorful -- and the ones that I have cooked would all have been way too tender at 48 hours (I think by any standards). The quality of the ingredients makes a huge difference. The results that you are getting make me wonder if the problem is the quality of the beef.

Just a thought,

E

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Who knows? I was assured they were Choice, from Whole Foods, and I assume they are reputable. How else can one tell? Do I have to drive down to Niman Ranch and interview both the cattleman and the butcher, and ask for a sample? These were not "organic" or "grain-fed," but I don't know whether thatr would have helped or hurt the tenderness and flavor in either case.

I did take care to rush them home, cut them up, and freeze them promptly.

48 hours was clearly too much. 24 hours was OK, although still a bit on the tough side, and certainly not a result that would have me forgo a good rib-eye, even at five times the price.

What temperature have you been using? These were pink, although the outside was grayer than usual before searing..

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Whole Foods is usually pretty good -- though I haven't purchased Flat Irons from them.

I cook them at 131F for 24 hours. (I followed Doug Baldwin's recipe: jaccard and salt and pepper). The jaccarding may well explain both the juiciness and tenderness differences that you and I had. I sometimes also add a couple of tablespoons of water mixed with a 1/4 cap of liquid smoke.

The gray color is not unusual in sous-vide beef cooking -- I think related to the shortage of oxygen. The inside should be a very lovely medium-rare pink, however.

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That's exactly what I've been doing -- Jaccard, S&P. I've added Liquid Smoke to brisket, but not to these as yet. I didn't add any water, however.

I almost didn't eat the 48 hour one, because the smell when I cut the bag and poured off the juice was just a little strong. Maybe the enzymes got a little carried away. Even the inside was a little less pink than usual.

I have one or two left in the freezer, and I may let one thaw, Jaccard it again, and try 24 hours again. I also have a cross-rib roast from the same primal cut, sliced into three sections about 4" thick, and I'm trying to decide whether to SV it, or roast it conventionally. One more bad result, and I may pitch the entire lot.

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I am embarrassed to say that for flat-irons, I have used meat from smart & final and been pleasantly surprised. It is very cheap -- so the cost of experimenting is low.

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I always cook-hold or cook-serve. I have never cooked-chilled so I am floating this question. I cooked short ribs 56c-48hrs and rapid chilled them in ice (as per Doug's treatise) and then put the ice bath in the fridge (36F) overnight. They are in the freezer this morning. Our dinner party was cancelled so I am forced to save them for the rain date.

The question is reheating. Is there a time issue reheating them in the bath from freezer to serving temperature - viz a viz length of time I should be concerned with their being reheated or held in the bag? I assume with the length of pasteurization and fast chilling that I am safe here but it is my first time trying so thus the post.

Thank you.

Evan

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There is no practical concern with reheating the food at or above 130F (54.4C). It would be prudent to reheat it in such a way that the core reaches 130F (54.4C) within 6 hours to prevent C. perfringens from outgrowing and multiplying to dangerous levels --- however, this requirement isn't very sharp and needs to be studied in more detail.

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Excellent chicken breast!

My previous attempt at chicken breast was rather unimpressive, but tonight was much better.

I picked up a package of three chicken breasts, pulled off the skin, Jaccarded them for tenderness, applied S&P, and vacuum packed them. I then pressed them with my palm to make sure that they were less than 30mm thick.

I froze two, and cooked one tonight -- one hour at 63.5C/146F.

I was trying to follow a Julia Child recipe for chicken breast and mushrooms, so I took a big bag of white mushrooms (perhaps 2 cups?), cleaned them and sliced them, and threw them in a pan into which I had already put 1/2 a stick of butter and some chopped shallots, mildly sautéed.

After the sliced mushrooms were nicely sautéed, I should have added some cream, but I didn't have any. Fortunately, I had some irradiated whole milk on the shelf, so I added a pint of it, plus another 1/4 stick of butter (almost cream, right?), added the juice from the SV chicken, reduced it a bit more, then added the chicken to the pan, and waited until the sauce seemed sufficiently reduced.

A little smoked paprika finished it off.

The results were absolutely delicious. I might use "real" cream the next time, but otherwise I wouldn't change a thing.

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There is no practical concern with reheating the food at or above 130F (54.4C).  It would be prudent to reheat it in such a way that the core reaches 130F (54.4C) within 6 hours to prevent C. perfringens from outgrowing and multiplying to dangerous levels --- however, this requirement isn't very sharp and needs to be studied in more detail. 
I always cook-hold or cook-serve.  I have never cooked-chilled so I am floating this question.  I cooked short ribs 56c-48hrs and rapid chilled them in ice (as per Doug's treatise) and then put the ice bath in the fridge (36F) overnight. They are in the freezer this morning.  Our dinner party was cancelled so I am forced to save them for the rain date.

The question is reheating.  Is there a time issue reheating them in the bath from freezer to serving temperature - viz a viz length of time I should be concerned with their being reheated or held in the bag?  I assume with the length of pasteurization and fast chilling that I am safe here but it is my first time trying so thus the post.

Thank you.

Evan

Thanks alot - I feel confident in their storage now. Appreciate the reply.

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Just had two failures and one success.

Cooked a Dexter tongue for 72hrs at 56c and the texture was just horrible, would do higher temp for a shorter time (should have listened to Jack). Tried to make pastrami excellent texture but too salty, so not the sous vide techniques fault.

But the stellar result was the Dexter cheeks. Reduced bottles of Oz Shiraz & Cab Sav respectively and a half a bottle port added frozen demi-glace and 0.4% xanthum, browned the jaccarded cheeks. Vac packed and cooked at 56c for 72hrs. Unctuous sauce and perfectly tender cheeks. So, thanks to the usual suspects. Served with pomme puree and roasted veg.

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Ok, what is a Dexter tongue?

The only well-known Dexter in the U.S. makes bowling shoes, and they do have a tongue, but I suspect it would take a lot more than 72 hours to tenderize them.

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International shopping day

I started at 99 Ranch, a large Chinese /Vietnamese grocery store here in Milpitas, Ca. I didn’t find what I was looking for, but I did buy a frozen pheasant, and the thickest piece of beef liver I have ever seen. It will be tonight’s dinner, with bacon and onions, but I’m going to slice it in half horizontally first.

I think I may have to thaw the pheasant and remove the gizzard, heat, and liver before butterflying it and cooking it SV, like I might a chicken or duck. Any suggestions?

Then on to Mi Pueblo in south San Jose, a noisy, bustling Latino grocery store with loud Mexican music, and lots of chickens roasting on charcoal outside.

I bought two pounds of beef cheeks, and about four pounds of pork belly. Now the question is how to cook them?

Under Pressure has a recipe for cooking pork belly (AKA pork breast) sous vide after first brining it with Hobbs curing salt??? Does that add nitrates, or what? Obviously I don’t have any on hand. Does anyone have a substitute to recommend? Calling their number, I see that they deliver to San Francisco, Napa, and the South Bay (on Tuesday), but I have no idea of the minimum order quantity. Maybe I can find it at Whole Foods?

Alinea has a recipe that that requires 250 g of sugar, 250 g of kosher salt, 40 g of smoked paprika, and 25 g of chipotle chili pepper for 200 g of pork belly, for two days in the refrigerator, but after that it is all down hill, with a smoked paprika tuile requiring 245 g of fondant, 125 g of glucose, 125 g of isomalt, 5 g of smoked paprika, and 3 g of cayenne pepper.

I have already looked all over for glucose to no avail, I have no idea where to find isomalt, and don’t know about much about fondant, either. Help!

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I have already looked all over for glucose to no avail, I have no idea where to find isomalt, and don’t know about much about fondant, either.  Help!

Chef Rubber has fondant, Glucose and Isomalt. Chef Rubber

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I have already looked all over for glucose to no avail, I have no idea where to find isomalt, and don’t know about much about fondant, either.  Help!

You can generally find glucose in the baking section of a good grocery store -- it is used for frosting and decorations. I found some at Draeger's in Menlo Park but I bet any high-end/specialty grocery would have it. I wouldn't have known where to look for it -- but the manager knew right away.

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New Article for SV Newbies

I've written an article as an introduction to SV. It has been published on a friends Australian web site.

I thought that some eGullet members might find it useful. A lot of the information came from this forum.

The link to the article is:

Sous Vide @ Home article on Australian Gourmet Pages

Cheers,

Peter.

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I have already looked all over for glucose to no avail, I have no idea where to find isomalt, and don’t know about much about fondant, either.  Help!

Isomalt is a sugar derivative without some of the bad effects of sugar. Of course like many sugar substitutes, it has its own problems such as causing flatulence and diarrhea if eaten in large quantities.

It is used in food sculpting in preference to sugar because it doesn't crystalize, which makes it easier to shape.

Typically, tuiles are made with sugar so if you can't get isomalt you can substitute sugar (equal in volume to the isomalt), you just need to work faster and cook more carefully as a glucose/sugar mix will also caramelize significantly more than the glucose/isomalt mix.

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Beef cheeks are very tough beacuse cows chew their cud virtually all day every day. They need a lot of cooking to get tender. In traditional cooking they would be braised for 4 to 8 hours.

In sous vide you have a wide range of choices for beef cheeks - from 130F/54C up to 180F/82C. I have not had success at 54C, but conciveably somebody would like it at that temperature. I would start at 140F/60C for 24 hours.

Pork belly is pretty much the same story. It can be tough, and in addition there is a lot of fat that for most people's tastes needs to soften. Pure meat fat melts at quite low temperatures, but fatty tissue is held in a matrix of collagen and other tissue which needs a lot of cooking to soften and release the fat.

Although you can cook pork belly at 130F/54C, most people would not like it like that. 140F/60C for 24 hours is a good start, but depending on the source of the pork and personal taste you might prefer 36 hours. 180F/82C for 8 hours is more like a traditional braise. You can do any combination of time and temperature that you want.

Lots of people like to brine, or dry cure pork belly. In the limit you wind up with something that is essentially unsmoked bacon. If I want those flavors I generally just want bacon, so personally I prefer not to brine or cure the belly to that extreme.

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Nathan, is the book close to publication?

Alas, we kept getting ambitous, so no the book is not close to publication yet. We are working away - there is a team of 6 people working full time on the book. I don't have a firm schedule yet, but will certainly post to the thread when we do.

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