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

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Also keep in mind that when reheating you can do something much less precise like get a big pot of water up to like 5-10 degrees of the cooking temp and let it just chill in there till it is re-heated. I did this for 8 pounds of tenderloin I had precooked before a dinner, then the day of I just put it in a large pot at 110F and I was good to go.

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My cross-rib roast was a big success. So, here are the details. Cooked at 133F for 18 or 20 hours. Then given crust in a medium hot pan with some olive oil. I wanted to make sure that the outer fat got crispy -- so the browning was in medium hot rather than smoking hot pan like I usually use to sear post-sous vide. It worked out nicely.

This was a boneless roast and I snipped the twine and unrolled it before putting it into the bag since I realized that the deboning might have introduced contaminants. (The roast was 4.5 inches thick rolled up so I decided to err on the side of caution).

Anyway, the result was great. This medium-quality fairly inexpensive roast ended up tasting like a much higher-quality roast. It was fork-tender without being mushy. And made for amazing sandwiches the next day.

--E

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My research continues.

1- Chicken breast at 141 is very good. Dijon and honey in the bag comes out well. After 3 or so hours it was tender and soft (almost mushy but not in a bad way) if you were served it you would call it tender. Still pretty juicy, but I've done about as well using classic methods (although with no guarantees of course!).

Personally I'm tempted to try a lower temp. If I'm correct 136 is still ok for salmonella and his friends.

2- Beef bavette (flap steak I think) is no good after 12 hours. Very tender after 36 hours. Ultimately not nearly as good as a nice piece of chuck after 30 hours.

3- The people at Doug care equipment are aso great. I made an error on my online order and they called me long distance to verify my mistake and cancel before shipping.

As for my cook-chill at home question. Basically I work at someone's house in the morning to make them food for the evening. I then leave with my sous-vide equipment. There is sometimes a 5 hour gap between my leaving and service. So the question is, what to do with the food.


Edited by howsmatt (log)

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Since it is for someone else, better be safe than sorry. Quick chill and refreigerate until service. Reheat in water bath (not boiling) for 15-20 minutes depending on thickness of meat. This will not work for seafood - it will be over-cooked.

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Personally I'm tempted to try a lower temp.  If I'm correct 136 is still ok for salmonella and his friends. 

It is a matter of time. Chicken can be safely cooked at 131 or above IF IF IF you make sure to keep it at temperature for the correct amount of time. The time is very different at 131 than at 140. So, please see the tables that Doug Baldwin has on his site. Keep in mind that you need to add up two times to know the safe time: the time required to bring the food up to temperature plus the time at-temperature required to make it food safe.

--E

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I have and use the times then usually add a good 50% just for the hell of it.

Cut off a good piece of my finger and nail at work today. Lots of time to test some sous vide recipes.

I do err on the safe side but like to know what the limits of the danger zone are so I can be sure to keep away without panicking - if something is left out by accident (aka if others don't follow instructions carefully).

Be careful after knife sharpening day people! Cauterizing your finger with silver nitrate hurts.. a lot.

Matt

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Take care of your finger man...sucks we've all been there. I've had a couple of bad run ins with the ole benriner so I feel ya.

I've been doing a fair amount of vegetables lately, based on the 185F temp in Under Pressure. Had really good results with carrots, beets, fennel, and turnips. All very good. I don't have a chamber at home, so I'm a bit limited on my liquids I can put in (I do the freeze technique sometimes) but great results on veg. so far.

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Personally I'm tempted to try a lower temp.  If I'm correct 136 is still ok for salmonella and his friends. 

It is a matter of time. Chicken can be safely cooked at 131 or above IF IF IF you make sure to keep it at temperature for the correct amount of time. The time is very different at 131 than at 140. So, please see the tables that Doug Baldwin has on his site. Keep in mind that you need to add up two times to know the safe time: the time required to bring the food up to temperature plus the time at-temperature required to make it food safe.

--E

As a note, the pasteurization tables in my guide already include a safety margin --- they also assume the worst on how long it will take the food to heat.

You can certainly pasteurize poultry at 136F/57.5C (see my guide for times), but a lot of people find the color and texture of poultry cooked at 136F/57.5C to be "disturbing." Part of the problem, is that many enzymes are still active at that temperature and can make significant changes in the texture of the flesh in the time it takes to pasteurize. That said, give it a try and tell us what you think.

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Take care of your finger man...sucks we've all been there. I've had a couple of bad run ins with the ole benriner so I feel ya.

Lol, my only other injury was also with a mandolin-hate those things.

As for "disturbing" I'm a Montrealer so my tastes can be more European, therefore I'm happy to eat food that it quite raw-ish provided the taste and texture are best...don't know about the wifey however. Will keep you guys informed of my findings.

Matt

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Sous vide for the homeless, part 1

Lots of expert professional chefs helping in this forum but, in a spirit of anti-matter (i.e. maybe what I am about to say doesn’t matter) I thought it would be helpful if a blithering beginner encouraged other amateurs to give this useful technique a shot. To broaden the plastic bag (formerly a tent) still further, I will try and keep the cost down to what an indolent former investment banker can earn begging at a busy city junction in a morning.

When Wall Street Journal reporter Katy McLaughlin wrote a one page article on August 30th, 2008 called “Trying Sous Vide at Home” I cut it out, filed it away, and forgot about it. That’s pretty dedicated, huh? Once a year I go through my filed recipes and sort them out. Any cooking technique where the temperature is lower than my IQ interests me. So, when I came across McLaughlin’s article, I decided to read it. Her instructions were so clear that I thought it would be feasible to try it. However, I would improvise as necessary, the first time, in case it turned out to be a huge disappointment.

A picture is worth a thousand words (and in the case of page 3 of The Sun, many more) and the WSJ article had a convenient step-by-step guide to sous vide cooking of chicken breast. I knew it was step-by-step because the title of the feature was “Step by Step”. With this guidance, I decided chicken breast was going to be the first thing to try. Surely not the first time a chicken’s breast has found itself a guinea pig.

First I had to get a temperature controlled water bath to do the cooking, which could be obtained for only $399 (plus shipping). I dug out my barely used turkey roasting pan since it could comfortably accommodate several chicken breasts. Cost $0. The temperature would be controlled by “advanced twiddling of gas levels on the stove during the one hour cooking interval”. A task made easier by a 2007 Luzon Jumilla.

Now, these here pieces of chicken had to be put in plastic bags and the air removed. A FoodSaver vacuum sealer from Costco sets you back $160 according to the WSJ so off I went to Kroger. A Ziploc vacuum pump set me back $3.79 and the 8 Ziploc 1 gallon bags (the most useful size in my later experience) set me back $2.89. These are special bags. They work with the Ziploc pump. Other vendors have their own pumps that work with their own bags. So be aware of vendor tie-in. I wasn’t even aware that I could have saved 5c on these bags at Walmart. Philosophers say that we may not yet know the full consequences of Caesar crossing the Rubicon, but could they matter compared with the consequences of paying 5c more for vacuum bags down the street? Indeed, what if Caesar had crossed the salad instead?

I put a chicken breast in a bag, added sliced onions, garlic, carrots, butter, salt and pepper. Kroger did not have the fennel required in the WSJ Step so the onions substituted (fennel is a member of the onion family although they never get invited round for Christmas drinks and many of them are in prison). I sealed the bag and pumped the air out. I wasn’t sure how hard I should pump after the obvious air bubbles disappeared so I stopped. The WSJ could have been clearer on this. Then, into the bath at a steady 141 degrees F for 1 hour.

How did it turn out? First, I’m here. So the Chlamydia that is supposed to thrive in low temperatures did not kill me. This must be a plus for any cooking technique – it doesn’t routinely kill you. Second, the chicken was the most succulent I have ever tasted. I have had many fine breasts. Others may have required larger f-stops, but none was as succulent as this. Basically, supermarket chicken that had grown up in a two foot cage subjected to green light for 12 continuous hours and Rachel Ray re-runs for the rest had acquired real chicken taste and retained all its moisture. It was intriguing – but not divine. What was missing was the seasoning one takes for granted in one’s cooking. I e-mailed blogger colleague Kirk about this conundrum. Season first, he advised. I did, and the next batch was much better. He also recommended pumping heavily to get all the air out. I found that helped too.

Clearly this boil-in-the-bag technique had promise. I had an obligation to do a meal for 16 wino friends so I e-mailed them that it would be sous vide, and we were thinking of chicken. I might as well have told them to go get their Chlamydia shots right then. The better half suggested that steak might be more popular (this is Texas after all). So I resolved to try that next (in part 2…).

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Made a great dinner yesterday- could be a signature dish, although with a more expensive fish.

I cooked Basa SV at 133 (could go down at least 2 degrees). Crusted with pistachios and salt --Hot sear--this alone is awesome.

Made amaranth with chicken stock and apple cider soaked dried cranberries-chopped finely. Would be good with quinoa too-or just put the cranberries in the sauce.

sauce? Brown butter with the cider juice-I tossed in some soy lecithin.

For veggies I made a celery root hash with asparagus and carrots-just sauteed with salt-pepper.

All of these items have great potential for use with other items which is nice.

Enjoy.

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Hope it doesn't start looking like I'm talking to myself. More results and a question-

Pork tenderloin at 138 and 141-both still too cooked for me before being seared. Grated ginger flavour comes through nicely.

How many times could I cook-chill-freeze-cook....Repeat, without danger of

a) bacteria etc.

b) loss of taste

Would the results be true of 1)chicken 2)tender meat 3)tough-long cooked meat 4)fish 5)anything else you might have an answer for.

Thanks.

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As with everything, it depends.

Let us first consider taste and texture. The very best taste and texture is from cook-hold* sous vide cooking. Depending on how long the food will be stored, either cook-chill or cook-freeze** will be better. For short storage times, cook-chill is often better than cook-freeze because freezing can damage the cell structure of the cooked food and alter its texture. For longer storage times, cook-freeze is often better because spoilage microorganisms (which often survive pasteurization) and warmed-over-flavor (WOF) can increase to unacceptable levels at chill temperatures. Repeated cook-chill/freeze processing would only exasperate these issues.

From the food safety perspective, I would also not recommend repeated cook-chill/freeze processing. The problem is not from vegetative food pathogens, but from spores outgrowing and producing toxins during the repeated rapid chillings and heatings. I cannot easily say how many times you could safely repeat the cook-chill/freeze process because it depends on the rate of heating/cooling, the type of spore-forming pathogen present in the food, and the chemical properties of the food. (See my guide for more details on food safety.)

In summary, I would recommend avoiding repeated cook-chill/freeze processing.

* Cook-hold: vacuum sealing the raw ingredients, heating to your desired core temperature, (holding at that temperature until pasteurized,) finishing and serving.

** Cook-chill/freeze: vacuum sealing the raw ingredients, heating to your desired core temperature, holding at that temperature until pasteurized (for a 6D reduction in Listeria), rapidly chilling to limit sporulation, store in a refrigerator below 38F/3.3C for less than four weeks (or freeze until needed), reheat in a water bath at or below the original cooking temperature (typically 131F/55C), finish and serve.

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I did a Boston Roast tonight, high quality beef but a relatively low quality cut, normally used for Pot Roasts.

Did it at 59 C (138 F) for six and a half hours. Vacuum sealed only with salt and pepper. On finishing, I heated a LeCreuset grill pan on our inside wok burner to full heat and quickly seared all round.

The picture probably does not do the meat justice in terms of its colour (it was more pink than grey) but even so I think I'll go down a few degrees next time.

The meat was very tender (my wife said it was the best roast meat she has had, although she is somewhat biased :smile: ).

roast.jpg

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Temperature, working on the philosophy that I want to take it to temperature and hold it there. In my opinion, this whole thing of cooking to a higher temperature and watching the time to ensure that it only reaches a lower temperature defeats one of the major advantages of sous vide cooking, which is precision in the final temperature reached.

edited to add: Plus the meat was 65mm thick, I took the time from table 2.3 of Douglas Baldwin's guide.

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I have wondered about brussels sprouts myself, but I am not convinced that cooking through cruciferous vegetables would be such a great idea. The hydrogen sulfide that is usually released into the air would have nowhere to go and you'd end up with an extra-skunky product. It's not clear to me that it's possible to cook cruciferous vegetables at a time/temperature sufficient to tenderize them that does not also produce hydrogen sulfide.

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For what it's worth, brussels sprouts appear in three recipes from Under Pressure, and in all three they are blanched and sauteed, never cooked sous vide.

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I have wondered about brussels sprouts myself, but I am not convinced that cooking through cruciferous vegetables would be such a great idea.  The hydrogen sulfide that is usually released into the air would have nowhere to go and you'd end up with an extra-skunky product.  It's not clear to me that it's possible to cook cruciferous vegetables at a time/temperature sufficient to tenderize them that does not also produce hydrogen sulfide.

I am inclined to agree, for what it is worh Thomas Keller does not give time and temp for brussel sprouts and the three recipes he has them in, in under pressure they are all caramelized/sauteed.

Edit: Wow that's pretty funny I started this reply then when looking for my under pressure copy and then saw I was 5 minutes too late :(


Edited by NY_Amateur (log)

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As far as I know, the hydrogen sulfide is not produced by any kind of enzymatic reaction, but rather by the reaction of various normally-separate compounds in the vegetable that are able to combine when the cell walls break down. That means that it is unlikely that there is some kind of temperature trick that can be used to prevent this reaction. The cell walls need to break down in order for the vegetables to be tender.

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Thanks for the replies re:Brussel Sprouts. Just for the record, I cooked them for 200 mins. at 190F with just seasoning in the bag.

The results were intensely tasty sprouts. However, they were mushy and (is this H2S?) the centers of many were RED. Ultra-weardsville.

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Just came back from a course @ CIA Greystone on Sous Vide. Was a great course and learned a lot.

Looking at some low cost alternatives to equipment.

The PolySci Immersion Circulator is pretty much the industry standard, a no brainer.

A Minipack or other tabletop chamber vacuum sealer is $$. I'm looking at various FoodSaver models, since are $150-300 and could be replaceable if broken. Anyone using these, and if so which model do you use/prefer?

Bags - I found some bags over at BCU, which average out to about $0.07 a bag. Just wondering if these bags would be seal-able by the foodsaver? Or should I just go with the Foodsaver bags, which are more money?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

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