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

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Just thought I'd post this analysis of sous-vide chicken breast done in August 1996. I'm used to researching food issues on "foodie websites" - not at university food science sites - a whole new thing for me. Anyone have a home gas chromatograph?

Department of Food Science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh 27695-7624, USA.

The influences of brine composition, internal temperature, heating rate, and storage periods up to 28 d on flavor, texture, and color of sous vide processed chicken breast were evaluated. Pectoralis major muscles containing water and sodium chloride, with or without sodium lactate, were browned and vacuum packaged. Sous vide processing was by fast or slow heating to an internal temperature of 77 or 94 C. Product was evaluated after 0, 14, and 28 d storage at 4 C. Quality was evaluated by gas chromatographic analyses of flavor volatiles, shear, color, and sensory panels. Incorporation of sodium lactate into brine did not influence oxidative stability (as measured by headspace gas chromatography) or sensory warmed-over flavor. Presence of sodium lactate did result in enhanced fresh roasted or meaty and saltiness sensory scores as well as a more yellow color. The more rapid heating rate decreased sulfur-containing compounds and did not influence other volatile concentrations. Products processed to 94 C were less juicy, less tender, and contained higher quantities of alcohols and hydrocarbons than those processed to 77 C. Storage resulted in a decline in fresh roasted or meaty flavor note and an increase in warmed-over flavor note and quantities of alcohols, aldehydes and ketones, hydrocarbons, and total headspace volatiles.

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Oysters sous vide? One of the reasons I'm interested in sous vide is the repeatability it offers. I really like the oyster stew recipe in "The Best Recipe" by Cooks Illustrated Editors. However, the last instruction is typical of oyster stew recipes - dump in the oysters and cook until "the edges turn up". Now, I see the edges turn up on some but not all. Do I continue? The result is that some of the oysters are "perfect" - not mushy, juicy, some are clearly overdone - tough, very chewy. Now, I don't know whether this variability is just mostly a by product of using oysters in a jar, or my cooking method.

What I'd like to do is try cooking the oysters separately sous vide, say to 140F? Does anyone have an experience doing this? Times/temps? Any safety issues you can think of?

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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.

Nathan - I don't like to pose an obvious question, but what about the concept of publishing in multiple volumes?

That would allow you to go deeper later, and incorporate ever newer information and recipes.

My impression is that the project is expanding such that the redshift on the goalposts is appreciable!

There's a considerable market (and surely not just right here) for a relatively limited book to authoritatively cover the basics. Let the other stuff wait for Volume 2 (and 3, and more!)


"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Thanks to everyone for their suggestions. After visiting six grocery stores in four days, I found glucose (a thick syrup rather than the powder I expected), and xanthan gum (which I don't need right now, but bought just in case I ever do) at Draegers in Los Altos. And I dropped a note to ChefRubber, suggesting that they offer a "Chemistry Set" of small quantities of ingredients that can't be found at your local Safeway. Who knows -- I might suddenly have a need for transglutaminisase -in case I fall down and tear up my knee!

Tonight I tried some beef short ribs, cooked for 48 hours at 55.5C/131.9F. I poured off the juice from the packages, brought it to a hard boil and filtered out the scum, then added half a jar of Bone Sucking Rib Sauce (thick style) to the remaining juice and cooked it down for a while. Meanwhile, I seared the ribs on all four sides then added the sauce, while the fresh corn on the cob finished boiling for about 4:30 minutes.

Delicious!

However, both my wife and I agreed that the ribs were perhaps just little bit too rare -- a bit too chewy/stringy, although very melt-in-your-mouth tender. Next time, I might go up a two or three degrees F, say to 135F.

Bob

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Pork Neck Recipe

I have made Macella Hazan's "Drunken Roast Pork" (from "The Essentials of Classic Italian Cookery") many times and it is a very good recipe. Essentially it is pork neck larded with strips of carrot and pot roasted with aromatics in red wine after browning.

Tonight we had the Alcoholics Anonymous (ie no wine) Sous Vide version and the outcome was outstanding - better than the original!

As was my practice for the original recipe I tied the pork neck at about 30mm intervals to keep it round and I then larded the neck with strips of carrot about 1/4 inch or 5mm square (not all were square - some were triangular....)

I made some "Prickly Ash" which is equal quantities (by volume) of Szechwan Pepper and Sea Salt roasted in a dry pan until it is well toasted but not burned and the salt has taken on a golden colour. It is then cooled and ground to a powder in a mortar.

I dusted the larded pork with the prickly ash. I used about a teaspoon of the ground powder for a 500g (1lb) piece of pork.

Then I made a mixture of a little over a tablespoon of Hoi Sin Sauce, a little less of Soy Sauce and the juice of 1/4 of a white onion - bashed up in a mortar and pestle then I squeezed the liquid out using a piece of muslin.

I added a small knob of young ginger (about 15mm x 25mm) peeled and sliced finely.

I turned the pork in this mixture to coat the whole surface then I bagged the pork and added all the marinade to the bag.

Vacuum & seal.

Into the bath @ 60C for 24 hours.

I then drained the juice from the bag to a small pot and put it on the stove. When it came to the boil I strained the protein gunk from the jus and returned the jus to the heat to reduce to about half. I had been thinking of adding some Madeira to the jus, but after tasting it I was afraid of over gilding the lily!

While all this was happening I nuked the outside of the pork with the blowtorch (sides only, not the cut edges) and held it in the oven while the jus was reducing.

I served it with some steamed new potatoes, green beans and zucchini.

The meat was very flavourful, tender and the carrot while cooked still had a little crispness to it. Excellent!

This recipe is in the "MUST DO AGAIN" category - as voted by "She Who Must Be Obeyed" (SWMBO).

According to SWMBO this is my best SV experiment since starting on this mad adventure....

Funny that the rice cooker is now not taking up valuable space....

PB

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Re: Pork Neck Recipe

How large was your pork neck (dimensions and weight)?

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The piece I cooked was just over 500g about 100mm in diameter and 140mm long. It was an experiment to try out the recipe. Next weekend I'm going to do a whole pork neck (about 1.5kg, 100mm in diameter and roughly 400mm long) for a dinner party now that I know that it works.

All I would do differently is to increase the amount of marinade ingredients proportionately.

cheers,

PB

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Hi,

I am a beginner in sous vide cooking and experimenting most of the techniques available. I started with the cheapest technique such as gas and halogen stove. I am now cookingwith a basic water bath (bain marie) I purchased recently. Cooking sous vide works with such equipment but the range of temperature variation is significant (approx. 5°C or 41°F). I tried to compare my water bath with the ICC Roner Compact and realised that this machine does not benefit from a PID controller. The manual of ICC Roner Compact indicates:

Stability: +- 0.5°C

Homogeneity: +- 1%

Margin of error: +- 1%

I have difficulties to believe that the Roner Compact is such a precise machine. I agree that their are differences compared to my basic water bath: the heating element in located in the water and their is a water pump but I can't believe this makes such e difference if you don't have a PID temperature controller.

Is there a cook among you who purchased the ICC Roner Compact and could confirm how stable is the temperature?

Thanks for your help!


http://www.Sousvidecooking.org a blog about cooking sous vide with low and constant temperature.

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For 2000 euro (which is about $2800) and with those specs, it almost certainly uses a PID or other microcontroller to control the temperature.

That is a lot of money for an initial investment. If this is for home use and $2800 seems like a lot of money -- you can get the equipment you need to get started for less than $200

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You are right, this is a lot of money and I am not interested in bying the Roner Compact. I just want to understand how the Roner Compact works. And I have to say that nowhere is written that Roner Compact contains a PID controller. Not even inside the manual. Therefore why should this machine be as precise as mentionned everywhere and...so expensive??

Jean-François


http://www.Sousvidecooking.org a blog about cooking sous vide with low and constant temperature.

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It might not be PID control -- it could easily be some other microcontroller logic (PID is just a really easy to implement heat-control method that has been around for along time -- one could implement other algorithms for heat control -- but to the end-user what matters are the specs and not the logic used to achieve them). I would imagine that to the manual writer's it isn't really important what kind of microcontroller logic was used (if they even knew that much).

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I have not used the Roner, PolySciience, or other laboratory controllers, so take this with a milligram of NaCl.

A PID controller is particularly useful if the device being controlled is subject to overshoot, e.g., for a rice cooker, because the heat is delayed between the heater and the water bath.

However, if the heating unit is inserted into the water bath directly, and the water is constantly circulated, it is unlikely that a significant overshoot will result. The P (proportional) control may not be necessary, or it might be built in.

The I (integral function) of PID controllers is somewhat controversial, and frequently does more harm than good. Similarly, the D (derivative) control may help if you drop a frozen steak into the bath, but it may also cause an undesirable overshoot. I'm still trying to optimize my own PIC controller and rice cooker with respect to these measurements, but setting I=0 and D=0 is simpler and easier to use.

A large volume of water compared to the mass of the food you are introducing will eliminate most of these problems, whether you are using a rice cooker and controller or a laboratory circulator.

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Nürnberger Schäufele (pork shoulder) sous vide

I just fixed a pork shoulder, trying to at least recreate the spirit of a well-remembered "Schäufele und Rauch Bier" (pork shoulder and smoky beer) from when we lived in Nürnberg, Germany, back in 1967-68.

I started with about 3 pounds of pork shoulder from Whole Foods (I didn't record the weight before putting in the SV bag, so I'm not entirely sure of the weight).

I cooked it at 145F/62.5C for 24 hours.

I probably violated Douglas Baldwin's recommendations for time/temperature, because the roast was nearly 4 inches thick, and according to some of the charts I should have cut the roast in half. But since I intended to cook it for 24 hours, I wasn't too concerned. (If I never post again, you will know not to do this!)

For the side, I simmered some small potatoes, pre-peeled carrots, a large red onion sliced, and a little garlic salt for about an hour and 30 minutes in a carton (one pint) of store-bought pork stock, plus two cans of Guinness beer -- the closest I could come at the local grocery store to the dark, smoky beer I enjoyed in Nürnberg.

When the sides were ready, I coated the pork with some Vineyard Pantry Roasted Onion Balsamic Grill Sauce (Raley's grocery store), and popped it in the oven at 500F for about five minutes to give it a little sear on the outside. I probably could have gone for a longer time, but I was getting hungry!

The pork was excellent, and so were the sides. Even my wife, who is sometimes critical (unlike all other spousal units/partners, right?) liked it.

The left-overs were immersed in an ice bath, and then refrigerated.

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Pork shoulder and other pork product seemed to do very well with SV. I always have a pack or two in the freezer for a last minute meal. I SV pork shoulder with a little salt and pepper at 82.2 C for 8 hours. When it is time to serve I just throw it back in the water bath to bring it back to temperature and add a variety of sauce to finish the dish. Sauce i had used includes Chile Verde, Brandy Apple, Coconut green Thai Curry, Lawry Au Jus, Mexican Salsa and Chili Soy Sesame etc.

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The recommended temperature for such pork dishes seems to vary all over the lot. I liked my version at 145/62.5 for 24 hours, and you and others are using 180/82.2 for 8 hours -- about the temperature I wold cook asparagus!

Assuming neither of us is completely crazy, it is hard for me to understand why such a wide range would both produce acceptable results, when the margin of error is so much less than for beef. I've seen the same kind of variation with respect to chicken breast. Perhaps is due to the "white" meat -- does anyone know?

In any case, although both temperatures may produce acceptably pleasing results, it is very hard to imagine that they are identical, which makes me wonder which technique is "best?"

I think we need a cook-off!

BTW, I am assuming that you are preparing individual portions SV, otherwise it would take too long to come back up to temperature -- correct? Or do you cook the whole roast, slice it, and then bag it and chill? I forgot to slice the remainder of the shoulder, so I'm going to be faced with the reheating problem.

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Since port shoulder need not be rare or med rare to be tender and juicy, that is where the variation in temp to accomplish similar result. I think if you have time 24 hrs at a low temp. is good and if you are concern with time a higher temp will work just as well. I do cut my meat up to about 4mmx4mmx24mm strips and usually put about 3 strips per bag. Reheating at the higher temp also cut the time down.

It will be nice to get togather and every one cook their own favorite meat, fish or vegetable and have party periodically will be ideal.

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I've just completed my first 4 sous vide attempts. I have the polyscience 7306c, ary vp-210 chamber vacuum, and cambro 6" deep plastic tank

I really like the equipment. They've worked flawlessly and are very simple to use.

1. Eggs: 63.8C for 1 hour. Whites were way to runny for me. But, they were pretty old eggs (like over a month). Will try some fresh ones.

2. Fresh lobster tail (well, maybe, just bought the tail at Harris Teeter) at 60C for 30 minutes. Removed the meat from the shell before vacuum packing. I definitely don't like the fact the meat didn't turn white. It didn't matter because it was chopped up to go into some lobster bisque.

3. Fresh lobster tail at 65C for 30 minutes with a little butter and garlic in the bag. Some of the best lobster I've ever had. I've always had a problem duplicating lobster to get the "perfect juciness vs doneness. Now, I can. I think next time I may hit it with a torch for a few seconds to give it a little crust.

4. Short ribs at 60C for 33 hours (why 33 hours? Start at 9am, done at 6pm). Removed bone and dusted with simple garlic/salt/pepper rub. Afterwards, made a simple wine/Bone Suckin Sauce reduction with the juices (put in a bowl on the side for dipping). Hit all 4 sides with a torch for 10-20 seconds. This must be what it's all about. Some of the best meat I've ever had.

Next: pork butt. Plan to rub, smoke for an hour at 180F in my smoker, then vacuum and put into water at 83.3C for 24-33 hours, then hit it with the torch

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Next: pork butt. Plan to rub, smoke for an hour at 180F in my smoker, then vacuum and put into water at 83.3C for 24-33 hours, then hit it with the torch

If that turns out well -- you can try smoking for even just 20 or 30 minutes. I have been really surprised at how much smoke flavor meat has had if I smoked it for as little as 15 or 20 minutes before putting it in the bag. I suspect the reason is that by being trapped in the bag it permeates a bit more deeply into the meat. (And I am a guy who likes my ribs very smoke flavored)

The description of the short ribs has me salivating. They sound great.

Robert J wrote:

I coated the pork with some Vineyard Pantry Roasted Onion Balsamic Grill Sauce (Raley's grocery store), and popped it in the oven at 500F for about five minutes to give it a little sear on the outside. I probably could have gone for a longer time, but I was getting hungry!

For getting a nice crust, I recommend either using a propane torch or sticking it under the broiler (or using a pan that has been heated on high heat for 10 minutes (should get the pan to over 700 degrees). In a 500 degree oven, it takes long enough for a crust to develop that you will also end up cooking the meat a fair amount by the time the crust develops. The other methods will give you nice browning/crusting without cooking the meat.

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I agree - even 10-12 minutes in the smoker results in a very smoky end result... Recently I did a BBQ chicken... first I simmered skin on chicken parts in water for a few minutes to render some of the fat under the skin, then into an ice water bath to stop cooking.... dry then rub with Klink's dry rub... smoked over Hickory wood in my stovetop smoker for about 15 minutes, then into the bag and 60C water bath for about 1.5 hours - to make sure it was fully pasteurized... then it was hit with the propane torch until nice and crusty... came out juicy, delicious, and oh so smoky, with a good char on the outside....

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OK, the REAL perfect egg.

Cook your eggs in the shell at 148-150 for 60 minutes. Crack into a medium hot pan to finish the silghtly runny white for 30-60 seconds.

This will certainly make my menu.

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My sister and her boyfriend bought me an immersion circulator as an early birthday present. It's a perfect present- something I've thought about, but probably wouldn't have bought for myself. I've already told my sister that, based on his performance so far, this boy is a keeper.

Anyway, here's the circulator:

sousvide.jpg

The reason I'm posting the photo is because I'm not sure what the dial at the lower left does (the one with numbers from 0 to 120.) Something to do with temperature, I guess, but not the temperature control. Halp?

I gave it a spin this afternoon: it has no trouble maintaining a constant temperature to a tenth of a degree Celsius. Groovy. I cooked a couple of eggs at 64.5 C, intending to let them go for an hour. I noticed after about 50 minutes that one of the eggs, which had been bobbing about in the current, had cracked. It was already cooked, and nothing had leaked out, so I fished it out and ate it. It was a little runnier than I'd like, so I let the other go for 70 minutes. The white was still pretty runny at that point, and the next time I cook eggs, I think I'll do it at a slightly higher temperature. I'll also find a wire cage, or even a little basket, for the eggs, to keep them from moving around too much and cracking.


Edited by Andrew Fenton (log)

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The dial on the lower left specifies the safety cut-off temperature. If something goes wrong and the temperature goes above the setting on that dial, the breaker will kick in and the unit will turn off.


--

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1) read my post above your about cooking eggs.

2) take a needle and poke a whole in the bottom of the egg.

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1) I saw your post, and I may give that technique a try. But I don't want a slow-cooked/fried egg, just a slow-cooked egg. I'd prefer to adjust the temperature and/or time to get the texture I'm looking for rather than dirty another pan.

2) I'm not sure how that would help. It's pretty clear that the cracked shell was caused by the eggs banging into one another.

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Bad smell after SV cooking beef cheeks for 48 hours.

I just had my second sous vide failure after cooking something at 131F for 48 hours. The first was a flat-iron steak (previously reported), and the second was some beef cheeks.

In both cases, as soon as I opened the just-cooked SV bag, I was hit by an offensive, sour smell. In the case of the beef cheeks, there was a rather unusual amount of dark blood-red juice, not at all like the usual meat juice.

Despite my better judgment, we ate the beef in both cases, and so far have suffered no ill effects. There was a slight gamy taste.

I have previously cooked four quarters of a brisket individually, and four quarters all at once for a birthday celebration, and also some short ribs, all for 48 hours with excellent results in every case.

The beef cheeks were purchased from a large Mexican grocery store in San Jose (Mi Pueblo), and from Whole Foods in Los Altos in the case of the flat-iron steak (part of a whole shoulder clod.) In both cases I took them home in a thermionic cooler, and immediately put them in the refrigerator. Of course I can't say how the meat was handled before I got it, but I watched the butcher trim the beef in both cases, and didn't see anything amiss.

In the case of the beef cheeks, I later trimmed them, and cut several horizontally to a uniform thickness of about 30 mm. I applied S&P, no olive oil, and I don't think I added anything else before sealing the bags with a FoodSaver Professional III and freezing them.

A day or two later, I added the still-frozen bag of two beef cheeks to the 10 liter rice cooker, which was already up to temperature. The water bath should have rebounded within 20 minutes, and the center should have been up to 131F within an hour, so I was certainly well within all of the safety guidelines.

I did notice a slight whiff of an odor in the water bath, but I didn't see any kind of a leak in the seal. My only explanation is that perhaps some of the meat got on the bag outside of the seal. I'm going to start trimming the bag after sealing it, to prevent this.

The amount of time at this temperature should have been more than enough to kill any bacteria by pasteurization, long before any spoilage could have occurred.

The only other thought I have is that some kind of strange enzymatic action could have been breaking down the meat, or if perhaps I didn't get all of the air out of the bag, the blood might have oxidized or otherwise broken down, but I'm really grasping at straws at this point. What other action could possibly caused the smell?

I've never smelled bad meat before, so i don't have anything to compare it to.

Has anyone else ever experienced this? If not, and it has happened to me twice, then I must be doing something wrong, but I don't know what.

I plan to cook the second of three bags soon, just to see if it happens again, but I'll prepare something else as a backup in case it happens again. I'm also going to double-seal the bag.

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