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


mjc
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So I recently tried it with short ribs - got the wrong cut though - get the long bones. I did it with Ziplock bags and a Crick pot. My crock runs 120 on low and 220 on high - with the lid on. But with the lid off, an acceptable 160 - not perfect by the pros standards but workable - in the range of stated temps. So the bad news is that with the lid off I was refilling the water 3x per day - in a slow stream to not shock the internal temp. I cooked it for 3 days.

In the bags with the browned ribs I put in raw carrot, onion small sprig of thyme and tomato paste. It made its own gravy.

So it was an interesting experiment, but I am not sure I really did it completely right. It was good, but I can not say it blew the socks off my regular braising technique.

I did buy more to try the correct cut and some different techniques. Now that it is raining in Nor Cal I have time to experiment again! I am tempted to buy the small thermostat as a controller, but really want to get at least a solid win before I invest more.

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Its going to be tough to get the perfect short ribs at 160F, especially for 3 days. (too high, for too long)

Definitely get yourself a controller, which will get you a better temp. Test between 57-62C for 48/36 hours to find the texture that is preferable to you. Also try the boneless rib cuts, as the bone isnt giving you anything except sinew and also bones release air into the bag.

If you are using a Ziplock technique, you can squeeze most of the air out of the bag by :

1- zipping it closed with a straw hanging out.

2- push the bag down into the water while squeezing the air out (so air wont go back in),

3- suck the rest of the air out via the straw,

4- when its totally collapsed, while sucking, quickly pull the straw out and pinch the last potion of the seal closed.

I dont think I would add tomato paste to the bag, as when you sear the meat afterward (which Im not sure you did, but you need to) for crust, the tomato paste will burn before you get the color you want on the outside.

Hope that helps.

Randall

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Hi,

With a crockpot, the temperature won't be stable enough for long enough to be able to judge what sous vide will be like when done with appropriate equipment. For things like short ribs and brisket that require very long cooking, you really do need to keep the temperature within a few degrees for the entire duration and you can't do that without some sort of accurate temperature controller (this is coming from someone that spent 6 months doing sous vide on the super cheap) .

If you want short ribs that are different from braised short ribs, you really need to cook them in the low to middle 130's (fahrenheit) (I like 133 or 135) -- and the temp needs to stay there the whole time.

If you cooked them around 160F, the result is braised short ribs and 3 days would be overkill. At 160F, short ribs would be done in less than 12 hours. And no matter what you do, they would be totally unlike short ribs cooked at 135F. At 135 F short ribs will be similar to medium rare roast beef in appearance and texture with a richer flavor.

In my opinion, you can get a general idea about what sous vide steak and chicken breast and pork loin are like (all things that cook in a few hours) without an expensive controller IF you have a good thermometer and are willing to baby sit your set-up and can keep things within 3 or 4 degrees Fahrenheit. The results won't be the same as when you have an even more stable controller but you will get an idea. I don't think you can do anything that cooks for a long time at low temp without getting a PID controller (around $100) or lab equipment.

The results I eventually got by manually controlling the temperature of short cooks convinced my wife and I that the further investment of $100 in a PID would be worthwhile -- and we haven't regretted it.

Crock pots are a bit tricky to keep stable by hand -- I had better luck with a heavy pot on the stove on the lowest flame.

Anyway, that is my take.

So I recently tried it with short ribs - got the wrong cut though - get the long bones.  I did it with Ziplock bags and a Crick pot.  My crock runs 120 on low and 220 on high - with the lid on.  But with the lid off, an acceptable 160 - not perfect by the pros standards but workable - in the range of stated temps.  So the bad news is that with the lid off I was refilling the water 3x per day - in a slow stream to not shock the internal temp.  I cooked it for 3 days.

In the bags with the browned ribs I put in raw carrot, onion small sprig of thyme and tomato paste.  It made its own gravy. 

So it was an interesting experiment, but I am not sure I really did it completely right.  It was good, but I can not say it blew the socks off my regular braising technique.

I did buy more to try the correct cut and some different techniques.  Now that it is raining in Nor Cal I have time to experiment again!  I am tempted to buy  the small thermostat as a controller, but really want to get at least a solid win before I invest more.

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If you are using a Ziplock technique, you can squeeze most of the air out of the bag by :

Btw, I don't think this has been discussed much on this list, but I don't think it is a good idea to cook in plastic bags that were not meant to have food cooked in them. Ziplock bags and most other such bags were not made to be food safe at cooking temperatures. There are some pretty unhealthy chemicals that can leach out of soft plastics into the food when the bags get hot. Bags designed to be cooked in have (at least in theory) been formulated to minimize the nasty stuff that leaches out. Bags meant only for storage were formulated with storage in mind and are likely to have stuff that will leach out at temperature.

I would be cautious about doing much sous-vide cooking in bags not meant to be cooked in especially if you are going to be feeding kids or young adults or women that might be (or become) pregnant. The chemicals used to make plastics pliable are known to be endocrine disruptors and pose other health risks as well.

While there is some "controversy" on this topic, there is growing consensus about the health risks of these chemicals in the scientific community (except for that part of the community funded by the industries that rely on these chemicals for their profitability--hence my putting controversy in quotes since most of the disagreement is from the side with a vested interest).

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Tonight's dinner.

Sous vide salmon (47 degrees Celsius for 45 minutes; sealed in bag with salt, pepper, sprig of fennel leaf, frozen cube of olive oil). Leftover Greek salad. Triple Cooked Chips. Onion, white wine and cream foam [floppy foam :( ]. I make salmon skin crackling and position it vertically in a slit in the salmon.

Unlike others who say that people may dislike the salmon, I've never had a negative comment: once you prepare them for it being lukewarm, it's fine.

sous%20vide%20salmon.jpg

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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If you are using a Ziplock technique, you can squeeze most of the air out of the bag by :

Btw, I don't think this has been discussed much on this list, but I don't think it is a good idea to cook in plastic bags that were not meant to have food cooked in them. Ziplock bags and most other such bags were not made to be food safe at cooking temperatures. There are some pretty unhealthy chemicals that can leach out of soft plastics into the food when the bags get hot. Bags designed to be cooked in have (at least in theory) been formulated to minimize the nasty stuff that leaches out. Bags meant only for storage were formulated with storage in mind and are likely to have stuff that will leach out at temperature.

I would be cautious about doing much sous-vide cooking in bags not meant to be cooked in especially if you are going to be feeding kids or young adults or women that might be (or become) pregnant. The chemicals used to make plastics pliable are known to be endocrine disruptors and pose other health risks as well.

While there is some "controversy" on this topic, there is growing consensus about the health risks of these chemicals in the scientific community (except for that part of the community funded by the industries that rely on these chemicals for their profitability--hence my putting controversy in quotes since most of the disagreement is from the side with a vested interest).

Ziploc offers sous-vide bags now. You can get a pump and three bags for less than $10. Ziploc says they are microwave safe, but doesn't give any specifics on sous-vide water temps. I think if you buy the bags by themself, you end up spending like $0.30 a bag or something like that.

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If you are using a Ziplock technique, you can squeeze most of the air out of the bag by :

Btw, I don't think this has been discussed much on this list, but I don't think it is a good idea to cook in plastic bags that were not meant to have food cooked in them. Ziplock bags and most other such bags were not made to be food safe at cooking temperatures. There are some pretty unhealthy chemicals that can leach out of soft plastics into the food when the bags get hot. Bags designed to be cooked in have (at least in theory) been formulated to minimize the nasty stuff that leaches out. Bags meant only for storage were formulated with storage in mind and are likely to have stuff that will leach out at temperature.

I would be cautious about doing much sous-vide cooking in bags not meant to be cooked in especially if you are going to be feeding kids or young adults or women that might be (or become) pregnant. The chemicals used to make plastics pliable are known to be endocrine disruptors and pose other health risks as well.

While there is some "controversy" on this topic, there is growing consensus about the health risks of these chemicals in the scientific community (except for that part of the community funded by the industries that rely on these chemicals for their profitability--hence my putting controversy in quotes since most of the disagreement is from the side with a vested interest).

There are >specific< ziplock bags for freezing and reheating food in, but you must read carefully that they are safe at boil temps, which is way above temp. for most of the techniques talked about here.

I most certainly wouldnt take generic plastic bags and put them near heat (lo temp or otherwise) or microwaves- or wrap food in generic plastic wrap for cooking.

It certainly is an important point, and one should do their own research.

This exact question came up while I was at FCI in a sous vide class and was discussed at length with the food scientist (Dave Arnold). Please be careful and pay attention!

randall

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Ziploc offers sous-vide bags now. You can get a pump and three bags for less than $10. Ziploc says they are microwave safe, but doesn't give any specifics on sous-vide water temps. I think if you buy the bags by themself, you end up spending like $0.30 a bag or something like that.

It is good to know that they make some that are intended for cooking. If people use Ziplocs (or any other bag) they should make sure they are using ones intended for cooking and not the ones just for food storage. I've seen people make comments that they are all the same and that is not the case.

Thanks for the info.

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To clarify, those Ziploc vacuum bags are not intended to be heated. They are freezer bags, and when I contacted the company they were quite adamant that they should not be cooked in: they said reheating was OK, but anything longer-term than that was off-limits. The same goes for the Reynold's Vacu-Seal bags: for freezer use, not for cooking in.

Edited by Chris Hennes (log)

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Tonight's dinner.

Sous vide salmon (47 degrees Celsius for 45 minutes; sealed in bag with salt, pepper, sprig of fennel leaf, frozen cube of olive oil). Leftover Greek salad. Triple Cooked Chips. Onion, white wine and cream foam [floppy foam :( ]. I make salmon skin crackling and position it vertically in a slit in the salmon.

Unlike others who say that people may dislike the salmon, I've never had a negative comment: once you prepare them for it being lukewarm, it's fine.

sous%20vide%20salmon.jpg

If there is an expectation of texture with Salmon, one could always torch or broil the salmon for 1 min to get the texture more traditional (less slimey)

I've run tests for Salmon from 47-53 and found that Salmon 50C for about 25-30 minutes( for my taste ) tastes like perfectly steamed Salmon and texture isnt toothy.

Historically professional chefs that cook fish this way have about a 10 degree delta (10C over target temp) and with practice know when to pull the fish at choice temp.

However most city chefs use a CVAP cause they cant get a HACCP approved for fish in sous vide.

Also, a cool tip is to do a quick brine on the fish so it doesnt bleed milky fat that happens with salmon or other fatty fish.

Great looking food!

Randall

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Ziploc offers sous-vide bags now. You can get a pump and three bags for less than $10. Ziploc says they are microwave safe, but doesn't give any specifics on sous-vide water temps. I think if you buy the bags by themself, you end up spending like $0.30 a bag or something like that.

It is good to know that they make some that are intended for cooking. If people use Ziplocs (or any other bag) they should make sure they are using ones intended for cooking and not the ones just for food storage. I've seen people make comments that they are all the same and that is not the case.

Thanks for the info.

yes very important point make sure to get the right bags. Or- spend the money on a foodsaver with the boil in bags to eliminate the issue!

There are LOTS of restaurants that circulate in proper ziplock bags because they dont want to deal with the HACCP issues and health dept. that comes with sous vide.

If you are going to sous vide, you NEED to be very familiar with food safety with modified atmosphere packaging issues.

randall

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I had been SVing for the last month or so and I like to report the followings:

1. Tools:

a) Immersion circulators and great. They are versatile and accurate. They can fit any containers and they can be done anywhere there are a plug (even in the bedroom and take advantage of the steam as humidifier - just kidding). They are great for keeping food warm during service. When I entertain, I keep all my warm food in bag and kept them at 50 deg C. I will cut open the bag as each course come due. For seafood, I don't drop them in bath until 15 minute before they are due to be serve and of course I have dial it up to 55-60 deg C. I keep my soup and sauce in separate bag if needed. I can not have a party without my immersion circulator now.

b) I have been without a chamber vacuum sealer and uses a Foodsaver for at least 3 weeks and it is fine. You can vacuum seal just about everything with the acception of soup and sauces. However, in a pinge you can bag liquid ( not vacuum pack ) by squeezing out as much air as you can than use a non-Foodsaver bag and your food saver will seal the bag without sucking out the air. I now have a chamber vacuum sealer MVS-31 and I am loving it. I make the mistake of order Koch and was able to return it. Reasons for my dislike was posted earlier. MVS-31 works good for me. It does a good job and it is easy to use. It vacuum pack a lot better (stronger vacuum) than Food saver. It is easier to use than Foodsaver and the bags are a lot less so for the long run it may pay for itself. For anyone that is going to SV all the time should definitely get one.

Food:

a) I had SV BBQ ribs - my first and it turn out not as good - see my earlier post. b) Pork tenderloin turns out great and I had done it many time since with great result. Pork Butt also works good especially if you have a meat slicer. I cook it at 82.2 deg C for 8 hours than I slice them thin and served them with a Soy, hot sauce of your choice, some hot canola oil and garnish with diced green onion - very tasty and tender.

c) SV Duck legs at 82.2 deg C for 8 hours is better than the ones I slow braised on top of the stove for 2 hrs. (mainly for the sauce). The SV legs are juicer and had a better mouth feel. The braised legs are drier but left me with a lot of good sauce.

d) Instead of SV cod in bag, I use olive oil to poach at 60 deg for 15 minutes and the texture is far better than sear on pan or oven baked even SV with stock in bag at the same temp and time. I serve it with TK's sofritto.

e) Live abalones are first steam for 2 minute to facilitate taking them out of their shell. I than SV them in a stock of chicken and virgina ham at 82.2 deg C for 8 hours. They are serve 2 ways. Cold as sashimi with soy and wasabi as dipping sauce and hot with the addition of a little oyster sauce to the liquid in bag and garnish with dice green onion. I like both and will be serving them at this week's party as apertizers.

f) Diver scallops (U-6 - cut in half) SV at 53 deg for 15 minutes, is good to go as is with a sauce of lemon, butter, and caper. It may look uncook to some so I use my butane torch to brown the top and bottom. Ones that I brown to look like seared scallop are actually too well done to my taste and the one that's lightly brown are better. Personally I prefer as is.

g) NY steak had been covered a lot on this site. I will just say I prefer to cook them on my BBQ.

I covered a range of food here and still have a lot of area not covered yet. Will post as soon as I experience a little more.

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Has anyone come across this Anvil Pasta Rethermalizer before? It doesn't say what its capacity is, but it seems like this could be a controllable water bath in disguise. It looks like it is aimed at simply reheating food, but it doesn't seem like there is any reason why it can't be used to sous vide as well.

Edit, I found some more specifications here and they mention there is a 1 gallon capacity which sounds too small for practical sous vide.

Edited by bob.stanton (log)
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Why spend 450 bucks on something like that, which at best would be a kludge for sous vide? You could get better thermal performance with a rice cooker, aquarium pump and an Auber PID. Or, if you're willing to spend the money, I have to believe it's possible to find a reconditioned laboratory recirculating water bath heater for $400 or less.

--

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Has anyone come across this Anvil Pasta Rethermalizer before? It doesn't say what its capacity is, but it seems like this could be a controllable water bath in disguise. It looks like it is aimed at simply reheating food, but it doesn't seem like there is any reason why it can't be used to sous vide as well.

My guess is that this is not very accurate. You could probably work to calibrate the set temp. to the actual temp. but I'd still bet the temp. swing is more than you'd get with a PID and a slow or rice cooker for much less.

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I love immersion circulators, but I am interested in getting a water bath because they are silent. I think having a dedicated machine is much less of a kludge than piecing together three different random machines. It is possible to find used labrotory equipment for a reasonable price, but I'd rather pay a little more for a new piece of equpiment made for cooking food. If the capacity in that machine is large enough, and it can heat up as quickly as it says it can (200 in less than 15 minutes or so), I think it would be a great alternative or replacement to ICs or lab equipment.

Edited by bob.stanton (log)
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Bob, if you're a cook, then you know you need the right tool for the job. Buying something like this "pasta rethermalizer" and trying to use it as an accurate water bath for precision sous vide cooking would not be the right tool for the job. Sure, it's "a piece of equpiment made for cooking food," but it's not made for cooking food this way. It would be like buying a frypan for making stock.

On the other hand, what is made for accurately and precisely controlling the temperature of a water bath? A laboratory recirculating water bath heater. It's not silent, but I wouldn't exactly call them noisy either. A very quiet "whirring" noise every second ot so is about as much noise as they make. But, if you want silent and you're willing to live without recirculation, you could still get much better performance out of a rice cooker or electric braiser and a PID for less than half the price.

--

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Quite frankly none of the temprature control devices were 'made' for cooking food. But you asked our opinion..we gave it. I think you can get much better results from other devices or combinations of devices than the one you've shown. Ultimatly its your decision. Good luck.

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Has anyone come across this Anvil Pasta Rethermalizer before? It doesn't say what its capacity is, but it seems like this could be a controllable water bath in disguise. It looks like it is aimed at simply reheating food, but it doesn't seem like there is any reason why it can't be used to sous vide as well.

Edit, I found some more specifications here and they mention there is a 1 gallon capacity which sounds too small for practical sous vide.

c

circulation is critical in a sous vide environment as well, for consistency and health reasons.

There are full circulating baths that are 'for food'- but you'll pay quite a bit for getting a complete package.

you can research CLIFTON and POLYSCIENCE to start.

good luck

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I love immersion circulators, but I am interested in getting a water bath because they are silent. I think having a dedicated machine is much less of a kludge than piecing together three different random machines. It is possible to find used labrotory equipment for a reasonable price, but I'd rather pay a little more for a new piece of equpiment made for cooking food. If the capacity in that machine is large enough, and it can heat up as quickly as it says it can (200 in less than 15 minutes or so), I think it would be a great alternative or replacement to ICs or lab equipment.

I would seriously consider involving some some of circulator- it is critical to the process of temperature stability and safety.

randall

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I think you are overstating the importance of a circulator. It depends on a number of factors (heat source, bath size, bath size relative to what is being cooked, etc.)

It may be critical in some situations but it is not critical in all applications. A PID controlled rice cooker or multicooker or table-top roaster works fine with or without something added for circulation. The natural convection in my multicooker is such that the temperature is pretty constant. The tabletop roaster because it is side-heated doesn't have the same convections patterns and there is a tiny bit more variation -- which a $10 aquarium airpump easily solves. Even in the roaster, the temperature distributes evenly enough that I no longer bother to use the pump.

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I am thinking of cooking skirt steak sous-vide. Will this benefit from the traditional 'low and slow' (130F range for a day or so...) to break down the connective tissue, or be similar to traditional steak and need only be brought to 130-140F and removed from the bath. I own a polyscience circulator, and foodsaver.

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I do a flank steak all the time this way.... comes out tender like a NY strip, but it's much cheaper.... I jaccard first, season with S&P, then bag and cook at 55C for 24 hours.... then take the bag out of the bath, let it cool a bit (10 min?), then take the steaks out of the bag, blot with a paper towel, then I dust with Wondra flour... a quick 15s sear in a hot pan with peanut oil makes them nice and brown...

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I did skirt steak-8 hours and it was no better than traditional. 36 hours and it was very tender-I still prefer the flavour of chuck cooked this way-more like a classic tender steak.

As for circulation, in a 26 cup rice cooker I had 10+ degree differences in water temp. in different spots. I didn't believe it but the pump makes a massive difference.

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