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Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques & Equipment (Part 8)

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I am using a 1000 Watt bucket heater with great success. I built my first sous vide cooker using this heater in a larger cooler. You can read an article I wrote about it at Les Marmitonsnj Links page. The article is the second one in the list. This setup is based on the Seattle FoodGeek but has no soldering and allows more flexibility. You can have two pumps and two heaters for really large containers or just move the heater, pump and thermocouple to any convenient vessel you want to heat. You can also use smaller heaters for smaller vessels as well.

another-version.jpg

Good luck,

Paul

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Hi Paul,

welcome to eGullet!

Very smart solution for 165$! Price and tinkering time are between the 75$ and the 232$ solutions (see also at getsatisfaction.com).

In your detailed description you show your rig with a beverage cooler which is of course much better insulated than the stock-pot in your image above. Did you cut a notch in the lid to accomodate the heater and the cables, or how do you cover the bath to avoid evaporation in longtime cooking? With an uncovered bath you may easily evaporate 5 liters in 48 hours, see upthread.

Happy cooking!

Pedro

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We're very excited to announce the beta version of an index to this sous vide topic. As stated in the beta header:

On 1293544647' post='1777128, Chris Amirault said:


For many years, the Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques, & Equipment topic has been the best resource on the internet for information related to sous vide cooking and related subjects. It's one flaw? It's a massive, unwieldy behemoth, and there have been no good ways to negotiate it.

Until now. For months, eGullet Society volunteers have been working behind the scenes to build the index you see here. We hope that this will enable newcomers to sous vide, as well as grizzled, PID-adept experts, to explore the topic and its remarkable contents.

This topic will be open until Dec 31 for comment by Society members. Non-members can send their feedback to feedback@egullet.org.

On January 1, the index will be posted with any needed corrections and with comments removed, and the original SV topic will be closed so that a new topic can start.

Thanks in advance for your feedback.



We hope that the terrific members who have contributed so much to this topic and to sous vide cooking with appreciate this recognition of their efforts, which will allow those unable to wade through thousands of post easy access to their recipes, rigs, discussions, and determinations.

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Hi Paul,

welcome to eGullet!

Very smart solution for 165$! Price and tinkering time are between the 75$ and the 232$ solutions (see also at getsatisfaction.com).

In your detailed description you show your rig with a beverage cooler which is of course much better insulated than the stock-pot in your image above. Did you cut a notch in the lid to accomodate the heater and the cables, or how do you cover the bath to avoid evaporation in longtime cooking? With an uncovered bath you may easily evaporate 5 liters in 48 hours, see upthread.

Happy cooking!

Pedro

Pedro,

Thanks for your comments and links.

I did cut a notch in the cover of the cooler. It is just big enough to allow the wooden blocks that hold the heater to grab the edge of the cooler. I have not yet used it for a long cooking time but immediately saw that the uncovered surface was evaporating a lot of water. I am going to do 48 hour short ribs this weekend and will be monitoring the water loss closely.

The stock pot certainly is radiating a lot of heat but I have found that the temperature does not change at all. Initially I was using the PID as it came from the supplier and the temperature would overrun by a few degrees. After I set it up using the parameters I included in my article it is rock solid. The 1000 Watt heater has plenty of power to maintain the temperature and the controller does a great job of keeping it on the set point. I am using a Thermopen thermometer to check the accuracy and everything is spot on. I am really happy with the performance of this setup.

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I face a bit of a challenge; the first attempt turned out delicious, and nobody's dead, but I'd like some guidance...

Kroger (and their local affiliates QFC and Fred Meyer) has introduced a surprisingly clever product - they call it a "ready roast" turkey - I call it hours of knife work in a box. It's a smallish bird (I would guess on the order of 14 pounds or so) that is essentially brined and boned out (leaving skin, breast meat, thigh meat and bone-in legs), then stuffed (standard bread stuffing, with apples and dried cranberries). The whole affair is formed into an 8.5 lb oblate spheroid about 9" in diameter, with legs seductively arranged at a 45 degree angle to the mass, tied, and bagged in a heavy polyethylene-type bag. Retail price is $40, which I find laughable for factory poultry, but with on-pack coupons and in-store promos, I bit at $15. Color me curious.

The OEM instructions are to cook from frozen, venting the bag in five places, place in a roasting pan with an inch of water, and roast at 350F for 5 to 6 hours until the stuffing reads 165F. Said instructions make my head explode, as there's no way that bird would ever be moist and/or tender. Thus, I thawed the bird under flowing 40F water until poking at the bag and flexing the mass indicated I was pretty close to thawed. I then circulated it at 160F until I was dying of starvation, 4.5 hours. I removed the bag from the bath and allowed it to rest 15 minutes, then removed the bag and netting, wiped the skin clean and temped the bird with a two-point-calibrated Thermapen, at which point the breast and thigh meats both read 155F but the stuffing was a dismal 130F. I rubbed the skin with compound butter and roasted it at 350F until the stuffing read 160F, about 45 minutes.

It was frankly a reasonable success. Moist, juicy, even-textured; skin, while not crispy, had a pleasing chew and roasty flavors. The drippings responded nicely to the boil-strain-saute method and made a delicious if slightly salty gravy. I wanted to leave it in the bath longer, but hunger and the emerging desire for a sandwich of thigh, stuffing, cranberry and butter lettuce on homemade white, just after midnight, got the better of me. It was good enough and required so little hands-on time that I bought two more. (seriously, those sandwiches are my downfall).

My belief is that I would be better off with a longer circulation and finishing under the non-preheated broiler with the door open, no resting. Given a 45L preheated bath, should I skip the thawing step and just plunge bird into bath and walk away? How long would you anticipate I should circulate? Thermodynamics isn't my strong suit and my mechanical engineer partner thinks it's a ridiculous way to cook a turkey because it doesn't make the house smell delicious. He does, however, believe it makes a very moist breast.

E

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I'd like to mention that canning jars can be used for sous vide instead of bags. There are standard sized and wide-mouth sized attachments for FoodSaver vacuum sealers the cost is around $10.

These jars are designed to be used in preserving food with both the water-bath canning method and the pressure canning method. They can easily withstand the temperatures of an immersion circulator, and, they hold a vacuum very well.

The jars themselves are obviously BPA-free. The lid is two parts: a metal retaining ring that is used for safety, and a metal lid that has a coated rubber ring fused to the underside. The underside of the lid has a very thin plastic coating which does contain BPA. However, since safe sealing of the jars requires about an inch of head room, or more, between the food and jar rim, the food will never come in contact with the lid. If operators are careful to not tip jars on their sides, exposure to BPA should be extremely limited.

For home canning, cooks are warned to discard the lids after one use. This is to ensure good, safe results with lids that are expected to hold a vacuum seal for a year or more in storage. For sous vide, I have been able to re-use lids for quite a while, I cannot say precisely how many uses. I wash them carefully by hand never use abrasive cleansers or abrasive sponges on them, and sanitize with a non-corrosive sanitizer. The main concern is how well they maintain vacuum. I check my vacuum before cooking, and before serving. Obviously, if the vacuum doesn't exist then I'm not accomplishing what I set out to do. Your results with lids may vary.

For several years now restaurants have been serving items in the jar itself, making plating easy. They provide structural support not possible with bags, so, layered dishes are possible, among other things. I have experimented at home with sauces, vegetable gratins, and scalloped potato variations in them.

In the US, they are available in many sizes, from several manufacturers. Common sizes include: 4 oz, half-pint, pint, quart, and half-gallon in regular and wide mouth versions. (These are the common names for the jar sizes as they appear on manufacturer labels, I know that the terminology isn't consistent.) Half-pint and 4oz jars are also available in a quilted jelly version, which has slightly thicker glass and an attractive outer texture. Boxes of jars generally come packed with one set of rings and lids for each jar. Extras can be purchased separately as sets of rings & lids or individually.

Jars are available at ordinary grocery stores, mass-market big-box retailers, some restaurant supply retailers, and some hardware stores. Prices vary by size, but most are available for under $2 per jar.

I hope this helps some of you get started experimenting with sous vide in jars!

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...

My belief is that I would be better with a longer circulation and finishing under the non-preheated broiler with the door open, no resting. Given a 45L preheated bath, should I skip the thawing step and just plunge bird into bath and walk away? How long would you anticipate I should circulate? Thermodynamics isn't my strong suit and my mechanical engineer partner thinks it's a ridiculous way to cook a turkey because it doesn't make the house smell delicious. He does, however, believe it makes a very moist breast.

E

I haven't cooked this kind of pre-prepped fowl before, but here's a couple of general responses. Mostly it's better with sous vide to cook different parts of the bird at different times/temps - so legs are better a bit hotter and longer than breasts. That's why most of the discussion is about cooking them separately. Thawing can indeed be skipped with sous vide. The reason: in sous vide outer parts will not overcook while inner parts stay frozen (as long as you cook it for enough time overall). For best times, check the tables upthread (and now more accessible via Chris Amirault's SV Index). No resting needed with SV. Browning the skin will be a challenge, since you cannot put it in a frying pan. I would think a blowtorch is the best option, since a broiler will probably not give an even browning. Skin areas further from the radiant heat are likely to remain unbrowned.

Hope this is of some help.

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The "resting" was more a case of "ponder sides, wait for oven to be free". I'm the only one around here who gets even remotely excited about turkey skin, so I may just torch the exposed stuffing to get a bit of crust. The finicky one doesn't care for dark meat, stuffing, skin or medium-rare white meat, so really I want to optimize the safety of the stuffing and get awesome dark meat. Also, there's really something to be said for a high-quality convenience product that I can just stick in the bath and walk away from - there are days that facing my FoodSaver Pro III seems unbearable.

Given the unusual shape and substantial size, I've read backwards to page 62 in toto, and I still haven't found a calculation method for spheroids - the infinite slab calculations don't seem to be applicable. Extrapolating a bit, I'm looking at temps between 160 and 170, and I'm guessing that 24 hours +- would have both the desired pasteurization and gustatory effects. What I really need to have more confidence in is that given the size and shape, I'm getting through the danger zones in an appropriate amount of time, even from frozen.

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I would think a blowtorch is the best option, since a broiler will probably not give an even browning. Skin areas further from the radiant heat are likely to remain unbrowned.

Hope this is of some help.

Blowtorches are not very effective for crisping/browning poultry skin -- I continue to try every once in a while but have never found it to be very satisfactory. (Blowtorching works great for beef, though).

For crisping the skin, a broiler is better than a blowtorch although it is not ideal.

Pour-over frying (which I haven't used) is often mentioned as ideal for this by people who have tried every possible method -- it is a bit messy and you have to be careful not to splatter oil all over yourself.

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...

Given the unusual shape and substantial size, I've read backwards to page 62 in toto, and I still haven't found a calculation method for spheroids - the infinite slab calculations don't seem to be applicable. Extrapolating a bit, I'm looking at temps between 160 and 170, and I'm guessing that 24 hours +- would have both the desired pasteurization and gustatory effects. What I really need to have more confidence in is that given the size and shape, I'm getting through the danger zones in an appropriate amount of time, even from frozen.

The big issue with big pieces like this is whether the center gets up to temperature fast enough. If the inside doesn't get up to temperature fast enough, it turns into an incubator.

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Blowtorches are not very effective for crisping/browning poultry skin -- I continue to try every once in a while but have never found it to be very satisfactory. (Blowtorching works great for beef, though).

For crisping the skin, a broiler is better than a blowtorch although it is not ideal.

Pour-over frying (which I haven't used) is often mentioned as ideal for this by people who have tried every possible method -- it is a bit messy and you have to be careful not to splatter oil all over yourself.

If pour over frying works, deep frying must as well. You'd just need to be very careful that the outside of the chicken piece was well dried to stop erupting oil going everywhere.

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...

Given the unusual shape and substantial size, I've read backwards to page 62 in toto, and I still haven't found a calculation method for spheroids - the infinite slab calculations don't seem to be applicable. Extrapolating a bit, I'm looking at temps between 160 and 170, and I'm guessing that 24 hours +- would have both the desired pasteurization and gustatory effects. What I really need to have more confidence in is that given the size and shape, I'm getting through the danger zones in an appropriate amount of time, even from frozen.

I link to a chart I made for heating spheres, cylinders, and slabs in this post.

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I am barely allowed to shallow-fry at home after a memorable potatoes parisienne incident the first time I had him over for dinner. Nothing makes for an awkward date quite like a grease fire....(fyi, cold dry potato balls turn into cold wet potato balls if it's a humid day and you linger over a glass of wine - jus' sayin'). I am still allowed to do deep-fried whole pork loins at friends' houses if their homeowner's insurance is paid. Since I'm the only one who gets excited about the skin, it's no big deal if the browning is a little mottled.

Back to the OEM directions. Given their open-to-atmosphere bag roasting method and "350F for 5 to 6 hours to reach 165 with a few cups of water in the pan to get things started" instructions, I'm guessing that in 350F saturated air, the time between 40 and 140 is borderline four hours (its at least an hour from "fully frozen" and it took 45 minutes to get from 130 to 160. So, does anyone have a resource or method for calculating the heat transfer difference between air / saturated air at a given temperature and water at a given temperature?

E

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I link to a chart I made for heating spheres, cylinders, and slabs in this post.

Oooh! How I missed that is beyond me. I reviewed your guide earlier to come up with the range of 160 to 170 (effective pastuerization, esp. of the sketchy stuffing meets the time/temp requirements for tender dark meat). The way I read that chart is that it's the time to reach equilibrium temperature with the bath given a particular shape.

Is there a similar chart (or, better, an equation) that models the specific case of frozen-to-long-cook, where the bath temperature is > pasteurization temperature? Stated another way, I'd like to model a system where for, a given shape with "forcing dimension" X, Starting Temperature Tstart and bath temp Tbath, the time to a given temperature of interest Tinst is calculated, including accounting for the heat required to make the phase change if Tstart<1C

E

(edited for clarity)


Edited by VibeGuy (log)

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I link to a chart I made for heating spheres, cylinders, and slabs in this post.

Oooh! How I missed that is beyond me. I reviewed your guide earlier to come up with the range of 160 to 170 (effective pastuerization, esp. of the sketchy stuffing meets the time/temp requirements for tender dark meat). The way I read that chart is that it's the time to reach equilibrium temperature with the bath given a particular shape.

Is there a similar chart (or, better, an equation) that models the specific case of frozen-to-long-cook, where the bath temperature is > pasteurization temperature? Stated another way, I'd like to model a system where for, a given shape with "forcing dimension" X, Starting Temperature Tstart and bath temp Tbath, the time to a given temperature of interest Tinst is calculated, including accounting for the heat required to make the phase change if Tstart<1C

E

(edited for clarity)

The usual suggestion for cooking from frozen verse thawed is increase the time by half; in many cases, this works quite well.

As for a formula for the time.... With some knowledge of Fourier series methods and Sturm–Liouville problems, you can fairly easily find a formal solution of the heat equation for a sphere, cylinder, or slab. Indeed, several students in the upper-division engineering math course I TAed last semester did it as part of their class project. Solving the heat equation from frozen is not as easy. From thawed is a linear problem while the from frozen is a nonlinear problem (since the thermal diffusivity is highly nonlinear near the freezing point); nonlinear problems are much harder to solve than linear problems; so most people approximate it as two linear problems with a moving boundary condition and it's referred to as the Stefan problem --- needless to say, all of this is way beyond the scope of this forum and is why Nathan and I give tables instead of formulas.

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Thankfully the Vibe in my nick has absolutely nothing to do with the vibraphone, nor do I think Eigenvalue is an Austrian marketer of low-cost Gruner Vetliner. While partial differential equations aren't exactly my idea of a good time; neither do they scare me, per se - I just didn't want to reinvent the wheel where avoidable.

I'd actually moved in the direction of the Stefan task late this evening, because I recognized the moving-boundary condition of a thawed layer of continually increasing thickness riding on the solid core of continually diminishing thickness, and promptly realized that I needed both another glass of wine and to reconsider abandoning the modelling approach for a more experimental one.

Still, backing up once again, trying to find a generalizable approach to a specific problem...how are people approaching the issues of time spent in the temperature range from 5C to 54C in frozen-to-long cook applications? Is reduction of cross-section really the most-viable method? I'm somewhat loathe to open the package to get a probe in the middle, but that's looking like the lowest-hanging fruit right now.

E, realizing that the love of a sandwich has morphed into something else entirely when mustard is replaced by math

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Just another datapoint to add to the wealth of experimental knowledge.

Disclaimer: Descriptions are subjective, cuts of meat used can and will result in varying degrees of similarity to my results.

BOTH WERE COOKED AT 55.7c (132.26F)

Chuck steak purchased from Coles supermarket each piece approximately 1.2cm thick (0.5"), 10cm x 6cm (4" x 2.4") length x width (grain running width ways, i.e. 2.4" long), 90 grams (3 ounces):

24 hours - Rare texture, after first bite, "blood" (I know it's not blood, but it is shorter than saying "protein saturated water from the meat" or "a combination of the water in the muscle & pigment from the muscle cells") started coming to the bitten surface. Some parts soft and very tender and I would consider perfect, however other parts of the steak were still noticably chewy from connective tissue. Definitely needs longer for most parts. Fat is soft but not rendered.

48 hours - TBD Tonight

72 hours - TBD Tomorrow Night

Veal spare ribs (cut into separate ribs, appearance similar to pork spare ribs with cartilage at the thick end running width-ways) purchased from Joes Meat Market (average butcher, meat quality perhaps in between supermarket cheapest and medium grade butcher), approximately 1cm thick at thin end (0.4"), 3cm thick at thick end (1.2"), 13cm x 3cm (5.11" x 1.2") length x width, 200g (7 ounce):

24 hours - Rare texture, some parts deeper in closer to the bone soft in almost a mushy way. Membrane still completely inedible (chewy as a rubber band), some parts perfect texture, others too chewy (as above with chuck steak). Definitely needs longer even though it is "tender" veal. Bone still very hard, cartilage still very hard. Fat softened but not rendered.

48 hours - TBD Tonight

72 hours - TBD Tomorrow Night

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For the "ready roast" turkey, I'd be inclined to finish it by removing the stuffing and microwaving it in a shallow layer in a pyrex baking pan to 160+, then restuffing and browning the skin in a 450 preheated oven. It would probably be quicker, and less likely to overcook the meat while bringing the stuffing to temperature - plus you get to use 3 pieces of equipment - sous vide, microwave, and oven &;>).

It's interesting that the Kroger website recommends -

"Can I stuff the turkey the night before?

To be safe, stuffing a turkey is not recommended. For more even cooking and to prevent the spread of bacteria, it’s best to cook stuffing in a casserole dish according to the package or recipe directions."

FWIW, I often split a turkey in half, smoke over charcoal and green applewood cuttings while preparing nuked stuffing, then reassemble the bird plus hot stuffing and finish in the microwave. The steamy stuffing cooks a moist bird from the inside, while the brown/smoked skin stays crisp, and juice/fat renders into the microwave dish for making gravy.

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Nathan, I recall that one of the controversies of the book is the statement that steamed duck brushed with duck fat tastes the same as duck confit. People didn't believe this, but blind tasting showed that they couldn't tell which was which.

Many people also say that duck confit "matures" and improves over time by being stored in the duck fat. Do you think this is true?

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Nathan, I recall that one of the controversies of the book is the statement that steamed duck brushed with duck fat tastes the same as duck confit. People didn't believe this, but blind tasting showed that they couldn't tell which was which.

Many people also say that duck confit "matures" and improves over time by being stored in the duck fat. Do you think this is true?

Yes, what you say above is covered in the book. We did blind tastings and could not tell the difference between confit cooked in a steam over or sous vide without fat, then had fat put on at the end. The temperature you cook at and the time matter, but whether it is immersed in oil during cooking does not matter.

Duck confit is a cured meat product that was originally done for preservation - you salt the duck to cure it, then cook it, then (traditionally) you store it in a cool place in the congealed fat which was a sort of oxygen barrier, a bit like sous vide packaging.

During that storage, the fat will oxidize a bit (i.e. get slightly rancid), which you definitely can taste. However you can achieve that by putting aged fat on the meat.

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Just another datapoint to add to the wealth of experimental knowledge.

Disclaimer: Descriptions are subjective, cuts of meat used can and will result in varying degrees of similarity to my results.

BOTH WERE COOKED AT 55.7c (132.26F)

Chuck steak purchased from Coles supermarket each piece approximately 1.2cm thick (0.5"), 10cm x 6cm (4" x 2.4") length x width (grain running width ways, i.e. 2.4" long), 90 grams (3 ounces):

24 hours - Rare texture, after first bite, "blood" (I know it's not blood, but it is shorter than saying "protein saturated water from the meat" or "a combination of the water in the muscle & pigment from the muscle cells") started coming to the bitten surface. Some parts soft and very tender and I would consider perfect, however other parts of the steak were still noticably chewy from connective tissue. Definitely needs longer for most parts. Fat is soft but not rendered.

48 hours - Rare texture, more fluid loss than after 24 hours, but still very juicy. Perfect texture in terms of doneness, no offensive chewiness. Fat soft but not rendered, melts nicely in the mouth. Thinking it may be nice seared in a pan to try and melt some of the marbling? Hard to balance melting fat with overcooking the piece. One piece developed off flavours... but I ate it anyways.

72 hours - TBD Tomorrow Night

Veal spare ribs (cut into separate ribs, appearance similar to pork spare ribs with cartilage at the thick end running width-ways) purchased from Joes Meat Market (average butcher, meat quality perhaps in between supermarket cheapest and medium grade butcher), approximately 1cm thick at thin end (0.4"), 3cm thick at thick end (1.2"), 13cm x 3cm (5.11" x 1.2") length x width, 200g (7 ounce):

24 hours - Rare texture, some parts deeper in closer to the bone soft in almost a mushy way. Membrane still completely inedible (chewy as a rubber band), some parts perfect texture, others too chewy (as above with chuck steak). Definitely needs longer even though it is "tender" veal. Bone still very hard, cartilage still very hard. Fat softened but not rendered.

48 hours - Rare texture, strange eating a rib from the bone that is rare/medrare as fat is mushy (warm but not rendered) and meat is VERY soft. Membrane still quite tough, but parts of connective tissue edible. Bone has softened significantly, however upon biting into it, has quite a strong "bloody" taste with noticable amounts of "blood" leeching out. Cartilage still very firm.

72 hours - TBD Tomorrow Night

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As for a formula for the time.... With some knowledge of Fourier series methods and Sturm–Liouville problems, you can fairly easily find a formal solution of the heat equation for a sphere, cylinder, or slab. Indeed, several students in the upper-division engineering math course I TAed last semester did it as part of their class project. Solving the heat equation from frozen is not as easy. From thawed is a linear problem while the from frozen is a nonlinear problem (since the thermal diffusivity is highly nonlinear near the freezing point); nonlinear problems are much harder to solve than linear problems; so most people approximate it as two linear problems with a moving boundary condition and it's referred to as the Stefan problem --- needless to say, all of this is way beyond the scope of this forum and is why Nathan and I give tables instead of formulas.

It strikes me that a software app ought to be able to solve heat equations. Does anyone know if there are any software apps out there in the internet designed to do this?

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It strikes me that a software app ought to be able to solve heat equations. Does anyone know if there are any software apps out there in the internet designed to do this?

I don't know any off the top of my head -- I wrote almost all my code in Mathematica. Probably the easiest language to program something like that up in would by Python using the free SciPy and NumPy packages. I'd do it myself, but I'm spending 60+ hours a week on my Ph.D. and just don't have the time. (I spent a week more than a year ago trying to code something up in Mathematica but my calculations didn't match my experimental data to my satisfaction.) If anyone is willing and able to code it up in Python, please feel free to email me and I'll share what I've done and the research papers and data I've collected on modeling the freezing and thawing meat.

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It seems like a lot of the problems folks are having here are related to the inability to program the thermostat. Has anyone tried using an Arduino or the like?

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      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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