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pacman1978

My first sous vide effort

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Hi,

So I took the plunge and got a sous vide demi and vacum machine. Desperate to use it I got some pork tenderloin(knowing it could be done in a couple of hours) to cook for my wife and mother-in-law (who was visiting). Wary of serving too pink pork(mother in law...) I set it to 63 deg and put the pork in with some butter, salt and pepper. I took the bags out after about 2 1/2 hours and had a little taste and whilst I would happily have had it more rare it was juicy and tasty! Unfortunately I then heated a pan of veg oil till smoking and added the pork pieces and quickly bronwed just one side for maybe 60 seconds to try and develop the maillard flavours. Then I rested it for 5 mins under foil and served it. It was over cooked and slightly dry, especially compared to what I tasted beforehand. I guess the question is how do we compensate for the browning process accurately Give we have a perfect piece of meat to the nearest half degree are we not then introducing a wild variable into the equation?

I appreciate that sous vide is going to be a learning curve of trial and experiment but any tips are always appreciated!

Cheers,

Paul


Edited by pacman1978 (log)

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Typically the browning action is so fast that it cannot possible affect the interior temperature: 60 seconds is a bit on the long side, IMO. You also shouldn't rest the meat after the browning step, just serve it immediately. 63°C is slightly too warm for pork, but I wouldn't think it would result in something that was dry: did you measure the temp after your rest?

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I was looking at getting into this properly but was baulking at spending a bunch of money. Then I realized I have all the equipment already and wired up- just for other uses! Temp controller, heating element, high temp pump and a cooler. Also have a heat gun that goes to 1150F.

I think a torch would have seared your porn loin up without overcooking it.

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Just last night, for the first time, I tried the deep fry method of browning my meat. It worked really well. Normally, in a smoking hot pan, it might take a minute per side to get the kind of colour I like, but in 200°C oil, it took only 30 seconds and it was done on all sides. I diligently patted the oil from the meat after frying and it was not oily at all when served. When I cut the meat for service, there was a distinct crust and just a very small—like 1 mm, or less in places—ring of well done meat and the rest was perfectly done in that way only sous vide can offer.

I'd been tentative about trying this method for a while, but I'm glad I did. It works really well. It was beef, not pork, but in the next week I'll be in the same position of serving pork loin to my wife and mother-in-law; I'll give this method a try and report back as to whether it works for this cut.

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I think a torch would have seared your porn loin up without overcooking it.

Seconded. After using SV for 4-5 months without a torch I finally coughed up the $25 to get one. Definitely results in a crispier / more browned exterior with less overcooking beneath. Pan searing, braising, or grilling for a nice exterior will sometimes nullify the benefits of sous vide if you are cooking relatively thin cuts of meat.

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I usually do pork at 60 degrees, and sear with a torch. I found my first few attempts at higher temps and lower temp sears came out a touch dry. I've also found that with lower temp cooking, resting isn't as much an issue. You can cook, sear and serve in a relatively small window of time.

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You also said that you rested it. There is no need to do this with sous vide cooked meat. Simply brown and serve.

If you're looking for a way to serve that gives a maillard effect but keeps the integrity of the sous vide meat, try wrapping the cooked pork in prosciutto and then sear that in a very hot pan. This gives a layer to insulate the pork while giving an interesting texture and flavour to the dish.

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Thanks for the tips/thoughts. I suspect maybe I cut it too thin (about an inch) as well which made the searing have more effect. Will give it another crack on 60 and with thicker slices at some point but loads of other things I want to cook first! Already have a blow torch as well so will try that as well

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First, welcome to the SV club!

With a pork loin, I would recommend searing it whole in the pan before slicing instead of searing each piece. Like others have said, the blowtorch is a probably your best bet for individual pieces. Another idea would be to chill the vacuum sealed loin in an ice bath immediately after you finish SV, then slice it, and then sear it. The chilled slices should withstand a hard sear a little better while still coming up to temperature.

FWIW, pork loin is one of my least favorite cuts of meat to cook SV and I actually prefer roasting pork loin in the oven with a temperature gauge to ensure it is not overcooked. For me, where SV really shines is cooking tough flavorful cuts like beef short ribs, or smaller poultry and fish cuts that can overcook quickly. Cooking your first perfectly medium rare but meltingly tender beef short rib will change your life!

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I'm thinking one could take a St. Louis cut with a very light rub and put some smoke to it- maybe 30 minutes in a low temp smoker and then portion it out to the vac bags. Once done sous vide chill and freeze. Perfect to take to work as "lunch" and make the co-workers green with envy!

Does the flavor amplification effect apply to smoked foods done SV? If everything else is then one can only assume that smoke will be amplified as well- or it might taste disgusting no matter what one does.

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No, actually, cooking smoked foods sous vide changes the smoke character quite a bit, but definitely doesn't amplify it. Some people really like the different flavor, and some don't.

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I smoke turkey then SV it. Very nice.

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No, actually, cooking smoked foods sous vide changes the smoke character quite a bit, but definitely doesn't amplify it. Some people really like the different flavor, and some don't.

Chris, can you provide some further information on that issue?

I recently purchased an indoor smoker, and used it to smoke some pork chops that I had previously cooked SV. I had the heat turned up too far, and somewhat overcooked the chops, but they were very tasty, and the smoke flavor really came through. Is there a "best" way to do that?

Maybe I'm just a bit bored, but I'm particularly interested in trying various combination of Modernist cooking methods, such as combiing SV meat with braised vegetables, then blending the two to allow the flavor of the veggies to permeate the meat, while not over cooking it. Or using a smoker in combination with SV. Or searing on a salt block instead of my usual approach with a torch, or a panini pan and press.

Or my latest, after visting an olive oil store, Oleacea, here in Santa Fe -- cook a rib-eye sous vide, then sear it on a Himalayan salt block on the BBQ (gently heated to about 475F), then sprinkled it with crumbled blue cheese, and topped with Cafe Espresso balsamic vinegar.

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I smoke turkey then SV it. Very nice.

How much does the smoking cook the turkey? How long and at what temp do you cook it after? I'd like to try this next week.

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The smoker doesn't cook it much. A little on the outside of course. I try to keep it <200 for about 40 minutes, then SV at 140 for three hours.

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No, actually, cooking smoked foods sous vide changes the smoke character quite a bit, but definitely doesn't amplify it. Some people really like the different flavor, and some don't.

Chris, can you provide some further information on that issue?

In my experience, when you smoke something and then cook it sous vide after (typically for 2-3 days), the smoke flavor changes significantly. I'm not sure I have the appropriate vocabulary to describe the change in significant detail, but some of the smoke compounds will actually migrate out of the product through the bag, so you lose those. In addition, the smoke flavor becomes perfectly evenly distributed within the product, which I think leads to a perceived change in flavor as well. It's not clear to me if these are the only things going on, but food that is smoked and then cooked LTLT does not taste like something that is cooked in the reverse order, or in something that is simply smoked up to the desired temp and served.

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No, actually, cooking smoked foods sous vide changes the smoke character quite a bit, but definitely doesn't amplify it. Some people really like the different flavor, and some don't.

Chris, can you provide some further information on that issue?

In my experience, when you smoke something and then cook it sous vide after (typically for 2-3 days), the smoke flavor changes significantly. I'm not sure I have the appropriate vocabulary to describe the change in significant detail, but some of the smoke compounds will actually migrate out of the product through the bag, so you lose those. In addition, the smoke flavor becomes perfectly evenly distributed within the product, which I think leads to a perceived change in flavor as well. It's not clear to me if these are the only things going on, but food that is smoked and then cooked LTLT does not taste like something that is cooked in the reverse order, or in something that is simply smoked up to the desired temp and served.

cf. blackp's blind test: Nobody liked the smoke first and then cook SV batch.

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Thanks for the tips/thoughts. I suspect maybe I cut it too thin (about an inch) as well which made the searing have more effect. Will give it another crack on 60 and with thicker slices at some point but loads of other things I want to cook first! Already have a blow torch as well so will try that as well

I did pork tenderloin many times, temperatures from 49°C to 53°C all resulted fine. Searing the whole tenderloin in smoking hot rice bran oil (near 250°C) on all sides for a total of 1.5min to 3min gave a nice crust and an overcooked rim of 1-3mm. Bagging with some marinade or dry rub and dabbing dry before searing facilitates the Maillard reaction. In one instance I cut the whole tenderloin into four pieces before searing, but never into thin steaks! Maybe 52°C is not suitable for your mother-in-law, but definitely worth trying for yourself.

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Many suggested the blow torch. I have tried it a few time and got a non-pleasant bitter taste. Is there a trick for doing it properly?

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Radtek: " high temp pump" can you elaborate on this? Id love to have an inexpensive immersion circulator for my largest SV cooler/cooker.

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Many suggested the blow torch. I have tried it a few time and got a non-pleasant bitter taste. Is there a trick for doing it properly?

You need to make sure your torch is fully combusting the fuel, or you are essentially spraying your food with fuel. I believe this generally means you should only have a blue flame, not red/orange.

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