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Fay Jai

Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques & Equipment (Part 1)

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Thanks Nathan,

I think I may stretch the budget and go for the Minipack you so kindly offered a link to.  But that page raised another question.  They have an option of either 2 4mm seals or one mm seal and a cutoff wire.  Would the cutoff wire be used for roll bag applications, not really applicable to sous vide?

The cutoff wire is for roll bags, or for using heat shrink bags. You could use either one for sous vide. However it is not particularly useful.

Meanwhile having double seals can be useful to keep the bag shut. So, I had the option, I'd go for the dual seals.


Nathan

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New article appearing in the Washington Post....

Sous-vide in Washington DC.

Can't believe Michel Richard is doing almost all of his entree's sous vide!!!

That's pretty intense.


2317/5000

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I was a bit surprised because I ate there recently and would not have thought that. But maybe so...

At CityZen, also in DC, it is quite easy to believe, but Citronelle is more classic.


Nathan

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Got my copy of Sous-vide Cuisine on Friday, and I'm ready to start testing with chicken breast.... but........ I found the recipe for Breast of Poulard on page147, and I started staring at the picture on 146.... The morsel of meat in the upper right corner of the picture looks very moist, and I'm ready to go, but the strips that are curled up look rather "raw" to me. Is this another mind over matter learing curve like moving to sushi? I can eat rare meat, and love sushi, but I'm not sure I'm ready for raw looking poultry. Is that the appearance we'll end up with? How do I assure family and friends that it is indeed cooked and safe?

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So, after discovering that my Lauda MS was defective and finding a Lauda B instead, I was finally ready to do my first sous vide experiment this weekend. I cooked beef short ribs at 60C for 30 hours. The short ribs were not browned before or after. I had trimmed the external fat from the short ribs beforehand, had rendered out the fat and had used the meat scraps and a few of the smallest bones to make around a quarter cup of super-concentrated beef stock. Both were frozen and added to the bag with the short ribs before I sealed it. Here is the result:

gallery_8505_1885_16986.jpg

I made a sauce out of the defatted liquid from the bags. This tasted much more like a gravy made from roast drippings than it did a sauce made with stock. Very interesting. I served it with kale and smoked garlic mashed potatoes.

gallery_8505_1885_2060.jpg

As you can see, the meat is quite pink (ambient light)

gallery_8505_1885_67735.jpg

Here is another look at the meat (with flash)

It was very interesting. Next time, I think I'd go longer with the cooking. It was very tender with some resistance. Not dissimilar from a strip steak, I'd say -- which is to say that it wasn't cut with a spoon tender. But it was quite interesting to eat what was more or less medium rare short rib that was tender like that.

More thoughts later. . .


--

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Following the Sous-Vide thread, I'm trying my luck at some short ribs. I packaged them with a FoodSaver and have them sittling in my combi oven at 130. When I packaged them, yesterday, they were nice and tight, but I noticed today that the bags are bloating. They went into the oven at room temperature about 24 hours ago, so I don't think the 60 degree temperature change would cause that much gas expansion. They're not to the point of bursting, I can squeeze them a bit, maybe 1/2 capacity. In normal cooking this would tend to make me think the food is probably bad, and serving it would not be a good idea. Do the same rules apply with sous-vide, or is this bag bloating to be expected?

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Bag bloating is supposed to be an issue with FoodSaver bags compared to bags vacuumed and sealed by the commercial machines. I don't think it's a big deal from a safety standpoint, as long as you cook for a sufficient length of time (there is safety information in the main sous vide thread).

How much air are you talking about? I just did a bunch of short ribs for around 30 hours at 60C using a FoodSaver bag and a circulating bath with very little air showing up in the top of bag. That said, I carefully positioned the short ribs in the bag to minimize any hidden air pockets, I did an extended vacuum before sealing, and after sealing I sealed the bag again much closer to the meat (essentially eliminating a lot of extra bag space to which air or liquid might migrate).

What do you have in the bag besides short ribs?


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1/2 full I think is more than simple temperature expansion of the bags, though.

I'd be concerned. If you know a microbiologist, have them open the bag and smell.


I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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How much air are you talking about? 

What do you have in the bag besides short ribs?

Well, I'd say it's about 1/2 capacity with air now... I did add some mushrooms to the bags before sealing as a test, and some wine and stock (seasonings and a little garlic as well).

Here's a pic...

SV-short_ribs_bag_bloat.jpg

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Hmmm. That is an awful lot of bloating. But I think I have read that certain vegetables tend to be gassy when cooked. Perhaps the mushrooms? Or the alcohol from the wine? Others will know more about this than I.


--

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More sous vide experimentation. This time it was chicken breasts with scallions and shitakii mushrooms. I bagged it all together with the FoodSaver and cooked it for 40 minutes in a 65C water bath. Nothing else in there but some salt, white pepper and around a teaspoon of rendered chicken fat from the freezer. Yea, yea. . . I know I could have gone for a lower final temperature, but as this was the first time I wanted to make sure it had a familiar "cooked chicken" texture.

Here are some looks at the bag after it came out of the water bath:

gallery_8505_1885_31085.jpg

Mushroom Side

gallery_8505_1885_20951.jpg

Scallion Side (the vacuuming sucked the scallions into the "valleys" between breasts)

Here are the results. Incredibly moist and tender, and exquisitely perfumed with shitakii and scallion. The juices in the bag made a very nice, light "sauce" that I poured over the chicken.

gallery_8505_1885_34787.jpg

On the Platter

gallery_8505_1885_23745.jpg

With Wilted Savoy Cabbage (I think this gives some idea of how moist the chicken is)

This really couldn't have been easier, too. And hardly anything to clean up! With Nathan's charts, it's very easy to get started.

Next time: fish.

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That looks great Sam :) I noticed that you didn't get any bloat. We ate the short ribs tonight, and they tasted great. No off odors when I opened the bags. I've posted some pictures on the Big Green Egg Forum. I'm still somewhat baffled by the bloat. Guess if we're all still smiling come morning.....

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I think we've solved the mystery of your "bag bloat." If this is your short ribs and mushrooms after sealing, it doesn't have nearly enough air removed before sealing. To my eye, there is still plenty of air in there. The bag should be tight on all the food.


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Bloating due to gases from biological growth would only occur if the bacteria have time to grow. They can't grow while cooking if the temperature is 130F/54.4C or above.

Biological bloating would occur if you stored the food too long after cooking - in a fridge or at room temp.

So, I think that your bags are not getting hard enough suction. What happens is that it seems to be enough, but then when you heat the bag the residual air expands.

Alcohol is another possibility. It boils at 175F/78.3C, so as you approach that temperature the alcohol will turn to vapor (gas) and the bag will puff up. At the boilng point you can expect a lot of that, but even below the boiling point you'll get some vapor.

In general, I try NOT to do sous vide with alcohol in the bag. Many chefs (like Thomas Keller) don't like to marinate food in alcohol and will boil wine marinades in an open pan prior to using them to get the alcohol out. Traditional braising recipes usually do not call for that, but it doesn't matter much because a few minutes into the cooking and the alcohol is all gone. However in sous vide there is no place for it to go.

If you get the bag cold - say putting the bloated bag in ice water, does it shrink?

The main harm in bag bloating in sous vide is that if you use them in a water bath the bags float and then the food does not cook evenly. In a steam oven or combi bloat really does not matter.

In addition, it takes longer for the food to reach temperature because the air in the bag does not conduct heat as well as water would against a tightly sealed bag. However it will still work.


Nathan

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Eh? Check the temperature profile out here. Bacteria do grow at those temperatures. I have some in my lab that just to get to grow, I have to incubate at 130F.

Bloating due to gases from biological growth would only occur if the bacteria have time to grow.  They can't grow while cooking if the temperature is 130F/54.4C or above.

I'd still say, better safe than sorry. If you're really curious, I'm still recommending talking to a microbiologist and letting them open/culture one bag to see what is really going on.


I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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Just as a test, (after reading upthread some more) You may want to try a bag with everything but the spare ribs, or even, one bag with sauce, one bag with veg, etc. See how those bags act.

What kind of mushrooms and how are they treated before bagging?


I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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Hello world! For my first post (ta dah!) I though I'd ask if anyone has done a rack of venison this way. Its farm raised, 5 ribs, the eye is about 3" in diamater and I was wondering if cutting it into chops would work better than cooking the whole thing as a single piece. FWIW, I plan on adding a little veal jus and some juniper berries to give it more of the "classic" flavors of a Grand Veneur sauce.

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I noticed in the NY Times magazine article about nathanm's amazing kitchen that, when he made lamb chops, he did individual (Frenched) chops rather than the whole rack. Remember to blowtorch the outside of the rack and the rib bones. Otherwise they can look kind of raw.

Be careful with the juniper. I love juniper with venison, but sous vide cooking will amplify the impact of the juniper 10 times what it would normally be. Even one juniper berry per individually wrapped chop might be overkill.


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I have my sous-vide station set up... I bought a lauda water bath unit, and didn't like the idea of just putting it in a pot because I'm looking forward to some long, 72 hour cooks. So I bought an ice chest designed for under a bar. It has about an inch of insulation on all sides, a drain, and I cut out a piece of styrofoam board as a lid to keep the evaporation down, and heat in. Here's a pic with the lid off (three porterhouse steaks in there for dinner tonight, and a brisket that's got 48 hours on it.... planning to use it tomorrow )

SousVideSetup1.jpg

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I though I'd ask if anyone has done a rack of venison this way.  Its farm raised, 5 ribs, the eye is about 3" in diamater and I was wondering if cutting it into chops would work better than cooking the whole thing as a single piece.  FWIW, I plan on adding a little veal jus and some juniper berries to give it more of the "classic" flavors of a Grand Veneur sauce.
I noticed in the NY Times magazine article about nathanm's amazing kitchen that, when he made lamb chops, he did individual (Frenched) chops rather than the whole rack.  Remember to blowtorch the outside of the rack and the rib bones.  Otherwise they can look kind of raw.

Be careful with the juniper.  I love juniper with venison, but sous vide cooking will amplify the impact of the juniper 10 times what it would normally be.  Even one juniper berry per individually wrapped chop might be overkill.

I haven't tried cooking venison sous vide yet, but since yours is farm-raised it can probably be treated similar to lamb. Cutting into chops will allow it to cook faster. If you're aiming for medium-rare (low temperature) it should work with the whole rack, but will take considerably longer. Maybe nathanm can provide some guidance here. I've done baby lamb racks whole and cut into chops, and prefer the latter.

Sam's right about the flavor amplification. If you include anything like wine or calvados, be sure to boil off the alcohol first. Sam, do you torch the chops before or after sous vide?

Welcome to eGullet, Ted!

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With conventional roasting there is a reason to keep things like a rack of lamb or venison together - because roasting works better with a larger piece of meat (having to do with surface to volume ratio). However, with sous vide you can cook a large piece or a small piece equally well. The only problem is cooking time.

Most sous vide chefs cut food into individual serving portions first, then season, bag, seal and cook. It is almost better to do this.

Elsewhere in this thread are the time / temperature tables. If you cut your venison into individual chops the cooking time will drop. The rule of thumb is that half as thick takes one quarter the amount of time. So, if you have a 3 inch diameter loin on the rack of venison, and you cut it into 1.5" thick chops, cooking time will go down by a factor of 4. What matters is the distance to the center - with a 3" thick cylinder, the radius is 1.5". With a 1.5" thick chop the distance to the center is 0.75".

The thickness to cut the chops depends on the spacing of the bones on your rack, and also how you want the food to appear on the plate.

So, if I were cooking the venison, I would cut into chops. I would be very careful with the juniper berries (as discussed above), probably grinding them and just putting a pinch into each bag. Also, boil off the alcohol for any liquid put in the bag.

I would cook it at 131F / 54.4C. Use the times from the tables depending on the thickness of the chops. If the venison is tough, then you can add some time to the charts - from 8 to 12 hours. Howver it sounds like your venison isn't very tough.

Some people like venison even more rare than this, in which case you could do 122F/50C.

Then right before service I would sear the outside with a blowtorch, or broiler, or pan on the stove with smoking hot oil. As discussed above, running a torch over the frenched bones makes them look nice.


Nathan

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Nathan do you really mean 8 - 12 hours for one venison chop? A six ounce portion of lamb or veal loin cooks to medium rare at 140° in less than an hour.


Ruth Friedman

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The time to reach 130F/54.4C is short - it depends on the thickness, and the time is in the tables, just look it up.

Typically in sous vide you use a cooking temperature (of the water bath or combi-oven) which is the same temperature as the final core temp you want to achieve. So, to cook to an internal temp of 130F/54.4C I would use a water bath at 131F/55C.

So, if the chops are 25mm / 1 inch thick, it should take about 42 minutes to cook. If they are 50mm / 2 inches thick it should take 2.5 hours. At that point they are done.

Since the cooking temperature is basically at, or only slightly above the core temperature you can leave the food in the water bath or combi oven for longer without it overcooking. The primary reason to do this is if you want the meat more tender. This is explained elsewhere in the thread in more detail. If you wanted to tenderize the venison you could add 8-12 hours to the times above. The reason that the time is so long is that the chemical reactions that help tenderize the meat are very slow at 131F/55C.

Most likely, farm raised vension, and that particular cut, do not need extra time.


Nathan

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I think he did. Remember, you need a relatively short period to make the meat "safe" at 131F, but the additional time will contribute to tenderness. I believe in the times article it indicated that he did the lamb chops for 10 hours. At or about 130, the collagen will disolve/melt, but very slowly. Consequently, while the meat may be ok to eat in less than an hour, it might not be as good as it could be... Sous-vide is all about slow cooking....

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