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


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  • 2 months later...

How long does it take to cook an 6 oz. filet fo beef to medium-rare at 140 degrees?

The complexity of flavor is a token of durable appreciation. Each Time you taste it, each time it's a different story, but each time it's not so different." Paul Verlaine

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  • 2 months later...

Vac Pac Spring Onions (white part) in a Bag and cook for about 1.30 - 2 minutes in the Microwave (600 W). Test with your fingers and when "tender" put it immediatly in a bucket of icewater. For service just reheat in the microwave or in a pan.

Microwaves.....are not always bad !

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A truly great site. Interesting that the Spanish appliance manufacturers are catching up with and going beyond their chefs when it comes to innovation.

Thank you for bringing this site to our attention

Ruth Friedman

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  • 3 weeks later...

I've been going through the english version of Joan Roca's book Sous Vide - it is a great reference on the topic. Those fluent in Spanish already know this about the original verison, and I myself cooked with it for over a year but there are some interesting subtlites that come across when you can read in your native tongue.

This is highly recommended as the best book on Sous Vide.

It is also just about the only book on sous vide, but that isn't quite do it justice to say it that way.

Nathan

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How long does it take to cook an 6 oz. filet fo beef to medium-rare at 140 degrees?

Depends on a lot of things.

First off, 140F is closer to medium. There is no universal agreement.

Anyway, the key thing is not the weight, it is the thickness. If you put it in a water bath at 140F, it should probably take 30 minutes. The good news is that it won't over cook.

I would cook at 135F to get medium rare.

You'll have to brown the outside afterwards.

Nathan

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The beauty of sous vide is that it doesn't harm it if you leave it in for too long. Just put it in when you start cooking and it should be done by the time all the sides are prepped (assuming you have labour intensive sides), otherwise, just put it in 1 hour beforehand.

PS: I am a guy.

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There's a recipe in Joan Roca's Sous-Vide book that features beef filet. The startling thing (to me) is the low temperature / short cooking time. He starts with a 1 3/4 pound filet and cooks it sous-vide at 65 ° C / 149 ° F for 15 minutes (! :shock: )followed by a brief sear over charcoal grill. Even after the second cooking this has to result in a blood-rare piece of meat.

I suspect that Nathan's timing will get you closer to medium-rare, and the finishing sear should take it home. Please report back on any findings. :smile:

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Browning before sealing has its advantages (the "browned" flavors can permeate the meat during cooking, and surface bacteria are killed in the process), but logistically the brown-after-sous-vide (what Roca calls "double cooking") has the edge. You can remove the meat from the bag, reserving the juices for a reduction sauce, and sear it just before service. Or you can rapidly chill the meat in an ice bath or flash-chiller and refrigerate it for later use.

Don't be put off by the weird appearance of meat cooked sous-vide. The oxygen-free cooking results in an unappetizing purple-brown color. A quick finishing sear restores the rosy-red color.

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My guess is that you would have a moooshy textured filet with no discernible crust, but with perhaps a bit of external colour. Like a cooked filet that had been accidentally dropped into the sink. I may be wrong. But I doubt it.

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Browning before sealing has its advantages (the "browned" flavors can permeate the meat during cooking, and surface bacteria are killed in the process), but logistically the brown-after-sous-vide (what Roca calls "double cooking") has the edge. You can remove the meat from the bag, reserving the juices for a reduction sauce, and sear it just before service. Or you can rapidly chill the meat in an ice bath or flash-chiller and refrigerate it for later use.

Don't be put off by the weird appearance of meat cooked sous-vide. The oxygen-free cooking results in an unappetizing purple-brown color. A quick finishing sear restores the rosy-red color.

right, however logistics in your explanation are tightly linked to a restaurant type of service. I was thinking more about other situations, such as maybe catering, where you might not be able to finish 500 sous-vide cooked steaks. I guess in this case you would have them seared and finish them in ovens?

I guess my question is, "will a sous-vide cooked meat (any meat) cut always need finishing for it to be estethically / texturally pleasing, or is there a way to skip one step and go from bag to plate (with previous heating, of course)?".

Again, this is out of curiosity and from a beginners point of view, maybe I'm terribly wrong.

SD

We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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Simply slice the sous vide meat and sauce it. (The liquid remaining in the bag can be used to enhance a sauce for the meat or accompanying side.)

Sous vide is a whole other technique than grilling/searing. It yields a very different texture, appearance, and concentrated flavor of meat that should be appreciated rather than compromised with a technique (like searing) that may be more familiar. Sous vide filet should be proudly served in all its startling difference. Of course, I didn’t always think that way. Years ago, when I was first served sous vide lamb loin at Ducasse, I was initially shocked, then disappointed that I didn’t order something else. But days after that dish I was still curious and kept remembering and trying to figure out the new texture and intense taste. Like encountering food from Mars. Some of my dinner guests are simply polite and don’t say anything, or eat any more when I’ve served sous vide filet. But most guests really appreciate the new sensation. Curiously, my children prefer sous vide meat to grilled or seared. Traditional adults are harder to convince.

I use 135 degrees for about half an hour. My kids like to cook it and call the temperature “hot tub” hot. After lots of experimentation you can learn to sense doneness by finger touch or color of juices. I’ve found that simple sauces with spicy North African or fragrant Southeast Asian flavors accent the smooth, melty texture of sous vide filet.

How is Roca’s book? Are there enough innovative ideas to justify the price?

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Simply slice the sous vide meat and sauce it. (The liquid remaining in the bag can be used to enhance a sauce for the meat or accompanying side.)

Sous vide is a whole other technique than grilling/searing. It yields a very different texture, appearance, and concentrated flavor of meat that should be appreciated rather than compromised with a technique (like searing) that may be more familiar. Sous vide filet should be proudly served in all its startling difference. Of course, I didn’t always think that way. Years ago, when I was first served sous vide lamb loin at Ducasse, I was initially shocked, then disappointed that I didn’t order something else. But days after that dish I was still curious and kept remembering and trying to figure out the new texture and intense taste. Like encountering food from Mars. Some of my dinner guests are simply polite and don’t say anything, or eat any more when I’ve served sous vide filet. But most guests really appreciate the new sensation. Curiously, my children prefer sous vide meat to grilled or seared. Traditional adults are harder to convince.

While I agree with your overall philosophy, I would think that if you're cooking sous vide for someone who might react negatively to the new texture or appearance of the dish served AND he's paying for it, you might be in a tough spot. Of course you give Ducasse a chance, but what happens when the old bar around the corner starts serving burgers sous vide? How would the clientele react? If however the external appearance is that of the usual seared meat but the flavor is greatly improved, it seems to me that you are clearly getting something out of your troubles cooking sous vide.

I use 135 degrees for about half an hour. My kids like to cook it and call the temperature “hot tub” hot. After lots of experimentation you can learn to sense doneness by finger touch or color of juices. I’ve found that simple sauces with spicy North African or fragrant Southeast Asian flavors accent the smooth, melty texture of sous vide filet.

Are you cooking sous vide at home? would you mind describing your setup? I've been toying around with the idea of testing it at home, but it seems like the initial setup is a bit complex/expensive.

How is Roca’s book? Are there enough innovative ideas to justify the price?

I ask the same question. I've been trying for the last few days to get hold of the book here in Barcelona to take a good look before deciding to buy it, however it seems to be sold out/on special order on most bookstores here.

SD

We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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One thing I failed to mention about the Roca beef filet recipe is that he seals the meat with three tablespoons of Lagavulin (a smokey single malt from Islay). In my experience one needs to be extremely cautious in using strong alcohols or acids in sous-vide cooking, but the short (very short!) cooking time he uses probably guards against the weird overpowering effects I've seen in longer cooking. So maybe one reason he finishes the meat with a brief sear is that the alcohol needs to be burned off. Actually, I'm surprised that he doesn't flame the whiskey first...

Roca doesn't specify a time or temperature for the final sear - he just says to "lightly brown on a charcoal grill". It's clear from the accompanying photo that the grilling only effects the very thinnest outer layer of the meat. Generally when he uses the "double-cooking" technique (his term for a finishing sear or browning), Roca cautions against allowing the internal temperature to rise too much. He doesn't want to negate the inherent advantages of the sous-vide treatment.

crosparantoux, I don't disagree with you about the virtues of simple unadorned sous-vide. But even you admit that you had to revisit the new texture and flavor of the sous vide lamb. Had it not been Ducasse, would you have given it a second thought?

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Silly Disciple, you don't have to make a huge investment to try sous-vide at home. One of the consumer-level vacuum packaging machines (e.g. "Foodsaver") will get the job done, with a couple of caveats. First of all, you won't be able to enclose any liquids in the bag - they just get sucked into the vacuum and ruin the seal. You can slip some frozen liquids in as long as you work quickly. And well-chilled butter works fine with the external clamp machines. The cheapest chamber machines (such as the lowest-end Ary VacMaster that I have) will cost considerably more. Another minor annoyance with the external clamp machines is that they require an embossed bag (sort of tiny channels imprinted on the surface), and the texture from the bag gets transferred to the contents.

For shorter cooking periods you can try cooking in a really big pot of water on the stove top. For the longer-cooking techniques an immersion heater is nice to have - precise temperature control without having to constantly monitor.

As for Roca's book, I wish that the English version was available two years ago - it probably would have paid for itself by now. At this point it mostly serves to confirm what I've learned through trial and error. Lots and lots of error.... :blink:

This is really the only authoritative book available at this point. It's more of a reference volume than a conventional "cook book". There are a couple of dozen recipes (with nice photo illustrations) to demonstrate the principles he's describing.

There's a sous-vide topic started by nathanm here [Moderator's note: you are reading that topic now -- CA], and another on water baths here.

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I have been experimenting with sous vide at home, mostly with fish but I did try a brisket.

I use a foodsaver and a slow cooker that has a temperature control on the side. Sometimes I just use my oven and a roasting pan filled with water.

As far as I am concerned, there is no better way to cook fish. I cook salmon at roughly 150 F for 5 minutes then turn over the bag and another 5.

I do nothing more than put butter, some lemon slices, and some fresh herbs in the bag before sealing it.

The flavor is intense with no fishy smell or aftertaste. It is taking some trial and error to get right, for example I recently undercooked some salmon because the lemon slices were too thick and I didn't adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Here was the surprising thing, I returned a piece of the fish to a heated pan to finish cooking it (my wife is nursing and I am paranoid). All of a sudden the house STUNK of fish.

I plan on trying the steak experiment soon.

Msk

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Cooking time is something that is very misunderstood - the time depends totally on the thickness not the weight. This is true in regular cooking, but is particularly important in sous vide.

The key issue is the temperature of the water bath, or steam oven, in which you cook the sous vide bag, and the thickness of the meat in the bag. So, the difference between Joan Roca's timing estimate and another one is depends on how thick the meat was cut before being placed in the bag.

If you cook with the water bath at close to the final temperature, then it is slow to come to temperature, but as was pointed out above, you can leave it without fear of overcooking. THat is NOT true if you cook at much higher than the final temperature, then timing becomes important.

So, if you want a piece of meat to be 130F internal temp, I will generally put it in a 131F water bath. I will post some times later.

Roca and some others like to have a bigger temperature difference between the water bath and the final temperature.

Searing the beef is purely for appearance. I use a blowtorch often, but a hot pan or super hot broiler works too.

Beef is not very attractive after sous vide, particularly for long cooking times - the exterior is a greenish brown. If you envelope it in sauce that may be OK. If you have a beef fillet, most people expect a certain look.

Nathan

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Silly Disciple, Edsel pretty much answered the home-cooking question above.

The setup is simple: a higher-quality Food Saver (I don’t know the model number), a medium pot, and an instant read thermometer which I constantly dip in the water to check temperature. Over lots of experiments, I’ve taught myself to feel the right temp with my fingers, but I still use the thermometer. My stove (Wolf) has a really low simmer function, and over 30 minutes to an hour, I may move the flame between simmer and low to keep it at the temp I need.

As noted above and in other sous vide threads, liquids are sucked out by Food Saver machines. I first chill oils in the freezer to solidify them or I mix flavours into butters. For beef fillet, I simply use salt, parsley, and a pat of butter on each side. As someone said above, the Food Saver bags imprint a funny texture on the outside of meat, but that’s ok you don’t see it when sliced.

I am not a professional , and only do this for fun at home. Therefore my guests are friends, not customers. You are right, asking people to pay for a new weird sensation is tricky. True, I let Ducasse get away with it and paid him hundreds to do it. Coming from N.California, where meats seem to be always grilled, what surprised me about that first sous vide experience is that no where in the meal, (fish, game, meat), was there a hint of charring or browning. Ingredients were gently prepared and each piece of vegetable or meat showed off its unique texture and concentrated flavor. That is the reason for sous vide, I think.

Edsel, I notice you sign off with your Spoon number (2568/5000). If you notice, though it is not described in detail, sous vide is the method for cooking most of the meats and game in that book. I’ve used the various condiments and flavoring recipes in Spoon for my sous vide experiments.

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I pretty much follow the same method as you Crosparantoux, just raising or lowering the flame to balance out the temperature - a little time intensive, but easy enough to do while preparing the rest of a meal.

But I must admit I always do some browning. For me the Maillard reactions are as integral to the taste of meat as the texture. Just as I'd never grill a steak to well done (and lose texture in the centre) I'd never cook purely at low temperature and miss out on the browning flavours. Just a personal thing, obviously, but I like having the best of both worlds. Browning prior to vacuuming does seem to help that flavour permeate the meat (as well as killing those bacteria), but for a final taste kick and touch of crust I always do a quick blowtorch at the end, too - especially useful for duck or chicken with the skin on.

restaurant, private catering, consultancy
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