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francois

Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques & Equipment (Part 2)

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A couple more practical questions I have for the more experienced folks on this thread, mostly dealing with using immersion circulators:

1) I've been using a hotel pan that's about 6" deep for my cooking vessel: with my immersion circulator, that means that the bottom of the heating element is resting on the bottom of the pan. I'm wondering if maybe that's not such a good idea? I do have a large 16-qt stockpot that would be taller, but when I tried clamping the 10+ lb circulator to the wall of stockpot, it felt like either the stockpot wall or the clamp was about to give. Just curious how others are mounting their circulators.

2) I'm also getting a lot of noise and vibration from the circulator- I'm wondering if that's not partly due to the fact it's resting on the floor of my pan. I did buy my circulator used, and I have no idea how much noise it's supposed to generate. How loud are other people's units?

3) I have pretty hard water in my area, and I'm getting some serious lime scale issues when I try for longer cooking times. I'm using a citric acid solution to descale, similar to what you'd do for a coffee machine, but it got me thinking: could I just regularly add some citric acid to my water bath liquid while cooking, to make it lightly acidic and prevent scale buildup? In theory, it shouldn't affect the food. I'll probably give it a try, but I'm curious what experiences others have had.

Overall, I'm having fun experimenting. Slow-cooked eggs are a simple and gratifying success. I've done boneless chicken breast a couple of times, and the flavor is distinctive, though not radically so. I did a pork belly for about 48 hours, and then finished it off by roasting at low heat for another few hours, a la Shola from StudioKitchen: good, but I think perhaps I would have been better off with just a quick sear or broil. I tried to poach some Bosc pears with some lavender honey and nothing else: I don't think I got the temps or timing quite right, and the texture wasn't as soft as I was looking for (though the flavor was yummy). I'm going to try it again at a higher temp, coring the pear, and perhaps adding a little bit of liquid (tea? mulled wine?)

-a


Edited by alwang (log)

---

al wang

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I use heavy duty stainless stockpots with my circulator - from 14 to 23 quarts depending on quantity and have never had a problem The citric acid might affect the bags when you are cooking for 24 hours or more but I have had no experience with that as I have no serious scaling. It is fun to experiment - total failures are rare but, yes, sometimes the results are less than perfect.

I tried veal shanks and was unhappy with the result. Duck confit did well from the point of view of texture and flavor but far too much fat remained under the skin. On the other hand chicken or any poultry breast are supeior cooked sous vide (and then seared) and there is nothing better than a steak brought to 120° sous vide and then quickly seared on a hot grill


Ruth Friedman

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2) I'm also getting a lot of noise and vibration from the circulator- I'm wondering if that's not partly due to the fact it's resting on the floor of my pan.  I did buy my circulator used, and I have no idea how much noise it's supposed to generate.  How loud are other people's units?

This varies a lot depending on the model. I have some that are very quiet (VWR, Lauda), and some that are medium (Fisher) and some that are noisy (Cole Parmer). However even within those brands it varies a lot. The noise comes from the pump motor. Water baths without a pump are totally silent, but you miss the benefit of the circulation which keeps the temperature even.

3) I have pretty hard water in my area, and I'm getting some serious lime scale issues when I try for longer cooking times.  I'm using a citric acid solution to descale, similar to what you'd do for a coffee machine, but it got me thinking: could I just regularly add some citric acid to my water bath liquid while cooking, to make it lightly acidic and prevent scale buildup?  In theory, it shouldn't affect the food.  I'll probably give it a try, but I'm curious what experiences others have had.

This should work just fine. Having the water slightly acidic will not hurt the water bath, nor will it affect the bags.

However, you might be better off getting a water filter and filtering your water.


Nathan

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2) I'm also getting a lot of noise and vibration from the circulator- I'm wondering if that's not partly due to the fact it's resting on the floor of my pan.

Check to see if the circulator pump drive shaft protrudes from the bottom of the housing. It may be spinning on the bottom of your steam pan and that will be noisy.

If this turns out to be the problem you can probably extend the height of the end-wall of the pan with a piece of appropriate material and a C-clamp. A chunk cut from a polyethylene cutting board or a Corian sink cutout should work, and a piece of 1/2" plywood would be a temporary approximation. Just enough height to get the circulator off the bottom of the pan.

Cheers,

Doc


Edited by DocDougherty (log)

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Thanks to everyone for the replies. I think I probably do need to find some way to get the circulator off of the bottom of the pan. Meanwhile, I'm starting to get used to falling asleep to the high-pitched buzzing emanating from my kitchen. :)

However, you might be better off getting a water filter and filtering your water.

You know, I tried getting one of those Brita on-faucet filters, only to read afterwards that only the Brita pitchers remove calcium and magnesium ions; the on-faucet filters do nothing for water softening. Oh well. A Brita pitcher would take forever to fill my pan, and a full water softening system is a little more than I'm willing to spring for right now.

-a


---

al wang

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hi guys I know this has probably been dicussed already- but what is a safe time/ temperature for chicken breasts? I have tried one hour at 64 degrees C, following a previous trudge through nine pages of posts, one that I did see said; 51 mins @ 58.5 degrees C or something to that effect.....

but the meat still looks pinkly juicy. I think that it looks fine, but maybe customers would object to any pinkness in chicken breasts. I worry about clostridium, as I am making a cook chill product (for a product development module for college.... I am not a danger to public health). I have tried doing low temp ie 60 degrees C/ 1 Hour, followed by a 'botulinum cook' or 1 min at 90 degrees C, there is a noticable difference in texture, however.

Thanks.

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There are tables and FDA recommended times elsewhere in the post. 60C for about 1.5 hours to 2 hours should be OK, and is accepted in some FDA documents posted elsewhere in the thread.

Not all health inspectors know this - they are very poorly informed about the reality of food safety.

Your "botulinum cook" step does absolutely nothing for food safety, especially not against Clostridium botulinum or botulism. This explained elsewhere in the thread.

If you eat the chicken breast without storing it in vacuum there is NO threat of botulism.

If you store the chicken breast in a vacuum bag at low temperature (34F/1C) then FDA says you can keep it a week with no botulism threat. Botulism is a threat if you either store for longer than that, or store warmer than that. There is an FDA time table for other temperatures.

So, in most cases for sous vide botulism is not a concern. BUT, you should know that if there is a concern, your "botulinum cook" is not sufficient. 1 min at 90C is NOWHERE NEAR enough to kill the spores.

Whether your customers like the color, taste and texture is a different issue from food safety. Many people are used to overcooked chicken!


Nathan

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hi guys I know this has probably been dicussed already- but what is a safe time/ temperature for chicken breasts? I have tried one hour at 64 degrees C, following a previous trudge through nine pages of posts,  one that I did see said; 51 mins @ 58.5 degrees C or something to that effect.....

but the meat still looks pinkly juicy. I think that it looks fine, but maybe customers would object to any pinkness in chicken breasts. I worry about clostridium, as I am making a cook chill product (for a product development module for college.... I am not a danger to public health). I have tried doing low temp ie 60 degrees C/ 1 Hour, followed by a 'botulinum cook' or 1 min at 90 degrees C, there is a noticable difference in texture, however.

Thanks.

Nathan is a minimalist when it comes to temperature. And he probably thinks I am overcooking them, but 153°F for 1.5 hr has proven to produce tender, juicy, non-pink chicken breasts. Turkey breasts seem to need 2 hr.

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followed by a 'botulinum cook' or 1 min at 90 degrees C, there is a noticable difference in texture, however.

Thanks.

You probably were thinking about a salmonela cook? Salmonela is the probelm with undercooked chicken (salmonela is destroyed in under 1 sec at around 70C). However, since meat's thermal conductivity is so low, a 1 min at 90C will only solve the problem for the outer layer of the meat (i.e. completely uneficient). You would be better off just searing the meat at that point : same (probaly useless) microbial destruction results, better flavor.

Anyways, read trought this thread, you will get all the answers you need and much more. Very much worth it!!

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Thanks for the advice guys... this is in the very early stages of product development; its very much a teach yourself sous vide through trial and error. The product is a sort of ready meal, so it needs to be stored chilled; thats why i was trying to get rid of the botulism spores, anyway, I will try the times and temps you suggest and see how that works out.

Thanks

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Hi everyone. I have a question regarding seasoning items for sous vide cooking. I am planning on cooking small boneless leg-of-lamb roasts based on the time and temperature charts posted in this topic. For leg of lamb I typically use a rosemary-thyme-garlic-lemon-olive oil paste and roast, but I'm worried that such a paste would be overpowering using sous vide. Any guidelines for general seasoning or lamb specifically?

Also, if anyone has any experience with boneless leg-of-lamb and sous vide, your comments would be appreciated.

Thank you.

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I would go lighter than normal with the garlic, but I've used all of those flavorings regularly with great success.


---

al wang

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I usually bone out a leg of lamb and separate it into individual muscle groups. For the most part, I keep the shank as a shank and pull out three to four muscles for poaching. After prepping the muscles, I sear them in oil, and finish with butter, garlic, and herbs. Quickly chill the meats, and when cold to the core, I package them in bags with extra virgin, szechuan peppercorns, garlic, rosemary, and thyme. I use a rondeau and an induction burner to regulate the temperature to 64 C for 55 minutes. This achieves a medium rare. We ice the leg muscles and regenerate them at service time in a pot of water that is monitored to be around 60 C.

Shanks are different, and I believe Ruth has posted a few comments and recipes about her work with them.

There is mention a few times about time and temperatures for eggs, but I've been unable to find any posts that refer to egg cookery. Could someone point me to the right page?

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I made a bottom round roast, which i was going to use as roast beef to make sandwiches. Well i learned that you CAN cook something too long. It was nice and pink (cooked at 127), but i cooked it for about 16 hours. The flavor was good, the texture was too much like processed meat. It had no chew to it anymore.

just an FYI

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Phil from the Bacchus posted the link to the first of a series of instructional videos which will encompass sous-vide recipes, techniques and info on equipment as well as other modernist cuisine techniques. I found it ver interesting, so thought I would share it!

http://bacchus-restaurant.co.uk/tutorials/lang.html

Moderator's note: broken link -- CA


Edited by Chris Amirault (log)

If a man makes a statement and a woman is not around to witness it, is he still wrong?

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Folks - a couple of questions on steak cooking a la sous vide that I'd like your opinion on. The meat cut I am experimenting with is called Sirloin (in the UK). It is tasty and not as tender as Fillet. There are nice striations of interior fat.

1. I pack the steaks into the bags and freeze them. Would it be safe to take the steaks direct from the freezer and drop straight into the water bath without defrosting beforehand?

2. I am currently cooking (thawed) steaks for 1.5 hours at 55C. They are 30mm thick. I then sear them over a red hot pan. They come out nice but not as tender as one might hope for sous vide. How long would you cook them for?

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2. I am currently cooking (thawed) steaks for 1.5 hours at 55C. They are 30mm thick. I then sear them over a red hot pan. They come out nice but not as tender as one might hope for sous vide. How long would you cook them for?

Well, I've gone as long as 8 hours on a NY Strip which I'm guessing is the same cut. If you over do it, they can get too tender, but 8 hours is well within limits, but I would consider that an extreme for a Strip steak. Give it a try once, and see if the results are to your family's liking. This way, you'll have two extremes and will be able to fine tune the time.

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Yeah, I usually do around four hours for strip steaks. I think eight is pushing it, but probably fine.

I've been doing a lot of experimentation with duck breast cooked sous vide, with the skin. So far, I'm really liking long cooks of 6-12 hours at 53-54C because the texture is really unique and quite pleasant. This isn't a replacement for a more typical pan roast, but an interest application.

Anyway, I'm trying to figure how best to render out the fat. I'm a big time stickler for perfectly executed duck breast and can't stand a layer of chew fat and skin. I've usually refrained from cooking duck with the skin sous vide because of this concern. Now, however, I've found the the long cook, while not explicitly rendering out as much fat as I would like, does make the skin/fat entity much more tender such that a few minutes in the pan to crisp up the outer skin is sufficient in creating a tasty, not-chewy final product. Aesthetically, a wider-than-I'd-like fat band remains where one wouldn't exist via a more traditional cooking method.

This sufficient result, however, is not exactly what I'm looking for. I want a duck breast that has the texture of a long cook with thin, crisp skin. I've found that going straight from bath to pan leads to overcooking by the time enough fat has rendered out. If I chill the breasts out of the bag then cook on the stove--probably the best compromise thus far--the overall rendering process seems to take longer (than if I was cooking in a pan from the raw state).

Anyone have any ideas for a minimum water temp that will allow for more rendering during the bathing process while still maintaining med-rare, med meat? Other suggestions?

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Are you opposed to rendering some before putting it into the bag? I've had some success getting thin, crispy skin by scoring it, then putting it over med-low heat (watch and adjust so it doesn't burn) and rendering it until the skin is a tiny bit thicker than you want it to end at. Then I put it in the bag with some of the rendered fat, let the water bath do its thing, and then kiss it off on a hot pan or with a torch to finish.

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That's the logical next step that I haven't tried yet. I'm generally not a big fan of the brown before and after technique, but for duck breast it seems to be worth the extra effort. I also figure it's worth getting the breasts really cold before the first pan treatment.

And yes, I do score heavily.

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i've heard of putting partially cooked lobster tails, and clarfied butter in a vaccum packed back, and finish cooking in poaching water.

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Skin the duck breast and cook the skin (cure it a bit in salt and then render the fat). The two parts can be reunited on the plate--crispy skin and tender duck.

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Sorry there seems to be a degree of cross-posting here. I guess it's because this is the one Sous Vide here you are guaranteed to get some stellar quality answers!

Unconundrum, Bryanz - thanks for your help. I think you're right - somewhere between the one hour and eight hours lies the answer. I am going to try 4 at the weekend.

Can anyone weigh in on the safety of dropping the vacumm packed steaks straight from the freezer into the water bath? I would love to be able to do this as I often forget to remove the steaks for defrosting but am not sure if doing this would pose safety risks e.g. by allowing the steaks to be in the danger zone for too long.

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