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


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My plan is to trim it into a brick shape for more uniform cooking and easy carving.  I have a Jacquard, so I'll give it the twice or thrice over with that.  I've read through the 130F chart.  Sorry if I missed it, but what kind of time would you suggest for tenderness?  For bricks of about 3" x 3" x ? at 131F, I'm guessing somewhere around 10 hours?

The time in the tables tells you the time to reach 130F. You then have to add the time you want it to spend getting tender.

I have tried beef tri-tip and I think that 24 hours would probably be better, but it depends on many things. The Jaccard will help of course.

As an aside, tri-tip is not my favorite - flat iron steak, or some of the better chuck roasts will come out better in my view. But by all means try it.

Nathan

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My plan is to trim it into a brick shape for more uniform cooking and easy carving.  I have a Jacquard, so I'll give it the twice or thrice over with that.  I've read through the 130F chart.  Sorry if I missed it, but what kind of time would you suggest for tenderness?  For bricks of about 3" x 3" x ? at 131F, I'm guessing somewhere around 10 hours?

~Tad

edit: added the bit about the Jacquard

I routinely do tri-tip at 59C for 24 hrs and it comes out fork tender and medium. Seasoning is 1t salt per lb of meat + 2t pepper + 1t garlic powder + 1t liquid smoke (Wrights), all mixed together and rubbed onto the meat before vacuuming. I do not use a Jaccard, and I use the whole tri-tip usually with the flap folded back enough to make it uniformly thick, but it doesn't make much difference.

If you want it less well done, then 131F is a good place to start, and I would still let it go for 24 hrs.

If you chill it thoroughly before grilling to finish, I think you will need to do something to get the core temperature back up to where you want it without overcooking it. You might consider leaving it in the bag and bringing it up to 115F in the water bath before you grill. I have not done the calculation, but you should be able to figure out the timing from Nathan's tables.

Doc

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If you chill it thoroughly before grilling to finish, I think you will need to do something to get the core temperature back up to where you want it without overcooking it.  You might consider leaving it in the bag and bringing it up to 115F in the water bath before you grill.  I have not done the calculation, but you should be able to figure out the timing from Nathan's tables.

Doc

This is a really good point. When you sear the outside at the end you want to make sure you don't overcook what you have carefully created via sous vide. I do as Doc suggests - reheat it in a water bath at a temperature a bit lower than my cook temp.

Also, you need very high heat searing to get the outside browned without overcooking the interior - much hotter than you would use normally.

The alternative is to sear first. In that case you don't actually have to grill to finish, just bring it up to 130F and serve. Or bring it up to 125F then lay it on the grill for just a minute.

I generally like to sear right before serving so there is a crust. However, that is more important for a small piece of meat like a steak. For most beef roasts there isn't a crisp crust anyway - roasting juice is always present. So, you might want to consider searing before vacuum packing and sous vide cooking.

Nathan

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I just did a test run on a tri-tip, for 24 hours at 55C. I used the Jaccard and seasoned with L&P, smoked salt, pepper, and some butter. The interior texture is perfect, and I barely marked it in a very hot grill pan. I think I could even go a little more to get more crustiness.

However, the interior color is not as I expected - there's no trace of red or pink. Since other people do shortribs for as long or longer, I was expecting more of a rosy color. Any thoughts?

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However, the interior color is not as I expected - there's no trace of red or pink.  Since other people do shortribs for as long or longer, I was expecting more of a rosy color.  Any thoughts?

The bright red that you get with a conventionally cooked meat is not always present with sous vide. The reason is that it requires oxygen.

Try slicing the meat and holding it for a while at the same temp in air - it will redden.

Nathan

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Sorry, I should have taken a breather.  In the time it took to take this picture, some color returned, and I started to recall a warning about the hemoglobins and oxygen.  Anyway, it's somewhat pinker now.  Thanks, Nathan.

Looks really good. It might entice me to drop the temperature 4C on my next tri-tip. I have found that because sous vide does such a good job of tenderizing, I look for a piece of meat that is less marbled and more lean. Does anybody have any data on differences between cooking highly marbled or very lean samples of the same cut?

Doc

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Does anybody have any data on differences between cooking highly marbled or very lean samples of the same cut?

Doc

Not surprisingly, it varies a LOT. I did some tests of choice, prime, and "kobe" (American grown Wagyu). There was a big difference between them, as one might imagine from the price!

An a concrete example, I get both regular flat iron steak, and "kobe" and the there is a big difference in cooking times to get the same amount of tenderness - about 12 hours different.

Nathan

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Looks really good. It might entice me to drop the temperature 4C on my next tri-tip.  I have found that because sous vide does such a good job of tenderizing, I look for a piece of meat that is less marbled and more lean.  Does anybody have any data on differences between cooking highly marbled or very lean samples of the same cut?

Doc

I think you're right, Doc. After I had a few slices, I started thinking that it was a little flabby,and that being able to render out some of that fat might actually be preferable. I have to use tri-tip this time, but in the future I'll try some other cuts.

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Does anybody have any data on differences between cooking highly marbled or very lean samples of the same cut?

Doc

Not surprisingly, it varies a LOT. I did some tests of choice, prime, and "kobe" (American grown Wagyu). There was a big difference between them, as one might imagine from the price!

An a concrete example, I get both regular flat iron steak, and "kobe" and the there is a big difference in cooking times to get the same amount of tenderness - about 12 hours different.

A 50% reduction in cooking time is a lot. Do you think it is due to more (or more evenly distributed) fat, or to less connective tissue, or both?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Has anyone ever had problems with getting a weird smell from their water bath when using foodsaver/black and decker bags?

I built a waterbath for sous vide using a galvanized steel trashcan and after using it for a while I started getting a very strong smell, it was a very salty/chemical smell. At first I attributed it to the metal or some weird seasoning from a piece of corned beef that I cooked leaching through the bag. So I bought a brand new Neslab unit on ebay and a food grade lexan bath and after a few weeks of using that the smell came back, exact same smell. I first noticed it after something had been in the bath for apx 35-40 hours, not as strong this time but the same exact smell, completely different food, completely different bath. The bags I use are regular foodsaver bags and black and decker bags, both labeled for "boil in bag" use. I think it was a black and decker bag that was in the bath when I noticed it the second time, unsure about the first.

Has anyone experienced anything similar to this?

Dave

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Any suggestions for cooking time for a lamb loin? I assume 54.5 degrees is the right temp and Nathan's chart would suggest 54.4 mins to get it to the correct internal temp but for tenderizing purposes what do you recommend? In addition, what timing do you recommend for lamb shanks?

Thanks!

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Any suggestions for cooking time for a lamb loin?  I assume 54.5 degrees is the right temp and Nathan's chart would suggest 54.4 mins to get it to the correct internal temp but for tenderizing purposes what do you recommend?  In addition, what timing do you recommend for lamb shanks?

Thanks!

I generally do lamb loin for 2 to 3 hours total at 55C bath temp. You can do it for longer to get more tenderizing, but the lamb I get is already pretty tender, so it does not need more.

Nathan

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So I bought a brand new Neslab unit on ebay and a food grade lexan bath and after a few weeks of using that the smell came back, exact same smell. I first noticed it after something had been in the bath for apx 35-40 hours, not as strong this time but the same exact smell, completely different food, completely different bath.

Has anyone experienced anything similar to this?

Dave, help us with the diagnosis. What is the source of the water that you use? Hard or soft? If hard, what is the source of the hardness (Ca, Mg, ...?). If soft, are you using sodium or potassium salts in the softener. Other minerals like iron at high concentrations? How often do you change it? How often do you cook in it? With a polycarbonate bath it shouldn't be reacting with the plastic.

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Dave, help us with the diagnosis. What is the source of the water that you use?  Hard or soft? If hard, what is the source of the hardness (Ca, Mg, ...?). If soft, are you using sodium or potassium salts in the softener. Other minerals like iron at high concentrations? How often do you change it? How often do you cook in it? With a polycarbonate bath it shouldn't be reacting with the plastic.

I use tap water in my bath, and I honestly can't say what its composition is, I just moved into a new house that is in the same town as where I had this problem before. I dont suspect the polycarbonate bath to be the problem but the actual bags. I try to change the water frequently, when it happened the water was changed shortly before I started the two day long cook(63C). I think im going to simmer a sample of each bag and some plain tap water in a stainless pot on the stove for a few hours each and see if if i can start ruling things out. I was just curious if anyone had ever noticed anything similar. The fact that it happened in two separate baths was just puzzling.

Dave.

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Dave, help us with the diagnosis. What is the source of the water that you use?  Hard or soft? If hard, what is the source of the hardness (Ca, Mg, ...?). If soft, are you using sodium or potassium salts in the softener. Other minerals like iron at high concentrations? How often do you change it? How often do you cook in it? With a polycarbonate bath it shouldn't be reacting with the plastic.

I use tap water in my bath, and I honestly can't say what its composition is, I just moved into a new house that is in the same town as where I had this problem before. I dont suspect the polycarbonate bath to be the problem but the actual bags. I try to change the water frequently, when it happened the water was changed shortly before I started the two day long cook(63C). I think im going to simmer a sample of each bag and some plain tap water in a stainless pot on the stove for a few hours each and see if if i can start ruling things out. I was just curious if anyone had ever noticed anything similar. The fact that it happened in two separate baths was just puzzling.

Dave.

Let us know what you discover. I use a similar bag and have not had a problem.

Doc

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The lamb loin time was perfect.  Any suggestions on a small lobster tail?  I am thinking 114 degrees around 12 minutes.  Does this sound appropriate or too short?

45C or 113F to 114F is what I use for lobster Time depends on the thickness - look at the tables.

Nathan

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Thanks.

I've done many bottom rounds in the past, in the oven, and the results were never as good as sous-vide. To get it really tender in the oven, I'd have to cook it much longer (than normal for the oven, not longer than sous-vide) which, if I used the standard 200 or so for the oven, would result in an overdone roast. I haven't tried it, but I'd think that even if I could control my oven enough to keep the temperature at 130 or so, I'd think the roast would dry out over the course of 10 hours. With sous-vide, the degree of doneness was perfect, the meat was moist with great texture, and more tender than any bottom round I've made to date.

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With a good combi-oven you can get a similar effect. Rational ovens have a special program called overnight roasting that will sear the outside at high temperature then cool down the oven and hold it at low temperature for up to 24 hours. It will hold the temperature accurately at 125F or whatever else you set it at, and it uses humidity to prevent the roast from drying out. So, with that set up you can get something similar to sous vide.

However, with a conventional oven you have three big problems. The first is that the temperature does not go low enough. The second is that conventional ovens have poor temperature control at any temp. Even at a setting of 350F many are off by 10 or even 20 degrees up and down over the course of time - too high when the heat comes on, too low when it goes off. At 500F it does not matter that much if you are cycling between 520 and 480. However, plus or minus 20F matters a lot if you are trying to keep it at 128F as in the example here.

The third problem is control of humidity. In a conventional oven, the humidity is not controlled. Unfortunately, the temperature seen by the food depends on the humidity, because the food "sweats" - it is not really sweat, but the effect is similar - water evaporates from the food, which lowers the effective temperature. This makes temperature control very poor, and it also dries out the food.

In a combi-oven this is solved with humidity control. In sous vide it is solved by putting the food in a bag, which is in effect a form of humidity control - inside the bag it is 100% relative humidity. In previous posts I recommended using an oven bag to control humidity. This works, but it still leaves you the other two problems of accurate temperature control at low temperatures.

Nathan

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