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Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques & Equipment (Part 3)

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After a lot of experimentation trying to find a tasty seasoning/marinade for chicken and turkey sous-vide, I have found something that both my wife and I love and seems to work particularly well with sous-vide. Miso paste. It is working out a lot better than the more traditional methods that I've tried.

Miso paste does a nice job of providing seasoning and penetrating without overpowering the flavor of the bird. Rubbing a nice chicken breast with Miso paste and putting some julienned sun-dried tomatoes was especially nice. And, just miso paste by itself worked great.

--Edward

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Chicken breast seasoned with miso paste - sounds excellent. I always buy whole birds and break them down. Neither of us is fond of the white meat and the breasts tend to accumulate in the freezer. I imagine that the seasoning will flavor the meat perfectly in the time it takes to cook it sous-vide. Edward, do you use a white or red miso?

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Anyone have any time and temperature suggestions for whole quail?  I like my quail medium rare, and so I tried a couple of birds, individually packed, at 54C for about 90 min, followed by a quick blowtorch.  I think they were probably still a little too bloody, even for my tastes. :)

To cook the quail, I think that you will need to cut them in half before bagging. You probably don't have to spatchcock if you cut the birds in half and vacuum pack it well.

For poultry I prefer 60C (140F). I find that at 54C the texture can be a little mushy.

--Edward

The cavity might have been an issue: I had read upthread in this topic that the vacuum would effectively flatten the cavity, but perhaps that's with more powerful chamber vacuums. Spatchcocking or halving is probably a better idea. I wonder if it would also be possible to get more even heat distribution with some sort of stuffing?

For chicken, I definitely prefer 59-60C, but for duck, I like it a little lower, and I thought that the quail might be more comparable.

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Chicken breast seasoned with miso paste - sounds excellent. I always buy whole birds and break them down. Neither of us is fond of the white meat and the breasts tend to accumulate in the freezer.  I imagine that the seasoning will flavor the meat perfectly in the time it takes to cook it sous-vide. Edward, do you use a white or red miso?

I have been using "organic mild miso" from Kane Masa. It is a medium brown color (I am pretty ignorant about the varieties of miso).

--E

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I have a nice 3kg rolled shoulder of pork - what do you think - sous vide for 7 hours at 60C/140F? Or should I go for a slightly higher temperature and a shorter time?

Does the pork come out too pink at this internal temperature? I don't mind myself but will have some potentially squeamish guests!

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I think that 60C/140F is fine for pork, and I don't think it will be too pink (but that depends a bit on the cut). As an example I would do pork tenderloin at this temperture - for no more than 1 hour.

However, an issue with pork is that areas which are very fatty will not soften and render at a low temperture like 140F. In order to melt and render the fat a bit and soften it, you need higher temperture - say 170F to 180F. Since shoulder tends to have a high fat content, you may want to try it at these tempertures instead.

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Thanks Nathan. This cut does have a nice amount of fat. I chose it particularly for that. It is an old English heritage breed which is fatty and delicious (tragically those two words often go together).

I do want the fat to gelatinize so I will go for 180. Is 7 hours too much at that temperature? The joint is about 3kg and about 15cm thick. I plan on doing an intense pan sear after.

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However, an issue with pork is that areas which are very fatty will not soften and render at a low temperture like 140F.  In order to melt and render the fat a bit and soften it, you need higher temperture - say 170F to 180F.  Since shoulder tends to have a high fat content, you may want to try it at these tempertures instead.

Does pork fat soften at a higher temperature than beef fat?

I have found that at 130 F that beef fat softens (though doesn't render/liquify) quite nicely which is one of the reasons that (to my mouth anyway) I like sous-vide of a thick ribeye more than just grilled. After an hour in the water bath and a 30 seconds per side trip to a VERY HOT pan, the marbling has a softer quality than if were to stick it on a hot grill to brown the outside and leave the steak rare in the middle.

Do you not find this to be the case?

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I definitely do. This applies to any well-marbled steak. I plan to do a lamb shoulder later this week. Alain Ducasse recommends 36 hours at 143° F. Does either of you have any experience with lamb fat sous-vide?

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I have done shoulder chops but never anything as big as lamb shoulder since I don't have anything that holds the temperature stable enough long enough to do things that take more than an hour or two. My experience with the shoulder chops has been the same as with beef steak. The fat softened in the chops nicely (didn't render). I brown both sides post-sous vide for about 30 seconds per side in a pan that has been on a high flame for 10 minutes.

--E

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We took my parents to dinner at Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc the Friday after Thanksgiving and had a brief discussion with Nick, one of the assistant managers about sous vide.

The menu for the evening featured surf-n-turf (hangar steak and shrimp), and like almost every meal I've had at Ad Hoc, the main courses were prepared sous vide. When I mentioned this to Nick, he said that they (Keller's restaurants) were the only ones around (not sure if he was referring to just Yountville) really doing sous vide. I asked if this was for safety reasons, and he said that it was due to the overall cost of the equipment.

This lead to a discussion about ebay, the immersion circulator I picked up there, Foodsavers, etc., and I got some tips on preparing beef short ribs — stuff I've read here, too — i.e. 72 hours, sear before bagging, etc. My parents had really no idea what we were talking about, but my mom liked the short ribs that we prepared for Thanksgiving so much that she wants them for Christmas dinner.

But the most interesting thing he told me was that a new French Laundry cookbook was coming out some time next year and that it would be all sous-vide recipes. He also said Ad Hoc's cookbook was coming out in 2009, which will likely feature a good dose of sous vide recipes. So in addition to this amazing thread, it looks like we're finally going to get another source of sous vide information from one of its biggest proponents.

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While this thread has been great, I'd really like all the information consolidated in one place and those Keller books might be the ticket. Barring that, heck, give me a PDF with just a chart with columns: "Protein, Temp, Time, Notes" and I'll be happy.

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But the most interesting thing he told me was that a new French Laundry cookbook was coming out some time next year and that it would be all sous-vide recipes. He also said Ad Hoc's cookbook was coming out in 2009, which will likely feature a good dose of sous vide recipes. So in addition to this amazing thread, it looks like we're finally going to get another source of sous vide information from one of its biggest proponents.

Not just information, but equipment as well. At least that's what Ruhlman mentioned a while back when he was working on the book with Keller. They're hoping to market "affordable" equipment with the book. See this post from last year:

Thomas Keller is going to cover a great deal of Sous Vide in his soon to be released book, "The Complete Keller".  July, Maybe.

In the Hungry Magazine podcast interview, Michael Ruhlman says that the Sous Vide book is "on hold". Is this a different book?

One interesting tidbit from Ruhlman is that Keller wants to market affordable sous vide equipment along with the book. Check out the portion of the interview starting at about minute 38:00.

Someone asked about sous-vide stuff at Ruhlman's demo at the Viking Store in Cleveland a couple of weeks ago. I think he said the book will be released next year. He didn't go into details about any accompanying equipment marketing, but hopefully that's still on as well.

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gallery_34671_2649_7914.jpg

Not the prettiest dinner picture, but my first official sous vide main course. Before now my sous vide experience had been the amazing sous vide pear in roiboos provence tea that I made for the eG Supreme Pastry and Baking Challenge.

I'm beta testing a PID controller unit and have it attached to my crockpot. I cooked the chicken breast at 71ºC for 45 minutes. I salted and peppered it, added a small glop of veal glace viande and a bit of duck fat. I made nice rich madeira sauce with the demi glace I had made last week (egged on by the discussion about veal stock over in the 'Veal Stock -- A Personal Reflection' thread). I added the juices from the bag into my sauce.

The chicken breast was perfectly cooked, amazingly tender and flavourful. I think if I hadn't been in the room my hubby would have actually licked off his plate. I've never seen him scrape one that clean before.

I'm straining some yogurt now, my next plan - to caramelize it sous vide. Not sure what I'll do with it when it's done, but the possiblities seem endless, both sweet and savory.

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71 seems a bit high for breast. I usually do mine at 60 C and dark meat at about 70.

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I agree. 60° max. In fact I prefer to keep it at 57°. It is still a little pink in the center. That is the only way I can eat a chicken (or pheasant or partridge) breast.

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71 seems a bit high for breast.  I usually do mine at 60 C and dark meat at about 70.

I printed out the entire SV thread(140 pages in printable form) and have been going through it trying to pull out all the times and temperatures. One of the early posts suggested 120 to 160º F for 40 minutes. Knowing that hubby wouldn't tolerate seeing any pink in the chicken I went for the higher temperature this time around.

My biggest challenge right now is to sucessfully print out Nathan's tables, I think I might have finally figured out how to get them properly on the page.

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I'm beta testing a PID controller unit and have it attached to my crockpot.  I cooked the chicken breast at 71ºC for 45 minutes.

Nice looking meal. Can you share some details about the PID that you are using? How steady did it keep the temperature?

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I agree. 60° max. In fact I prefer to keep it at 57°. It is still a little pink in the center. That is the only way I can eat a chicken (or pheasant or partridge) breast.

Ruth, it was actually your post that had me choose the 71ºC and looking back to what you actually said, it was that you usually cook it at 120 ºF, but safety charts would suggest 160º F. I then scratched down 'chicken breast 120 - 160 º F 40 minutes'. I'll go back and correct that.

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I agree. 60° max. In fact I prefer to keep it at 57°. It is still a little pink in the center. That is the only way I can eat a chicken (or pheasant or partridge) breast.

Ruth, it was actually your post that had me choose the 71ºC and looking back to what you actually said, it was that you usually cook it at 120 ºF, but safety charts would suggest 160º F. I then scratched down 'chicken breast 120 - 160 º F 40 minutes'. I'll go back and correct that.

I find 140F (abotu 60 C) to be my favorite. I have also done 160F (which is about 71 C) because I noticed that was what the winner of Top Chef cooked at when he did sous vide and also 132F (about 56C).

I think it is worth trying a variety of temps to find what you like best. It is all about what you like best. I personally prefer the texture at 60C to 55-56C but some people prefer higher or lower temp.

Make sure to use the tables that Nathan provided. It takes a LOT longer to cook chicken to sterilization at 130F than it does at 140F. So, be sure to increase cooking times appropriately.

On a non-sous vide note, we have also 'roasted' chicken per Heston Blumenthal's recommendation at 165F in the oven and it was delicious (I crisped the skin briefly under the broiler) although it also took forever.

--E

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I'm beta testing a PID controller unit and have it attached to my crockpot.  I cooked the chicken breast at 71ºC for 45 minutes.

Nice looking meal. Can you share some details about the PID that you are using? How steady did it keep the temperature?

The PID unit kept the temperature very steady, but it was about 1º C higher than set. Because I'm using a crockpot instead of a rice cooker, there is a bit of adjustment yet to be worked out. I've got a couple of different thermometers in the pot and I'm actually finding their perfomance to be interesting. I've found the Pyrex brand to be nice and accurate when working with chocolate at low temperature, and they seem to be doing well at the higher temperatures too.

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Emboldened by all the great info on this forum, I’ve sprung for a FoodSaver Pro III and PolyScience thermal circulator and plan to sous vide my brains out. But after reading through all 39 pages of postings, I do have a few questions:

1. Nathan’s authoritative charts—or as I like to think of them, Nathan’s Famous Hot Logs—assume an initial temperature of 5°C/41°F. But Nathan also comments that “it is actually preferred to go straight from the freezer.” Can anyone offer a rule of thumb or guidance about how much one should increase the cooking times in the charts to compensate for food starting at freezer temperature?

2. As long as I’m being Mr. Curious, why does Nathan use 41°F as his starting point, when it was my understanding that preferred refrigerator temperature is between 35°F and 38°F?

3. I’m still having trouble getting my head around the “Rest time” column in Nathan’s charts. Nathan describes this column as “the time until the core temperature stops rising and starts to fall.” When the cooking temperature is roughly equal to the final temperature, the charts show a rest time essentially equal to the cook time. But wouldn’t it be the case that the core temperature would start to fall as soon as the food is removed from the water bath?


Edited by RobC (log)

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Rob, as to the rest time, I think you may be misreading the charts. On the chart for 54.4C, for example, a piece of meat that is 25 mm thick cooking in a 55C water bath will take 41 minutes and 29 seconds to come to the target temperature. The rest time is 56 seconds. The overshoot is minimal (but not zero) in a 55C water bath, but presumably what the chart is showing is that it would take 29 seconds for the piece of 25 mm meat to start losing temperature.

If you're cooking with the water bath at your target temperature, this column isn't particularly meaningful to you. If you are cooking at a higher temperature water bath than your target temperature, this chart tells you how long you should let the meat rest so that the meat equilibrates at your target temperature.

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