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adey73

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

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Unfortunately, souse vide chicken breast doesn't taste special to me like the way SV salmon does.  I find chicken breast to be the unappealing, dry, crappy part of the chicken that no one wants to eat.  I was hoping SV would change that, but it doesn't.  SV seafood is absolutely fantastic though. :)

I have had some sous vide chicken breasts that are amazing. I wouldn't be so quick to write off chicken sous vide. If you ended up with something that was not plump and tender, you should post your results so that the group might help you trouble shoot. When good quality chicken is cooked correctly in this manner, the result will be something plump with a shockingly tender texture that is so tender that it is more reminiscent of halibut (in texture not in flavor) than chicken.

My wife was a sous vide skeptic until she had chicken breasts sous vide. We have found with chicken that the quality of the ingredients has a huge impact -- much bigger than when cooking chicken with other methods. Chickens from the big commercial poultry companies have been terribly disappointing.

This sounds either like the chicken was cooked way too long (or too hot) or that the quality of the chicken wasn't very good.

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Hardware-wise, I've been using a homemade temperature controller for water baths on electric burners, and after a disaster on Wednesday, I'm about to PID the oven (I'm a renter-- the oven is awful). Not for sous vide, just for decent control (read: SANITY!), but I wonder-- has anybody controlled their oven this way? Seems it would be good for holding a sous vide water bath...

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Hardware-wise, I've been using a homemade temperature controller for water baths on electric burners, and after a disaster on Wednesday, I'm about to PID the oven (I'm a renter-- the oven is awful).  Not for sous vide, just for decent control (read: SANITY!), but I wonder-- has anybody controlled their oven this way?  Seems it would be good for holding a sous vide water bath...

Unless you are very knowledgeable of household electrical circutry I would recommend you pass...240 v. can be very dangerous...

Bud

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Hardware-wise, I've been using a homemade temperature controller for water baths on electric burners, and after a disaster on Wednesday, I'm about to PID the oven (I'm a renter-- the oven is awful).  Not for sous vide, just for decent control (read: SANITY!), but I wonder-- has anybody controlled their oven this way?  Seems it would be good for holding a sous vide water bath...

Behold! The stovetop modification thread.

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Hardware-wise, I've been using a homemade temperature controller for water baths on electric burners, and after a disaster on Wednesday, I'm about to PID the oven (I'm a renter-- the oven is awful). Not for sous vide, just for decent control (read: SANITY!), but I wonder-- has anybody controlled their oven this way? Seems it would be good for holding a sous vide water bath...

Mallet, if I may: you are not going to achieve constant temperature and water circulation

with a home made device - my suggestion is to invest into a proper immersion circulator, otherwise you'd be waisting your time and money.

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A number of us are getting excellent results with the Auber Instruments temperature controller -- which is a fairly simple PID controller and would be fairly easy to build oneself (although the price from Auber is not terribly much more than the cost of buying all the required parts). When coupled with a heat source, they work great. It might be as great as having a laboratory immersion heater/circulator but the results are excellent nonetheless.

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I purchased the Auber kit along with a 25-cup commercial rice cooker (great deal at $94 or so from here)

Everything arrived last week and I had a great weekend experimenting.

Does anybody have any ideas whether or not it's OK to hold sous vide eggs (cooked at 146) overnight? It'd make it a far more practical breakfast if I didn't have to wait two hours for them to cook in the morning. Obviously they won't overcook, but will any proteins denature (in the same way that meat gets more and more tender and eventually becomes mush) and have a negative effect?


Edited by jduncan81 (log)

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I did 147 degree eggs over night and the texture was pretty much the same as the 2 hour eggs I had done. The yolk was a bit firmer than the 2 hour egg but it was pretty close. My next experiment is going to be 145 overnight.

The whites were nearly identical in the 2 hour and 8 hour versions that I did.

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A number of us are getting excellent results with the Auber Instruments temperature controller -- which is a fairly simple PID controller and would be fairly easy to build oneself (although the price from Auber is not terribly much more than the cost of buying all the required parts). When coupled with a heat source, they work great. It might be as great as having a laboratory immersion heater/circulator but the results are excellent nonetheless.

Duly noted, but have you compared that PID device and a circulator side-by-side?

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No, but it is not relevant. I am not saying that I get identical performance to lab equipment (as I mentioned in my earlier post). I am simply saying that I get very good performance and can cook delectable food.

Not everyone can afford to have the absolute best equipment -- but one does not need the absolute best to get great results.

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Does anyone have any firm information for temperatures at which fat begins to render? I find that when I'm cooking fatty cuts of meat like short ribs at 55C, they remain quite fatty, even after 72 hours. If I could melt away a lot more of the fat at a slightly higher temp, that would be a worthwhile trade-off.

Are there different rendering temps for different animal fats?

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Yes, I'm actually wondering specifically about fat instead of collagen. Through experience I know that 55C for a long enough period of time will soften the collagen in tough cuts enough to tenderize the meat, but they still remain fatty because the fat is not rendering.

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...but have you compared that PID device and a circulator side-by-side?

Yes, with proper circulation there is very little difference. Once you realize that a lab unit is pretty much just a heater/pid/circulator as a single unit it's not much of a mental jump to compare the two.

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Hi

I've been reading this thread with great interest and have just made a great SV fillet steak and a duck confit using a pot and an an induction hob.

This setup works well but I do get a +/- 2C temperature fluctation.

I was wondering instead of getting lab equipment is there any reason why I couldn't use a conventional bain marie?

Nisbets has a cheap buffalo one for about £100 that has a temperature control of 50-90C seems like a good and cheap method of doing sous vide without the expensive lab equipment or the fiddling with pid and rice cookers?

link to bain marie

I know that the bain marie isn't stirred and there might be some temperature fluctuations /gradients but has anyone got a electric bain marie and tested to see how much the temp actually fluctates by?

thanks in advance

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I was wondering instead of getting lab equipment is there any reason why I couldn't use a conventional bain marie?

See my setup up thread.

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showto...dpost&p=1517668

Sure you can use it, but you may get more fluctuation than your induction hob.

The bain marie plus PID and some means of circulation works pretty well. I'd say get the bain marie and try it. If it/s not enough control add the PID. You really can't go wrong since a bain marie can be pretty useful on it's own.

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Yes, I'm actually wondering specifically about fat instead of collagen.  Through experience I know that 55C for a long enough period of time will soften the collagen in tough cuts enough to tenderize the meat, but they still remain fatty because the fat is not rendering.

Fats are pretty horribly complex. Animal fats melt across a temperature range, and fat composition and therefore melting characteristics will even vary between different parts of the same animal (subcutaneous fat melts at a different point to pereneal fat, for example). The fat between male and females in the same breed can vary, and diet as well as breeding can make a huge difference - as with Wagyu beef and iberico ham.

The family of saturated fats is the one with the higher melting points - ranging from Undecylic acid with a 30C melt point through to acids like Montanic and Melissic with 90-93C melting points. But for sous vide cooking the only three to worry about are stearic, palmitic and myristic - which melt at 70C, 63C, and 54C, respectively. Beef and sheep fats are obviously harder than pork and poultry fats - and in fact beef has around 19-22% stearic acid as part of its total fat content, wheareas pork typically has about 13%.

So there's no easy graph to work with. But to fully render any fatty cut, setting the dial around 70C should do the trick, or set it a little lower to retain more wobble. The proteins denature pretty heavily at this sort of temperature, but all that lovely grease should keep the meat tasting tender and moist. :wink:

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Yes, I'm actually wondering specifically about fat instead of collagen.  Through experience I know that 55C for a long enough period of time will soften the collagen in tough cuts enough to tenderize the meat, but they still remain fatty because the fat is not rendering.

Sealed in a bag, I wouldn't expect you'd be having much fat drain out of the meat.

At best, it'll be sitting in a puddle of melted fat, won't it?

Is sv a good idea for fatty cuts?

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Does anyone have any firm information for temperatures at which fat begins to render?  I find that when I'm cooking fatty cuts of meat like short ribs at 55C, they remain quite fatty, even after 72 hours.  If I could melt away a lot more of the fat at a slightly higher temp, that would be a worthwhile trade-off.

Are there different rendering temps for different animal fats?

I fully understand your dilemma, when I SVd short ribs at 140*F for 36 hours, I did get a lovely medium rare and a texture like that of steak, but the layers of fat were still there. The ribs were interesting - and tasty, but I have to say that I (and most of my guests) prefer a braised short rib over the SV version.

I know you can do SV at braise temps and I have confited duck and chicken that way, but for something like short ribs where I want all that delicious broth, a traditional braise makes more sense to me. If I were in a professional kitchen where I needed to do single portions, it would be different. Of course, this does not mean I will not try short ribs SV at 170*F. :wink:

Sealed in a bag, I wouldn't expect you'd be having much fat drain out of the meat.

At best, it'll be sitting in a puddle of melted fat, won't it?

I am not worried about the fat in with the food, it is more about the layer of fat when you take a bite of the rib.

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Duly noted, but have you compared that PID device and a circulator side-by-side?

No, but it is not relevant. I am not saying that I get identical performance to lab equipment (as I mentioned in my earlier post). I am simply saying that I get very good performance and can cook delectable food.

Not everyone can afford to have the absolute best equipment -- but one does not need the absolute best to get great results.

The issue here is not the best equipment, but the RIGHT equipment. You need full vacuum, constant temperature (even 1-2 degree fluctuation makes a difference) and constant circulation. Otherwise, results are simply not the same - in my experience, anyway.

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Thanks to all for the info: I'm tempted to do a more controlled experiment with cooking short ribs at a range of temperatures to find an optimum compromise between melting of fat and maintaining a medium-rare texture, but if I do so I'm afraid my cardiologist will likely refuse me as a patient. ;)

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The issue here is not the best equipment, but the RIGHT equipment. You need full vacuum, constant temperature (even 1-2 degree fluctuation makes a difference) and constant circulation. Otherwise, results are simply not the same - in my experience, anyway.

You don't need full vacuum. You just want to remove the air or other gas. It's not required. Things still cook with air in them. You do want a seal, but it's been proven up thread that wrapping some fish or similar in plastic wrap or slipped in a ziplock works too.

Only a few thing things and approaches are sensitive to 1-2 degree fluctuations. Short cooking times and tricky things like eggs etc.

Circulation is good, but constant circulation is not needed. If your item is at temp and your bath is insulated or otherwise does not dramatically drop in temp in blocks of time there isn't a need for circulation. It can be switched on and off. Circulation is good for short times or when trying to bring an item to temp as fast as possible. Yes, constant circulation can help in keeping all outside surfaces of the item in the bath at relatively the same temp.

Out of curiosity, have you tried using methods other than lab equipment?

I don't want people to think they cant get good results with "over the counter" products. I own both lab and non-lab equipment and have tested both. A PID like the auber unit *will* get you the exact or very close to the same results as a lab unit if you pick a good heat source and are creative with circulation.

If it sounds like I am calling you out a little... it's because I am ;)

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I don't want people to think they cant get good results with "over the counter" products. I own both lab and non-lab equipment and have tested both. A PID like the auber unit *will* get you the exact or very close to the same results as a lab unit if you pick a good heat source and are creative with circulation.

I agree 100%. The discussion reminds me a bit of a discussion on a coffee roasting list to which I used to subscribe. There were people that would act as if one could not pull a decent shot of espresso with any machine that cost less than $1500 -- and would act as if a Rancilio Silvia (a decent inexpensive pump machine that while finicky can create great shots) was no better than a steam machine -- which is plain wrong.

MikeTMD, come on man, just because one can tell the difference between SOME items cooked with lab-gear and that cooked with an Auber setup that does not mean that an Auber setup is not a decent way to go. I content that it is the RIGHT equipment and does a much better than adequate job for a wide variety of applications.

Just because there might be "a difference" does not mean that the other gear is not appropriate. Quite a few people on this list are cooking great sous-vide food without an immersion-circulator.

One can tell the difference between food cooked in a $3000 commercial oven and that cooked in most home ovens, but it doesn't mean that very good food can't be cooked in a home oven.

A foodie friend of mine that has recently eaten at some very expensive restaurants that do sous-vide has been consistently impressed with the results I am getting with my budget sous-vide set-up.

If I had the money to burn, I would get higher-end equipment, but that doesn't make the equipment I am using a waste of time. Some people get scared off sous-vide by the notion that they need to get expensive equipment to get started, and I think it is a shame.

Anyway that is my opinion.

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The issue here is not the best equipment, but the RIGHT equipment. You need full vacuum, constant temperature (even 1-2 degree fluctuation makes a difference) and constant circulation. Otherwise, results are simply not the same - in my experience, anyway.

You don't need full vacuum. You just want to remove the air or other gas. It's not required. Things still cook with air in them. You do want a seal, but it's been proven up thread that wrapping some fish or similar in plastic wrap or slipped in a ziplock works too.

Only a few thing things and approaches are sensitive to 1-2 degree fluctuations. Short cooking times and tricky things like eggs etc.

Circulation is good, but constant circulation is not needed. If your item is at temp and your bath is insulated or otherwise does not dramatically drop in temp in blocks of time there isn't a need for circulation. It can be switched on and off. Circulation is good for short times or when trying to bring an item to temp as fast as possible. Yes, constant circulation can help in keeping all outside surfaces of the item in the bath at relatively the same temp.

Out of curiosity, have you tried using methods other than lab equipment?

I don't want people to think they cant get good results with "over the counter" products. I own both lab and non-lab equipment and have tested both. A PID like the auber unit *will* get you the exact or very close to the same results as a lab unit if you pick a good heat source and are creative with circulation.

If it sounds like I am calling you out a little... it's because I am ;)

Very well, then. Your challenge is accepted.

First, and foremost: vacuum in SV is essential. The whole point of SV cooking is to eliminate oxygen, and, as such prevent reaction of oxidation, which dramatically affects color (esp. when you are cooking veggies) and taste ( esp. when you are dealing with fatty proteins). But, good luck cooking fish wrapped in plastic...

Also, you absolutely do need a seal - paramount concern here is to prevent bacteria-rich cooking liquid from getting into your vacuum bag, especially if you are cooking for an extended period of time.

Second point is temperature. If I may, this is an exact quote Roca/Brugues (those two fellas kindda know what they are talking about, it seems like... :biggrin: ): "... the power comes from the vacuum, but the control lies in a mastery of time and temperature-this is what leads to the prime objective, precise cooking values for each ingredient." ( "Sous-Vide Cuisine", Montagud Editores, 2007, p. 86)

The idea here is precision. If you allow cooking temps to fluctuate, at some point the internal temp is going to get away from you desired range - imagine rocking a boat: if you did it, would you be able to stop it at once? If memory serves right, nathanm made a similar observation in his early posts.

Third point is circulation. If your water doesn't circulate, then you are going to have different temps in different areas of your cooking vessel, which brings me back to the point of precision. Here is another quote: '... maximum variation of + 1C/1.8F, which is an acceptable margin for sous-vide cooking." ( "Sous-Vide Cuisine", Montagud Editores, 2007, p. 95)

Much like I said, Roca/Bruges know and understand the SV process well. Wish it was the case with you, my dear pounce and e_monster...

FYI, I did try methods "other than lab equipment", from poaching in oil to autoclaves. I am not saying there is only one answer, but rather suggest to do things right, or not at all.


Edited by MikeTMD (log)

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I am posting because I don't want newbies to get the impression that one needs a laboratory immersion heater/circulator or lab bath to create delicious sous vide meals. (Don't get me wrong, if you can afford it, go for it -- but you can create some great sous-vide without it).

Third point is circulation. If your water doesn't circulate, then you are going to have different temps in different areas of your cooking vessel, which brings me back to the point of precision. Here is another quote: '... maximum variation of + 1C/1.8F, which is an acceptable margin for sous-vide cooking." ( "Sous-Vide Cuisine", Montagud Editores, 2007, p. 95)

Much like I said, Roca/Bruges know and understand the SV process well. Wish it was the case with you, my dear pounce and e_monster...

FYI, I did try methods "other than lab equipment", from poaching in oil to autoclaves.  I am not saying there is only one answer,  but rather suggest to do things right, or not at all.

The specs you mention (or specs very close to them) are attainable with the Auber units. With an $8 aquarium pump, you can get adequate circulation (as at least one other person has mentioned). And in some situations even that isn't needed as natural convection will often cause temperatures to be evenly distributed in the vessel and equalize fairly quickly. The Auber units control things tightly enough that eggs at 145F consistently turn out the similarly and are consistently different from 147F eggs (which remain self-consistent as well).

Your judgment of what is "right" seems fairly doctrinal and binary. You talk about having tried a number of techniques that failed. Since none of the equipment you mentioned is even similar to the equipment you are disparaging, I don't think that you are really in a position to judge.

Based on the smiles at the table and the requests for second helpings when I have served the food is adequate proof to me that such a setup can create delectable food.

As I have mentioned previously, stringent temperature control is absolutely necessary for some recipes but not all. I wouldn't do a 36 hour brisket with something less stable than an Auber (or better controller) or salmon mi cuit.

But there are a great many other recipes, where a swing of a few degrees F can still result in excellent meals that will be appreciated by very discerning diners (based on actual experience).

You keep implying that a discernible difference in food created with different setups makes it pointless to use the "lesser" of the two setups. But that is silly, if the lesser setup creates 4 star food as opposed to 5 star food, that will be acceptable as a starter system for a great many cooks (even demanding ones).

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