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adey73

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

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Hey Kerry, check THIS out. I'm going to have to get around to getting some form of SV equipment. I've looked at the PID/rice cooker stuff and the price is right but I keep telling myself to hold out for the immersion circulator.

I'll have to give that a try. I'm not really into sticking a thermometer into the middle of the bags, so I wonder if I just did it at 65 for a couple of hours if I'd get the same result.

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I noticed that Black and Decker is making an 8 quart crock pot with a simple switch, so it should be suitable for use with the Sous Vide Magic PID. I didn't have my glasses with me though, so I wasn't able to check the wattage to know if it would be suitable with the PID unit that is good up to 800 watts.

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[Moderator's note: this continues the conversation from Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques & Equipment, 2006-2007.]

Hi all,

I was hoping someone could help me with three (somewhat unrelated) questions.

1) I've been using a dutch oven, flame tamer and thermometer for my water bath for the last couple of years, but I finally got a proper immersion circulator from PolyScience. They offer a protective cage so that the heating element does not come in contact with the bags - how important is this? I'm generally doing shorter (3 hour or less) periods of cooking at low temp (<145F). Can FoodSaver bags melt if they come in contact with the heating element?

2) What is the optimal vessel for these clamp-on circulation units? I have a 12-quart stock pot, though it doesn't leave much room for bags. Are there other vessels people are using besides larger stockpots (my small NYC apartment is at maximum stockpot capacity).

3) I am going to cook duck breasts this weekend, and will crisp the skin using the baking sheet - silpat - oven method. Once the skin is crisp, how long can it sit, and what is the best way to reheat?

Thank you in advance, and thank you to everyone for all of the exceptionally usefull information in this thread.

Best,

Andrew

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The heating element will never be hot enough to melt the foodsaver bags and I do not think the cage is essential. I used to get nervous when I saw a bag staying close to the heating unit, afraid that the food closest to the unit might overcook but, in practice, I have never seen that happening.

Everything I have cooked sous-vide has emerged evenly cooked.

If you need something wider why don't you get a large plastic container for when you are using more than one pouch. It will be easier to stash away than a 20 quart stockpot.

I crisped a duck skin last week - using foil rather than silpat and keeping it flat with a bacon press. It really does not need to be hot when you serve it. It remains crisp at room temperature.


Ruth Friedman

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2) What is the optimal vessel for these clamp-on circulation units?  I have a 12-quart stock pot, though it doesn't leave much room for bags.  Are there other vessels people are using besides larger stockpots (my small NYC apartment is at maximum stockpot capacity).

I use a 5 gallon stainless stock pot. But I live in a small NYC apartment and have to multitask with equipment. If you have the ability to store your sous vide vessel somewhere out of the way when it's not being used, I'd recommend modifying a large insulated cooler. This will be much more energy efficient, and will have a lid.


--

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I've tried a number of options, including doing a little surgery on a plastic/foam cooler. The container I find myself using most often for one or two bags of food is a simple Rubbermaid bucket. The immersion circulator sits firmly on the rim, between the clamp's metal housing and the device, so there's no need to tighten the clamp. I haven't seen any deformation in the plastic from high temperatures.

bucket.jpg

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I'm sold on using full size hotel or steam table pans. You can get them in stainless or plastic. If you mount a spigot on one you can easily drain it.

If you get a pan that is magentic you can get a magnetic clip from Office Depot or otherwise to clip the bag to the opposite side of the pan from the heater. Or really it would not be too hard to prop up any sort of mesh or trivet etc to block items from hitting the heating element.


My soup looked like an above ground pool in a bad neighborhood.

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I use two 40 liter Rubbermade tubs, one inside the other to provide stability and insulation. I cut an opening in one of the lids to prevent evaporation and heat loss.

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Having recently tried to follow Hestons methods to cook beef rib roast at 55 degrees for 20 hours using our gas oven, I have moved on to using a water bath. (The oven method worked fine, but the dog seemed to be taking so much interest in the luke warm oven with it's door propped half open that chairs had to be stacked around the oven to stop pilfering....)

I have sucsesfully built my own water bath by stealing the technology (such as it is ) from the home brewing industry. My water bath consists of a food grade 25 litre container with an old style kettle element fitted into it's side. An exterior thermostat controls the temperature within one degree and it cost me about £27 to rig it up.

Most home brew shops in the UK will have a similar item on sale ...I believe it's commercial name is a "Brewheat boiler, and it will cost you about £70. Three suitable mugs are placed in the container and a suitable mesh is rested on top of the cups. This holds the mesh above the heating element. You then simply fill it with water and set the thermostat to the desired temperature...... then check it is acurate with a digital thermometer probe, or whatever thermometer you have. (A vital check) I use a probe fitted to my digital multi meter to do this....most high end multi meters have this function...probably £30 upwards. Once up to temperature the un-insulated apperatus is cycled by the thermostat and is approximately on for 6 seconds and off for 6 minutes, so it is realy cheap to run.

The joint is put into a self seal zip style bag and lowered onto the mesh. The water pressure squeezes out the air and you then seal the bag, leaving the zip portion up above the water level, out of harms way.

I have tried providing water circulation with both an immersed aquarium water pump and an aquarium air pump (and small airstone) to give both an air bubble column style circulation method or a moving water circulation method.. Both work, but are un-necissary as the container provides adequate circulation via convection currents, So now I just leave it to circulate itself.

The water temperature does not drop when the meat is put in as the 25 litres of water is a large amount by comparison to the joint.

Remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder...and don't laugh...well, not for too long at least.

Rog, Birmingham, UK.

ja05-001.jpg

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When people talk about using a blowtorch to brown meat and crisp poultry skin, what kind of blow torch are we talking about?

Is this something different from the propane torches one finds in a hardware store? I've just been reading about Heston Blumenthal's technique for low temp roasting of a prime rib and he mentions using a blowtorch (and says that those creme brulee thingies aren't strong enough to do flash browning of a large piece of meat).

I'd like to try using a blowtorch post sous-vide to compare against flash browning in a very hot pan.

Thanks

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Hi Monster,

I use one of the DIY blowtorches as they are bigger than the cooking variety. Mine is a butane/propane mix. Popane burns hotter and is usualy used for serious jobs like melting tar or brazing metals! In Europe, butane comes in blue tanks, (camping gas ) and propane comes in orange ones. You can get canisters that are a mix of both.

I use it before I cook the beef rib to help kill any surface bacteria, but I think I will also use it after cooking to add some aroma to the kitchen just prior to serving.

Todays Rib is getting turned into a couple of steaks, with some of Hestons tripple cooked chips. :smile:

Rog, Birmingham, UK.

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Hello, Everyone!

Finally, after many months, if not years of waiting I was able to put my hands on a "real deal" immersion circulator, as well as - call me crazy! - "Sous-vide" book by Joan Roca and Salvador Brugués.

Let me share a few observations, and also give you a review of the said book.

Well, let's talk cooking first.

This Christmas I had a chance to make a few things for a festive dinner, including an original recipe we called "Steak and Potatoes":

Akaushi Heritage Beef (see http:www.heartbrandbeef.com) cooked “sous-vide”, Fresh Wasabi Mashed Potatoes, Périgueux Sauce

You can see it on Flickr: http://flickr.com/photos/22220907@N08/2139716390/,

and I'll try to attach a picture here:

gallery_57905_2_170605.jpg

gallery_57905_2_1115044.jpg

Akaushi beef itself deserves a discussion, for now here how it was cooked:

original vacuum packaging ( just the way it came form the meat cutter) - 145F poach for 90+ minutes - seasoned after poaching with Long Balinese Pepper and Grains of Paradise - quick sear in clarified butter - Périgueux Sauce - presentation and serving.

Steak was cooked to perfect medium rare and surprisingly well seasoned, texture was somewhat similar to that of cooked veal tongue, but softer and jucier, so overall this dish was a success.

Few observations:

- I will not rely on meat cutter's vacuum packaging ever again - it's unadequate ( one of the bags was leaking from the get go - I ended up eating that steak myself).

- seasoning after poaching gives you - surprisingly! - more control, and doesn't overpower the original beef flavor, but rather compliments it very well.

- searing is mandatory! (well ... for North American taste, anyway) Clarified butter is the way to go, in my opinion.

- Temperature: why cook at higher temps? I don't see one good reason ... Cook and HOLD it at the temperature you want - you won't overcook your meat, which one of the reasons for "sous-vide" anyway, and you don't have to watch the clock.

Finally, if your vacuum packaging is not good enough - double bag it! I still prefer and industrial strength Cryovac/Multivac, but who has those at home? I ended up going to a local Mom&Pap butcher - for $1 per bag ... ohhh-hhh what a bargain!

Next time I'll cook foie, as per the Sous Vide Bible. You'll be the first to hear the results - it's a promise!


Edited by MikeTMD (log)

"It's not from my kitchen, it's from my heart"

Michael T.

***************************************

My flickr collection

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I did a small experiment this week with beef brisket. I divided the brisket in half and cooked the halves at different times and termperatures.

Both halves were trimmed of fat, salted and peppered and browned, then rubbed with a little liquid smoke and sealed.

One brisket was cooked at 190° for 24 hours. It was very good.

The other brisket was cooked at 147° for 48 hours, which is apparently the procedure used at The French Laundry according to an NPR story a couple of years ago. The result was outstanding--juicy, tender, and so tasty it could make a blind man see.

Both worked out well, but my vote goes to the longer cooking time and lower temperature.

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MikeTMD, are those dishes on your Flickr account from the Joan Roca?

I've got an industrial chamber sealer for home but haven't got the book, worthwhile?


“Do you not find that bacon, sausage, egg, chips, black pudding, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried bread and a cup of tea; is a meal in itself really?” Hovis Presley.

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I did a small experiment this week with beef brisket. I divided the brisket in half and cooked the halves at different times and termperatures.

Both halves were trimmed of fat, salted and peppered and browned, then rubbed with a little liquid smoke and sealed.

One brisket was cooked at 190° for 24 hours. It was very good.

The other brisket was cooked at 147° for 48 hours, which is apparently the procedure used at The French Laundry according to an NPR story a couple of years ago. The result was outstanding--juicy, tender, and so tasty it could make a blind man see.

Both worked out well, but my vote goes to the longer cooking time and lower temperature.

Rob, those seem like very high temperatures (right around 88C and 64C, respectively). The higher/shorter temperature in particular seems quite high. Medium rare being around 54C, I have to assume you were going for a well-done texture?

How would you describe the differences between the two examples? In particular, I'd be interested in your thoughts and observations on how the 48 hour brisket differed from a skillfully done brisket cooked in the traditional manner. Was it falling apart?


--

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Rob, those seem like very high temperatures (right around 88C and 64C, respectively). The higher/shorter temperature in particular seems quite high. Medium rare being around 54C, I have to assume you were going for a well-done texture?
I was trying to achieve the breakdown in collagen one gets from a slow braise, but it may well have been excessive--though the result was quite good.
How would you describe the differences between the two examples? In particular, I'd be interested in your thoughts and observations on how the 48 hour brisket differed from a skillfully done brisket cooked in the traditional manner. Was it falling apart?
Neither of the briskets was falling apart; the lower temp version had the greater structural integrity. Compared to a traditional braise, the sous vide versions seemed much juicier (especially the lower temp brisket) and also less likely to shred.
Edited by RobC (log)

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MikeTMD, are those dishes on your Flickr account from the Joan Roca?

I've got an industrial chamber sealer for home but haven't got the book, worthwhile?

No, the dishes on flickr were made well before I got the book. "Steak and Potatoes" is an original recipe - I just wanted "to go the distance" on that one, as such both the ingredients and the technique are the best I could possibly imagine. Interestingly enough, the "anchor" point of the "S & P" was fresh wasabi in the potatoes, rather than the beef or truffles in the sauce. Anyway, beef was poached S-V @ 145F for 90 minutes to perfect medium rare and seared in clarified butter.

Lobster & Pommes is my interpretation of the French Laundry recipe, with Warm Water Lobster Tail poached S-V @45C for 15 minutes, with galangal, ginger, lemon grass and Sechuan peppercorns. My suggestion would be to increase temperature to 48C (and may be a bit more for higher elevations), and serve a medallion of lobster rather than the whole tail. Noteworthy, most people in my part of the US would probably prefer lobster on the well-done side, but that may not be well received in UK, Europe or Asia. Also, I don't know if one absolutely needs butter for S-V poached shellfish, but it may be worth a try.

I envy your industrial strength vacuum machine - those are Ouch!-like expensive in my "hood"!

Let me know if you have a preference of what you'd like to S-V, and I'll check the book recipes for you, otherwise you may be better off investing your money into something else.

Good luck in your S-V and other cooking endeavors!

MT


"It's not from my kitchen, it's from my heart"

Michael T.

***************************************

My flickr collection

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Any advice on buying an immersion circulator? Is it important/helpful for it to have a digital setting or is analog ok/preferable? I came across one from Fisher Scientific that I'm thinking about buying, anyone have a recommendation regarding this manufacturer?

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Random (and potentially wrong/useless) thought: if you seal a package without applying a vacuum then put it in a chamber-type machine, would the internal contents try to expand? Assuming your bag doesn't explode, this might provide some interesting textures or grounds for further experiments.


Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

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If the item contained air like a marshmallow peep it would, but when you removed the vac it would return to normal(ish).

I created a cheap version of a chamber vac by attaching a check valve to the sealed bag and then putting the bag in a vac cannister and applying vac. When the bag was under vacuum it expanded like a balloon forcing air out the check valve. When the vac was removed the check valve prevented the air from returning to the bag so it collapsed and most of the air was removed. I did this as a test for sealing liquids with a cheap FoodSaver.


My soup looked like an above ground pool in a bad neighborhood.

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Pounce that's a great idea. Did your method work for sealing liquids in the FS bag? If so where does one find check valves and how did you attach them? I have been freezing liquids in order to vacuum the bags but that is far from being a perfect solution.


Ruth Friedman

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Fantastic mate! You really should change your photo to MacGyver!


“Do you not find that bacon, sausage, egg, chips, black pudding, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried bread and a cup of tea; is a meal in itself really?” Hovis Presley.

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Did your method work for sealing liquids in the FS bag?

Yes, it works great. You actually don't need a vacuum sealer at this point really. If all you had was an impulse sealer you would be fine. You see, if you have enough liquid in the bag and you have a check valve all you need to do is squish out the air or suck it out like a straw. It doesn't require a lot of vacuum/pressure/suction. After you have removed the air you can seal off the part of the bag with the check valve and cut the check valve off and reuse it. I could leave it on the bag since my check valves are NSF and safe up to a high temp, but the way I mount them to the bag might not keep a seal over time.

The same technique does work for non liquid items, but since it does take some vac to get all the air out putting the bag in a vac jar works better...but at this point its better just to use the vacuum sealer.

I'll put together some photos and a link to the check valves and post them.


My soup looked like an above ground pool in a bad neighborhood.

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