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Guy MovingOn

Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques & Equipment (Part 7)

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I'm curious about sous vide equipment being used for low temp liquid cooking, per the discussion about stock. I wish to concentrate some inexpensive but decent balsamic vinegar into something resembling a condimento. The vinegar will need to be reduced by half, but there's a danger of sugar caramelization and burning if done as a boil. Would setting the equipment up to evaporate (above 170F(?)) be safer than boiling? I'm using an SVM setup, with a hotplate under a stockpot, and am assuming that by using this setup the bottom of the pot would never get to a sugar-burning temperature.

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You can do stock via sous vide, but for most meat stocks the low temperature is not an advantage. For fish and shellfish stocks it can be.

We prefer a pressure cooker for making stock from chicken, or mammals (beef, veal, pork).

Using sous vide for reduction is going to be very slow. You are better off boiling and being careful near the end.

The best approach for heat sensitive reduction is vacuum reduction, which is discussed in my book. It's pretty simple once you have a little bit of equipment. You can reduce liquids at refriderator temperatures.

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Not sure if the brining would affect timing, but my favourite pork belly setting, gleaned from various postings on this very thread, is 78-80°C for 10-12 hours. The fat melts, the meat gets stunningly tender and all's right with the world.

Based on the texture of mine, I think anything over 12 hours at that temperature would certainly be too long.

For the record 20 hours at 80C is too long!

How do you treat the belly after removing from the cooker?

I made the mistake of trying to serve it straight out of the cooker after a brief rest rather than chilling, cutting, heating/browning. The meat fell apart in the pan. It was super yummy but we ended up with finely shredded pork rather than the browned cubes I was aiming for.

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I'm curious about sous vide equipment being used for low temp liquid cooking, per the discussion about stock. I wish to concentrate some inexpensive but decent balsamic vinegar into something resembling a condimento. The vinegar will need to be reduced by half, but there's a danger of sugar caramelization and burning if done as a boil. Would setting the equipment up to evaporate (above 170F(?)) be safer than boiling? I'm using an SVM setup, with a hotplate under a stockpot, and am assuming that by using this setup the bottom of the pot would never get to a sugar-burning temperature.

I've done balsamico reduction repeatedly, just using a flat skillet on the stove, no PID-controller; evaporation cooling by the large surface will limit liquid temperature. Using a digital scale with a SS top will allow you to scale the hot pan repeatedly to check when you have arrived at 33% or 25% of the original weight.

A syringe with a blunt cannula will make garnishing easy, see insalata Caprese.

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Not sure if the brining would affect timing, but my favourite pork belly setting, gleaned from various postings on this very thread, is 78-80°C for 10-12 hours. The fat melts, the meat gets stunningly tender and all's right with the world.

Based on the texture of mine, I think anything over 12 hours at that temperature would certainly be too long.

For the record 20 hours at 80C is too long!

How do you treat the belly after removing from the cooker?

I made the mistake of trying to serve it straight out of the cooker after a brief rest rather than chilling, cutting, heating/browning. The meat fell apart in the pan. It was super yummy but we ended up with finely shredded pork rather than the browned cubes I was aiming for.

Yep, I think Leslie was on the mark suggesting not to go over 12 hours.

The best way to treat the belly is to put it flat in the fridge between two oven sheets with weights (typically cans) on top. This flattens it out to make it suitable to cut into serving portions. You can reheat to bring back up to temp sous vide; or, as I do, put it sealed and flat in the kitchen sink with hot water: the meat has been well and truly pasteurised in the initial cooking so exactness in temperatures is not so much of a problem at this stage if you use tap water at its hottest temperature you will not affect the cooked meat. Preferring a crunch on the outside, I then sear the cut pieces in a very hot pan before serving.

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You can do stock via sous vide, but for most meat stocks the low temperature is not an advantage. For fish and shellfish stocks it can be.

We prefer a pressure cooker for making stock from chicken, or mammals (beef, veal, pork).

Using sous vide for reduction is going to be very slow. You are better off boiling and being careful near the end.

The best approach for heat sensitive reduction is vacuum reduction, which is discussed in my book. It's pretty simple once you have a little bit of equipment. You can reduce liquids at refriderator temperatures.

Nathan

Did you use a chamber type vacuum machine for vacuum reduction of balsamic vinegar? Will the vacuum pump resist several 100ml of evaporated water with acetic acid vapor? Does ebullioscopic boiling point elevation play a significant role? How much does reduction of balsamic vinegar reduce acidity below its original 6%?

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The way to do vacuum reduction is to use a lab vacuum pump that can take moisture, a vacuum filter flask and a hot plate.

The cheapest vacuum pump is a water driven aspirator - they are about $25, but they waste a lot of water.

A motorized aspirator is basically an aspirator connected in a tank so there is no water waste. There are also vacuum pumps made to use with rotary evaporators, which will work but are more expensive.

The vacuum pumps used for vacuum packing are in general not a good idea because they can't take having oil or acetic acid vapor go in the pump.

You also need a vacuum filter flask, in pyrex, a stopper, some vacuum tubing and a hot plate. It helps to have a laboratory hot plate with magnetic stir bar so you can stir the liquid being evaporated.

An aspirator or motorized aspirator will draw a good enough vacuum to boil water well below room temperature - indeed you can chill water with a good vacuum pump. This will work for any type of reduction, whether it is balsamic vinegar or others.

It is great for things like making a reduced strawberry sauce that tastes like raw strawberries rather than cooked.

We have a section in Modernist Cuisine on this, with step-by-step photos, but it is not hard to set up.

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Here's a somewhat related question: Is there any reasonably inexpensive (costing no more than a few hundred dollars in equipment) to remove water from liquor? I don't mean removing all the water. I'm interested in starting with things that are no less than 40% ABV and ending up with something that is no more than 65% ABV (and usually only 50% ABV).

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To remove water out of liqouer this does the job perfectly and is not that expensive

IMG00575-20090703-1421

Google distillation kit


Edited by jk1002 (log)

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That depends what you do with it and the state your in.

The problem with re-distilling booze is, I believe it can change the flavor profile.

I remember from a FCI Dave/Nils demo that scotch for example is "de-oaked", so the re-distillation might not be what you are looking for.

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That depends what you do with it and the state your in.

I take it you mean locational state rather than physical or mental. :rolleyes:

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Avoidig change of flavor in redistilling will not be trivial. Adding an adequate amount of pure 96% alcohol is simpler. Maybe dehydration in a desiccator over phosphorus pentoxide would do the job, applying only weak vacuum to avoid distilling off the alcohol.

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I posted this on another tread by accident.

Here was my post if anyyone can help:

Hi Everyone.

It is kind of nice to see that so many people are willing to share their passion on the net.

Might sound like a silly question but I am wondering if all cheek are equals. What I mean by this is, Can I cook all my cheek at the same temp for the same time and get similar results.

In other words. If I cook my Pork Cheeks at 74 Celcius for 12 hours, would I get the same tenderness in all 3 type of meat ?

Also in Thomas keller Book he does his Veal Cheek at 84 Celcius for 8 Hours. Is their such thing as a matrix that shows that if you increase your temp by 1 degree your cooking time is reduced by how much? Or the temp is more for how you want your meat and the time is optimal. For instance I am assuming that if Thomas keller cook his cheek at 84 degrees it is because trial an error showed him that cheek as the best texture that he is looking for at that temp and they are perfectly cooked after 8 hours?

Iphone has an APP for sous vide. I tried their recommandation for fois gras and it was right on the money. However, they recommend beef cheek for 2 days at 74 degree... mine came apart after 20 hours. OOPS

Hope I am making sense, if not I will try again

Thanks in advance and I am curious what the reponse will b

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Montreal,

welcome to eGullet and the Sous Vide Topic!

When cooking tough meat rich in collagen, like cheeks, you want to gelatinize the collagen. This can be done enzymatically by collagenase at temperatures below 60°C, as collagenase gets inactivated above 60°C. A typical temperature/time combo is 55°C for 24-72 hours (24 hours rather for veal, longer time for beef and pork), yielding fork-tender and succulent meat, pink throughout like a tenderloin steak. Above 70°C collagen will non-enzymatically dissolve to gelatin, but above 80°C meat starts to be turned into shoe leather or cardboard, so the best temperature is slightly below 80°C to dissolve collagen within a few hours; btw this is the same as traditional braising, and the meat will be falling-apart tender and succulent, but of course well-done. Cooking at temperatures between 60-70°C is of no value, as collagen has not been enzymatically degraded and will start shrinking at 60°C, squeezing juice out of the meat.

All tenderizing reactions get faster with rising temperature, but enzymatic reactions only up to the point where the enzymes are inactivated (calpain at ≈40°C, cathepsin at ≈50°C, and collagenase at ≈60°C). Similar to Harold McGee's braising method which I quoted upthread you might cook in steps, e.g. 1-2 hrs. at 39°C (calpain most active, "turbo-aging"), then 1-2 hrs. at 49°C (cathepsin most active, continued "turbo-aging"), and finally at 55°C (collagenase active, doneness medium-rare) or 78°C (thermal dissolving of collagen, doneness well-done).

In Sous Vide cookbooks recommended temperatures are mostly far too high, I suppose for legal reasons. Recommendations by Douglas Baldwin in his Practical Guide and in his cookbook are far more realistic, and I guess so will be Nathan Myhrvold's recommendations in his 6-volume-book to be released in March 2011.

P.S. As "turbo-aging" is well in the more dangerous upper half of the danger zone, it should not exceed 4 hours and be followed by cooking to pasteurizing conditions according to table 5.8 in Douglas Baldwin's Practical Guide.


Edited by PedroG (log)

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The cheapest vacuum pump is a water driven aspirator - they are about $25, but they waste a lot of water.

Sooo ... I could take one of those, a water pump, a bucket and some tubing and make [a crude version of] one of these:

A motorized aspirator is basically an aspirator connected in a tank so there is no water waste. There are also vacuum pumps made to use with rotary evaporators, which will work but are more expensive.

That would be intriguing. I wonder how powerful a pump it would have to be. I also have a quite nice, fairly powerful rotary vane vacuum pump for vacuum veneering, but I have no idea of its resiliency to balsamic vinegar vapors (or strawberry for that matter)

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Thank you so much for your reply.

However I guess I am confuse with part of your comment.

You are saying:

Cooking at temperatures between 60-70°C is of no value, as collagen has not been enzymatically degraded and will start shrinking at 60°C, squeezing juice out of the meat.

Are you assuming that the ultimate tenderness and juice out of a meat is better found in Rare to Medium rare ? or below 60 Celcius

Therefore If I understand correctly, all my cheeks should be done in the 55 to 60 range for the best tenderness. Your recommended range from 24 to 72 hours is huge. How to I establish the ideal time? trial and error? Is their some kind of ratio that I can refer to, for example, if I have a 100 gram cheek it should be 30 hours, if it is 150 gram it should be 40 hours etc...

Thanks again for your help. I love to experiment but their is not point to try to re invent the wheel if someone already has the knowledge out there.

Dan

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Thank you so much for your reply.

However I guess I am confuse with part of your comment.

You are saying:

Cooking at temperatures between 60-70°C is of no value, as collagen has not been enzymatically degraded and will start shrinking at 60°C, squeezing juice out of the meat.

Are you assuming that the ultimate tenderness and juice out of a meat is better found in Rare to Medium rare ? or below 60 Celcius

Therefore If I understand correctly, all my cheeks should be done in the 55 to 60 range for the best tenderness. Your recommended range from 24 to 72 hours is huge. How to I establish the ideal time? trial and error? Is their some kind of ratio that I can refer to, for example, if I have a 100 gram cheek it should be 30 hours, if it is 150 gram it should be 40 hours etc...

Thanks again for your help. I love to experiment but their is not point to try to re invent the wheel if someone already has the knowledge out there.

Dan

If you like well-done meat as in traditional braising, you may just braise, try to stay below 80°C, or you may SV at 77-78°C for 6-12 hours as e.g. in my recipe Ossobuco sous vide*. If you prefer your meat pink, optimal results are in fact below 60°C. Cooking times for tenderizing tough meat at 55°C do not depend on weight or thickness, it's some trial and error and a few hours more or less will make little or no difference, so LTLT cooking times could as well be indicated as 12 hours or 1 or 2 or 3 days. BTW 55°C is the lowest safe temperature for long-time cooking, allowing a margin of error for imperfect thermometer calibration and imperfect water bath temperature stability.

I have not done cheek so far.

My experience with veal breast and veal shoulder is fine with 55°C/24h; 48h is too much, falling apart.

*My last 2 ossobucos (veal shanks) were 58.5°C/26.5h and 55°C/28h respectively, and both were fork-tender and succulent, and the bone marrow was perfectly soft; earlier I had equal results with 58.5°C/12h. A trick with veal shanks is to cut the surrounding fascia in several places so when shrinking it will not buckle the meat.

With beef (brisket and shoulder) 55°C/48h is fine; if there are very thick tendons you might go for 72h, as collagenase sits in the sarcoplasm (the cytoplasm of muscle cells) and has a long way to travel into thick tendons; sometimes I have had incompletely gelatinized connective tissue at 48h.

Beef diaphragm (hanger or skirt) may be fine at 55°C/24h.

With pork shoulder I tested 55°C / 24-48-72h. 72h was the most tender one, but the lean parts of the meat were rather dry; 24h and 48h were tender but not fork-tender. I did pork spare ribs once 56°C / 68h, they came out fork-tender and falling-apart, succulent, but might have been a bit juicier, next time I would try 48h only.

For tender meat you just have to bring the core to the desired temperature, time depends on thickness (not weight), see Douglas Baldwin's tables or my thickness-ruler which contains a condensate of Douglas' tables.

(Thanks, Douglas, for all the work you have done for our community!).

Pedro

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I'm curious about sous vide equipment being used for low temp liquid cooking, per the discussion about stock. I wish to concentrate some inexpensive but decent balsamic vinegar into something resembling a condimento. The vinegar will need to be reduced by half, but there's a danger of sugar caramelization and burning if done as a boil. Would setting the equipment up to evaporate (above 170F(?)) be safer than boiling? I'm using an SVM setup, with a hotplate under a stockpot, and am assuming that by using this setup the bottom of the pot would never get to a sugar-burning temperature.

I've done balsamico reduction repeatedly, just using a flat skillet on the stove, no PID-controller; evaporation cooling by the large surface will limit liquid temperature. Using a digital scale with a SS top will allow you to scale the hot pan repeatedly to check when you have arrived at 33% or 25% of the original weight.

A syringe with a blunt cannula will make garnishing easy, see insalata Caprese.

Here is a much simpler solution: glassa gastronomica at CHF 5.90/200ml

Glassa gastronomica Ponti (Medium).jpg

and the bottle has a practical nozzle obviating the need of a syringe and cannula.

I guess in the US there is a similar product.

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Hi Montreal.

A while ago I managed what I consider (humbly, of course) to be the world's best beef cheeks. Major credit must go to Nick (nickrey) from this forum for his initial guidance regarding time/temp.

First, I sautéed some diced vegetables until soft - from memory onion, garlic, celery, possibly fennel (there would have been carrot in there too but we'd run out that day).

I put the veg aside and gave the cheeks, cut into maybe 2-3cm chunks, a good browning in oil - depending on quantity, you should do this in more than one batch so it doesn't stew in its own juice. Meanwhile, I had a cup or so of red wine reducing. When the meat was brown and the wine down to half its original quantity I mixed everything together, seasoned it, let it cool then bagged and sealed it. I didn't have much trouble with liquid escaping (I use a FoodSaver); it seemed that the wine had mostly soaked into everything else. But be careful and ready to hit the 'seal' button if you're not using a chamber machine.

At that point you can either freeze it for later, or proceed straight to SV (or both). Put it in the bath at 70°C and leave it for 30 hours (mine was more like 33 by the time I got it out, but what's a few hours between friends?). Serve straight from the bag over very buttery mashed potatoes and with a nice big red wine, and prepare yourself to be very happy.

Good luck - we expect reports.

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Thank you for your post.

Here is the results of my experimenting:

Pork cheeks: 74 C for 12 hours... Fantastic structure but I will try at lower temperature to see more tender meat

Beef Checks: 74 C for 31 hours.. The least tasty meat. Texture was okay, but I could not see the difference in the texture of the meat of sous vide and braised. However the meat was pink as oppose to be well done.

Veal Cheeks: 84C for 8 hours. By far the best tasting cheek of the 3. However the job was not completely done as the tendon/fat was kind of guey... Not sure why but I did not like that. I think that if I go lower temp for longer the transformation will be more complete and this guey stuff will be more in Gelatin form. I might be wrong but I have a feeling that I did not cook for long enough.... 8 hours was too short.

Any comment would be appreciated.

Tks again


Edited by Montreal (log)

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It happened to me several times that LTLT cooked tough meat e.g. brisket 55°C/48h came out pink, fork-tender and succulent, but there was some bits of residual connective tissue that had not been gelatinized. Did anyone make the same experience? Is it thickness of the connective tissue that does not allow sufficient permeation of collagenase from the muscle cells? Would the same connective tissue be gelatinized thermally at braising temperatures? Or are there parts of the connective tissue too rich in elastin which will not be gelatinized neither enzymatically nor thermally?

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Awsome, Glad to see that I am not alone that this scenario of the guey stuff( is the Collagen) happen to.

Cannot wait to see the reply. I actually wonder if it could be the nature of the callogen in Veal that makes it that way.

A friend of mine did some veal cheek in a pressure cooker and also had residual callogen that was not completely transformed in gelatin.

Let's keep thinking here

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