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Guy MovingOn

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

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Maybe lower is better. It is strange, because after about ten minutes I noticed something was wrong and the flesh had lost its shape. It was nowhere near the desired core temperature, so I think it has nothing to do with the temperature or time.

I've also 'kept' one piece (the rest made in a terrine) and after it is chilled you can give it its original shape, but if you would reheat it you could never serve it as a poached piece of foie gras. A terrine is almost the only way to go.

Nickrey, will using frozen foie gras not have a negative benefit on a possible cause for disintegration: longer time in a water bath. Also once defrosted is the pressure not the same as if you would vacuum pack it while properly chilled? Thanks.

Foie + sous vide = nightmare. Please let me just go back to seared.

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Nickrey, will using frozen foie gras not have a negative benefit on a possible cause for disintegration: longer time in a water bath. Also once defrosted is the pressure not the same as if you would vacuum pack it while properly chilled? Thanks.

If you use frozen, the higher temperature first thaws then cooks the foie gras. It has to be timed impeccably and use the correct sized (and weight) piece.

Heston Blumenthal's recipes are complicated but will work if you follow the directions to the letter, and this would include the nature of the ingredients.

I note he uses cryogenically frozen foie gras. Cryogenic freezing works much quicker than normal freezing, thus creating large numbers of small ice particles rather than larger ones. The result is better texture and flavour retention.

Either way, using fresh was probably not such a good idea at the temperatures and times given.

My suspicion is that, like fish, foie gras is probably better frozen first then vacuum sealed in order not to add mechnical degradation to the ingredient through exposing it to pressure. Or, if you have a super vacuum machine, adjust the sealing pressure down so as not to damage the product.

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I love foie in the waterbath - I don't use vacuum though... it works fine with ziplocks - you might have to weigh it down with a wire rack or something... I typically use 131F or 135F, depending on what else is going in there... I usually keep it in the bath for 30-40 minutes, if I"m cooking 1/2" slices... they keep their shape fine and don't lose any juice, and very little fat. I've kept them in the bath as long as 2 hours if I was doing cook-chill, and still had no problems - a little more fat loss...

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Sounds like it's the compression that spoiled your Foie Gras Jan.


Edited by nickrey (log)

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I love foie in the waterbath - I don't use vacuum though... it works fine with ziplocks - you might have to weigh it down with a wire rack or something... I typically use 131F or 135F, depending on what else is going in there... I usually keep it in the bath for 30-40 minutes, if I"m cooking 1/2" slices... they keep their shape fine and don't lose any juice, and very little fat. I've kept them in the bath as long as 2 hours if I was doing cook-chill, and still had no problems - a little more fat loss...

If you have a floating problem, see Weighing down with glass beads

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What is the deal with floating. Even when vacuum packed at full pressure my bags often float to the surface as if gasping for air.

Anyway, the next time I'll watch the vacuum level and bring down the temperature a bit.

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Floating bags

In my experience, bags have the most tendency to float in flat water (e.g. pan-in-the-oven-method), whereas in a pot with sufficient depth to allow the bag to stand vertically, there is less tendency to float.

Suspending bags on a skewer helps even more to prevent floating:

gallery_65177_6724_393113.jpggallery_65177_6724_3287.jpg

Bagging with marbles or glass cubes or the like forces submerging and vertical position:

gallery_65177_6724_71396.jpg

Alternatively, a table cloth weight may be attached to the bag (needs added depth in the pot):

gallery_65177_6724_48725.jpg

I suspected that in the FreshMealsMagic the fine air bubbles might decrease the density of the water sufficiently to make a Ziploc bag full of water sink down, but the opposite was the case, as the air bubbles adhered to the plastic bag and made it float:

gallery_65177_6724_307755.jpg

Bubbler off, bag plunging.

gallery_65177_6724_129578.jpg

Bubbler on, bag starts surfacing.

gallery_65177_6724_111275.jpg

Bubbler on, bag floating.

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In my opinion, a bag with a couple of slices of foie will float not because of air in the bag, but because foie is mostly fat, and fat is less dense than water.. so it floats... try bagging a couple of pats of butter... same thing... in fact, I've bagged things that would normally sink, but if you had a couple of pats of butter, it wants to float - until the butter melts, and then it sinks again.

Thanks Pedro, the glass beads are a good idea - I've seen you post about their virtues before but haven't done anything about it... just haven't had the time to go out and get some somewhere... plus, my makeshift weight works well enough so it's no big deal... I have one rack keeping everything off the bottom of the pot, and I just put another rack on top and it weighs it down just fine. I don't use a bubbler for convection - but I agree that air bubbles will definitely provide quite a bit of lift...

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Has anyone done any Copper River Salmon? I know the stuff grills well but with how expensive it is I don't want to waste the money if it's not noticeably different than other salmon. I have plenty of cedar planks anyway.

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I am fiddling a lot with salmon.

Farmed atlantic salmon turned to mush when i pasteurized it at 60c. Wild one was ok.

Wild sockeye salmon on the other hand was nasty when pasteurized woth 60c. I just had a large 1 person piece in for 25 min at 51c and finished with a torch and it was very good.

In my opinion what sous vide will give you is a way to cook the fish perfectly, without much smell. It will also give you an economical way to olive oil or butter poach it. Thats about it.

What i haven't gotten out of it yet is a good way to use the skin. On an expensive piece of fish taking this off is quite a loss.

So, in a nutshell, if you have the opportunity to grill and are comfortable not to overcook it i would grill.if you ate after butter or olive oil poaching i would go sv. Completly differentt techniques with different results.

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I've had copper river salmon 3 times in the last 2 weeks and they were all delicious. I can't compare to regular salmon because I just got the sous vide magic and these were literally the first two times I used it.

The first two times, I used 56C/133F for 11-12 minutes. The texture is perfect.

A friend of mine did them at 60C for an hour and they were nice as well, but I thought it was a tad overcooked. it lost the silky texture that the lower temp had.

Today, I'm finishing a 48 hour short rib. Can't wait!

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If you haven't done salmon at 116f (46.5C) for 20 minutes, you are missing what is in my opinion one of the most eye-opening sous-vide preparations that you can make. You will need to brine for ten or 20 minutes before putting in the bag (see Doug Baldwin's Sous-Vide primer for details). I put it in the bag with a little bit of liquid smoke, a light sprinkling of garic powder and some lemon zest. Everyone to whom I have served it this way (quite a few people) has mentioned it being one of the best salmon dishes that they have ever had. You need to use salmon that has been frozen and thawed.

I think pasteurizing salmon gives results that are not comparable. By the way, I have tried temps from 113F to 120F and there has been agreement that 116F to 117F is the best.

And please people, don't use farmed salmon. Salmon farming has resulted in the destruction of wild stocks everywhere where it is done.

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If you haven't done salmon at 116f (46.5C) for 20 minutes, you are missing what is in my opinion one of the most eye-opening sous-vide preparations that you can make.

I totally agree. I go even lower. My favorite temperature for salmon cooked normally is 113F/45C

However, you can go even lower to have salmon "mi cuit" at 102F/38C. At that temperature the color does not change from raw salmon. The texture is more like cooked salmon however.

If you have copper river salmon either way is great.

I love doing this with the belly meat, and then serving with some coarse salt...

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For the salmon, what i find interesting is that cookingissues did a taste test and found around 42 and 50 to be good temperatures.

Having done different salmon types at 60.5 to pasteurize i found wild atlantic to be ok, coho completly overcooked.

I did copper river at 51 and that was good. I am pretty much convinced tyat different types react and require different temperatures.

Also i noted that sv brings out the difference in texture between wild and farmon. I guess farmed doesn't move as much as wild, i found the "wild" texture much better. The farmed atlantic that i pasteurized wash mushy compare to the wild which i liked.

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Will have to try to salmon at a lower temperature.

Also, I finished my 48 hour short ribs. They were very tender but the dish wasn't a revelation by any means. I pulled them out of the bags and used some of the juices along with some sauce espangole, shallots and butter. I took the torch to the ribs to give it some crust and then stuck it in the oven with the broiler for a few minutes while I finished everything up. The whole thing wasn't hot enough. I'm thinking now I should just put them closer to the broiler to finish them.

I also think I should have salted more aggressively before sealing them. I don't know. Good stuff but I was expecting more...Oh well. Keep trying.

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What temperature did you cook them at?

Make sure that you are using decent quality meat for the short ribs. Also, in my opinion it is a mistake to BOTH torch and stick under the broiler.

I would not aggressively salt them before putting them in the bag. A few tablespoons of 5% (by weight) brine seems to be a good amount of seasoning. In a long cook, if you don't put a little moisture in the bag when you salt, it seems to me that the meat comes out less juicy than if you have some water in the bag.

Will have to try to salmon at a lower temperature.

Also, I finished my 48 hour short ribs. They were very tender but the dish wasn't a revelation by any means. I pulled them out of the bags and used some of the juices along with some sauce espangole, shallots and butter. I took the torch to the ribs to give it some crust and then stuck it in the oven with the broiler for a few minutes while I finished everything up. The whole thing wasn't hot enough. I'm thinking now I should just put them closer to the broiler to finish them.

I also think I should have salted more aggressively before sealing them. I don't know. Good stuff but I was expecting more...Oh well. Keep trying.

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I cooked the short ribs at 133. I use a sous vide magic and it'll move a bit on the temps so it might have hit 134.

When I placed the ribs in the oven, I have covered them in foil and they were only in there for a few minutes while I finished the sauce and grits. Don't think the broiler contributed to much of anything. I will try adding a little brine to the bag next time.

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If anyone in England* is looking for a heated waterbath for sous vide, they should get themselves to a branch of Lidl at opening time next Thursday, 10th June.

They will be having a 27 litre (say 7 US gallon) waterbath with drain tap and 1800 watt heater (non-exposed element, I think) for just £40.

http://www.lidl.co.uk/cps/rde/xchg/lidl_uk/hs.xsl/index_11364.htm

(*Maybe throughout the UK, maybe not - I don't know.)

I'm sure the thermostat would need to be maxed and control handed to a PID.

Nevertheless, I'd expect it to be a great improvement on a big rice cooker - bigger, dumber and cheaper.

Its tall rather than broad, hence natural convection from the bottom heater supplemented by a bubbler should be effective at equalising temperature.

And it looks as though the lid is plastic - easing customisation for airline, temperature probe, Pedro's hangers, etc.

1800 watts should be more easily tamed (by the PID controller and an SSR) than the 3000 watt elements commonly found in tea urns of this capacity.

I think it looks like a useful bit of kit.

And as a £40 item, it bears an astonishing similarity to a £150/£160 item sold to homebrewers http://www.leylandhomebrew.com/item595.htm

Because this is being touted for jam-making, and its obvious appeal as a homebrew beer mash tun or boiler, I suspect it may sell out quickly - hence the importance of being there at opening time next Thursday!

I don't expect there to be any usefulness to a recommendation after trying it out - because there's almost no chance of continuing availability (at least before June next year).

Lidl's very amenable policy on returns and refunds is another reason for grabbing one while the opportunity exists.

Normally, Lidl's offers are near simultaneous across Europe, however this one doesn't seem to be happening in France in the next week or so. I haven't checked elsewhere.

It might be worth anyone inerested from mainland Europe keeping an eye open for this product showing up in future - maybe nearer to harvest time?

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I use the ZipLock SousVide bags with the hand pump because I am cheap and don't have the space for a vacuum system. Generally I find it works pretty well. Looking at the Thomas Keller Under Pressure book and was surprised at how often he uses the vacuum sealer as much as he does a water bath. He does things like compressed cucumbers. He gives very precise settings (vacuum on medium), but I don't know what medium means, what kinds of pressures can he achieve with a high quality vacuum sealer, what about a lower quality type vacuum? What kinds of pressures can I get with my ZipLock? Can I pull off any of the compressed vegetables that he does?

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I use the ziplocs as well and have seen chamber vacs demoed in class.

In a nutshell, the ziplocs won't even pull enough air out of lets say broccoli to prevent it from floating, this is as far away from a vacuum as you can be. For normal sous vide cooking it is pretty decent and knock on wood the cheap plastic pump seems to be working pretty well and is easy to clean.

For bags this is my preferred solution at this point. I am afraid they are not very popular, Reynolds pulled their product off the market I do not know though if it was working that well.

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You can't compress vegetables with the ZipLoc device or a FoodSaver for that matter. I don't know of an affordable solution that makes it possible to compress vegetables.

If someone knows of one, please let us know. I am dying to try compressed watermelon about which I have heard amazing things.

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I had success vacuum infusing pineaple and cucumber with rum/gin using a standard syringe.

I picked that up in one of dave arnolds classes. You just load up the syringe and push your thumb on the top and pull. It does generate enough vacuum for the infusion to work, if you hold the vacuum a bit longer that might be workingd for compression as well. What i don't exactly know is what prevents the air from rushing back in whrn you break the vacuum. I am guessing that time under vacum is part of the overall equation.

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You can't compress vegetables with the ZipLoc device or a FoodSaver for that matter. I don't know of an affordable solution that makes it possible to compress vegetables.

If someone knows of one, please let us know. I am dying to try compressed watermelon about which I have heard amazing things.

You can easily infuse fruits and vegetables with a clamp type machine using vacuum containers, not bags, see Instant rum pot and Infusing cucumbers, melons etc.

With the weaker vacuum of clamp type machines compared to chamber machines, the fruits will not become as perfectly translucent as in Jean-François' experiments, but on releasing the vacuum, the surrounding liquid will be sucked into the fruits anyway giving them the desired flavor. When fruits are kept compressed in the bag for a prolonged period, they might lose their elasticity and on releasing the vacuum they might not aspirate as much liquid as on immediate release of the vacuum. Would one of you guys with a chamber machine (blackp? Douglas Baldwin? Jean-François?) do a comparison test?

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I had success vacuum infusing pineaple and cucumber with rum/gin using a standard syringe.

I picked that up in one of dave arnolds classes. You just load up the syringe and push your thumb on the top and pull. It does generate enough vacuum for the infusion to work, if you hold the vacuum a bit longer that might be workingd for compression as well. What i don't exactly know is what prevents the air from rushing back in when you break the vacuum. I am guessing that time under vacum is part of the overall equation.

The air that bubbled out of the intercellular air spaces will collect above the surface of the infusing liquid, and on release of the vacuum, there is only surrounding liquid, no air, to be sucked back into the intercellular spaces.

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Infusing is VERY different from compressing fruits significantly. I know several professional chefs that have had the compressed watermelon (for instance) from French Laundry. And they have tried and tried with clamp-type vacuum packers to get it to work and all have said that the tiny amount of compression that you get with a FoodSaver (and similar device) is just not enough to get the radical compression that people can get with good chamber-type sealers.

The texture changes quite radically with Keller's method. I have wondered if there is some kind of hand pump that can do it.

The syringe trick (if I am understanding it right wouldn't work for compression. Infusion works by sucking the air out of the spaces and having the liquid replace it when atmospheric pressure returns. So, it requires a rigid-walled container.

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