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Guy MovingOn

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

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I have a small 'roast' of wild boar in my freezer. Ideas on time/temp, seasonings, etc?

Well I do my pork shoulder at 170 for 36 hours. So maybe something along those lines? I would recommend some added pork/bacon fat in the pouch because of how much leaner it is. Maybe a overnight light brine? Good luck, I'm sure it will be killer!


Sleep, bike, cook, feed, repeat...

Chef Facebook HQ Menlo Park, CA

My eGullet Foodblog

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Had fried chicken that started off sous vide in buttermilk. The chicken flavor was excellent. It was nice and moist. The texture however was pretty much lacking. If it wasn't so moist I'd say it was over cooked. Wondering if the breaking down of texture is a side effect of chicken cooked sous vide or if maybe it had been in the water bath too long.


Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

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Funny, i had the same result, maybe the culture-enzyme-whatever in butter milk that is said to moisten the chicken also has an odd effect when CSV?

I posted in this thread a couple weeks ago, I cooked the chicken in butter, then breaded and fried, results were awesome.


Edited by ScottyBoy (log)

Sleep, bike, cook, feed, repeat...

Chef Facebook HQ Menlo Park, CA

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After more than dabbling in SV technique, I am facing a fairly consistent issue so I will chime in for some guidance.

While the texture of all the proteins is terrific, I never really get the flavor to match the quality of the consistency. Even with topping a seared steak or chicken breast with a sauce, the interior is so often 'flat'. This is course is a new problem as it never really happens much for me with other cooking techniques.

I would think the marinade becomes all the more important then. Assuming this to be correct, I would like to hear anyone's go-to marinades. In the beginning I was overly careful about using less with this technique - but for better or worse - I have yet to get overpowered by, say a rosemary branch overpowering a portion of the meat.

Thanks.

PS - Would also like a recommendation on a kitchen torch.


Dough can sense fear.

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Buy a propane torch, but use MAPP gas.

MAPP is similar to propane but it burns hotter, and has less of an issue with flavor transfer.

I prefer "self-lighting" or "trigger start" propane torches. They are about $50 - available at Amazon, or Home Depot.

Even better, in my view, are torches that give you a hose between the tank and the torch - they are much less tiring to hold. here is an example.

The non-self lighting torches are cheaper - less than $20.


Nathan

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After more than dabbling in SV technique, I am facing a fairly consistent issue so I will chime in for some guidance.

While the texture of all the proteins is terrific, I never really get the flavor to match the quality of the consistency. Even with topping a seared steak or chicken breast with a sauce, the interior is so often 'flat'. This is course is a new problem as it never really happens much for me with other cooking techniques.

I would think the marinade becomes all the more important then. Assuming this to be correct, I would like to hear anyone's go-to marinades. In the beginning I was overly careful about using less with this technique - but for better or worse - I have yet to get overpowered by, say a rosemary branch overpowering a portion of the meat.

I am not sure quite what your issue is, I don't get this result with my sous vide.

Depending on the meat, brining or marinading is always a possibility. There are MANY approaches. My upcoming book has big sections on dry rubs, brining and marinating, so it is a bit hard to summarize briefly.


Nathan

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Totally, brining and curing before cooking is the key. When I cook chicken breasts a cube of salted butter on each one before sealing does the trick. I salt red meat 30 minutes before patting it dry to seal, brine pork and chicken.


Sleep, bike, cook, feed, repeat...

Chef Facebook HQ Menlo Park, CA

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Temperature stability with a water-pot in an electric convection oven

Before I bought a SousVideMagic and an electric stockpot, I started cooking sous vide just with a pot of water in the electric oven, and the results in texture and taste (fork-tender, succulent and juicy) were convincing me to invest some money for dedicated equipment. In that time I used a stainless steel pan with about 2 litres of water, as I was not yet aware that a large water volume and a tall pot are advantageous, giving better temperature stability and better submersion of bags. Now I conducted an experiment on temperature stability with a large enameled pot with 7 litres of water in my electric convection oven:

gallery_65177_6862_279258.jpg

I started with hot water from the tap at 57°C with the oven set to 75°C, and it took about three hours to come to the final temperature of 61.8°C, then the water temperature stabilized within ±0.1°C, the small oscillations following the ±9°C oscillation of the oven temperature (ON/OFF-controller, no PID!).

gallery_65177_6862_226488.jpg

This shows that good temperature stability is possible without a PID-controller, but ramping up in the oven is much too slow, the desired water temperature has to be adjusted by adding boiling water as necessary.

61°C may do for poultry, but for beef I prefer 55°C or less, so I set the oven to 65°C and added a few ice cubes to reduce the water temperature. It stabilized at 55.7±0.1°C. To simulate adding a frozen cut of meat, I dropped an ice-brick of 460g/-20°C in the water, which led to a temperature drop of 7°C with much too slow temperature recovery (several hours).

gallery_65177_6862_407173.jpg

This shows that the temperature drop by adding a bag with food has to be corrected with hot water,

although adding a bag with a pound of meat from the refrigerator (5°C) would induce a less hefty temperature drop than a frozen one.

55.7°C is still more than I like, so I continued the experiment with the oven set to 60°C. Temperature climbed to 54.5°C±0.2°C and remained stable for four hours.

gallery_65177_6862_652572.jpg

At lower oven temperatures, the difference between oven temperature and water temperature was smaller and the oscillation period was longer (12 min. at 75°C, 19 min. at 60°C), both maybe due to less evaporation cooling, and the oscillation amplitude of the water temperature was somewhat higher, maybe due to the longer oscillation periods.

I remember that when I used a smaller stainless steel pan, the difference between oven temperature and water temperature was higher than with the tall enameled pot, about 20°C. With the tall pot, the water surface (evaporation cooling) is smaller relative to the outer surfaces of the pot, so there will be better heat transfer to the pot as a function of a larger heat-transferring surface and maybe due to less reflection of heat by enamel compared to stainless steel.

Conclusions:

  • Sous vide cooking with good temperature stability is possible with a large water-pot in an oven, provided the oven can be set to such low temperatures. (If not, keeping the oven door open by one or a few centimeters may reduce the air temperature in the oven). Longtime-cooking (e.g. 48 hours) needs some baby-sitting, as loss of water volume by evaporation may be an issue (covering the pot would prevent evaporation cooling and change the equilibrium between oven temperature and water temperature), and some ovens switch off after 12 hours or so for safety reasons, necessitating a restart at regular intervals.
  • The target water temperature has to be adjusted by adding cold or hot water, as heat transfer from the oven to the water is too slow (which has the advantage of good temperature stability despite considerable temperature oscillation in the oven).
  • Before starting sous vide cooking, the necessary oven-temperature setting for the desired water temperature has to be determined experimentally; a data logger is not necessary for this purpose, a digital thermometer (with a cable probe), pen and paper will do.


Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

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Sous-vide without buying expensive equipment

What items you need

  • A pot of about 8 litres that will fit in your electric oven
  • A digital thermometer with an immersion probe (1°C resolution is sufficient to begin with, 0.1°C is better)
  • Ziploc bags large enough to accomodate your cut of meat
  • A hole punch
  • A metal skewer a few centimeters longer than the diameter of your pot
  • Paper towel
  • Oven gloves
  • A heavy cast iron skillet
  • Vegetable oil

Calibrating your equipment

Find the oven temperature setting that will yield a water temperature of 55°C, cf. previous post

How to cook

  • measure the thickness of your cut of meat, as thickness, not weight is the factor indicating the cooking time (2cm - ½ hr., 2½cm - ¾ hr., 3cm - 1 hr., 3.5cm - 1½ hrs., 4cm - 2 hrs.)
  • preheat your electric oven to the temperature needed to keep the water at 55°C (in convection mode if available)
  • punch two or three holes in the upper rim of the Ziploc bag with your meat, thread the skewer through the holes, and hang the bag in the pot, placing the skewer over the rim of the pot, fill the pot with hot tap water of 55°C (measure with your immersion thermometer) until just below the zipper of the bag, so that the meat is completely immersed.
  • repeatedly check the water temperature to remain between 54-56°C.
  • cooking times indicated above are minimum times to reach core temperature, they may be prolonged by 1-2 hrs. until you are ready with the rest of your meal.
  • Heat your heavy cast iron skillet with vegetable oil until just smoking
  • Take the meat out of the Ziploc bag, dab dry with paper towel, and give it a short sear (15-30 seconds per surface) to give it a nice brown crust.

Refine your cooking method

  • find out what core temperature suits your taste best
  • if your preferred temperature is below 55°C, you should restrict your cooking time to a maximum of 4 hrs. for safety reasons (microbial contamination); above 56°C you may use longer cooking times (a 70mm thick roast requires 6 hrs. cooking time)
  • if you like, marinate your meat before bagging
  • if you come to like sous vide cooking, be prepared to spend some money for the appropriate equipment to use more exact temperature control and longer cooking times (maybe 24-48 hrs.) in a "shoot and forget" manner; with the oven-waterpot-method you may have to check the temperature every 15 or 30 minutes to keep it constant, and with cooking times longer than 4-6 hrs. water evaporation will become an issue.

gallery_65177_6724_64166.jpgMeasuring thickness of the meat.

gallery_65177_6862_77196.jpg

Closing immersed Ziploc bag, squeezing out all air. See also Douglas Baldwin's video on youtube

gallery_65177_6862_43697.jpg

Ziploc bag threaded on skewer to secure vertical position and avoid floating.


Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

eG Ethics Signatory

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Btw, I find that the Iwatani Butane torch that Doug Baldwin hepped me to works great. It is quite powerful. I was concerned before I bought it that it might be like one of those creme brulee torches. But it isn't. It burns plenty hot and the flame is nice and adjustable to be narrow or wide with a trigger start. And it can develop a nice crust quickly. Torches do require some practice to develop a tasty crust without burning the meat. They run $25 to $30 and the refill cartridges are a couple of dollars a piece (and last a reasonably long time. It works much better than the propane torch that I had before. They can be found at some restaurant supply stores (they seem more common at ones that cater to Asian restaurants) and on the web. Despite the note on the torch to only use Iwatani cartridges, several other types of butane cartridges fit them correctly and work beautifully.

Buy a propane torch, but use MAPP gas.

MAPP is similar to propane but it burns hotter, and has less of an issue with flavor transfer.

I prefer "self-lighting" or "trigger start" propane torches. They are about $50 - available at Amazon, or Home Depot.

Even better, in my view, are torches that give you a hose between the tank and the torch - they are much less tiring to hold. here is an example.

The non-self lighting torches are cheaper - less than $20.

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Without knowing what cuts of steak you are cooking and the time/temperature, it is very hard to offer any advice as to how to improve your results. If the interior seems 'flat', I can think of two possibilities: 1) poor quality meat or 2) inappropriate time/temperature for the cut being cooked.

If you give use some particulars, we might be able to help you troubleshoot. Good quality beef, for instance, cooked appropriately, will shine even if you do nothing but season it correctly (i.e. salt and pepper).

After more than dabbling in SV technique, I am facing a fairly consistent issue so I will chime in for some guidance.

While the texture of all the proteins is terrific, I never really get the flavor to match the quality of the consistency. Even with topping a seared steak or chicken breast with a sauce, the interior is so often 'flat'. This is course is a new problem as it never really happens much for me with other cooking techniques.

I would think the marinade becomes all the more important then. Assuming this to be correct, I would like to hear anyone's go-to marinades. In the beginning I was overly careful about using less with this technique - but for better or worse - I have yet to get overpowered by, say a rosemary branch overpowering a portion of the meat.

Thanks.

PS - Would also like a recommendation on a kitchen torch.

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I second the iwatani. Huge difference to a brulee torch that i now use to light candles. I ordered mine at korin, i think williams sonoma has the iwatani rebranded, for sure they sell the canisters at 8 bucks a pop ... Whis seems expensive but when in pickles ......

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With regard to which torch to get I agree with Nathan's suggestion. I have been using a Bernzomatic propane torch to great effect.

The important thing is to get the outside of the meat very hot very quickly without taking so long that you start to heat up and therefore cook the interior. Obviously the hotter and bigger the flame the quicker you can sear the outside.

I may be one of those who cannot discern the taste of propane, but needless to say none of my dinner guests (and there have been many) have observed any taint. I have yet to try MAPP gas, but when I need a new bottle I'll give it a go.

Regards,

Peter.

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I agree with BlackP.. I've been using a bernzomatic 3 foot hose torch with propane for years, and no one has noticed any propane taint... I think the key is technique - it took a little while to develop the technique I currently use. I use the biggest flame the torch can provide (it's a really big 'swirl' flame) and first doa quick once-over the entire surface to completely dry and get the browning started... Then I sweep back over the areas several times, but never stay in one spot too long or it'll burn.

I'd be curious to try the MAPP gas - from whta I understand, it burns hotter than propane.. I haven't tried it in the past because I wasn't sure if there were any unsafe chemicals in there that might contaminate anything, but I trust Nathan in that he's probably researched this and woulnd't be doing it or recommending it if it wasn't safe.

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We like MAPP gas better than propane . We also like oxy-acetylene or oxy-MAPP torches. These are more expensive, but burn even hotter, which is useful for many things.


Nathan

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I picked up the baldwin sous vide book and it is a helpful resource around the house, but it seems like the temps are awfully high. For example, it says to cook a chicken leg at 175 F for 4-6 hours and the perfect egg is at 148. Does this seem high to anyone else? I'm going to sous vide some chicken thighs for fried chicken today and the other recipes I'm finding say 140 F for one hour is plenty...

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Douglas can respond for himself, but times and temperatures are ultimately a matter of taste. Some people like their chicken thighs cooked more than other people do. There is no single right answer.

60C/140F for an hour will certainly cook them.

If you want to be careful about food safety I would make that 1 hour 45 min or 2 hours.

However, some chicken thighs may still be a little tough then. Also, the fat won't be rendered as much as it would at a higher tempertature for a longer time. We did some tests for my book and I think our preference was 62C/145F for an hour, but I don't have that file handy at the moment.

The chicken also matters - a mature chicken will have much tougher legs/thighs that most frying chickens which are quite young.


Nathan

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I just did the ad hoc fried chicken using thighs and little wings from costco. I cooked the chicken sous-vide at 143 for an hour and then fried half the chicken starting at 370 in a deep fat fryer. I didn't realize the fryer didn't reheat once I added the chicken so it ended up finishing off at around 310. The second half I put in at 360 and the temp stayed up near there the whole time.

It was really delicious but it seems like the skin didn't quite cook/render long enough. You could taste the fatty layer there and while it wasn't totally unpleasant, I didn't care for it too much. Would like to cook that a little longer. So maybe I need to try a lower fry heat and longer? Or should I do something different during the sous vide step to render more fat out?

The wings came out the best.

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The last few posts have gotten me thinking - whenever I do chicken SV, the skin never comes out that great... I'll do breasts at 140F for about 2 hours, or legs/thighs at 145F for about the same time... I'll then dry it off and sear skin side down in a very hot pan to crisp the skin. The surface comes out crisp, but skin is tough, leathery and a little fatty at the same time - I imagine that the temp/time is not sufficient to breaking down the collagen in the skin so it doesn't crisp well when heated. I'm sure if I cooked them much longer, I'd get good skin, but then it would squeeze more liquid out of the meat.

By contrast, I can fry the parts skin side down in a little oil, turn when brown and roast in a 375F oven for 13 minutes and get great skin, and the meat generally comes out really good, but not as consistent as with SV of course.

A while ago, I did some wings for 24 hours at 145F. The lower portion (with the double bone) came out amazing - succulent and you could pull the bones out while leaving the meat intact. After searing on the plancha, the skin was fantastic - I imagine it would be even better if deep fried. The upper arm was very dry....

Has anyone found a way to get great skin and meat with SV?

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I guess you could remove the skin and roast it instead of sous vide. But that is a bit of pain

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Right, and then you have a "chip" of skin - not that that is necessarily a bad thing, but some people are used to the idea that skin should be stuck on the chicken, rather than a chip just precariously balanced on top. I've entertained the idea of meat gluing the pre-cooked skin to the chicken - but cooked skin doesn't have much available protein and it doesn't glue well... when using the GS Activa it works ok, but it's still a real PITA and adds a lot of time to the process.

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Could you use something like nathanm's duck breast trick and freeze the chicken first? Pre-sear the skin side without cooking the meat at all, then SV, then a quick crisp-up at the end?


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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That's an interesting idea... first I've got to get some blocks of dry ice! The biggest problem is that I think most of the conversion/fat rendering actually goes on during the roasting process. When I do the initial sear in the pan, I don't see any additional fat other than the original oil, but after it finishes roasting, there's a noticeable difference in fat quantity as the fat under the skin and elsewhere has rendered. But it would be interesting to freeze the skin first because maybe then I could do the initial sear at lower temps, so it would first render while browning more slowly.

If I can't get a block of dry ice so fast, I wonder what the difference would be if I prescored (a la dog brush) the skin and then froze the whole thigh (not just the skin and area directly below)... then continue with the process... sure it would take a lot longer having to wait for the freezing than just freezing the surface on dry ice, but I think it's worth an attempt.

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The best way to treat skin is separately from meat.

Pull the skin off. Blanch in boiling water, or steam (or cook sous vide at fairly high temp). Then press between two silpats held down with weights and bake in an oven at say 180C/356F until really crispy. Then serve on top of the meat.

We have several other strategies in the cookbook, which are more elaborate. You can blanch the skin off the bird, then reattach via Activa.

If you want to leave the skin on then the dry ice or liquid nitrogen way works great. The dog brush perforations let the fat drain.

You definitely can freeze the thing first. One thing I do is:

- Cook the food (say chicken breast) sous vide.

- Take it out of that bag, and put it in a small pan (like a small saute pan without the handle) with some high temperature oil rubbed on the pan first.

- Put the breast on the pan then vacuum seal the whole thing. This presses the meat very firmly against the pan. Freeze it, then remove the sous vide bag. This gives you a chicken breast with a very flat frozen side.

- Sear the meat on a super hot burner. You can crisp the flesh as much as you like.

- Put the breast, skin side up, on a wire rack in an oven at low temp (65C/149F, or maybe a bit higher) until it thaws all the way through and warms up. This will take a while, and only works well if your oven has good temperature control at low temperature.

This same techinque also works very well with scallops.


Nathan

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Thanks so much for chiming in on this, Nathan. I love the idea of vacuum sealing the whole pan to firmly press the chicken to the pan. In the past, I have pre-rendered skin and then glued it back on with activa GS (I actually did it with duck, not chicken) and it worked pretty well - but it was rather complicated and time consuming to wait until the tg bonds, which is what I'm trying to avoid. I think my next attempt will be to freeze the surface on a flat block and do a medium temp sear.

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