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Guy MovingOn

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

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Sous vide in original plastic packaging?

...

I am holding a Hormel pork tenderloin, packaged in heavy vacuum sealed plastic. Is there a reason NOT to just drop this into my SousVideMagic-controlled slow cooker? Is there something about either the composition of the plastic or its thickness that would make it inappropriate?

I have had mixed results.

One of the best zero effort meals I have found is a chicken sandwich which is made by cooking one of the Purdue Boneless Skinless Chicken breasts individually bagged with Italian Style marinade by Purdue. I cook at 141 F (or 146 F if I am in more of a hurry) timed by Douglas Baldwin's tables. Each bag contain one thin chicken breast and is perfect for a sandwich. I serve the chicken on a bun (toasted or warmed with melted butted and garlic ).

The other extreme I had was some beef from Allen Brothers. I defrosted a frozen package of beef in my circulator (with the temperature set below room temperature). The bag leaked.

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It sounds exciting but at 1500 pages of self published technical data sounds like it could be expensive.

The book project is coming along very well.

Yes, it is going to be expensive. Current plan is ~1500 pages, bound into 3 volumes in a boxed set. We looked at a physical prototype of the book yesterday (with blank pages)- it weighs about 30 lbs. One thing I found interesting is that they say that there will be between 1 and 2 lbs of ink!

We have not set pricing yet, but it will likely be in the $300 range. Heston's Big Fat Duck coobook came out at $250, and the el bulli books are $350. We have about 3X the number of pages as el bulli books, and almost that multiple for Heston's book. So if we had the same price per page it would $1000+. The Joan Roca sous vide book is $200 for a much smaller number of pages - indeed our sous vide chapter is longer than his book.

We hope to eventually produce a cost reduced version. Heston has done that with a much cheaper $75 verison of his book, but it did not come out until long after the main version.

I know there will be people who will be upset about the price. I'm interested in getting feedback on this. I think that a lot of the issue is that cookbooks are typically priced very cheaply. It is a bit odd that to eat Thomas Keller's food you pay $250 per person at Per Se or French Laundry - the book is about the same as the tip on one meal.

We have taken a no-compromise approach to making the book with both thousands of person-hours of effort by a large team. We also have no-compromise in terms of photographs - we have color photos on every page. That is really expensive to produce, and expensive to print. Cookbooks published in the US cut corners everywhere - there are very few photos and the like. Most European cookbooks do too, but to a lesser extent, and books like Big Fat Duck cookbook, or el bulli cookbooks have much higher production values. However these books tend not to have as much in the way of step-by-step directions.

Since Intellectual Ventures is an invention company, do you plan on protecting your research by filing for patents?

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It is actually quite hard to find inventions in food that are both novel and worth patenting. Novelty is hard because most food ideas are pretty old. Sous vide dates to the late 1970s for example.

Another factor is the market size. Techniques which are only used by high end chefs would never return the cost of filing the patent. The only food inventions that make sense to patent are things that relate to high volume commercial food.

If we do come up with a food invention relevant to large scale commercial food then yes, we would consider patenting it. However our cookbook project is not aimed in that direction so it is pretty unlikely.


Nathan

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It is actually quite hard to find inventions in food that are both novel and worth patenting. Novelty is hard because most food ideas are pretty old. Sous vide dates to the late 1970s for example.

Another factor is the market size. Techniques which are only used by high end chefs would never return the cost of filing the patent. The only food inventions that make sense to patent are things that relate to high volume commercial food.

If we do come up with a food invention relevant to large scale commercial food then yes, we would consider patenting it. However our cookbook project is not aimed in that direction so it is pretty unlikely.

Thanks for responding to my concerns, Nathan. I first heard about your book at a David Chang book signing (he's very excited about it). A few weeks later I stumbled upon an article about IV and became concerned. I feel much better now and appreciate your candor.

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Yesterday after picking up a new big bag of cat litter, I walked across the street from the pet store to one of our better butchers. Because I can't pass up walking into a good butcher shop when I'm there. He had 6 poorly trimmed (read very meaty) prime rib roast bones in the case. I'll take those please ... yes ... all of them.

I had them at 60 C for about 18 hours, then finished them over >500 F charcoal for about 45 secs a side.

Holy <bleep> they were the best <bleeping> beef I've ever had. All kinds of yummy charring on the outside, but still med-rare on the inside.

I just had salt, pepper, canola oil, and some liquid smoke in the bag.

I'm just lucky that I didn't cook all of them, so that I still have some left for while my wife is in Korea ;) She'll get awesome street food, and I'll get sv prime rib bones.

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Doug - I note from your "Practical Guide" that you have a reference on egg pasteurisation.

The suggested conditions are 57C for at least 1 hour 15.

Seems to me that it might be practical/convenient to do some alongside when doing beef at a standard 55C.

Any suggestions for duration to equivalent pateurisation at that temperature? (From Schuman or yourself.)


"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Hi Merridith,

I reply to your PM concerning pasteurizing in the forum, as food safety aspects in sous vide cooking are even more important than in traditional cooking and should be of general interest.

Poultry:

See post #3535 Beware microbes in poultry. Pasteurizing poultry is mandatory (see Food Safety Hazards And Controls For The Home Food Preparer page 2).

Texture may be better with shorter pasteurizing times at higher temperatures, so e.g. for a 25mm thick (see Measuring thickness ) chicken breast 69 minutes at 60.5°C may be preferable to 138 minutes at 57.5°C (see table 4.7 in Douglas Baldwin's Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking ).

Meat:

Pasteurizing is required only for immune compromised persons and is only suggested for everyone else.

Tender meat: with cooking times up to 4 hours you are free to select the core temperature suiting your taste. My personal preference is 52°C for pork and veal, 53°C for beef and 55°C for lamb racks.

Tough meat: long time (12-48h) cooking is required to gelatinize collagen, so 55°C is microbiologically safe (even if your SV bath should be off by 1°C), enzymatically (collagenase) adequate, and results in a medium-rare to medium aspect.

Fish:

As fish live in cold water, their (autolytic and other) enzymes as well as microorganisms living on them are adapted to work at 0-5°C. So storing fish in a household refrigerator will not prevent spoilage and self-digestion of fish. Eat fish before it eats itself! The freshest fish is frozen fish, and professional freezing (-35°C for 15 hours or -23°C for seven days, see Harold McGee, On Food & Cooking 2004, page 186f.) kills parasites like Anisakis worms, allowing you to cook fish rare to medium-rare (43-49°C) instead of pasteurizing at 60.5°C. Note that freezing kills parasites only, not unicellular microorganisms. So if in doubt or if serving immune compromised persons, go for pasteurizing.

Regards

Pedro


Edited by PedroG (log)

Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

eG Ethics Signatory

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Any suggestions for duration to equivalent pateurisation at that temperature? (From Schuman or yourself.)

55C for two hours is good combination for pasteurizing eggs.

Basically it takes about 35 min for an egg to come up to temperature and then another 1.5 hours for pasteurization. The time is relatively independent of the size of the egg - varying by only a few minutes.

57C is too high, in my view, for egg pasteurization. You can do it but you will modify the yolk more than you would want. A pasteurized egg ought to seem raw inside so you can use it for raw egg dishes.


Nathan

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Before I ask my newbie food-safety question, I just want to say that I find this thread to be incredibly helpful - I've made a few things (most notably an unbelievable 72-hour short rib), and between this and Douglas Baldwin's site, I've felt extremely well equipped.

So today is my first attempt at cooking sous vide not for immediate consumption (also the first time I'm using it purely for convenience, rather than effect). I've read Douglas Baldwin's guide, but still have some questions.

Basically what I'm trying to do is cook some chicken to "well done" for shredding. I had some frozen boneless/skinless breasts, which I sealed and cooked (from a hard freeze) to 160F for about 3-4 hours total. Pulled them, check the internal temperature (they were 160), then removed them from the bags and dropped them in some ice water until they were cold. Put them in the fridge (with the ice water) for about 2-3 hours, then took them out of the water and refrigerated for another 24 hours or so.

Now I want to shred it, but want to make sure I didn't do anything stupid vis-a-vis pathogens. My thought is that since I brought the chicken up so high and chilled it quickly to get out of the danger zone, I should be solid (also only holding it for a day), but just wanted to check and make sure I'm not killing myself.

Thanks in advance!

-Ben


Edited by kurl (log)

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Ben,

I think you are on the safe side, but leaving your protein in the intact bag for rapid chilling in ice-water and storing in the refrigerator would make it even safer.


Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

eG Ethics Signatory

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Poultry:

See post #3535 Beware microbes in poultry. Pasteurizing poultry is mandatory (see Food Safety Hazards And Controls For The Home Food Preparer page 2).

Texture may be better with shorter pasteurizing times at higher temperatures, so e.g. for a 25mm thick (see Measuring thickness ) chicken breast 69 minutes at 60.5°C may be preferable to 138 minutes at 57.5°C (see table 4.7 in Douglas Baldwin's Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking ).

Meat:

Pasteurizing is required only for immune compromised persons and is only suggested for everyone else.

Tender meat: with cooking times up to 4 hours you are free to select the core temperature suiting your taste. My personal preference is 52°C for pork and veal, 53°C for beef and 55°C for lamb racks.

Tough meat: long time (12-48h) cooking is required to gelatinize collagen, so 55°C is microbiologically safe (even if your SV bath should be off by 1°C), enzymatically (collagenase) adequate, and results in a medium-rare to medium aspect.

Fish:

As fish live in cold water, their (autolytic and other) enzymes as well as microorganisms living on them are adapted to work at 0-5°C. So storing fish in a household refrigerator will not prevent spoilage and self-digestion of fish. Eat fish before it eats itself! The freshest fish is frozen fish, and professional freezing (-35°C for 15 hours or -23°C for seven days, see Harold McGee, On Food & Cooking 2004, page 186f.) kills parasites like Anisakis worms, allowing you to cook fish rare to medium-rare (43-49°C) instead of pasteurizing at 60.5°C. Note that freezing kills parasites only, not unicellular microorganisms. So if in doubt or if serving immune compromised persons, go for pasteurizing.

Hi Pedro,

I believe that you made a significant omission in the posting about food safety.

It is my understanding that the only beef that is safe to eat unpasteurized is intact muscle meat whose complete outer surface has been sterilized (usually post-cooking by searing but there are other methods, too).

Ground beef is much more dangerous to eat unpasteurized than chicken. There are modern varieties of e-coli that are far more dangerous than the pathogens that you are likely to ingest if eating undercooked chicken.

It would also be risky to eat an unpasteurized piece of beef whose outer-surface wasn't sterilized. Yes, many people do it and don't get terribly ill. BUT, there is no recourse if you get one of the really nasty strains of e coli that have developed in the last 30 years.

Best,

Edward

Hi Edward,

I agree with you. Any ground meat must be cooked to pasteurizing conditions, and the same is true for any meat that has been jaccarded, larded, injected or otherwise surface contaminants have been transported into the meat.

I took it for granted that meat cooked sous vide will be seared before or after cooking. When post-searing, an additional safety measure may be dunking the bag in boiling water for a few seconds after sealing.

Regards

Pedro


Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

eG Ethics Signatory

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Has anyone experimented with the larger clams, especially razors and geoduck slices, and come up with a time and temperature which they have found pleasing? I'm especially interested in razors - I've done them sous vide twice over the past week, and have been delighted with the body texture (which ended up better than raw, and better than almost every time I've sautéed or pan-fried them), but less so with that of the muscular foot. The foot texture came out OK, but I'm wondering if there's a way to keep all the juice in the meat, but end up with a "tenderized" foot. Today's experiment was butter-poaching them in the water bath at 108ºF, or 42ºC. The package was only about ½" (1 ¼ cm) thick, and I let them stay in the bath for a couple of hours. (I was making a half gallon of yogurt at the same time, so I could have had up to 10 hours, if I had thought it would have made a difference.) Last time was a couple of degrees warmer, and in only for an hour; I liked the cooler temp better. Long cooking times in treatments like traditional chowders result in a tender foot, but the juices have been long since pushed out into the broth, and the now-tender pieces of foot really don't have much flavor left. (Chowders are also typically simmered at temperatures high enough so that it's unlikely that you'll kill yourself.) Any ideas? Tanx,

Paul


Edited by PaulDWeiss (log)

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I just cooked a slab of beef brisket at 55C for 48h, I did a lot of prior research to this because brisket is one of those meats where there seem to be a lot of differing views on what temperature it should be cooked at. I ended up going for the lowest temperature I could find. I didn't find the results very satisfactory, the meat was nicely cooked, it could have been a little bit rarer, but that isnt the main issue, the meat was very tough, in the sense that was a lot of elastic tissue holding the meat together. Im not sure what I did wrong, reading up on past user experiences, especially this blog, who had a very similar outcome to mind, despite him cooking at 64C. I think its most likely that I got sold a cheap brisket (with more elastin than normal?), but I'd love to hear any other views.

4615625300_3575cd3b82_b.jpg

I'd also like to clear up some confusion that I've been having. Most sites I've read state that collagen dissolves at 60C, but the Baldwin tables indicate collagen begins dissolving at 55C, which is correct?

Important info: Meat was brined in 4% salt, 3% sugar, dash of liquid smoke soln for 2.5 hours

The entire slab of meat(see picture), cost US$16

Meat was cooked with the fat cap on, but it was lightly seared before vacuum packing

I felt that the meat was a little dry, but looking at the cross section of the uncooked meat, there was very little marbling on the meat

4615626450_534bd11ac9_b.jpg

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Doug is right about the temperature but keep in mind that the speed at which the reaction happens is temperature dependent. The lower the temperature, the longer it takes. Probably, you needed to could it longer. I would recommend cooking at 56 or 57 celsius -- at 48 hours it should be fork tender.

Also, you should trim all the excess fat you can before cooking. It won't render at these temperatures. "The flat" part of a brisket has very little interior marbling unless you use Wagyu beef or a very high-quality brisket. A lot of butchers only carry the middle unmarbled section. Such meat will become tender when cooked long enough BUT it will also seem somewhat dry. Part of a brisket has a lot of interior marbling and gives much nicer results sous-vide -- although that part of a brisket also has parts that are so fatty that they really are best chopped up after cooking and used for making hash the next day.

All that being said, brisket is very hit & miss because the quality of briskets seems to vary a lot even from the same purveyor. I also personally feel that the best briskets while very nice are not nearly as delectable as sous-vide short ribs at the same temperature. I have never had a dinner guest do anything but rave about short ribs and how amazing they are. The best briskets that I have done people have liked quite a bit but they don't beg me to cook it again like they do with short ribs.

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I just cooked a slab of beef brisket at
55C for 48h
, I did a lot of prior research to this because brisket is one of those meats where there seem to be a lot of differing views on what temperature it should be cooked at. I ended up going for the lowest temperature I could find. I didn't find the results very satisfactory, the meat was nicely cooked, it could have been a little bit rarer, but that isnt the main issue, the
meat was very tough
, in the sense that was a lot of
elastic tissue holding the meat together
. Im not sure what I did wrong, reading up on past user experiences, especially
, who had a very similar outcome to mind, despite him cooking at 64C. I think its most likely that I got sold a cheap brisket (with more elastin than normal?), but I'd love to hear any other views.

I'd also like to clear up some confusion that I've been having. Most sites I've read state that collagen dissolves at 60C, but the Baldwin tables indicate collagen begins dissolving at 55C, which is correct?

Important info: Meat was brined in 4% salt, 3% sugar, dash of liquid smoke soln for 2.5 hours

The entire slab of meat(see picture), cost US$16

Meat was cooked with the fat cap on, but it was lightly seared before vacuum packing

I felt that the meat was a little dry, but looking at the cross section of the uncooked meat, there was very little marbling on the meat

mis,

I had the same brisket-flop last Xmas (Frank Hsu quoted me in this blog ), and I also suspect I had a cut of "brisket" that was not beef breast but some other cut containing more elastin than collagen (which according to Douglas Baldwin occurs in some muscles in the rump). Since then I always look for a cut which has obviously been cut from the ribs, i.e. I can see the intercostal muscles. Apart from this flop, my briskets 55°C/48h always were fork-tender and succulent. I have no experience with short ribs.

My other preferred cuts are "brisket" from veal 55°C/24h, veal shoulder 55°C/5h (16h was too much, falling apart), beef shoulder 55°C/50h, which all came out even more tender than brisket.

Here is an explanation on gelatinizing of collagen from Douglas Baldwin (personal communication 26.12.2009):

As a small note, enzymatic tenderizing only occurs in the first six or so hours at temperatures below about 60C --- and only splits a special bond in native collagen. The rest of the tenderizing at 55C and above is caused by the heat induced breakdown of collagen into gelatin --- that is, the native or intact collagen's triple-stranded helix is destroyed to a great extent by thermal energy and becomes random coils which are soluble in water.

Our experiences with tenderizing tough meat show that thermal breakdown of collagen, contrary to Harold McGee's On Food & Cooking (page 152) and to http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/371756/meat-processing/50359/Structural-changes , does occur at temperatures well below 70°C, but it takes much more time.

Regards

Pedro


Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

eG Ethics Signatory

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Thanks for the information, the knowledge in this forum is astounding. I actually cooked two briskets and I froze the other. I think I will try to thaw and cook the other one at 57C for another 24 hours soon, the meat will probably be pretty dry but it'd be interesting to see if the extra 24h at a higher temp has a significant effect on the collagen. Will post my findings when I get round to doing it.

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I've been wondering about SV workflow in restaurant volumes. (I'm a home cook who has now done lots of successful one-offs, but would like to do a larger dinner party which may happen in waves.) How do you manage long-cooking SV for service, and still be assured of having enough?

Let's assume that we're cooking something that takes much longer than 1 hour to cook, like short ribs, for example. Do you cook to completion, then chill or freeze, then bring it back up to temp once ordered? Or do you hold it at temp, or maybe below (but still safe), then finish for service?

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Mis, I just tried my first brisket, a little over 2 lbs. First I used the Jaccard machine to tenderize it; then brined it in a solution of 40 g Kosher salt, 30 g sugar, 2 litres water; 1 Tablespoon coriander seed, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 2 sprigs fresh thyme, 2 bay leaves for 6 hours. Cooked it at 57.2 degrees C for 72 hours. Here is picture and it was fork tender.

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Also tried lamb rack last night. It was 35 mm thick at the big end. Did it at 50 degrees C for 1:36. Seared in a very hot pan for 2 minutes a side then rested in foil for 5 minutes. It registered 122 degrees F on my Thermapen when it was ready to serve. It was quite rosy and I would have preferred it a little more done. I think I'll try 51 degrees C for the same time.

DSC_0159.jpg

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Next up were lamb shanks. One per bag and they were about 22 mm thick. Did them at 54.5 degrees C for 1:40 (1hr/40min). They were fork tender and still nice and pink.

DSC_0171.jpg

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54.5C times 1:40 seems like an awfully short time and an awfully low temperature for something with as much connective tissue as a lamb shank.


--

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Did these awhile back and you're right. Sorry got my notes mixed up with the rack. It was 36 hours, duh. I'm new to sous vide.

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The lamb rack looks darker than I'd have expected at 50c! I cooked a few lamb rib chops at 55c for 80 minutes, and they were very consistently pink throughout.

6.JPG

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