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Guy MovingOn

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

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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?

In long-time cooking (48 hours typically) a few hours more or less will not matter, so just put as many bags as necessary in the bath 48 hours before the party (cook-and-hold), and when the party is over and you have some bags left, rapidly chill them in ice-water for later use. Alternatively, you may cook-chill a few days earlier and reheat before the party (heating time according to Douglas Baldwin's tables), but beware, dropping many bags in the water bath may cause a significant temperature drop, so you have to consider the recovery time from the temperature drop. If you need a very large water bath for a big party, see FMM in bath tub

Regards

Pedro


Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

eG Ethics Signatory

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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.

Did you sear before or after the water bath?

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I seared them after the bath and then rested them.

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I've never had an issue with juices coming out of sous-vide cooked meat after searing.

My experience is that you simply sear and serve.

Has anyone had an issue with seared sous-vide cooked meat that led to a requirement to rest it before serving?


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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As this thread is called Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques and Equipment and most of the recent posts seems to be focussing on techniques and equipment, I thought I'd pipe in with a recipe.

Many of the recipes in this thread consist of cooking meat sous vide (sometimes in marinades), searing, and serving with some sort of sauce.

Just to be different, I thought I'd share a new recipe with you that goes outside these parameters.

I cooked a shoulder of pork the other day at 57C for around 24 hours. Salt was added to the package prior to vacuum sealing.

Knowing that pork and prunes are a wonderful combination, I soaked some pitted prunes in port for a few hours, drained them, and then minced the prunes finely.

I cut a thick slice of pork off the shoulder (around 2.5 cm/ 1") thick. Next I spread a layer of the minced prunes on top of the pork. This was then wrapped fully in prosciutto and tied together with kitchen string.

To serve, it is a simple matter of browning the outside of the parcel in a hot frypan. Cut the string and serve with an acid-based sauce to balance the sweetness of the port-infused prunes and the saltiness of the prosciutto-wrapped pork.

The picture below (which has already appeared on the dinner thread) is a previous iteration done with pancetta instead of prosciutto but you can get the general idea of the dish. The prosciutto covered the pork more fully and is my preference for this dish.

It was served on a bed of fennel puree (softened in butter with added chicken stock and processed into a puree) with green beans cooked in a tomato-based pasta sauce.

sous vide pork.jpg


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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So McGee notes that certain enzymes in beef that increase tenderness--specifically the proteolytic cathepsins that diminish contraction of muscle fibers and cause more collagen to dissolve into gelatin creating a "more tender and succulent" meat-- are very active around about 120 F, yet all but mostly denatured by 131 F.

I'm looking for ideas on how to make these enzymes work for me with roast beef while cooking it sous vide. I have a well-marbled top sirloin roast and I want to make very juicy, just medium rare, tender, piece of meat. I'm actually going to slice it into three pieces that are about 2.5" thick and this will allow me to experiment a little by pulling them at different times. So, here is my thought:

Start the water bath at 120 F. Allow the beef to cook for 2 hours. Raise temperature to 131 F and allow the three beef sections to cook for additional periods of time (6 hours, 12 hours, 24 hours respectively).

It seems to me that this protocol would be safe enough to prevent food-borne illness. Can anyone better versed in such things as they pertain to sous vide confirm, given the above times and temperatures, that the food would be safe? If food safety is achieved, would it be possible to extend the time at 120 F to longer than 2 hours safely? If so, what would the maximum time limit be that we could say is safe? Would it be 4 hours? Judging by Douglas Baldwin's guide, it looks to me like the meat must reach 130 F within 6 hours to avoid potential Clostridium perfringens issues. I suppose, then, that if I am reading this correctly, that 4 hours at 120 F could be safe. Any thoughts?

Furthermore, has anyone tried this, and can it be confirmed that the time at 120 F really makes a very noticeable difference for tenderness, especially at the times I'm talking (i.e. 1-4 hours)?

Any other relevant thoughts welcome too.

Very best,

Alan

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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.

I ended up cooking the other brisket that I saved at 57.5C for another 18-19 hours(this means 55C for 48 hours, chilled, then 57.5C for 19 hours). It didnt seem to have any effect whatsoever on the connective tissue. Elastin, and not collagen at fault? Im not sure, I guess if I ever get round to it, I'll pay for a better cut of brisket.

Anyway, I did Baby back pork ribs, 57.3C for 72 hours. Absolutely delicious

4629374834_2faee7726f.jpg

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By the way, even inexpensive brisket can be good quality. The Wagyu brisket that we like is only only $5.99 a pound is very good quality. And some expensive briskets may or not may work well. The key is decent marbling. If there isn't decent interior marbling, it will taste dry even if it is very tender.

The salt content of that brine seems pretty light. Although it probably didn't make a difference here. I think you need at least 5% salt by weight for the brine to have the effect of relaxing the muscle fibers so that the brine penetrates. A 5% or 6% brine won't make the meat taste salty.

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Well, having had no responses and having decided that I really wanted to have a roast beef sandwich for breakfast today, I went ahead as planned. I did take a slight deviation from what I outlined above as my roast turned out to still be partially frozen. I did the following:

I cut the roast into three pieces around 3" thick, sprinkled with salt and pepper, sealed them, and put them in a 100 F water bath for 1 hour. I then increased the temperature to 120 F and let them cook for 2 hours. Finally, I raised the temperature to 131 F and cooked for 12 hours, rather than get up and pull one half way through the night at 6 hours as I had initially planned. I seared and sliced. The beef was beautifully pink and juicy, and hadn't lost very much liquid at all. It was quite tender and held together into slices well, as roast beef tends to do, yet it was much easier to eat than many roast beef sandwiches, as the remaining collagen didn't resist too much when biting through each slice. I guess the best way to put it is that the roast beef didn't risk being pulled out of the sandwich after each bite as sometimes happens even with thinner slices of some roast beef. It seemed to be the best of both worlds, and importantly, it was delicious.

In fact, it was so good that I pulled the last two pieces rather than let them cook for another 12 hours or beyond. Why mess with virtual perfection?

That said, I'm not sure exactly how this translates into a cooking regime for a roast starting closer to refrigeration temperature, as I know it took some time for the roast pieces to finish totally defrosting, and so how long any given part of each piece of beef was at 100 or 120 is only a guess at best.

Anyway, for those of you who enjoy juicy roast beef, this might be worth a try. I'm still interested in what the "experts" have to say about food safety in this case, but reading back over a couple of closely related posts from NathanM, it seems that having the meat under 130 F for fewer than 4 hours and then raising up to 131 F for plenty of time to pasteurize should be safe protocol.

Other thoughts welcome.

Best,

Alan

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100F or 37.78C is way into the danger zone, 120F or 48.89C is in the danger zone. Three hours in the danger zone is pushing it. 131F or 55C is fine.

I'm not sure why you felt you needed to do three-stage cooking. If the final temp was going to be 55, why not start there anyway? Low temp cooking followed by higher temp cooking for extended periods of time seems like a variant on straight higher temp cooking to me. It seems like risk taking to no purpose.

If you feel it adds something to the meat, try an experiment where you cook one piece with the first two stages and then toss another in at the target temperature for 12 hours. My bet is that you will not be able to recognize the difference.


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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I'm not sure why you felt you needed to do three-stage cooking.

Hi Nick,

I don't think that I'd say that I felt I "needed" to do it, but if you'd like to know why I "wanted" to do it, then take a look at what I wrote a couple of posts up.

Also, I'm certainly no micro-biologist, but shouldn't pasteurizing after 3 hours in the temperature danger zone, which at any rate is within the window considered "safe" by the FDA (i.e. under 4 hours), solve any potential food safety issue?

Alan

ETA: I'm really asking this question here.


Edited by A Patric (log)

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“Pasteurized foods must either be eaten immediately or rapidly chilled and refrigerated to prevent

the outgrowth and multiplication of spores. Moreover, the center of the food should reach 130°F

(54.4°C) within 6 hours to prevent the toxin producing pathogen Clostridium perfringens from multiplying

to dangerous levels (Willardsen et al., 1977). Raw or unpasteurized food must never be served

to highly susceptible or immune compromised populations. Even for immune competent individuals,

it is important that raw and unpasteurized foods are consumed before food pathogens have had time to

multiply to harmful levels. With this in mind, the US Food Code requires that such food can only be

between 41°F (5°C) and 130°F (54.4°C) for less than 4 hours (Anon., 2005b, 3-501.19.B). “

I try to clarify the 4h-6h-rule:

If you go for ≥ 54.4°C and pasteurizing conditions, you have to heat your food from 4°C to 54.4°C core temperature within 6 hours. If you do not go for pasteurizing conditions, e.g. when cooking fish to 43.5°C, the food must not be more than 4 hours between 5°C and 54.4°C. That’s why the heating time tables do not go beyond 55mm thickness for temperatures < 54.4°C (4-hr-rule) and not beyond 70mm tickness for temperatures > 54.4°C (6-hr-rule).

Ah, the 4-hr verse 6-hr rules. In truth, it is all rather arbitrary.

Both these rules are based on the arbitrary view that the target pathogen should not divide more than 10 times (so a 2^10 ~ 10^3 increase in pathogens). The US Food Code specifies 4 hours because the fastest growing food pathogen could increase by 10^3 if held between 110--115F (43--46C) for 4.6 hours. However, if you are pasteurizing the meat, then you only need to worry about food pathogens which produce toxins. Therefore, when pasteurizing, your goal is to limit the growth of C. perfringens to less than 10 generations --- that is, a heat up from 41F (5C) to 130F (54.4C) of less than 6 hours. [in terms of taste, some spoilage bacteria grow a little faster than the fastest growing food pathogen. So, if you meat has a high spoilage bacterial load, it could taste spoiled (though completely safe) if the heat up from 41F (5C) to 130F (54.4C) takes a full 6 hours.]

Alan, I hope this answers your question.

Pedro


Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

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I don't know about the food safety aspect but I seem to recall that these enzymes take a long time to have an impact -- so even though their action increases as the temp approaches 120F, I am not sure if the few hours that the meat will spend there will actually have a noticeable impact.

I suspect if you cooked at 131 for the whole time, you would have gotten the same result. In the future, there isn't any benefit to defrosting in 100F water before setting it to 120F. I would recommend trying it at 131F or 132F the whole time and seeing if the result is any different.

When Heston Blumenthal does his low temp (122F) prime rib (which is done in the oven and not sous-vide) it cooks for 24 hours (after sterilizing the outside with a blow torch).

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See Harold McGee, On Food & Cooking, page 152: muscle fiber weakening enzymes are active up to 50°C, above they get inactivated. (Collagenase is active in the fifties, and gets inactivated towards 60°C).

Aging beef can be done at room temperature for 24h (I used to do this, acidifying below pH 4 with marinade containing mustard to prevent bacterial growth), or you can do "turbo conditioning" at 49°C for one hour, but then you should avoid olive in the marinade, as it is said to give an off-flavor. In my experience, the effect of turbo-conditioning is rather marginal, but I did not make a double-blind comparison.

@ Alan, will you do the comparison?


Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

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In the future, there isn't any benefit to defrosting in 100F water before setting it to 120F. I would recommend trying it at 131F or 132F the whole time and seeing if the result is any different.

I wasn't attempting to defrost at 100 F, though certainly that did happen. The thought was that there are other proteolytic enzymes that are denatured at temperatures just above 100 F, and I wondered what holding at 100 F would do. As mentioned, it is hard to know how much time the meat actually spent at 100 F, or 120 F for that matter, since the meat started semi-frozen, but that was the thought at least.

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This will be an interesting experiment.

Nathan M modelled his cooking times with regard to the thermal conductivity of meat so it should be possible to mathematically predict the times that a piece of meat spends at various temperatures given a set temperature water bath and knowledge of the size of the cut of meat.

If, as it seems, you are trying for some additional tenderisation of the meat by way of an artificial aging process, you may need to take the following into account in your experiment:

1. type of meat (cut, marbling, etc)

2. degree of aging that the meat already has undergone (presumably it reaches an asymptote in terms of desirable tenderness)

3. initial temperature of the meat

4. thickness of the cut

5. any artificial tenderisation (jaccarding, marinating).

With a tender cut like top sirloin, as you used, some commentators have observed that it goes mushy with extended cooking periods although, being a roast, the thickness of the meat may require prolonged cooking to reach the target temperature throughout the cut.

Perhaps you might want to try the experiment with a more robust cut where the differences would be more obvious. I'd suggest a British topside cut (US equivalent: the back and upper part of the round steak).


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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I cooked a shoulder of pork the other day at 57C for around 24 hours. Salt was added to the package prior to vacuum sealing.

Knowing that pork and prunes are a wonderful combination, I soaked some pitted prunes in port for a few hours, drained them, and then minced the prunes finely.

I cut a thick slice of pork off the shoulder (around 2.5 cm/ 1") thick. Next I spread a layer of the minced prunes on top of the pork. This was then wrapped fully in prosciutto and tied together with kitchen string.

Well, this inspired me to try it out. Due to a prosciutto error (prosciutto cotto? looked more like boiled ham...), I had to use bacon. I'll also add that I didn't used pitted prunes, figuring I could pit after the soak easily enough .... wrong. Major PITA. But got it done :) I served with bread, swiss chard and [sour]cornichon. I made a sauce from some of the port, some juice from the bag (heated and strained first), shallots, thyme and a splash of vinegar. I also put a little thyme on the meat when coating it with the prunes. It was quite delicious. Next time I'd make the sauce a little more acidic. Thanks for the great suggestion!

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He, I have problems cooking foie gras sous vide. I followed the recipe from the Fat Duck cookbook, cooking at 60C/140F to the same internal temperature, but the liver almost completely broke down. I used fresh liver. It has to be vacuum packed at full pressure. Could that be the problem (breaking down the cell walls)? Other thoughts? http://bit.ly/bYNUXi


Edited by Jan Stoel (log)

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Blumenthal's recipe calls for frozen liver. This would impact on timings, vacuum packing, etc. Fresh would disintegrate.


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Fois

If you look at the pictures by Francois, it seems his would have broken down as well but he used a lower temp and he stabilized it with a carton cylinder while chilling it overnight - in the end it kept it's shape.

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From fresh, I'd probably opt for a core temperature target of 54C. See this post by PedroG on several temperatures that have been used, some unsuccessfully.


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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