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Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques & Equipment, 2012


rotuts
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Today I made a rib-eye steak sous vide and finished it in my new cast iron skillet. My normal method is to finish on my gas BBQ grill at very high heat and direct flame. I was underwhelmed by the skillet method. Am I expecting too much or did I do something wrong? I put a little peanut oil in the skillet and got it smoking hot, put the patted dry steak in for about 90 seconds per side. Got some browning, mostly on the edges, but not what I'd call a good char and the flavor was bland.

Peanut oil is okay, but rice bran oil can get even hotter without breaking down. As for myself, I usually use a dry cast-iron skillet, with the heat turned up the max, and use a MAP torch to sear the top of the steak until it is nicely browned, then flip the steak and do the other side. I like my steak rare to medium rare, so I cook it sous vide to 51C, so that the searing doesn't overcook it. I think this technique will give you the equivalent results to using the BBQ.

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Today I made a rib-eye steak sous vide and finished it in my new cast iron skillet. My normal method is to finish on my gas BBQ grill at very high heat and direct flame. I was underwhelmed by the skillet method. Am I expecting too much or did I do something wrong? I put a little peanut oil in the skillet and got it smoking hot, put the patted dry steak in for about 90 seconds per side. Got some browning, mostly on the edges, but not what I'd call a good char and the flavor was bland.

Peanut oil is okay, but rice bran oil can get even hotter without breaking down. As for myself, I usually use a dry cast-iron skillet, with the heat turned up the max, and use a MAP torch to sear the top of the steak until it is nicely browned, then flip the steak and do the other side. I like my steak rare to medium rare, so I cook it sous vide to 51C, so that the searing doesn't overcook it. I think this technique will give you the equivalent results to using the BBQ.

Rice bran oil is on my list of things to get. I'm curious as to why you're using the skillet and a torch.

I like my steak rare to medium rare too and typically use 55C.

Mark

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I also heat a cast iron (or blue steel) skillet until it is smoking then add the oil and immediately the meat. If you add the oil first you will heat the smoke point of the oil long before reaching a desirable temperature for searing post sous-vide.

Andrew Vaserfirer aka avaserfi

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I oil the meat, never the pan.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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My biggest struggle with Sous Vide has been in finishing meat, and I have also found that skillet searing leaves something to be desired, particularly in the lack of flavor. I use grapeseed oil on a cast iron griddle preheated for 15 minutes.

I also haven't been enamored with the results achieved with my MAPP gas torch (although it does create a beautiful looking crust, there's something off about the taste...).

The broiler has been the best of the indoor methods so far, but it's just not hot enough, and overcooking becomes a problem for all but the largest cuts.

For now, I'm achieving much better results by letting the cast iron grate on my propane grill heat to at least 700 degrees(550 lid temperature) and finishing on there. I get a lot of smoke, and a few flare ups in the few minutes the meat is on there, but the added flavor is remarkable. I suspect confining the smoke under the lid is what's imparting the additional flavor. I ice bath the bags so the meat goes on the grill cold, to allow a little more maillarding time without overcooking.

Outdoor grilling was my primary method of cooking meat prior to Sous Vide, and the "smokey" flavor profile of grilling is what I prefer.

Edited by GlowingGhoul (log)
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My biggest struggle with Sous Vide has been in finishing meat, and I have also found that skillet searing leaves something to be desired, particularly in the lack of flavor. I use grapeseed oil on a cast iron griddle preheated for 15 minutes.

I also haven't been enamored with the results achieved with my MAPP gas torch (although it does create a beautiful looking crust, there's something off about the taste...).

The broiler has been the best of the indoor methods so far, but it's just not hot enough, and overcooking becomes a problem for all but the largest cuts.

For now, I'm achieving much better results by letting the cast iron grate on my propane grill heat to at least 700 degrees(550 lid temperature) and finishing on there. I get a lot of smoke, and a few flare ups in the few minutes the meat is on there, but the added flavor is remarkable. I suspect confining the smoke under the lid is what's imparting the additional flavor. I ice bath the bags so the meat goes on the grill cold, to allow a little more maillarding time without overcooking.

Outdoor grilling was my primary method of cooking meat prior to Sous Vide, and the "smokey" flavor profile of grilling is what I prefer.

For what its worth, I think MAPP is the wrong torch for finishing meat--it is simply so hot that it is hard to control. There is absolutely no need for the hotter temp of MAPP. Propane and butane are more than hot enough--even with then one needs to take care to form a crust without burning the meat. For beef, I think that the Iwatani blowtorch is great and quite controllable with a bit of practice. If the frying pan isn't working well, with the griddle preheated for 15 minutes, your stove probably doesn't have the BTUs/flame you need for the griddle to maintain the high temperature you need for quick searing. A smaller pan would probably work better. My preference is a very hot pan with no oil when I used on. The more surface area there is, the more of a challenge it is for the stove to pump in heat as fast as it dissipates.

I should also say that I think torches work great for beef but have never had satisfying results with pork or poultry.

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There are two things you want out of your searing device. First, you want high-temperature, which is pretty obvious. Second, you want a lot of thermal mass so that the temperature doesn't drop when it comes in contact with the food. I use a big rectangular cast-iron griddle that covers two burners. I heat it for at least 30 minutes, which gets it up to 500+°F. It's big and heavy, so it won't cool down much when the food hits it.

One way to test temperature before adding any oil is with a drop of water. If the water evaporates into steam after about half a second to a second of contact, the surface is hot, but still not hot enough. At even higher temperature, the water droplet will dance on a supporting layer of steam that keeps most of it from direct contact with the metal. It will actually remain liquid for several seconds. That's what you are looking for. Now add your rice bran or grape seed oil and then add the meat about 5 seconds later.

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There are two things you want out of your searing device. First, you want high-temperature, which is pretty obvious. Second, you want a lot of thermal mass so that the temperature doesn't drop when it comes in contact with the food. I use a big rectangular cast-iron griddle that covers two burners. I heat it for at least 30 minutes, which gets it up to 500+°F. It's big and heavy, so it won't cool down much when the food hits it.

One way to test temperature before adding any oil is with a drop of water. If the water evaporates into steam after about half a second to a second of contact, the surface is hot, but still not hot enough. At even higher temperature, the water droplet will dance on a supporting layer of steam that keeps most of it from direct contact with the metal. It will actually remain liquid for several seconds. That's what you are looking for. Now add your rice bran or grape seed oil and then add the meat about 5 seconds later.

I think that it is important to mention that it needs a lot of thermal mass in comparison to what is being cooked. BUT, you also need a heat source that can supply more heat than s being drained from the device. So, more total mass is not always better if the shape/size of the griddle/pan is too large in relation to your burners, there can be too much surface area and mass for your stove to be able to heat properly.

For example, we have a two-burner sized griddle, but it is too large in relation to our burners to maintain the 700F or so that is desired for a very quick sear. (On our stove the burner adjacent to our high BTU burner just doesn't have enough oomph to supply its share of heat with a two-burner griddle. So, a 12-inch skillet is the largest pan that we can heat to an appropriate temperature.

For any given kitchen, it probably takes some experimentation to find the right pan/burner combination to get the high temps desired.

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My biggest struggle with Sous Vide has been in finishing meat, and I have also found that skillet searing leaves something to be desired, particularly in the lack of flavor. I use grapeseed oil on a cast iron griddle preheated for 15 minutes.

I also haven't been enamored with the results achieved with my MAPP gas torch (although it does create a beautiful looking crust, there's something off about the taste...).

The broiler has been the best of the indoor methods so far, but it's just not hot enough, and overcooking becomes a problem for all but the largest cuts.

For now, I'm achieving much better results by letting the cast iron grate on my propane grill heat to at least 700 degrees(550 lid temperature) and finishing on there. I get a lot of smoke, and a few flare ups in the few minutes the meat is on there, but the added flavor is remarkable. I suspect confining the smoke under the lid is what's imparting the additional flavor. I ice bath the bags so the meat goes on the grill cold, to allow a little more maillarding time without overcooking.

Outdoor grilling was my primary method of cooking meat prior to Sous Vide, and the "smokey" flavor profile of grilling is what I prefer.

For what its worth, I think MAPP is the wrong torch for finishing meat--it is simply so hot that it is hard to control. There is absolutely no need for the hotter temp of MAPP. Propane and butane are more than hot enough--even with then one needs to take care to form a crust without burning the meat. For beef, I think that the Iwatani blowtorch is great and quite controllable with a bit of practice. If the frying pan isn't working well, with the griddle preheated for 15 minutes, your stove probably doesn't have the BTUs/flame you need for the griddle to maintain the high temperature you need for quick searing. A smaller pan would probably work better. My preference is a very hot pan with no oil when I used on. The more surface area there is, the more of a challenge it is for the stove to pump in heat as fast as it dissipates.

I should also say that I think torches work great for beef but have never had satisfying results with pork or poultry.

It's interesting that there is so much disagreement about something so basic!

I suppose I could go back to finishing on the BBQ, but when it is 20F in January, that isn't a very attractive option!

I have used the rice bran oil in the past, based on pedrog's suggestion, but I get way too much smoke and oil in the kitchen as it is, so I use a dry cast iron pan plus a torch. The pan produces some oil from the steak, which is why I flip it

I used to use an Iwatani torch, but personally I find the MAP Pro torch to be better, and easier to ignite. What the difference is between MAP Pro and MAPP, I don't know, but I've never detected any off flavors, and I don't find that it is too hard to control, or singes things too much. The Iwatani was slower, and tended to cause little burnt "knobs" on the meat.

But whatever works for you -- YMMV.

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Guess I'll add my $.02. Just a very hot cast iron, 1/8 inch even pour of grape seed and 5 seconds a side with a quick baste to finish. Deep brown fried crust and never an overcooked ring when I slice. Seems simple enough to me.

A lot of my SV meat like the pork I'm doing right now has added fat in the bag. When I pull it out I only wipe clean leaving a bit of shine on it. Works for me and anyone's kitchen...

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

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It's interesting that there is so much disagreement about something so basic!

I suppose I could go back to finishing on the BBQ, but when it is 20F in January, that isn't a very attractive option!

I have used the rice bran oil in the past, based on pedrog's suggestion, but I get way too much smoke and oil in the kitchen as it is, so I use a dry cast iron pan plus a torch. The pan produces some oil from the steak, which is why I flip it

I used to use an Iwatani torch, but personally I find the MAP Pro torch to be better, and easier to ignite. What the difference is between MAP Pro and MAPP, I don't know, but I've never detected any off flavors, and I don't find that it is too hard to control, or singes things too much. The Iwatani was slower, and tended to cause little burnt "knobs" on the meat.

But whatever works for you -- YMMV.

I should have been clearer. I am also using MAP-Pro, since MAPP is no longer available.

I know the old MAPP gas reportedly left no petroleum byproduct flavors, but I was never able to confirm this for MAP-Pro. Do you ever notice any off flavors imparted by the gas? I haven't, but I haven't used it very much either.

Here's the torch I'm using. I can adjust from a very low to incredibly high flame, it's easy to handle. The flame is very broad as well:

http://www.bernzomatic.com/newsroom/bernzomatic-quickfire-torch.aspx

I never had a problem quickly achieving a great looking crust, it just didn't taste the same as the crust achieved using the other methods. Perhaps I should give it another try.

Edited by GlowingGhoul (log)
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Did a search here. Didn't find anything.

Has anyone done clams sous vide?

Temperature? timing?

Thanks

dcarch

I have done them, but I don't recall the details -- only that I broke the tip off my Shun paring knife, which cost me $106 to replace, because I couldn't find my clam opener in my too-busy kitchen drawer!

The Sous Vide Dash app suggests 12:08 in a water bath of 56C for whole, 10mm clams, which sounds reasonable for smaller clams.

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Did a search here. Didn't find anything.

Has anyone done clams sous vide?

Temperature? timing?

Thanks

dcarch

Haven't tried them, but my first thought is that if they're in a vacuum bag then they might not be able to open, which will play havoc with the common school of thought to discard any mussels/clams that haven't opened during cooking...

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Did a search here. Didn't find anything.

Has anyone done clams sous vide?

Temperature? timing?

Thanks

dcarch

I have done them, but I don't recall the details -- only that I broke the tip off my Shun paring knife, which cost me $106 to replace, because I couldn't find my clam opener in my too-busy kitchen drawer!

The Sous Vide Dash app suggests 12:08 in a water bath of 56C for whole, 10mm clams, which sounds reasonable for smaller clams.

I have done them according to the app. They were cooked just fine, but I don't think I did anything interesting enough seasoning-wise. Just a little lemon zest and a few drops of olive oil if I recall. I generally prefer to steam manilla clams over a good chorizo-tomato-garlic broth and serve with plenty of grilled crusty bread. If some of the same flavors were sealed in the bag, it would probably be interesting.

Haven't tried them, but my first thought is that if they're in a vacuum bag then they might not be able to open, which will play havoc with the common school of thought to discard any mussels/clams that haven't opened during cooking...

You have to shell them before you bag them, or at least that's what I did.

I haven't made them myself, but I have also eaten sous-vide oysters. A very quick cook at a low temperature (sorry I don't have the details) gave them a mildly cooked consistency but kept the briny taste of oysters on the half shell intact.

[Edit: corrected a typo.]

Edited by vengroff (log)

Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

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Guess I'll add my $.02. Just a very hot cast iron, 1/8 inch even pour of grape seed and 5 seconds a side with a quick baste to finish. Deep brown fried crust and never an overcooked ring when I slice. Seems simple enough to me.

A lot of my SV meat like the pork I'm doing right now has added fat in the bag. When I pull it out I only wipe clean leaving a bit of shine on it. Works for me and anyone's kitchen...

One of the other problems that crops up for people when searing sous-vide foods is geometry. If you don't have a nice flat surface on the food, then it's harder to get a nice crisp sear on it, even if you have plenty of heat capacity. Oil solves the problem at a micro level, filling voids in bumpy surfaces, but at the macro level the shape of the food matters too. We've all rolled food around to try to crisp it evenly on all sides.

Today I decided to tackle the geometry problem head on by producing as flat a surface as I possibly could while the food was in the circulator. The idea is that it would be all ready to sear nicely when it came out. Just to be extra hard on myself, I did my first experiment with skin-on chicken, a notorious sous-vide nightmare that many avoid entirely.

How did I do it? I needed something solid and rigid to flatten the surface of the skin in the bag. Whatever was going to do that also needed not to interfere with heat transfer in any significant way. My solution was to use the bottoms of some small springform pans I have. They were just the right size, and their rounded edges were unlikely to cut the plastic bags, even under vacuum. I bagged skin-on bone-in chicken thighs with the skin pressed against the metal disks. Here is what they looked like before I bagged them. I trimmed some of the excess skin so it would not wrap around the underside of the thighs, which was not protected by the disks.

ondisks.jpg

Next I bagged them up. A side benefit of the metal disks was that it was really easy to get the thighs into the bags and place them where I wanted them. Here's what they looked like, top and bottom, after vacuuming and sealing.

bagged.jpg

bagbottom.jpg

From there it was into the circulator 61°C for a little under 90 minutes. After they came out of the bag, they were firm enough that the skin side held its nice round flat shape nicely. As you can see it had shrunk a little bit and exposed a bit of flesh. Next time I'll be a little more careful about trimming the skin so it is perfectly round. Since this was just an initial experiment, I didn't really put the effort in.

skinoutofbag.jpg

There was a fair amount of fat in and around the skin, so I patted a bit of it off and then seared them on dry cast iron. In retrospect, I might have done better with a very thin layer of grape seed oil, as the fat in the skin was not sufficient to 100% prevent sticking. But it worked well enough for a first try. No question the skin was crisp. Here is what the final product looked like, served family style with some roasted delicata squash and pressure cooked collards with smoky bacon.

platter.jpg

closeup.jpg

All in all a very encouraging first attempt with this technique. I was more than happy with it as a family meal. With a little more practice and care, I think it could even be turned into something elegant.

Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code

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In reply to Qwerty (much earlier)

This has probably been suggested before, or somewhere else on this thread but the Sous Vide iPhone app is really handy when you're shopping for food and you need to know temperatures and times for cooking 'at a glance', especially if, like me, you're new to the technique. It's available at www.CookingSousVide.com

:smile:

Edited by ktleee (log)
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Hello,

I'm new to sous vide and would like to cook a thai style chicken curry using a pre-made curry paste. Given that garlic reacts badly in the Sous Vide technique does anyone know if the curry paste which contains garlic will be OK or will I have to do the paste again without the garlic?

Thanks in advance.

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Id like to hear what happend with the Thai experiment. I think all those little cans have garlic in the. I had planned on the next Turkey I SV to cut some breast into strips and add a little of each color coded can into a different bag and see what happens.

Id cook the turkey 140 for 4 hours and then have 'curry to go' reheat and add coconut milk!

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on second thought Ive done something similar many many times: Ck. breast boneless go on sale, I slice up two protions and generously coat with Patak jared indian spices, all kinds and then SV and have 'curry to go' depending on your tastes and the jars this works fine for me.

I like Tika and Vindaloo a lot. Next time Ill add some butter to the Tika.

Edited by rotuts (log)
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One of the other problems that crops up for people when searing sous-vide foods is geometry. If you don't have a nice flat surface on the food, then it's harder to get a nice crisp sear on it, even if you have plenty of heat capacity. Oil solves the problem at a micro level, filling voids in bumpy surfaces, but at the macro level the shape of the food matters too. We've all rolled food around to try to crisp it evenly on all sides.

That is some serious inovation there my friend! For chicken thighs I CSV in an even layer then press after I shock them in ice to get the flat skin surface before frying skin side down.

Edited by ScottyBoy (log)

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

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One of the other problems that crops up for people when searing sous-vide foods is geometry. If you don't have a nice flat surface on the food, then it's harder to get a nice crisp sear on it, even if you have plenty of heat capacity. Oil solves the problem at a micro level, filling voids in bumpy surfaces, but at the macro level the shape of the food matters too. We've all rolled food around to try to crisp it evenly on all sides.

That is some serious inovation there my friend! For chicken thighs I CSV in an even layer then press after I shock them in ice to get the flat skin surface before frying skin side down.

Of course, one of the advantages of using a torch is that it isn't sensitive to the flatness of the surface of the item.

I haven't needed to do this with a flat surface like a steak, but for something like a Cornish game hen, where you would like to preserve the shape and yet still get a nice crisp sear, I love the liquid nitrogen and deep fryer technique discussed in MC.

Your times may vary, but for starters, try dipping the whole game hen in the LN2 for about 15-30 seconds, and then gently immersing it in your deep fat fryer (turned up as high as it will go -- typically 375F) for double the LN2 time.

The relatively short times involved, and the balance between the very cold and the very hot will keep the game hen still nicely warm and juicy, but with a perfect sear.

It might be fun to try this with something like a thick slice of salmon.

I haven't tried it, but I suspect you could achieve very similar results by crushing some dry ice into tiny pellets with a rolling pin, then rolling the game hen in them, then using the fryer.

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Hello, has anyone had any experience with this: http://www.sousvidetools.com/sous-vide-chef-thermal-circulator ?

I would prefer a portable unit that would require less space, and I can't afford the polyscience controller.

Have you considered the Fresh Meals Magic heater/circulator, with the Sous Vide Magic controller? Or just the SVM with a rice cooker or crock pot you already have?

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