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Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques & Equipment, 2012


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Hi Morkai,

Since there seems to be quite a bit of confusion, I thought perhaps that I might chime in. This is mostly a review of the food safety section of my guide and of my IJGFS article.

Let's go through things step-by-step:

  1. You buy meat from a trusted source that doesn't have a strong smell, isn't slimy, and is before the best-by or use-by date. We hope that this will keep the number of microorganisms low, say less than 10/g of each of the Salmonella species, Listeria monocytogenes, etc. and less than 100/g of Clostridium perfringens (cf. Snyder 1995). We want this because it takes from 104 to more than 1010 of the different Salmonella species to make a healthy person ill; an immune compromised person needs as few as one to ten infective, active pathogens to make them ill.
  2. You thoroughly wash your hands, using the double-wash method, before you start cooking or after you use the toilet. This is important because pasteurization for the Salmonella species, the pathogenic strains of E. coli, and Listeria monocytogenes does not reduce viruses like Hepatitis A or norovirus to a safe level. (The double-wash method first uses a brush with soap to clean under the fingernails, followed by a rinse, followed by more soap that's worked into a lather, another rinse, and drying with paper towels.)
  3. You seal the meat in pouches, using the water-displacement method or using a vacuum sealer. Both these methods make it so there is little or no air between the food and the pouch and so allows for the efficient transfer of heat from the water to the food. I always assume there's enough oxygen for the bacteria that need it and that there isn't any oxygen for the bacteria that need that, because I can imagine cases where either is true.
  4. You put the meat in the pre-heated water bath. If your not pasteurizing, you want to keep it above 27°C/80°F for less one hour (FDA, 2011). If you're pasteurizing, you want to limit the amount of toxins that are formed and aren't destroyed by heating: so you want to keep it above 21°C/70°F and below 48°C/118.4°F for less than 2 hours (FDA, 2011). This is equivalent to requiring that the core of the food reaches 54.4°C/130°F within six hours. Now you hold the food at or above 52.3°C/126.1°F until any active pathogens have been reduced to a safe level. For healthy people, a 3-log10 reduction of the Salmonella species is generally recommend; for immuno-compromised people, a 7-log10 reduction is generally recommended. You can hold it here indefinitely from a food safety perspective or an optimum amount of time (give or take 10%) for texture.
  5. You then serve the food or chill the food rapidly to limit sporulation of Clostridium perfringens (since it creates its toxins while sporulating); cooling to 4.4°C/40°F within 11 hours is generally recommended. Given the small size of your short-ribs, refrigerating them likely accomplished this.
  6. Now you can refrigerate or freeze the food. You can freeze indefinitely (though taste is usually degraded after 6 to 18 months). When refrigerating, you want to limit spore outgrowth and subsequent multiplying; the limiting pathogen is Clostridium botulinum and the recommended storage times are: below 2.5°C/36.5°F for up to 90 days; below 3.3°C/38°F for less than 31 days; below 5°C/41°F for less than 10 days; or below 7°C/44.5°F for less than 5 days.
  7. Now you reheat so that the food is above 21°C/70°F and below 48°C/118.4°F for less than 2 hours (FDA, 2011) to limit toxin formation by Clostridium botulinum, Bacillus cereus, and Clostridium perfringens.

My Guide: A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking, which Harold McGee described as "a wonderful contribution."

My Book: Sous Vide for the Home Cook US EU/UK

My YouTube channel — a new work in progress.

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Hi Morkai,

Since there seems to be quite a bit of confusion, I thought perhaps that I might chime in. This is mostly a review of the food safety section of my guide and of my IJGFS article.

Let's go through things step-by-step:

  1. You buy meat from a trusted source that doesn't have a strong smell, isn't slimy, and is before the best-by or use-by date. We hope that this will keep the number of microorganisms low, say less than 10/g of each of the Salmonella species, Listeria monocytogenes, etc. and less than 100/g of Clostridium perfringens (cf. Snyder 1995). We want this because it takes from 104 to more than 1010 of the different Salmonella species to make a healthy person ill; an immune compromised person needs as few as one to ten infective, active pathogens to make them ill.
  2. You thoroughly wash your hands, using the double-wash method, before you start cooking or after you use the toilet. This is important because pasteurization for the Salmonella species, the pathogenic strains of E. coli, and Listeria monocytogenes does not reduce viruses like Hepatitis A or norovirus to a safe level. (The double-wash method first uses a brush with soap to clean under the fingernails, followed by a rinse, followed by more soap that's worked into a lather, another rinse, and drying with paper towels.)
  3. You seal the meat in pouches, using the water-displacement method or using a vacuum sealer. Both these methods make it so there is little or no air between the food and the pouch and so allows for the efficient transfer of heat from the water to the food. I always assume there's enough oxygen for the bacteria that need it and that there isn't any oxygen for the bacteria that need that, because I can imagine cases where either is true.
  4. You put the meat in the pre-heated water bath. If your not pasteurizing, you want to keep it above 27°C/80°F for less one hour (FDA, 2011). If you're pasteurizing, you want to limit the amount of toxins that are formed and aren't destroyed by heating: so you want to keep it above 21°C/70°F and below 48°C/118.4°F for less than 2 hours (FDA, 2011). This is equivalent to requiring that the core of the food reaches 54.4°C/130°F within six hours. Now you hold the food at or above 52.3°C/126.1°F until any active pathogens have been reduced to a safe level. For healthy people, a 3-log10 reduction of the Salmonella species is generally recommend; for immuno-compromised people, a 7-log10 reduction is generally recommended. You can hold it here indefinitely from a food safety perspective or an optimum amount of time (give or take 10%) for texture.
  5. You then serve the food or chill the food rapidly to limit sporulation of Clostridium perfringens (since it creates its toxins while sporulating); cooling to 4.4°C/40°F within 11 hours is generally recommended. Given the small size of your short-ribs, refrigerating them likely accomplished this.
  6. Now you can refrigerate or freeze the food. You can freeze indefinitely (though taste is usually degraded after 6 to 18 months). When refrigerating, you want to limit spore outgrowth and subsequent multiplying; the limiting pathogen is Clostridium botulinum and the recommended storage times are: below 2.5°C/36.5°F for up to 90 days; below 3.3°C/38°F for less than 31 days; below 5°C/41°F for less than 10 days; or below 7°C/44.5°F for less than 5 days.
  7. Now you reheat so that the food is above 21°C/70°F and below 48°C/118.4°F for less than 2 hours (FDA, 2011) to limit toxin formation by Clostridium botulinum, Bacillus cereus, and Clostridium perfringens.

Thank you for the detailed account. I had been reading that Clostridium botulinum does not like acidic or salty environments. Considering the marinade is heavily sugared, has a good bit of soy sauce, is it reasonable to assume this is an extra degree of prevention in toxin propagation?

Also, you say that lowering the temperature to 40F within 11 hours is reccomended. What about 44F? I ask because I just checked the internal temperature of one of the ribs, and it stands at 39.5 degrees - I assume this is the temperature of my fridge. Since it's so close, I suppose it's possible the short ribs didn't reach 40F until after 11 hours, but I am by no means an expert on temperature transmission.

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Morkai: The most important part of the “cooling to 4.4°C/40°F within 11 hours” is the initial cooling from 52.3°C/126.1°F to 21°C/70°F (say, within about 2 hours). The lower the temperature, the longer it can safely be held there; cf. Table A-2 in (FDA, 2011).

Edit: Linked to wrong edition.

Edited by DouglasBaldwin (log)

My Guide: A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking, which Harold McGee described as "a wonderful contribution."

My Book: Sous Vide for the Home Cook US EU/UK

My YouTube channel — a new work in progress.

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Hmm. I am still not convinced. Even though the marinade was slightly acidic and had sugar and salt in it (through the soy sauce), I am not sure that the risk is nullified - considering the relatively short time in the ice water chill. I couldn't find much regarding the estimated amount of oxygen still in the bag using the water displacement method, so I don't think I can be certain that the environment isn't anaerobic enough to prevent growth.

Statistically, you're more than 10 times as likely to die by being hit by lightening than die from botulism and botulism takes weeks to develop. There's no way that 18 hours would make it remotely a risk. There may be other pathogens you need to worry about (you don't) but focusing on botulism just because it's the giant bugbear of food safety is absurd. It certainly doesn't justify a "better safe than sorry" approach to throwing food out unless you want to throw everything you buy from the grocery store out as soon as you get home because they've definitely been sitting around for more than 18 hours.

PS: I am a guy.

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Intending to take over my family's Christmas dinner this year. The limitation I face, tho', is that I need to cook turkey. I'd prefer to cook goose, but the family likes turkey, turkey, turkey. So, mostly because I stumbled on some turkey breasts at the poultry store the other day, I decided to cook a single breast and see what sous vide turky was like. Breast was brined overnight then vac packed and put into a 60C bath for 2.5 hours. Quickly seared it in the pan.

-- a little tough, altho' this beats a soft, pappy texture

-- juicy and such, but really, really, really bland (I know, it's turkey breast--I wish I was cooking goose!)

Any suggestions on how to improve it? Aside from .. buying goose?

Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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I do turkey breast and dark meat ( in its own bag and temp ) all the time. If it was a whole breast you might need to cook it longer so the center gets to temp and them cooks.

I personally like 140 F. but thats a personal pref. since its a while to Christmas, do this again but cut the breast into say 3 seperate pieces and try sl changes in temp and time. the meat will make fine sandwiches!

i save the skin and do the skin roasting in the oven between two silicone mats. thats been described here search for it

most commercial turkey is injected with a saline solution, check for that and you may not need to brine.

I add seasoning on the outside of the breast my personal fav is sauer's Prime Rib of all things: sage and rosemary in it. Try bell's or anything that seems "Christmas Roast Turkey' to you or your family.

Ive finely chopped mushrooms and a little bacon and stuffed that in the middle sometimes very tasty.

and remember your experiments wont go to waste: much better than deli turkey for sandwiches, chunks for turkey salad etc etc

good luck and let us (me?) know how your experiments are going. tasty experiments!

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-- it wasn't pre-brined (so far as I know, most Australian meat isn't--altho' there are some products in supermarkets fairly clearly marketed as pre-brined)

-- the meat was cooked through, but yeah, I guess that's the first thing on the list: pre-portion it

-- I have another purpose in mind for the dark meat (specifically a smoked pork and turkey sausage)

-- will try your technique for crisping the skin--I removed it from the bird and then tried to hit it with a butane torch, but my butane torch is terrible and kept running out of juice

Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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Just put some beef cheeks in a 70C bath. Will revisit them in about 30 hours. The cheeks are bagged with a marinade based on a recipe in Brent Savage's Bentley cookbook: dark chicken stock (the recipe, which is actually a braise, uses a combination of veal jus, which I don't have on hand at the moment, and white chicken stock--a smaller quantity of dark chicken stock seemed a sensible substitute), soy sauce, honey, onion, celery, carrot, garlic, chilli, coriander seeds, star anise and cinnamon.

Edited by ChrisTaylor (log)

Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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Hi Chris.

You can't go wrong with beef cheeks at 70 for 30 hours. I do a quick pre-sear then package with carrots and onions (also pre-browned to get them in the mood), a bit of reduced red wine and - secret ingredient - a few generous slices of orange peel. It's good!

Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
Host, eG Forumslcraven@egstaff.org

After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives ~ Oscar Wilde

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Over the last few days, I was doing an experiment to try to recreate the Hainanese Chicken Rice that I had several times while in Singapore a couple of weeks ago. It's a bit time consuming, but I think this method worked really well, and eating last night, was VERY close to the real deal. First, I was able to get a whole chicken with head, neck and feet still on. I got a pot big enough to hold the chicken and filled with water just to cover. Bring this to a boil with sliced ginger, green onion, a head of garlic, peppercorns and a few shallots. While this is heating, rub the chicken all over with salt and massage into the skin. This "exfoliates" and removes and stray feathers, and other random gunk while also helping tighten the skin. Rinse well. Once the water is up to a boil, lower in the chicken breast side down and let slowly simmer for 10-15 minutes. At this point, I'm only trying to tenderize the skin, not cook the meat itself. After the time is up, remove the chicken and put in ice bath. Now, add the cooking liquid and veg. to a pressure cooker, along with 2 cut-up silky chickens. These will be sacrificial chickens for the broth. Once cooled, cut up the whole chicken into parts and add the head, neck, wing tips, back and feet to the pressure cooker. Pressure cook for about an hour to 1.5 hours, then turn off heat and cool naturally until you can open the pot. Strain and cool the liquid, reserving the fat. Now we can get to cooking the chicken! Put each section of the now cut-up whole chicken into a bag and add some of the broth - maybe 1/2 - 3/4 cup per bag? Cook the breasts in 142F bath (140F to core) and leg/thigh in 150F bath until pasteurized. I actually gave a bit extra time to allow for any possible bacterial growth during the simmer/ice stage. Once pasteurized, chill the bags in an ice bath until you're ready to use them. You should have plenty of broth left over from the pc for cooking the rice, and you'll get more broth out of the bags once you open them - definitely don't throw that liquid out! I brought it to a boil to solidify the proteins, then strained and added back into my main broth pot to be recycled for cooking more chicken and cooking the rice. If you make this dish once in a while, the broth will get more and more concentrated chicken flavor - so I imagine you could top up with water from time to time to stretch it a bit further.

The skin of the chicken done this way is soft and velvety - just like the real thing, and the meat was juicy, tender and flavorful. I will definitely do this many more times - it really took me back....

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I'm experimenting with Sous Vide Pork Belly and I'm having a hard time getting the skin crispy. I brined the belly for 24 hours and then cooked at 71.1C for 24 hours in a SVM / Rice Cooker combo. I then chilled the belly in an ice bath under a weighted tray to keep the belly flat.

So far so good.... Tender, moist Belly, flattened nicely and sitting in vac packs ready for action :)

I tried roasting in a combi oven at 250C for 20 mins but it didn't get much crispier using that method. I then took some of the oven roasted belly and deep fried in cottonseed oil and it got a tiny bit crispier but still not what I was hoping for.

Any tips guys? I"m not particularly keen on separating the skin pre-water bath if I can avoid it...

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Peter Gilmore at Quay here in Australia has a signature dish that involves cooking pork belly sous vide in oil. To finish, he glazes and then sears all sides of the belly over high heat except the skin and then puts the belly skin side down in a non-stick frypan in a 200C oven to crisp up for around five minutes. Seems the difference is sealing the belly in the bag with oil rather than having it sit in its own juices while cooking. Worth a try.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

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

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I'm experimenting with Sous Vide Pork Belly and I'm having a hard time getting the skin crispy. I brined the belly for 24 hours and then cooked at 71.1C for 24 hours in a SVM / Rice Cooker combo. I then chilled the belly in an ice bath under a weighted tray to keep the belly flat.

So far so good.... Tender, moist Belly, flattened nicely and sitting in vac packs ready for action :)

I tried roasting in a combi oven at 250C for 20 mins but it didn't get much crispier using that method. I then took some of the oven roasted belly and deep fried in cottonseed oil and it got a tiny bit crispier but still not what I was hoping for.

Any tips guys? I"m not particularly keen on separating the skin pre-water bath if I can avoid it...

What about pour-over frying?

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The obvious next step is a scorching hot fry pan. One of the reasons I took the effort to flatten the meat whilst chilling was to make it easier to get an even finish when frying. I was talked into roasting in a hot oven at the last minute by a chef at work.

I'm not sure if it would make too much difference cooking with only oil/fats in the bag when cooking at temps this high. A moderate amount of fluid is going to come from the belly during cooking and surround itself in one way or another. Maybe the key is high heat, plenty of oil and put the pan in the oven at 200C.

Thanks for the input

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CT: your timing for the blade steak seems quite long. blade in my opinion is quite tender, once you deal with that pesky central tendon. if you trim that out, you might enjoy 8 hrs. i like 130.1

post a pic if you can when you conclude your experiment. more meaty info the better!

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I saw blade steak--5-6cm thick--on sale and did a quick Google for sv recipes. I got 'a long time' and 30 hours/higher temp than what I am doing, with the author of the latter recipe saying not all of the connective tissue had broken down. We'll see. You might be right: I might be eating kim chi and the cats might be eating well.

Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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The chuck tends to have more marbling and collagen. Blade (or as it's often called Bolar Blade) here is a leaner cut but can benefit from low and slow cooking, I've had variable results depending on the specificity of the cut. The whole chuck/blade area is a mass of different cuts and we tend not to separate out different muscles here in Australia, which makes cooking a challenge. Chris, I'd experiment with cuts and cooking to see what works best.

Edited by nickrey (log)

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

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

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here USA the blade can be had as a roast, and 4 nice steaks can be cut out of it. It has a very thick and tough fibrous tendon down the middle which when cut out leaves the steaks fairly tender. the muscle is on the back of the scapula and doesn't have much to do and is very flavorful.

the blade is usually cut cross-wise and in that prep you can see the central tendon.

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I took the beef out of the bath after ~40 hours. I'll see what it's like tonight, I guess.

On the pork belly note, I just opened up my copy of the Quay book. The recipe nickrey refers to has a number of elements--the pork is served with cuttlefish, abalone, tofu and some other elements--but the pork seems simple enough. I haven't tried the recipe yet, but here's a summary of the way Mr Gilmore approaches pork belly:

  • infuse 250mL olive oil w/ cinnamon and star anise by holding it (with the spices) at 70C for 10 minutes then letting it sit for 2 hours before straining
  • vac seal infused oil and 1 kg boneless pork belly in bag
  • 90C, 12 hours (he uses a combi oven)
  • cool slightly, then press between two trays in fridge overnight
  • cut pork into 2.5cm cubes, season with salt, sear cubes on all sides except skin
  • drain fat from pan then return the cubes to the pan skin side down, place in 200C oven for 5 minutes

Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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So. Blade steak, at least as Australia (sometimes, in some places) defines it, at 56C for 40ish hours is nice. Tender without being too tender. That bit of connective whatsit seemed to have broken down nicely, altho' there were a few decent-sized pockets of fat I fed to the cats. I suspect it might stand up to a full 48 hours. I sliced the steak, which was really a small roasting piece (~1kg), acrossways, into 2cm thick steaks, which I seared individually and sliced further (as I was serving them in Momofuku steak ssam form).

I just put some pork belly w/ olive oil (I just used plain oil--didn't infuse it with spices) in the bath.

Edited by ChrisTaylor (log)

Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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