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MikeTMD

Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques & Equipment (Part 6)

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For the pasta SV question - I recall that Alan Ducasse is / was using an ancient method where the pasta would be cooked in little water which later would become its sauce. Alessi has a pot for that ....

Alessi

There is a also a Bittman article video about this, essentially it is cooking pasta Risotto style.

Bittman

I would think with SV you may loose some of the creaminess, it may become unpleasant if you run it too dry as I would think the pasta still leaches some starch. I would also think you do need boiling water, I had pasta once that was "soaked" in hot but not boiling water - It had a funny texture.

Thanks for the links! I have cooked pasta 'risotto' style and liked it. I was hoping someone with better facilities than I had tested pasta at various temperatures and moisture levels and had developed a chart like exists for eggs or beef.

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Pedro's posted covered things fairly well. I am working on a new plain English sous vide food safety section, and I should have it done in a week or two.

Food Pathogens verse Spoilage and Beneficial Microorganisms

Food pathogens are separate from both spoilage and beneficial microorganisms. So food pathogens cannot be seen, smelt, or tasted. Food is safe and can be pasteurized at above 126.1°F (52.3°C), the temperate that Clostridium perfringens stops growing. Pasteurization means reducing active bacteria to a safe level and depends on both time and temperature. Pasteurization takes much longer at lower temperatures than at higher temperatures. We are mainly concerned with reducing Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella spp. to a safe level. Since Listeria is the most heat resistant active bacteria, reducing it by 1,000,000:1 will ensure that E. coli and Salmonella have also been reduced to a safe level. See my guide for time and temperature recommendations.

After cooking, the food must either be eaten immediately or rapidly chilled (in an ice water bath) to prevent spores from becoming active, multiplying, and producing toxins. Spores are made by some food pathogens and are very difficult to kill: spores are like seeds and are not dangerous unless they become active during cooling or storage. After rapidly cooling, the food must be kept cold to prevent any active pathogens (which were not killed during cooking or which outgrew from spores) from multiplying. Listeria is able to grow in the refrigerate at above 29.3°F (–1.5°C). If cooking eliminated all the Listeria, we only have to worry about spores becoming active. We worry about three spore forming pathogens: Clostridium botulinum, Clostridium perfringens, and Bacillus cereus. There are two types of Clostridium botulinum: one that likes higher temperatures and one that likes colder temperatures. The colder variety can grow at above 36.5°F (2.5°C) and the warmer at over 50°F (10°C). If cooking kills all the colder variety or they weren't ever in the food, then Bacillus cereus becomes our main concern. Bacillus cereus can grow at above 39°F (4°C). Since almost no home refrigerators spend all their time below these temperatures, I recommend freezing anything cooked sous vide unless it will be used within a few days.

Some spoilage and beneficial microorganisms can grow above 126.1°F (52.3°C) or below 29.3°F (–1.5°C). These microorganisms very rarely affect the taste of food cooked sous vide, especially if the food is within its `sell-by' or `use-by' date and doesn't have a strong odor. While searing meat before cooking sous vide will kill the surface microorganisms, it is usually done to develop meaty, savory, and roasted flavors (via the browning or Maillard reaction). If the natural enzymes are not destroyed during cooking (which is common in sous vide cooking below about 140°F/60°C), then they may be active at refrigerator (or even freezer) temperatures and change the taste and texture of the food.

[Edit: Fixed typo.]


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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"The time has come," the Walrus said,

"To talk of many things:

Of germs - and molds - and botulism -

Of meat and fish - and pasteurizings -

And why the searing is so hot -

And what the PID-controller brings."

Most of the posts from #3210 to #3250 deal with food safety aspects, temperature/time combinations, and accuracy of temperature measurement and stability. So it seems justified to compile a few data.

They may be found in http://www.hi-tm.com/homeprep/Home-2006-2col-forpdf.pdf and http://www.hi-tm.com/RFA/food-path-summ.pdf and http://amath.colorado.edu/~baldwind/sous-vide.html

..... snip snip snip

Excellent post Pedro. I would like to throw in an additional thought. Unless there is a compelling need to cook at the edge of safety, I think it is wise -- even if you have calibrated your setup -- to give yourself a margin of safety that is beyond the theoretical precision and accuracy of one's equipment.

I have had an enlightening email exchange with Suyi Liu -- the designer of the Auber Instruments PID Devices (which were sold by Fresh Meal Solutions as Sous-Vide Magic until late last year) -- in which he explained calibration drift, etc. I will summarize that information in another posting in the next few days.

Long story short, these devices can (but may not) experience calibration drift over time -- usually such a drift is fairly small but under certain conditions can be a few degrees -- as can the high-precision thermometers used to calibrate the devices. Because various things can cause your system to drift slightly over time, it is wise when pasteurizing to give yourself some additional margin of error. In most cases, when pasteurizing, this is happening at temperatures and with proteins where cooking at one degree or two degrees higher than the margin should have minimal impact on texture but will have a huge impact on safety.

Also, these devices need to be calibrated to a temperature between 65F and 145F or so. Within that range they are (when functioning properly) accurate to less than 1/2 degree Fahrenheit. So, you can't do an ice water or boiling water calibration since those temperatures are well outside the range where the probes operate correctly.

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Hello all. I've been lurking on eGullet for years and remember reading about four years ago the thread in which Nathan's charts first appeared (I gather there has since been a consolidation of threads). At the time, I decided to pass on sous vide because I had neither the space nor the money for a laboratory circulator, vacuum machine, etc. About a year ago, someone told be about the Auber PID controller and I've been dabbling with the technique ever since, mostly using a 6 qt crock-pot (without bubbler) and the immerse-ziploc-in-water method for bagging. Recently, I decided to take the plunge, get serious and acquire the Sous Vide Supreme. I chose this over a circulator mainly because it's more compact and more appropriately shaped for the sorts of things I want to try, e.g., low temp cooking in canning jars rather than bags (first few attempts looking promising, btw).

All of which has brought me back to the eGullet thread. Between Nathan's famous charts (which I copied during my first visit) and Douglas's famous Practical Guide, I've been doing reasonably well. Yet, I felt I was missing something for not having read the whole thread. I finally completed that task a couple days ago, which reminded me a lot of a cross-country bicycle trip I did several years ago (serendipiously, the number of posts and the number of miles were about the same.) And, really, this thread is similar, in that it is a record of sous vide's journey from obscure technique with no recipes or guidelines to almost mainstream.

As my first contribution to the thread, I would mention to Infernooo that, back in Post #631 (page 22), UnConundrum diagnosed his off-flavor problem with long-cooked meats as being due to using extra virgin olive oil. Don't know whether you did the same, but thought I'd mention it.

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Hi all:

I've been cooking SV for about 2 months and have tried Short Ribs (48 and 72 hours), Pork shoulder (smoked before and no smoke), Tri-tip (48 hours), Brisket (72 hours), pork chops, pork tenderloin, beef tenderloin, chicken, lobster and scallops. Like most people, I've had some great successes as well as some failures. I've experimented on what seems to work in terms of marinade and definitely less is better. One marinade that was a big success was a hybrid korean kalbi and American BBQ flavored marinade that was put on spare ribs and cooked for 48 hours at 135f. To date, I've found that lower and longer, within reason, has led to more successes.

One of the issues I keep struggling with is the rendering of fat into a jelly, smooth mouthfeel consistency. This is especially apparent in short ribs, brisket and pork butt.

I have found that fat does not render well at temps of 135f. My last short rib at 135f for 48 hours, was tender, but the inner layers of fat had not rendered fully. Meanwhile, my 72 hour brisket at 135f, rendered the fat wonderfully.

Any suggestions? Do I need to bump up the temperatures? If so, other than med rare to medium, what other effects does this have on juiciness?

Also, as a comment on the pork chops that ended up dry, I highly recommend brining and then adding a pat (or 2 or 3) of butter before sealing. Makes a huge difference in juiciness as well as mouthfeel of the meat.

Best regards,

Roy

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I usually cook at 66C (150F) for 72, all the tough cut of beef. which is a good temperature to generate an Hydrolysis of the connective tissues. Douglas Baldwin can maybe tell us more about this.

Cheers

N.


Nicolas "casquette" Ait-Haddi

www.fiftyfourdegrees.com

About cooking in general and sous vide in particular

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Hello all. I've been lurking on eGullet for years and remember reading about four years ago the thread in which Nathan's charts first appeared (I gather there has since been a consolidation of threads). At the time, I decided to pass on sous vide because I had neither the space nor the money for a laboratory circulator, vacuum machine, etc. About a year ago, someone told be about the Auber PID controller and I've been dabbling with the technique ever since, mostly using a 6 qt crock-pot (without bubbler) and the immerse-ziploc-in-water method for bagging. Recently, I decided to take the plunge, get serious and acquire the Sous Vide Supreme. I chose this over a circulator mainly because it's more compact and more appropriately shaped for the sorts of things I want to try, e.g., low temp cooking in canning jars rather than bags (first few attempts looking promising, btw).

All of which has brought me back to the eGullet thread. Between Nathan's famous charts (which I copied during my first visit) and Douglas's famous Practical Guide, I've been doing reasonably well. Yet, I felt I was missing something for not having read the whole thread. I finally completed that task a couple days ago, which reminded me a lot of a cross-country bicycle trip I did several years ago (serendipiously, the number of posts and the number of miles were about the same.) And, really, this thread is similar, in that it is a record of sous vide's journey from obscure technique with no recipes or guidelines to almost mainstream.

As my first contribution to the thread, I would mention to Infernooo that, back in Post #631 (page 22), UnConundrum diagnosed his off-flavor problem with long-cooked meats as being due to using extra virgin olive oil. Don't know whether you did the same, but thought I'd mention it.

Here are the links to Nathan's famous charts:

5°C to 54.4°C:

5°C to 45.0°C:

5°C to 60.0°C:

and his tutorial:


Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

eG Ethics Signatory

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"The time has come," the Walrus said,

"To talk of many things:

Of germs - and molds - and botulism -

Of meat and fish - and pasteurizings -

And why the searing is so hot -

And what the PID-controller brings."

Most of the posts from #3210 to #3250 deal with food safety aspects, temperature/time combinations, and accuracy of temperature measurement and stability. So it seems justified to compile a few data.

They may be found in http://www.hi-tm.com/homeprep/Home-2006-2col-forpdf.pdf and http://www.hi-tm.com/RFA/food-path-summ.pdf and http://amath.colorado.edu/~baldwind/sous-vide.html

..... snip snip snip

Excellent post Pedro. I would like to throw in an additional thought. Unless there is a compelling need to cook at the edge of safety, I think it is wise -- even if you have calibrated your setup -- to give yourself a margin of safety that is beyond the theoretical precision and accuracy of one's equipment.

I have had an enlightening email exchange with Suyi Liu -- the designer of the Auber Instruments PID Devices (which were sold by Fresh Meal Solutions as Sous-Vide Magic until late last year) -- in which he explained calibration drift, etc. I will summarize that information in another posting in the next few days.

Long story short, these devices can (but may not) experience calibration drift over time -- usually such a drift is fairly small but under certain conditions can be a few degrees -- as can the high-precision thermometers used to calibrate the devices. Because various things can cause your system to drift slightly over time, it is wise when pasteurizing to give yourself some additional margin of error. In most cases, when pasteurizing, this is happening at temperatures and with proteins where cooking at one degree or two degrees higher than the margin should have minimal impact on texture but will have a huge impact on safety.

Also, these devices need to be calibrated to a temperature between 65F and 145F or so. Within that range they are (when functioning properly) accurate to less than 1/2 degree Fahrenheit. So, you can't do an ice water or boiling water calibration since those temperatures are well outside the range where the probes operate correctly.

Safety:

With the usual 55°C for longtime cooking I am well above the 52.3°C (limit of C.perfringens thriving), and with my SVM 1500B and VEGA 400W sideheater stockpot with forced circulation (indoor fountain pump) I have stability within ±0.07°C. For additional safety I routinely marinate my meat to lower the pH below 4.1, which even allows me to let the meat age at room temperature for 24 hours.

Drifting of temperature sensors:

I (and Robert Jueneman and blackp) experienced this with the first sensors FMS delivered with the new SVM 1500D, as there was a problem at the junction of the cable and the mantle tube of the sensor. They seem to have fixed this, the newest sensors have so far tolerated permanent immersion and temperature changes.


Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

eG Ethics Signatory

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One of the issues I keep struggling with is the rendering of fat into a jelly, smooth mouthfeel consistency. This is especially apparent in short ribs, brisket and pork butt.

I have found that fat does not render well at temps of 135f. My last short rib at 135f for 48 hours, was tender, but the inner layers of fat had not rendered fully. Meanwhile, my 72 hour brisket at 135f, rendered the fat wonderfully.

Any suggestions? Do I need to bump up the temperatures? If so, other than med rare to medium, what other effects does this have on juiciness?

If it's any consolation, you're not doing anything wrong. It's just the nature of low temp cooking. Apparently, based on multiple posts earlier in the thread, fat doesn't render below 170 degrees or so. And I can confirm from personal experience that it doesn't render at 140 degrees or below. So you should expect to see what you're seeing. The solution is either to trim after cooking or use care in selecting what cuts to cook. For example, I don't think the brisket you liked rendered its fat; rather, it was relatively lean to begin with. That's without being there, but I'm pretty sure.

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Doug,

Did you ever manage to dig up the temperatures at which actual pork and beef fat melts (rather than the temperatures at which the components melt)?

Exactly. While longer times at 55c or above will melt the collagen to varying degrees, dealing with the fat is more about temperature. It's the Palmitic and Stearic acids that make all the difference here. Palmitic (about 26-32% of total fat content with pork) melts at 63-64c, while Stearic (12-16% of total) melts around 69-70c.

So varying between 62 and 70+ will make a huge difference on the amount of belly pork fat wobble versus firmness, and the amount of fat that renders and bastes the lean meat (but shrinks the overrall size of portion).

While it is absolutely true that pure palmitic acid melts at 145F/62.8C and pure stearic acid melts at 157F/69.6C, the saturated fat in meat is not pure and melts at significantly higher temperatures. I do not know exactly how much higher the melting point is though. If I get a chance, I'll try and find it in the academic literature.

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I didn't understand things as clearly back then.

The problem is that the fat is deposited in the connective tissue. So the fat is trapped until the connect tissue has been dissolved. This is why RoyK found that his 72-hour brisket at 135F "rendered the fat wonderfully." In confit-style preparations, we dissolve almost all the collagen into gelatin and this allows the melted fat to lubricate the muscle fibers.


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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....

One of the issues I keep struggling with is the rendering of fat into a jelly, smooth mouthfeel consistency.

....

This is especially apparent in short ribs, brisket and pork butt.

I have found that fat does not render well at temps of 135f. My last short rib at 135f for 48 hours, was tender, but the inner layers of fat had not rendered fully. Meanwhile, my 72 hour brisket at 135f, rendered the fat wonderfully.

Any suggestions? Do I need to bump up the temperatures? If so, other than med rare to medium, what other effects does this have on juiciness?

Some meats (like spare ribs) seem to need to be cooked at temperatures at which the fat will really render. I haven't done pork butt at temps these low so I don't know, but I suspect that it will be better cooked at significantly higher temperatures.

For some cuts, like short ribs and brisket, you need to choose pieces where there isn't too much interior fat. For short ribs, I make sure that they are trimmed of most of the exterior fat (since I like the texture at 135F/48 hours at which time the fat is still unrendered). So, it may be a matter of picking the right short ribs to cook.

I am very curious about your brisket experience. What sort of brisket was it? And how trimmed was it to begin with. When I have cooked it, even at 48 hours most of the exterior at was still there (fortunately soft and easy to remove before slicing)?

Was it interior fat or exterior fat that rendered? Is it possible that it wasn't a significant amount of fat rendering but some combination of the fat and gelatin? I ask because the interior marbling of my briskets was nice and soft and melt in your mouth, but not very rendered. Of course, there might be a huge difference between 48 and 72 hours in this regards.

Juiciness is an interesting topic -- because there are a few things at play -- the actual moisture content and the subjective experience which seems to be mostly about mouth-feel. The muscle fibers start to shrink significantly as heat goes up so it forces out moisture -- which may or may not be reabsorbed as the meat cools.

My own personal experience is that in some cases, the mouth-feel created by the rendered fat can play into one's perception of juiciness. So, even spare ribs that are well-done can seem "juicy" because of the mouth feel. And spare ribs cooked below the temperature at which the fat renders can seem to be not as juicy (because they are missing that lovely lubricating grease).

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Did you ever manage to dig up the temperatures at which actual pork and beef fat melts (rather than the temperatures at which the components melt)?

I didn't understand things as clearly back then.

The problem is that the fat is deposited in the connective tissue. So the fat is trapped until the connect tissue has been dissolved. This is why RoyK found that his 72-hour brisket at 135F "rendered the fat wonderfully." In confit-style preparations, we dissolve almost all the collagen into gelatin and this allows the melted fat to lubricate the muscle fibers.

I am puzzled.

I have done quite a few briskets for 48 hours at 135F and I have never experienced the exterior fat cap rendering significantly. The interior marbling of "the flat" softened and had a nice mouth feel (noting that there wasn't a lot of marbling to begin with in "the flat" of these briskets) but the fattiest end of the fatty end (the "deckle") was -- after 48 hours mostly fat.

Could the type of beef that it comes from make a difference? My briskets were not wagyu (which I will do next now that I found a local supplier) or grass-fed, but they were pretty decent quality USDA choice.

Perhaps I am wrong but given how little fat had rendered from the fatty parts (the fat cap -- and the fattiest end of the dekcle) after 48 hours (at which time the collagen had gelatinized nicely as the meat was fork tender--so tender that I would be hesitant to go 72 hours), it is hard for me to imagine that after 72 hours there would have been a significant change in the rendering.

I am tempted when I trim the next brisket before cooking to separate the fat into a few bags and so that I can compare them after 48 and 72 hours.

Has anyone else had the same experience?

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....

One of the issues I keep struggling with is the rendering of fat into a jelly, smooth mouthfeel consistency.

....

This is especially apparent in short ribs, brisket and pork butt.

I have found that fat does not render well at temps of 135f. My last short rib at 135f for 48 hours, was tender, but the inner layers of fat had not rendered fully. Meanwhile, my 72 hour brisket at 135f, rendered the fat wonderfully.

Any suggestions? Do I need to bump up the temperatures? If so, other than med rare to medium, what other effects does this have on juiciness?

Some meats (like spare ribs) seem to need to be cooked at temperatures at which the fat will really render. I haven't done pork butt at temps these low so I don't know, but I suspect that it will be better cooked at significantly higher temperatures.

For some cuts, like short ribs and brisket, you need to choose pieces where there isn't too much interior fat. For short ribs, I make sure that they are trimmed of most of the exterior fat (since I like the texture at 135F/48 hours at which time the fat is still unrendered). So, it may be a matter of picking the right short ribs to cook.

I am very curious about your brisket experience. What sort of brisket was it? And how trimmed was it to begin with. When I have cooked it, even at 48 hours most of the exterior at was still there (fortunately soft and easy to remove before slicing)?

Was it interior fat or exterior fat that rendered? Is it possible that it wasn't a significant amount of fat rendering but some combination of the fat and gelatin? I ask because the interior marbling of my briskets was nice and soft and melt in your mouth, but not very rendered. Of course, there might be a huge difference between 48 and 72 hours in this regards.

Juiciness is an interesting topic -- because there are a few things at play -- the actual moisture content and the subjective experience which seems to be mostly about mouth-feel. The muscle fibers start to shrink significantly as heat goes up so it forces out moisture -- which may or may not be reabsorbed as the meat cools.

My own personal experience is that in some cases, the mouth-feel created by the rendered fat can play into one's perception of juiciness. So, even spare ribs that are well-done can seem "juicy" because of the mouth feel. And spare ribs cooked below the temperature at which the fat renders can seem to be not as juicy (because they are missing that lovely lubricating grease).

I had an experience of some dry mouth-feeling with a falling-apart-tender veal shoulder 48h/55°C which seems to be too long. I had chilled the second piece of the same veal shoulder and yesterday reheated 2h/55°C, then cut in cubes, seared and served in my Stroganoff sauce http://sousvide.wikia.com/wiki/Brisket_Stroganoff , and the mouth-feeling was definitely more juicy. My next veal shoulder will be only 12-24h/55°C. BTW I always use the the gravy from the last long-time-cooking and preserve the actual gravy in a glass, heating in the microwave to pasteurize and keep it refrigerated.

The Nature of Juiciness

Food scientists who have studied the subjective sensation of juiciness find that it consists of two phases: the initial impression of moisture as you bite into the food, and the continued release of moisture as you chew. Juiciness at first bite comes directly from the meat's own free water, while continued juiciness comes from the meat's fat and flavor, both of which stimulate the flow of our own saliva. This is probably why well-seared meat is often credited with greater juiciness despite the fact that searing squeezes more of the meat's own juice out. Above all else, searing intensifies flavor by means of the browning reactions, and intense flavor gets our juices flowing.


Edited by PedroG (log)

Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

eG Ethics Signatory

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Like others, I like a bit of rendered fat with the meat, since it is tasty and it gives that unctuous mouthfeel. To get some fat rendering, SVers can't use high temperatures, and usually shouldn't use very long times (72 hrs or so) to avoid the mush problem (except with very robust cuts). So what is to be done?

I've tried two things. One is mechanical. Just as you speed up the rendering of bacon fat by chopping it up, or of duck fat by incising the skin, so also SVers can jaccard or otherwise poke and hammer at whatever fat is on their cut before cooking. But in my experience this does not make a huge difference. The other is compensation: adding a bit of fat after cooking by searing in butter, using a cream sauce, or pouring a bit of extra virgin olive oil over it. Perhaps the best is to cut up the meat and do a hash next day, very briefly searing in duck fat. Since even rendered fat will not penetrate a large mass of unmarbled meat (see: dry roast chicken breast), the last has a lot to be said for it.

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FWIW, my experiences with cooking beef (mostly brisket and chuck) are similar to those related by e_monster in Posts #3270 and #3271. I'm generally working at 136 degrees F, but that shouldn't make a difference for these purposes. Notably, according to Douglas's prior post quoted in Post #3268 "pure palmitic acid melts at 145F/62.8C and pure stearic acid melts at 157F/69.6C."

How Douglas then concludes in Post #3269 that "This is why Roy Kim found that his 72-hour brisket at 135F 'rendered the fat wonderfully'" is unclear to me. Plainly that temp and time are adequate to convert collagen to gelatin, thus enabling rendered fat to escape. But if the temp isn't high enough to melt the fat (as opposed to merely softening it), I don't see how the conclusion follows. Rather, as I said in Post #3267, it seems to me much more likely that RK cooked a lean cut (probably a well-trimmed flat) and simply didn't need rendering. Am I missing something?

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Sorry for not being clearer. I was trying to explain that rendering the fat is not just about melting the fat, but that the connective tissue must also be broken down.


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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Tonight we ate a Snake River Farms Wagyu cross-rib roast (which is a bargain at $5.99 a pound) that had been cooked at 134F for 24 hours -- which is the same parameters that I have used in the past for USDA choice cross-rib roast. The flavor was great but it was too tender. The mouth-feel a bit too soft. Next time, I will do it for half that time.

Curious to see how tomorrow night's brisket (also Snake River Farms) turns out which was put into the bath at the same time and will have cooke 45 hours when it comes out of the bath.

(Oh, and it was post-seared with the Iwatani Blowtorch that I learned about from Douglas Baldwin - thanks Doug!)

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Tonight we ate our 45 hour/134F wagyu brisket and it was excellent. Fork tender -- and probably would have been scrumptious at 36 hours. As this was my first experiment with the wagyu, I simply seasoned the brisket before putting it in the bag. Nothing else went in -- I really want to know what the beef would taste like unadorned. It was served with horseradish sour cream on the side. I am also including pictures of last night's cross-rib roast.

Next time, I will add 1/2 cap of liquid smoke mixed with a quarter cup of 3% brine.

gallery_51976_6006_402079.jpg

Here is the cross-rib roast.

gallery_51976_6006_29639.jpg

gallery_51976_6006_294350.jpg

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Hi, Fay -

This method has long intrigued me, but used to require a significant investment of time/research and money to either modify an existing appliance or purchase an immersion circulator. In November, a counter-top appliance (the Sous Vide Supreme) was launched to simplify the whole process. I've had one for over a month now, and I have to say that I am really enjoying experimenting with it. I've had fabulous outcomes - the textures and flavors that are possible with sous vide are often notably different (and better, I think) than with other techniques. By typically cooking the item for a longer-than-normal period in a water bath that is the temperature you want the inside to ultimately reach, it is possible to achieve a wonderful uniformity of temperature throughout the meat from edge to edge. It is also much harder to overcook something, obviously, when the temp of the water bath is only as hot as the intended "done" temperature (all meats will, however, eventually start to break down, so you have to be mindful that the cooking time is not infinite. This threshold varies depending on what you're cooking, but typically leaves you a generous window.) And long cook times (sometimes days) can yield incredibly tender results from tougher cuts like flank steak.

The greatest deficit of sous vide cooking, in my opinion and my experience so far, has been the lack of caramelization that you typically get when searing, roasting or grilling meat. This can be addressed by running a kitchen torch over the meat after removing it from the water bath and unbagging it, or by searing it for 30-45 seconds in a smoking-hot skillet (basically as quickly as possible in order to sear it but not cook it much more.) For most things I prefer the skillet approach, but with delicate items like fish, or thinner cuts of meat, the torch is preferable because there's less chance of further cooking the inside of the item.

I have a fledgling blog with some of my sous vide experiments here:

www.sleeplessfoodie.com

Cheers,

Christina


Edited by cpl55 (log)

Christina

www.sleeplessfoodie.com

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Apologies if this has been addressed elsewhere, but I've searched and can't find it.

Made a cauliflower puree last night following the method in David Everitt-Matthias' "Essence". This involves placing cauliflower, butter and seasoning in a "sealable cooking bag", and extracting as much air as possible. Then cooking for 40 mins in boiling water. I don't have any kind of temp controlled bath, so this is as sous vide as I can get.

I've got a vac-pack machine, just a heavy-duty food-saver type that uses ridged bags. I used that. After about 20 mins I noiced the bag had blown up - apparently full of air. When the time was up I found the bad had split on a side seam. It was still a better puree than just simmering in milk and cream, and the potential is there is persevere with this.

I know trad sous vide doesnt cook at these temperatures, but should vac bags work? Do I just need to pack one bag inside another? Something else?

Thanks

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My experience with the food saver bags is that this is not an unusual occurrence. I bought a roll once and haven't again.

Anyone else had problems with their bags?


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

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

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I have never had a single FoodSaver-brand bag break or rupture on me, and I have been cooking extensively using SV techniques for several years.

That said, I don't particularly care for them. I think these are much better quality. One problem I have with the FoodSaver brand bags is that the little channels seem to clog up with moisture or liquid before all the air is fully evacuated from the bag, causing the machine to go over into sealing mode. That doesn't happen with this brand.


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Thanks. Maybe try a different brand of bag. I use a Lava machine and bags. Just mentioned Food-Saver because I think it's the same principle, rather than one of those swanky chamber machines that don't suck all the liquid out.

http://www.lava-vacuum-packing.com/

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