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MikeTMD

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

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OK - I get it!

First rule: Before expressing an opinion one should consult ones available references: page 168 of Heston's "In Search of Perfection" explains the goal admirably.

After reading the recipe I'm more worried about my ability to actually perform the task than any food safety issues which may be involved.

Most ovens found in a domestic situation may not even be able to hold 50C let alone be able to actually do it within 5C (given no PID control most domestic ovens have a wide oscillation around the set point).

My oven will hold 55C within 5C and I consider that pretty good for a semi-professional oven.

Maybe with a Rational oven or similar this recipe could be done with some precision, but for the home chef Sous Vide is an economical way to get to the intent of some of the master chefs without massive investment.

I can't help thinking (no proof of course) that SV steak then pan fried or quickly roasted very hot would not be equal to Heston's recipe. Because I do not have an oven which will hold a constant 50C - I'll never know.

Cheers,

Peter.

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I don't have the book yet, but according to the TV show upon which the book is based, if your oven doesn't go as low as 50C, you can set your oven to the lowest temperature, and wedge it open with a wooden spoon. Also, I think that the purpose of the series was to create perfect recipes which can be replicated at home. I don't think Heston would expect his entire audience to have professional PID controlled ovens, so perhaps the end result would still be lovely at 50C for 24 hours according to a home oven... ?

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... if your oven doesn't go as low as 50C, you can set your oven to the lowest temperature, and wedge it open with a wooden spoon. ...

YMMV.

Different ovens react differently!

Most thermostatically controlled electric ovens will try and reach that set temperature and will use as much power as required to reach that temperature. Much of the oven might get quite hot, and use a lot of power trying to heat the entire room to the set temperature.

However, a gas oven that just uses different flame settings will indeed be a bit cooler if you crack the door open.

Test your own oven first!


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

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Welcome Guy MovingOn,

e_monster is absolutely right: Heston's team assumed that the interior of the intact muscle is essential sterile and that searing the outside is sufficient to make it safe. (The big problem now, is that many processors are mechanically tenderizing their primal beef cuts and are not currently required by the government to label them as such. This is a big problem that a lot of people in the food safety community are angry about. Several people have already gotten sick from eating steaks that they grilled because they didn't know the steaks had been mechanically tenderized. So unless you know your meat hasn't been mechanically tenderized, you should assume it has and pasteurize it.)

As to why Heston is holding the meat at 50C/122F for 24 hours, let me quote an email I sent to PedroG almost a year ago:

Now, for your more interesting question about rapid aging (also known as conditioning). First, I would only recommend rapidly aging beef: the taste of pork and lamb is (typically) not improved with aging; the interior of poultry is usually not assumed to be sterile; and, the food pathogens associated with fish multiply very rapidly at room temperature. How much benefit is there to aging beef at (warm) room temperature? Well, according to Lawrie's Meat Science (p. 239--240), meat held at 43C/109F or 49C/120F for 24 hours had a greater increase in tenderness than meat kept for 14 days at 2C/36F; he notes, however, that while the tenderness increase was particularly high at 49C/120F, it had a somewhat undesirable flavor. The problem, however, is that these temperatures are well within the real danger zone of -1.6C/29.3F to 52.3C/127.5F --- in the experiment at 43C/109F, they actually sterilized the meat with ionizing radiation before rapidly aging. In theory, however, these microorganisms are only on the surface of the intact meat and rapid aging should be safe so long as we prevent the surface microorganisms from multiplying to dangerous levels. The two easiest ways of doing this are with heat and acid; either vacuum seal the meat and plunge the bag into a large pot of rapidly boiling water for 1--2 minutes or use a marinade with a pH significantly less than 4.1 (since the pH growth range for Salmonella spp. is 4.1--9.0). For extra safety, I would recommend aging at 50C/122F since all but C. perfringens stops growing by 50C/122F (and this is only because of the Phoenix phenomenon which (to the best of my knowledge) has only been observed in the laboratory).

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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I'm currently watching Heston Blumenthal's Feast videos.

On recreating a Roman feast, he vacuum packs a whole pig, and cooks it in a hot tub/jacuzzi at 60C for 24 hours.

You will need to skip about 25 mins in. :)

Here's the sous vide segment for those living outside of England (the content is blocked on youtube)

trojan hog

Pretty insane. The best part is when he serves it with the sausage at the end.

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....

snip snip

The two easiest ways of doing this are with heat and acid; either vacuum seal the meat and plunge the bag into a large pot of rapidly boiling water for 1--2 minutes or use a marinade with a pH significantly less than 4.1 (since the pH growth range for Salmonella spp. is 4.1--9.0). For extra safety, I would recommend aging at 50C/122F since all but C. perfringens stops growing by 50C/122F (and this is only because of the Phoenix phenomenon which (to the best of my knowledge) has only been observed in the laboratory).

Doug, I am not confident that a low PH marinade is sufficient to handle E Coli which is the pathogen of greatest concern (I think?) when dealing with beef. I read a study (wish I had kept a reference) a few months back when I was researching claims about white vinegar being a good kitchen disinfectant. I found a study (from someone at an agriculture college in the South) in which they found that spraying cutting boards and sinks with vinegar was quite effective in disinfecting salmonella but was quite ineffective in disinfecting e coli.

Anyway, you might want to look into this.

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That's interesting, I'll look into it and get back to you.

I've never tried rapid aging, but I believe PedroG does it frequently. (My beef is dry-aged 28 days, so it doesn't need additional aging.) A low pH marinade just needs to keep any surface pathogens from multiplying---cooking and searing the beef will destroy them later. E. coli stops growing at a pH of 4.0 and I don't know of any food pathogens that can grow at a pH less than that. Some spoilage and beneficial microorganisms can grow at much lower pHs though---such as lactic acid bacteria and some yeasts and molds.

[pH isn't the whole story though: weak acids and strong acids affect pathogens in different ways. Weak acids are able to go through the cell membranes of the pathogens and lower its cytoplasmic pH; strong acids can't go through the cell membranes and mainly work by stopping the enzymes on cell's surface. As always, food science is never as simple as it seems.]


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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Welcome Guy MovingOn,

e_monster is absolutely right: Heston's team assumed that the interior of the intact muscle is essential sterile and that searing the outside is sufficient to make it safe. (The big problem now, is that many processors are mechanically tenderizing their primal beef cuts and are not currently required by the government to label them as such. This is a big problem that a lot of people in the food safety community are angry about. Several people have already gotten sick from eating steaks that they grilled because they didn't know the steaks had been mechanically tenderized. So unless you know your meat hasn't been mechanically tenderized, you should assume it has and pasteurize it.)

As to why Heston is holding the meat at 50C/122F for 24 hours, let me quote an email I sent to PedroG almost a year ago:

Now, for your more interesting question about rapid aging (also known as conditioning). First, I would only recommend rapidly aging beef: the taste of pork and lamb is (typically) not improved with aging; the interior of poultry is usually not assumed to be sterile; and, the food pathogens associated with fish multiply very rapidly at room temperature. How much benefit is there to aging beef at (warm) room temperature? Well, according to Lawrie's Meat Science (p. 239--240), meat held at 43C/109F or 49C/120F for 24 hours had a greater increase in tenderness than meat kept for 14 days at 2C/36F; he notes, however, that while the tenderness increase was particularly high at 49C/120F, it had a somewhat undesirable flavor. The problem, however, is that these temperatures are well within the real danger zone of -1.6C/29.3F to 52.3C/127.5F --- in the experiment at 43C/109F, they actually sterilized the meat with ionizing radiation before rapidly aging. In theory, however, these microorganisms are only on the surface of the intact meat and rapid aging should be safe so long as we prevent the surface microorganisms from multiplying to dangerous levels. The two easiest ways of doing this are with heat and acid; either vacuum seal the meat and plunge the bag into a large pot of rapidly boiling water for 1--2 minutes or use a marinade with a pH significantly less than 4.1 (since the pH growth range for Salmonella spp. is 4.1--9.0). For extra safety, I would recommend aging at 50C/122F since all but C. perfringens stops growing by 50C/122F (and this is only because of the Phoenix phenomenon which (to the best of my knowledge) has only been observed in the laboratory).

Thank you for the warm welcome and great insight, it feels like an honour to have people such as yourself, e_monster, PedroG, et al. to reply and assist me after having read your fabulous contributions over the past 5-6 weeks. I have also used your guide as a starting point for some of my recipes too :)

Thank you for explaining the rapid aging to me. Unfortunately at that time, it was just a piece of supermarket meat that I cooked for 24 hours at 55C as an experiment on the taste and texture. To be honest, it tasted like very nice roast beef. Next time I will be sure to purchase higher quality and intact beef, marinade in low pH, and then surface sear :)

Unfortunately I didn't get any feedback regarding the Foodsaver V2860, but I'm finding ziploc bags to be a bit annoying, so I'm just gonna take the plunge and buy the foodsaver. Will report back after having tried it!

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I'm sorry for the constant questions, especially about vacuum sealers, but I would really like to know which is better:

La.va V.333

or

Foodsaver V2860

I've seen them both available for purchase on eBay, but the Lava V333 retails for nearly £600! Which is a lot lot lot more than the Foodsaver! Is it really that much better??


Edited by Guy MovingOn (log)

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I had a food saver for many many years (around 20). But that's not the norm. There's a thread in the kitchen equipment forum about unreliability. Judging by the price, I sincerely hope the lava is superior. But, if you're in North America, check this out. I got one last August and it's flipping fantastic. Miles and miles superior to my old Food saver (though I imagine they've improved greatly since my 80's model).

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I had a food saver for many many years (around 20). But that's not the norm. There's a thread in the kitchen equipment forum about unreliability. Judging by the price, I sincerely hope the lava is superior. But, if you're in North America, check this out. I got one last August and it's flipping fantastic. Miles and miles superior to my old Food saver (though I imagine they've improved greatly since my 80's model).

I have been using FoodSavers for something like 15 years. I had one break after 5 years. And another lasted another 5. In both cases, I felt that I got my moneysworth out of them. About 18 months ago I bought a new FoodSaver even though my old one (5 years old) still worked because I wanted the Pulse Vac feature.

I am really glad that I got one with the Pulse option. It is great for vacuuming bags with liquid in them.

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I'm sorry for the constant questions, especially about vacuum sealers, but I would really like to know which is better:

La.va V.333

or

Foodsaver V2860

I've seen them both available for purchase on eBay, but the Lava V333 retails for nearly £600! Which is a lot lot lot more than the Foodsaver! Is it really that much better??

For domestic use that Foodsaver should be fine.

However, it probably won't resist abuse in the same way that a commercial machine might.

Certainly, I am still delighted with my V2860, which I picked up for close to £100.

Put the machine a few inches above your bench - so the bags 'stand up' a bit - to make it easier to seal liquids without sucking them up.

But the ability to pulse pump, and on slow speed, plus the long-duration 'moist' seal setting, makes it well able to handle stuff-in-sauce.

Yes, I am gentle with it, but its given no hint of any trouble.

If I have any criticism, its that a full 2 inches of bag need to go into the machine when sealing. It seems a lot. But that does guarantee a space to write the content info ...

Foodsaver-branded bags are claimed to be food-safe to boiling, but the seals won't hold at that temperature! I've had a couple leak while trying to quickly reheat stuff in a pan of boiling water. But it has been the factory (side) seals that went - not those made by the V2860!


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

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Re the Food Saver...I have one and it is fairly expensive to operate given that the bag rolls aint cheap. For food storage long term it might be worth it, but for 60 min in a water bath it is hard to see how one loses anything with a zip lock bag.

There is a middle ground. Reynolds makes a cheap hand pump that evacuates special bags through a port and claims to be as good as a food saver. I have one and it seems to work fine. Though I still wonder if a Glad bag isn't about 99% as good.

Food saver will have trouble with sauces/marinades that you plan to cook with the meat. It will suck them out with the air unless it is a chamber model.


Edited by gfweb (log)

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I impulsed purchased a foodsaver V3825 at costco last week to replace the reynolds hand pump system I was using. To be honest, I feel like I got a better vacuum with the reynolds. Costco has a pretty awesome return policy, so I'm going to use it a couple more times and make the decision whether or not to keep it.

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I'm sorry for the constant questions, especially about vacuum sealers, but I would really like to know which is better:

La.va V.333

or

Foodsaver V2860

I've seen them both available for purchase on eBay, but the Lava V333 retails for nearly £600! Which is a lot lot lot more than the Foodsaver! Is it really that much better??

Lava V333 is overkill, V100 http://lava-vacuum-packing.com/V100.htm is sufficient, as well as FoodSaver™ V2040 http://www.foodsavereurope.com/Products/ProductDetails.aspx?pid=121 . You do not need high vacuum, but an instant-seal-button is recommendable. MagicVac Elite will do as well, mine is more than 10 years old and still working.

Regards

Pedro


Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

eG Ethics Signatory

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I just received a lobe of grade "A" foie gras from Sonoma, and would like prepare some of it en sous vide. For tonight, I want to do seared medallions. Any suggestions for temperature and time for 1/2 inch thick slices? It seems to me that if the point of cooking the foie sous vide is to minimize weight loss, after removal from the bath, I won't want to pan sear. Has anyone here used a torch on foie?


Edited by millions (log)

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I'm sorry for the constant questions, especially about vacuum sealers, but I would really like to know which is better:

La.va V.333

or

Foodsaver V2860

I've seen them both available for purchase on eBay, but the Lava V333 retails for nearly £600! Which is a lot lot lot more than the Foodsaver! Is it really that much better??

Lava V333 is overkill, V100 http://lava-vacuum-packing.com/V100.htm is sufficient, as well as FoodSaver™ V2040 http://www.foodsavereurope.com/Products/ProductDetails.aspx?pid=121 . You do not need high vacuum, but an instant-seal-button is recommendable. MagicVac Elite will do as well, mine is more than 10 years old and still working.

Regards

Pedro

I understand that it might be overkill, but if I can get it for a similar price as the Foodsaver then it might be worth it :)

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I made confit of duck thighs last night.

They had a marinade inspired by Culinary Bear from the Confit Thread for 12 hours, and since my waterbath can only go to 80C, I cooked them for 12 hours at 80C. Then into an ice bath and then held in the fridge until the next day. Reheated in the oven, and the skin was crisped with a blowtorch:

26433_331273205558_500890558_3608079_7837008_n.jpg

They were served on top of a bed of spicy sweet potato mash. The portions of the mash was huge as this was a course for 4 people to share, before we ate the breasts.

The flavour was amazing, the texture was great. There was still quite a bit of fat under the skin, but I expect that. It was less salty than the countless versions I have had during my summer holidays in France, and subsequent occasions when we have brought some tins back, which is something that I was pleasantly surprised by. Perhaps they often dont rinse the salt/marinade off before covering with fat? I would definitely do this again, and Culinary Bear's suggestion for marinade worked great. Unfortunately I can't go any higher than 80C, but I am not sure if there would be that much difference between 80C and 83C? But I'm just a uni student cooking for myself and housemates, so I don't know :)

Cheers :)

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I just received a lobe of grade "A" foie gras from Sonoma, and would like prepare some of it en sous vide. For tonight, I want to do seared medallions. Any suggestions for temperature and time for 1/2 inch thick slices? It seems to me that if the point of cooking the foie sous vide is to minimize weight loss, after removal from the bath, I won't want to pan sear. Has anyone here used a torch on foie?

I found this - http://www.sousvidecooking.org/foie-gras-cooked-sous-vide-58-degrees-during-47-minutes/

That's more for a torchon preparation though. I have to say however, sous vide isn't the solution for everything, and I couldn't imagine preparing seared foie gras any way other than slicing, chilling in the freezer for 5 minutes, and pan searing on a rocket-hot dry skillet 45 seconds each side.

...and I would imagine a torch would melt a hole through it.

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Food saver will have trouble with sauces/marinades that you plan to cook with the meat. It will suck them out with the air unless it is a chamber model.

Not true if you use pulse mode.

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Why is vacuum needed? I know that sous vide means under vacuum, but why must one remove air rigorously to cook in plastic for 45 minutes?

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Simply because the bag will float if it contains air and the ingredients will not cook properly.

When cooking vegetables sous vide I always insert a small bag of pebbles into the main bag to prevent floating.


Ruth Friedman

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