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MikeTMD

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

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I'm planning to do a brisket next week and would appreciate feedback on my plan, which has been mostly pieced together from other posts in the thread and Douglas Baldwin's page.

1. Going with either a whole brisket or just the point if I can find it. Definitely prime, maybe wagyu. Should I have the brisket well trimmed or just lightly trimmed? I've seen arguments that lightly trimmed is best, even for SV, to avoid a dry point. But AFAIK the fat will soften but not melt at 135, so others suggest having the brisket well trimmed.

2. Considering a brine per Douglas Baldwin's suggestion, but because I have a small kitchen I'd prefer to skip this step. Would like opinions here.

3. Considering a preliminary browning. Do others feel this adds significant depth of flavor?

4. Sous Vide for 48 hours at 135 degrees, to be finished a day or two before serving. I'll chill down afterward.

5. On dinner night, I need to bring the brisket up to temperature but will be without my SV equipment. Thinking I'll can deal just fine with simmering water at about 110 degrees as measured by a digital thermometer.

6. Pre-service browning. Could do either blow torch or skillet. I'd like a nice hard sear for a nice crusty edge and don't mind a small ring of well cooked meat so leaning towards a skillet browning but I do want the bulk of the meat to have some pinkness (I'd prefer to not trot out strange techniques like blowtorching in front of some squeamish guests).


Edited by zEli173 (log)

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Brisket is absolutely my favorite sous vide recipe.

Brining a brisket really isn't necessary, in my experience. I would suggest cutting the brisket into reasonable size pieces, then you can just cook what you need, unless you are feeding a large crowd.

I don't do a preliminary browning. Instead, I coat the brisket with a spice mix, such as a sweet mesquite rub, before sealing it. You can add a little Liquid Smoke, if you wish. The rub makes the piece dark enough that you almost don't need to sear it afterwards.

Unless 131.5F is too rare for your taste, that is what I would recommend, for 48 hours.

I would say that re-warming to 110F is too low. You don't want to have people complaining about cold meat. Shoot for 125-130F, but no more. You can transport the meat in a styrofoam cooler with water at 130F, and only loose a degree or two. Then you can heat up the water with hot tap water. However, do NOT attempt to move a large rice cooker filled with water. It may slosh, and fall into the cooker, and end up shorting out your SV controller.

And always use pre-warmed plates, with whatever vegetables you are planning.

A Iwatami or other LARGE blow-torch will work, and you will get lots of questions and admiration. I did this in front of 85 quests for a friend's 60th birthday party, and trust me, no one fainted out of squeamishness, but everyone was very interested in the process.

However, if I'm at home and have access to kitchen equipment, I now use a big old cast iron skillet, put in some peanut or grapeseed oil until it is smoking hot, then sear the pieces briefly. Really, it's more for looks and taste (the Maillard reaction), so don't over do it. If someone wants something that is more crusty. let them eat the skillet!

Slice the brisket across the grain, in 2 to 3mm slices, and serve it with some grayy, or something like a French finishing sauce from William-Sonoma.

Bon Appetite!


Edited by Robert Jueneman (log)

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gallery_57905_5971_76246.jpg

I would love to get a result similar to the Momofuku short ribs pictured above from post 1968. A few posts down from 1968 it was written that these were browned via deep fry and speculated that they were sous vided at 135. I'm not intending to deep fry but this is what I have in mind and I think cast iron will get me a similar brown, I might add a touch of sugar to help carmelization.

Robert, in post 2571 you reported your brisket done at 135 was on the rare side of medium rare, you also raved about the results. I gather you've found through experimentation that you like it even rarer and have therefore shifted to 131.5. I'd say what I'm chasing after is more medium rare - medium. Care to comment on that?

Also, still looking for reinforcement on whether I want the brisket well trimmed or not.

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I'm planning to do a brisket next week and would appreciate feedback on my plan, which has been mostly pieced together from other posts in the thread and Douglas Baldwin's page.

1. Going with either a whole brisket or just the point if I can find it. Definitely prime, maybe wagyu. Should I have the brisket well trimmed or just lightly trimmed? I've seen arguments that lightly trimmed is best, even for SV, to avoid a dry point. But AFAIK the fat will soften but not melt at 135, so others suggest having the brisket well trimmed.

2. Considering a brine per Douglas Baldwin's suggestion, but because I have a small kitchen I'd prefer to skip this step. Would like opinions here.

3. Considering a preliminary browning. Do others feel this adds significant depth of flavor?

4. Sous Vide for 48 hours at 135 degrees, to be finished a day or two before serving. I'll chill down afterward.

5. On dinner night, I need to bring the brisket up to temperature but will be without my SV equipment. Thinking I'll can deal just fine with simmering water at about 110 degrees as measured by a digital thermometer.

6. Pre-service browning. Could do either blow torch or skillet. I'd like a nice hard sear for a nice crusty edge and don't mind a small ring of well cooked meat so leaning towards a skillet browning but I do want the bulk of the meat to have some pinkness (I'd prefer to not trot out strange techniques like blowtorching in front of some squeamish guests).

I agree with what Robert said. I usually use a brisket with most of the fat trimmed off. Since it doesn't melt, it adds little to the taste. Brining, for me, has had little effect as well as the initial quality of the beef. Cooking it at 131-132F for 48 hours produces meat that is as tender as a roast or even a steak. In fact, many times that I have served brisket, people have asked what kind of steak it was. You can cut it thicker than would be normal with a braised brisket. A good spicing before with helps. Since the meat will be sitting in its own juices, a dry rub has worked well for me. If you use wine, don't forget to cook it before adding it. I keep 1T frozen wine cubes, reduced by half, in my freezer just for this purpose

If you will be serving it sliced, the browned surface area will be quite small. However, since the meat looks somewhat boiled when done, I would brown it after it has cooled, limiting the additional cooking if it will be carved at the table. I prefer a blowtorch for that.

As to reheating, the meat cools down quickly, so holding it at 110F will result is a cold dish. Take Robert's advice and aim for 130F with heated plates.


Edited by Mikels (log)

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Mikels, it's certainly nice to have confirmation from someone else. Thanks! And BTW, "Bob" is just fine.

zEli173, at first I used 135F, not knowing exactly what to expect. But that was a little more pink than reddish-pink, so I dropped it down a bit.

I would be inclined to go even lower, but 131F/55.5C seems to be the magic lower number for pasteurization, and for the lengthy cooking time involved, that seems prudent. You might choose to pre-sear your meat and or marinade it to further reduce the risk if you wanted to go even more rare, but at least to my taste I don't think that is necessary, and from a safety standpoint, probably not desirable.

If you use a liberal amount of a dry rub, e.g., from a tin of Kirkland Sweet Mesquite Rub from Costco, the surface of the brisket will be dark enough that post-searing is almost unnecessary, but do it if you wish.

I've tried both a Iwatami blow torch and pan searing with very high temperature grapeseed oil. Both are certainly acceptable, and if you want to show off in front of guests, the blowtorch is fun and will certainly be memorable for most people, whether you do it in the kitchen or at the table. Just don't set fire you your grandmother's Irish lace tablecloth!

But the blowtorch seems to sear the topmost little "spikes" of the meat without getting much deeper, whereas the very hot oil seems to get everything more evenly seared. Try it and see which you like best.

Bob

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Sorry if this has been posted before (it's been a long couple days catching up on all 99 pages of the thread!)...

In my search for equipment for SV I ran across this link: SV Equipment

Cheers!


PastaMeshugana

"The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd."

"What's hunger got to do with anything?" - My Father

My eG Food Blog (2011)

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- My son-in-law's family are big hunters. Anyone doing wild game like deer, elk, pheasants, etc.

My neighbor has promised to fill my chest freezer with deer meat this year and the odd hog and game birds. I sure hope he comes through. The only game meat I cooked Sous Vide so far was a few months back. I made a fantastic dish from Gordon Ramsay's book using a venison backstrap. I packed the meat with a bit of butter, fresh thyme, salt and pepper. I let it cook in the water bath at 135 F for about 2 hours. It really was "done" in a little over an hour (following nathan's tables) but I had some more prep to do. So, I let sit in the IC tub until I was ready to sear it in very hot clarified butter in my cast iron skillet. It was perfectly cooked, juicy, tasty and looked great. The dish also included parsnip puree, braised cabbage, beets, sauteed mushrooms and red wine sauce. I have more details here if you are interested

3594517336_6b097180f0.jpg

3593708703_ee5bc5f518.jpg

On a different note, no matter what I do, the FoodSaver bags if "cooked" for a long time manage to start floating in some cases. This is defintily due to exapnding small air pockets in the bags. These miniature pockets that are barely visible at the start of cooking expand and cause the bag to float. Any perfect solutions for this? I've taken to "hooking" bags that I think might float to a make shift weight I made. I basically packed a handful of those decorative marble-like glass balls that my wife used in her vases in a small FoodSaver bag. This works good, but I am wondering if there is a better way. For short cookign times it's no problem, I just do not like floaters if I'm CSV for 10-48 hours.

Does this bag-floating happen with Chamber Vaccum machines BTW? Just curious.


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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On a different note, no matter what I do, the FoodSaver bags if "cooked" for a long time manage to start floating in some cases. This is defintily due to exapnding small air pockets in the bags. These miniature pockets that are barely visible at the start of cooking expand and cause the bag to float. Any perfect solutions for this? I've taken to "hooking" bags that I think might float to a make shift weight I made. I basically packed a handful of those decorative marble-like glass balls that my wife used in her vases in a small FoodSaver bag. This works good, but I am wondering if there is a better way. For short cookign times it's no problem, I just do not like floaters if I'm CSV for 10-48 hours.

Does this bag-floating happen with Chamber Vaccum machines BTW? Just curious.

With a small water bath where the bag rests horizontally, I observed floating even in short time cooking. Now with a 9-Liter stockpot (controlled by a SousVideMagic) bags stay in a vertical position and do not float even in longtime cooking; for easy retrieval of the bags I suspend them on a skewer threaded through the upper rim of the bag, which helps even more against floating.

gallery_65177_6724_31656.jpg

What degree of vacuum does your clamp machine produce? If you do not know, see http://sousvide.wikia.com/wiki/Find_out_how_strong_a_vacuum_your_machine_produces. My old MagicVac does 72% vacuum (0.28 bar). The higher vacuum of a chamber machine may result in a mushier texture, especially in fish and poultry, see

http://www.cookingissues.com/2009/06/17/boring-but-useful-technical-post-vacuum-machines-affect-the-texture-of-your-meat/


Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

eG Ethics Signatory

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Not much of a problem with foodsaver bags floating - when it does happen, I use a 1 foot length of stainless steel chain - 5 ounces. cost less than buck at big box home store.

Paul

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On a different note, no matter what I do, the FoodSaver bags if "cooked" for a long time manage to start floating in some cases. This is defintily due to exapnding small air pockets in the bags. These miniature pockets that are barely visible at the start of cooking expand and cause the bag to float. Any perfect solutions for this? I've taken to "hooking" bags that I think might float to a make shift weight I made. I basically packed a handful of those decorative marble-like glass balls that my wife used in her vases in a small FoodSaver bag. This works good, but I am wondering if there is a better way. For short cookign times it's no problem, I just do not like floaters if I'm CSV for 10-48 hours.

Does this bag-floating happen with Chamber Vaccum machines BTW? Just curious.

I find that if you're SVing something with liquid in the bag (marinade, olive oil at room temp, etc) it's very hard to get a really good vacuum with the foodsaver because it starts to suck liquid into the machine before it finishes sucking all the air... so I've manually stopped the vacuum and sealed it before it's finished "sucking".... these have the tendency to float... if I vac something that's dry I've never had a problem with floaters...

Lately, if I want to do something that's been marinated or in olive oil, I'll use a zip lock bag and seal it in a sink full of water... when you put the open bag in the sink, the surrounding water pushes all the air out... just give it a little jostling and you can get all the air bubbles out, then move the bag so that the zip lock is just at the water line and seal it.... I haven't had a problem with floaters ever since... and they're a lot cheaper than the foodsaver bags!!!

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- My son-in-law's family are big hunters. Anyone doing wild game like deer, elk, pheasants, etc.

Wild game loves sous-vide! Here's a link to a game dinner I made last spring, most of the meat was cooked sous-vide.


Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

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I find that if you're SVing something with liquid in the bag (marinade, olive oil at room temp, etc) it's very hard to get a really good vacuum with the foodsaver because it starts to suck liquid into the machine before it finishes sucking all the air... so I've manually stopped the vacuum and sealed it before it's finished "sucking".... these have the tendency to float... if I vac something that's dry I've never had a problem with floaters...

Lately, if I want to do something that's been marinated or in olive oil, I'll use a zip lock bag and seal it in a sink full of water... when you put the open bag in the sink, the surrounding water pushes all the air out... just give it a little jostling and you can get all the air bubbles out, then move the bag so that the zip lock is just at the water line and seal it.... I haven't had a problem with floaters ever since... and they're a lot cheaper than the foodsaver bags!!!

I routinely marinate all my meat. Wrapping in cling film before bagging keeps the marinade within the cling film and allows me to apply full vacuum with my clamp machine (see post #2951). As cling film sticks to the bag, I wrap it in paper towel, so it slides easily into the bag, and then pull out the paper towel.

gallery_65177_6724_20149.jpg -> gallery_65177_6724_27565.jpg -> gallery_65177_6724_23595.jpg ->

gallery_65177_6724_27817.jpg -> gallery_65177_6724_11247.jpg -> gallery_65177_6724_4989.jpg


Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

eG Ethics Signatory

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I've also seen the suggestion that you should freeze portions of the liquid you wish to use in your sous vide preparations (perhaps in ice blocks), so that they won't get sucked out as you seal the bag but they'll melt and become liquid when they're in the water bath.

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That's a good idea - but I was thinking about if you wanted to cook something 'in liquid', not just marinated - sort of like a braise... There are many times that I cook things in a court bouillon, stock or equivalent flavored liquid - the great thing about SV is that you only need a few Tbs of liquid as opposed to a few cups in traditional cooking.

It's true that you can pre-freeze many liquids and add them to the bag, but I've found that mostly it's a pain in the neck - frozen olive oil melts really quickly, for instance, and it's always a race against the clock to add it to the bag, vacuum and seal before it starts working it's way up the bag. Plus, I usually like my oil flavored, and unfortunately, I'm usually more on the spontaneous side to plan too far in advance...

Lastly, I have a small apartment kitchen, and my foodsaver typically lives on a high shelf in a cupboard where I have to get a step ladder to access it (I have very limited counterspace) - so it's a pain to constantly get the thing, so I try to avoid it as much as possible...

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The solution to this is to have a large "tail" on the bag. Then what you do is put the solid food and the liquid into the bag, then you "stand" the bag up on the counter so that the food and liquid bunches at the bottom end of the bag. Then you bend over the "tail" end of the bag and put that into the FoodSaver-type machine (make a gently curving fold rather than a sharp fold). Then you start the vacuum. If you do it right, the machine will first evacuate all the air and then you can see that thin layer of liquid rising towards the sealer in the little capilaries of the FoodSaver bag. Keep your eye on the liquid and hit "manual seal" when it gets to within an inch or so of the sealer (usually the machine will go into sealing mode before this anyway). Works every time. This is easier to do with my "semipro" sealer because it has a transparent top that makes it easy to see all the way into the chamber. Later, if you like, you can roll up the "tail" end and put that inside the vacuum chamber so you can manually seal the bag further down the "tail."


--

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No chance with my machine, when I hit "seal", suction continues and heating takes a few seconds to seal, so I should hit "seal" 5 seconds before liquid reaches the sealer, which in contrast to the cling-film method is not foolproof. And while I wash my hands after giving the meat a gentle massage with the creamy marinade, where do I place the meat if not on a piece of cling-film? Et voilà!


Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

eG Ethics Signatory

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I really like the Saran wrap idea. IT makes sense for when the meat is lightly marinated and will give it a try next time in an effort to get as tight a package as possible. Like others, I never manage to think far in advance to have frozen marinades or oil or what have you. It also always seems like when I do add a cube of frozen liquid into the bag, when it melts, the contents of the FS bag are very loose.

On the other hand I usually do what Sam just suggested, or a variation of it, if I want to bag something with a significant amount of liquid. Having a long "tail" is a bit wasteful but very helpful in this case.


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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What's a good time/temp to cook a non-jaccarded trip tip piece of beef? This is not a very common cut here in Houston, Tx and I've never cooked it before (SV or traditionally). Is it similar to a chuck roast in texture? So, is 132F/24 hrs good? The recipe I'm probably going to use is from Adam Perry Lang's BBQ book. He marinates it with herbs and honey I think.


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Tri-tip (which is also called bottom sirloin in many parts of the country -- because that is really what it is) is a lot more tender than chuck and I find that 24 hours is too long -- after 24 hours I find the texture a bit too soft -- not quite mushy but well-beyond fork tender).

If I jaccard it, I cook it for 5 to 7 hours. If I don't jaccard it, I cook it for 10 to 12 hours -- but you can get away with less time.

Anyway that's my take. If you do a search in this thread you will find a number of posts (mostly from me) about tri-tip.

Oh, and it definitely benefits from a short sear in a VERY hot pan or with a blow torch just before serving and slicing.

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I don't have a Food Saver and my vacuum is somewhat primitive in terms of starting the sealing process.

With a mind to their application in Sous Vide, I have a lot of ice cubes of various stocks/oils/assorted liquid flavourings in my freezer. For this I use a single ice cube tray, freeze the item and then empty the cubes into a zip-loc storage bag. Note that oils take a longer time to freeze than other liquids so you may need to leave them for longer before moving them to the storage bags.

When I want to add a liquid to a sous vide cooking bag, I simply add an appropriate amount of the relevant fat/stock/flavouring and seal as normal. When the package is placed in the sous vide apparatus, the liquid thaws and cooks perfectly, without the risk of leaving additional air in the package and having it floating.

You don't really even need to pre-plan for a particular dish, just have a range of liquids and fats pre-frozen.


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

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

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Nick-

I'm curious, if you are not using a FoodSaver-type machine to vaccum pack, why bother with the ice cubes? It should be an easy enough process to add liquid to Ziploc, squeeze the air out (or use the "fill in water bath" technique) and then seal without any danger of sucking out the liquid/marinade. I brine in Ziploc bags all the time using a lot of liquid.


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Btw, Ziploc bags (and most cling wrap) are not approved or tested for cooking food in. I would be concerned about the chemicals leaching into the food. Especially, if you eat sous vide cooking with any frequency. Temperature increases the leaching rate -- so marinating/brining in the fridge is different from cooking -- even at sous vide temperatures. (Especially if the food is going to be in the bath for a long time).

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Ouch! I've got a Teriyaki-marinated tri-tip in the cooker as we speak, wrapped in cling wrap from the grocery store in order to avoid the problem of sucking out the marinade with a FoodSaver.

Is there any definitive evidence or references, one way or the other, as to the safety of various types of cling wrap, either by brand or by type? What do the manufacturers say?

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Robert-

You should not go cheap for cling wrap that you want to cook with. The brand I use is Saran Wrap Premium. It does not contain the "bad plasticizers" that can leach into food and is good for cooking. Sorry, not very scientific of an answer, but I do not have any of my references here. It is one of the brands that Michel Richard recommends for such procedures in his book "Happy in the Kitchen" (amazing book BTW).


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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A couple months ago I contacted the manufacture of Ziploc (S. C. Johnson & Son, Inc.) and they told me their heavy duty freezer bags were safe up to 195F/90C. While I still use my chamber vacuum sealer for just about everything, I actually prefer Ziploc bags to the FoodSaver. I just add about a quarter cup liquid (stock, court bouillon, etc) to the bag, submerge the bottom of the bag under water to displace the air, seal and cook. So far, I haven't had a single bag fail --- but, I never had any of my FoodSaver or chamber vacuum sealed bags fail either.


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

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