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MikeTMD

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

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Doug,

How much confidence do you have that the person meant "safe" to be "won't melt" versus "won't leach chemicals"? And that the person would be forthcoming about the latter issue? It it wasn't certified for cooking, I wonder if they have tested the leaching?

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Well, I served my brisket on Friday and it was great. Meat was perfectly pink throughout and I got an awesome sear in a blazing hot cast iron skillet. There were recommendations to drop the temp to the 131 range but I wanted pink rather than red for this meal so I'm glad I kept it a few degrees higher; my meat was not at all gray. I Like others have said, the result is something very reminiscent of a roast, rib roast imo. I made a red wine reduction sauce with lots of onions but I thought it was a bit overpowering. Better was simply the slightly reduced cooking juices. There really is very little fat that melts away so I had to spend some time trimming after the meat came out of the bag. I asked for this brisket well trimmed, but on my second go around I will ask the butcher to trim of the maximum possible amount of fat (this flat had very good marbling). I messed around with the blow torch on some leftovers and that was good too.

My process:

Seasoned with salt, brown sugar, mustard see and put some bay leaf and whole peppercorns in the bag.

SV at 134 for 48 hours.

Brown in blazing hot skillet.

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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).

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?

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).

See http://www.answers.com/topic/plastic-wrap. As long as you use polyethylene film you are on the safe side, as it does not contain any plasticizers like phthalates (giving the typical plastic odor) as used in polyvinylchloride film. The PE cling film I use is labelled to be safe from -30°C to +80°C.


Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

eG Ethics Signatory

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I also contacted SC Johnson (I prefer the ziplock bags to foodsaver also - much more convenient) - but they were not very willing to divulge information to me. I am in the process of contacting a few outside testing labs to see if they will (and how much it will cost to) test some bags under a few different conditions for me.... I'm thinking I'll have them check 185F for 12 hours as I think that would be the worst case scenario... Are there any other temps/times that people use that might be good to test as well?

I've recently done some 5 spice pork belly that was cooked as a taste test - about 1/4 C liquid in each bag, one bag at 176F for 12 hours, and the other was 185F for 8 hours... Both came out very tasty - but I think the 176 was the winner... the meat turned out to be a little more succulent... but regarding the recent topic, both were done in ziploc bags and both had no problems with leaks, etc... but I wouldn't know for sure if I didn't ingest some plasticy stuff....

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I've been experimenting with perfect pork belly temp as well. 170F / 12 hours makes for excellent meat. I am curious about the skin though. Are you (or anyone else) cooking it in the bag with the skin? then what? Do you remove and sear or leave it on and sear? I've been removing the skin, but leaving a good layer of fat on, thinking it might not be soft enough to crisp and eat. I do miss the crispy cross hatch skin on the belly though and been meaning to give it a shot. Any thoughts?

Also, I am planning some SV leeks very soon to go with beef. I think for all vegetables, 85C is the majic number, but will 30-45 minutes be good enough for cooking leeks assuming no further cooking will be done?


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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

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Both of the versions above (176 and 185F) were done with the skin on, which came out tender with a slight give to them... one might call it very slightly rubbery, but I thought it was very nice. For this version, I'm not planning on crisping the skin since I'm going to be serving it with puffed rice which will add a nice crunch, and I want the braised texture of the skin to contrast with it... With that said, if I wasn't planning on doing the puffed rice, I would probably crisp it post SV...

185 seems to be the number for vegetables... I haven't done leeks yet, but pearl onions at 185F for about an hour are awesome... I haven't really tried less time... artichokes are also great

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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).

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?

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).

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plastic_wrap. As long as you use polyethylene film you are on the safe side, as it does not contain any plasticizers like phthalates (giving the typical plastic odor) as used in polyvinylchloride film. The PE cling film I use is labelled to be safe from -30°C to +80°C.

I just saw a package of Ziploc bags in a store today, it was labelled to be PE (polyethylen) and not PVC, so they should be safe.


Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

eG Ethics Signatory

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BTW, the marinated tri-tip (bottom roast) was still rather tough in spots after 14 hours, so I put the remaining half in for another 14 hours at 55.5C. That was better tonight, but still not perfect. Next time I might be inclined to go for 48 hours, although it really shouldn't be necessary. This was a "Ranchers Select" from Safeway. Lesson learned, perhaps.

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oh boy. from 12 - 48 hrs? That's quiet a range. I might give my tri tip 24 hours at 55.5 C then and see what happens.


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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

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It may largely be a matter of personal taste as to what you prefer. It is possible that the sourcing of the meat would make a difference. But I suspect that it is mostly a matter of personal preference. Which will be true of most of the parameters. My recommendation is to do one for 12 hours and sample it and put it back in the bath if it isn't tender enough. I have had pretty similar results tenderness-wise with both very high-quality and medium-quality meat.

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Going from about 28 hours or so to 48 hours might be a bit too big a jump -- I suppose 36 hours might be worth trying, but I sometimes get a bit exasperated with testing and just want to EAT something!

Regarding personal taste, etc., in this case there was a significant difference between one of the "tips" and the middle of the roast, so it was the meat itself that was changing.

But the 24 vs. 48 hrs. vs. some intermediate value is interesting.

I guess I've been implicitly assuming, without giving it much thought, that the times required for tenderizing meat by dissolving collagen went up exponentially, which is why I went from 12, to 24, to 48.

But is that true?

Right now, I can't think of a mechanism or reason why dissolving collagen into gelatin would be anything other than linear. I guess that assumes that all collagen is equally "meltable," and that some portions are not more difficult to melt than others.

Douglas, a little mathematical insight, please?

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First consumer sous vide cooker announced! The Sous Vide Supreme.

Announcement

Web Site

Will retail for $449. $50 discount if sign up at the site for the release in October. It looks pretty decent in the photos. The rack looks like a good idea.

Some friends and I had toyed with the idea of developing a cooker for the home market. Glad that somebody did it.

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Interesting!

I rather like the term "water oven".

Explains the concept in a very non-threatening way.


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

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Pretty pricey, at least compared to a Sous Vide Magic plus an equivalent size rice cooker, but a lot better than a laboratory immersion circulator.

But if they can sell it for that price in retail stores like Sur Le Table, Williams-Sonoma, or even Target, it may take off, just because of the integration.

I wonder what kind of circulation they use, if any, and what kind of accuracy and precision temperature control they can maintain?

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Pretty pricey, at least compared to a Sous Vide Magic plus an equivalent size rice cooker, but a lot better than a laboratory immersion circulator.

I still think that good prices on circulators can be found if you're diligent. I recently got a powerhouse VWR 1122 for 395 bucks.


--

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BTW, the marinated tri-tip (bottom roast) was still rather tough in spots after 14 hours, so I put the remaining half in for another 14 hours at 55.5C. That was better tonight, but still not perfect. Next time I might be inclined to go for 48 hours, although it really shouldn't be necessary. This was a "Ranchers Select" from Safeway. Lesson learned, perhaps.

oh boy. from 12 - 48 hrs? That's quiet a range. I might give my tri tip 24 hours at 55.5 C then and see what happens.

It may largely be a matter of personal taste as to what you prefer. It is possible that the sourcing of the meat would make a difference. But I suspect that it is mostly a matter of personal preference. Which will be true of most of the parameters. My recommendation is to do one for 12 hours and sample it and put it back in the bath if it isn't tender enough. I have had pretty similar results tenderness-wise with both very high-quality and medium-quality meat.

3969054833_f2c3d84ff4.jpg

12 hours worked great in this case. The beef was about 2 inches thick at it's widest part and maybe 3/4 inches at the thinnest. It was rubbed with a mixture of miso, Ancho chile, honey and soy and finished with a quick sear. It came out moist and tender (even the slices I stupidly sliced with the grain). I served it with a potato risotto, leek tartar and a sauce made fromt the cooking juices and stock. The leftovers make excellent cold beef sandwiches.

The leeks definitly needed more than an hour at 85C. They were a still unpleasantly tough and had to be finished in the microwave.


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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

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Thanks to all of the contributors on this thread!

I've been tinkering with SV for about a year now with some great (and a few so-so) results and have an opportunity to work with goat-kid I sourced from a fabulous Washington State farm. My issue is: I can't find anyone who has successfully SV'd kid.

The chops I made last week were delicate in flavor and texture - somewhere between veal and spring lamb with a hint of goat. I'm planning a menu for leg of kid (about 3-4 lbs), butterflied, and flattened to 40-50mm at the thickest section. Right now I'm SV'ing some lamb shoulder to get an approximate time/temperature, thinking 58-60°C for 24-30 hours should be about right, then searing for Maillard and saucing with harissa and preserved lemons at the end.

I worry the kid might turn to mush if it cooks that long. Less fatty beef and veal cuts have been sublime with similar cooking times, but that's about the closest I can approximate. Does anyone have guidance for goat?

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I wouldn't think that you would need to go that high, unless you like your meat medium to medium-well.

I think I would cut off a small portion, cook it for 4 to 8 hours at 55.5C, and see how tender it is, and whether you like it medium rare. If it is tough, try another small piece and go up on the time. Reheating works, putting an overdone piece of meat in the fridge doesn't!

Goats are certainly more energetic than mature cattle or eventual calves, and might be tougher as a result (and thus need longer times), but on the other hand they are younger, and so more likely to be like lamb.

I did lamb chops for about 3.5 hours at 55.5, and I loved them. My wife wished they were a little more done -- de gustibus non disputandum est. But they were tender, and I would expect kid to be similar.

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I sv'd two briskets. I finished and served one with generally pleasing results and froze the other.

How should I reheat this?

I see Douglas Baldwin's Table 2.4 appears to calls for about four hours at 56C to bring the core to 55 (50mm cut).

My spouse has some complaints about the lukewarm feel inside the outer core.

I assume a hotter bath would cut the time as well as heating a deeper layer.

What works?

Many thanks.

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Interesting question, with a couple of ramifications.

Normally, I wouldn't recommend a rewarming period that lasts 4 hours, because the total time from initial start (cold) to cooked, to chilled, to rewarmed should be less than 6 hours, for food safety reasons.

However, in the case of a brisket, which I assume you cooked for something like 48 hours, the meat has been thoroughly pasteurized -- or at least it was before you cut into it and handled it, prior to chilling. So that (mostly) mitigates the food safety concern.

The next question concerns getting it hot enough, presumably without overcooking it.

Let me suggest a couple of alternatives.

If the brisket is frozen now, set your controller to say 36C/4F, and let the brisket thaw completely. Then slice it across the grain, into slices about 2-3mm thick. Spread those slices out so they are as flat and wide as possible, and put them in the biggest FoodSaver bag you have, Then you can reheat them to say 35F/57C much, much faster, because of the thinness of the slices.

Meanwhile, prepare some HOT mushroom gravy or whatever other accompaniment you were considering, and also WARM THE PLATES. If you do that, you almost don't need to rewarm the meat.

Finally, at the serious risk of blasphemy on this thread, you could always use a microwave, or a hot skillet. :-)

I haven't tried it, but I would think the cooked brisket would make great panini sandwiches.

And my friend Dr. Peter (AKA Pedro) Gruber has a recipe for brisket stroganoff that calls for searing the strips in a very hot pan that sounds delicious. See http://sousvide.wikia.com/wiki/Brisket_Stroganoff.

(His recipe calls for rice bran oil, which I had suggested after visiting a restaurant which used it. According to articles on the Internet, it apparently has a very high smoke point. However, I've never been able to find any, so I went back to the restaurant to inquire. They brought out the can: Rice BRAND oil! It was ordinary canola!! Anyway, Pedro says that i has a nice nutty flavor that he likes. I'm sure you could substitute grapeseed oil.)

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Dear 3rdCookFOWT,

1. Reheating brisket: 55°C/3h51' from -18°C will do and be safe (55°C is pasteurizing temperature); higher temperature will not shorten cooking time, but once myofibrillar proteins and myoglobin have been denatured be the first 48h of cooking, you may reheat to a higher temperature (maybe 60°C) without turning the meat gray. Anyway, as Bob said, always serve SV-meat on warmed plates. I also agree with Bob that a hot sauce helps give the meat a warm feeling (see also http://sousvide.wikia.com/wiki/Marinated_Brisket ). I'd rather not slice it before reheating to avoid excessive loss of juice, and searing 3mm-slices might quickly overdo them; I prefer 15-20mm slices.

2. Searing in smoking hot oil: rice bran oil is said to have one of the highest smoke points (247°C) allowing very quick browning; I get it from a Thai shop (CHF 4.50 per 500ml), and it is certainly available online. It has a neutral taste like grape seed oil which I use when there is no rice bran oil at hand.

3. Microwave: I consider it to be OK for everything else but meat which risks to be very unevenly overdone.

4. Rice BRAND Oil / Canola oil: to be avoided, it is genetically altered rape seed oil produced in Canada and sold in USA; in Switzerland / Europe, (unaltered) rape seed oil is OK.

Regards

Pedro


Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

eG Ethics Signatory

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Hello all,

I'm new to Sous Vide cooking and this site and appreciate all the info shared. I have a question about which equipment to use that I was not able to find through searching the forum, but apologies if some of this has already been covered.

I've decided to hold off on taking the plunge on an immersion circulator for now, and have settled on the following for my "ghetto" set-up:

Thermometer: MicroTherma 2T

Temperature controller: Auber Precision

Aquarium pump for circulation

I'm having trouble deciding on which heating unit to use. Rice cookers and steam tables seem to be solution most often recommended, but I would prefer to purchase a simple electric hotplate so that I have the flexibility of choosing the size of pot to use based on what I'm cooking. 90% of the time I'll be cooking smaller items where a rice cooker would suffice, but I can't see fitting the occasional rack of ribs / pork belly / or large roast of whatever in a rice cooker. And a steam table seems like overkill when most of the time I'll be cooking something the size of a couple chicken breasts....

Has anyone had experience using hotplates and either rice cookers or steam tables? Any issues with hotplates that make them a less desirable solution? Using the above-referenced equipment, can you achieve a temperature as consistent as a rice cooker or steam table? (If I decide to go with a hotplate, I would also purchase some kind of stainless steel rack to place on the bottom of whatever pot I use to prevent anything from resting directly on top of the heat source, thereby helping to maintain a consistent temperature.)

Any advice would be appreciated!

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First of all, there is no reason at all to apologize for your proposed setup, as it will give you very great flexibility at a very reasonable cost.

Second, I have no personal experience with the Auber unit, but I have tested and precision calibrated 16 of the similar SousVideMagic units from Fresh Meals Solutions, and I can testify to their (SVM's) accuracy and reliability. (I have a few calibrated units left -- contact me via PM if you are interested.)

As you may know, building a PID controller is not rocket science -- any competent EE could do it. On the other hand, building and sealing a sensor so that it is certified food safe, waterproof when immersed in hot water 24x7, and reliable enough for harsh kitchen use takes real materials engineering, a solid production line, and tight quality assurance. Unfortunately, those are capabilities that the low-cost manufacturers don't seem to have, which is why most Chinese-made digital thermometers are all over the map in terms of accuracy.

Finally, although I started out using an electric griddle and a large pot, I quickly graduated to a commercial rice cooker (12 liter) plus a couple of smaller ones for cooking veggies. The advantage is that the rice cookers are well insulated, and therefore very heat efficient (a serious deficiency of the Sous Vide Supreme IMHO, along with the fact that they measure the temperature of the bottom of the unit instead of the water). And you can also use them to make rice!

Most people find that a rice cooker, because it heats from the bottom, tends to do a good job of circulation by convection alone, but if you like to stir water for some reason (such as I do when calibrating thermometers), I would recommend an inexpensive submersible fountain or garden pump. The last one I bought cost about $14, and will pump 60 gallons an hour -- certainly more than enough. The only caution is to not use it above 160F, as they will melt and deform. The same thing is true of the circular air-stones used with aquarium air pumps, which are also rather noisy. I have one, but gave up using it.

I would suggest buying a "just right" size rice cooker for your family's daily use. A 6-liter rice cooker would handle a package of chicken breasts, a couple of steaks, or half a brisket with no problem. For the occasional bigger job, you can use a roasting pan on an electric griddle. An electric deep-fat turkey fryer is also a possibility, as long as you drain the water so it doesn't rust.

And for the really, really, really big sous vide cooking jobs, you can always use your bathtub or even your Jacuzzi, with a thermometer and a manual control!

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I know this is a dumb question, so please excuse me as I am new to this. How do you tell the temperature of the food inside the bag? Are you using a probe thermometer? If so, how would you able to keep the bag vacuum sealed as well? Cheers.

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You can get special tape that seals the vacuum around a fine probe thermometer and measure core temperature that way.

On the other hand, some of our more technically minded contributors (thank you Nathan M) have calculated the time taken given the conductivity of the meat for the centre to reach the target temperature. As a consequence, we do not use probe thermometers but rather use time in the cooker as our guide.

Moreover unlike conventional cooking, where the cooking temperature far exceeds the target temperature, in sous-vide cookery you typically use the target temperature or just slightly higher. In this way, the risk of overcooking disappears; although that having been said there appear to be some additional changes that happen to the texture of the meat if you leave it in too long.


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

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

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