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Rahxephon1

Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques & Equipment (Part 9)

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I appreciate the dilemma this kind of thing poses for a company. They can’t say it’s ok to circulate anything. Gasoline, sulfuric acid, raw sewage, nitroglycerine: not ok. There’s no way they could come up with an exhaustive list of what not to put in there. But that’s not the same as saying nothing’s ok besides water. 


 


BTW, I personally don’t have any need to circulate other stuff. I’m not about to do a bionic turkey. I’m just curious about why they’re so restrictive after seeing how easily cleaned the unit is.


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Re: tenderness and juiciness being mutually exclusive. My girlfriend saw that post over my shoulder and was afraid it was cry for relationship advice.

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I think the more significant issue raised by the paper involves cooking time. At the same temperature, increased time seems to reduce juiciness as it increases tenderness. 

 

I'm not 100% convinced of the universality of this, or at least of it universally happening to a significant degree. I wish they'd used a lower temperature range. And I'd like to see the experiment repeated with some different cuts.

 

I made two chuck steaks a few days ago, at 55C. I pulled one at 24 hours and the other at 48. I thought the 48 hour one was as juicy, and (predictably) more tender. Granted, this was a long shot from scientific, but it raises some questions for me.

I think the real issue is this: The paper is comparing sous vide to sous vide. Almost any increase in time will result in a decrease in retained liquid when temp is held constant. So if retaining moisture is the only concern, than less time is better. The question isn't whether one can attain maximum tenderness and maximum juiciness at the same time (the answer is no, as one requires less time, and one required more time), but does sous vide allow for retaining more moisture at a given tenderness than other cooking methods. I don't know of anyone familiar with the technique who would argue this claim.

 

Reading the article, I got this impression:

 

Sous vide cook: "Sous vide is amazing because it lets to cook fork tender meat while retaining all the juices you would normally lose at higher temps!"

Scientist: "That's not accurate. Maximum moisture and maximum tenderness are mutually exclusive" --> Data follows

 

What the cook meant was that sous vide allows for much more retained moisture when compared to traditional high-heat methods. 

 

Max moisture = Raw

Max tenderness = Cremated

 

We live in the middle somewhere. 

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seems to me, judging by photos, that Keller circulates butter (or beurre monté)

 

if I were less worried about damage and cleaning, it would be an appealing idea to try

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That's a very expensive idea to try!!! Other than the glory shot or advertising ability, what's the advantage to circulating butter (or any other fat or liquid) versus bagging the product with butter and circulating water like normal? To the same point, Modernist Cuisine points out that cooking in fat does not help cooking or add flavor to the interior of the meat - the fat molecules are too big to penetrate muscle - so you might as well bag naked then brush with butter once fully cooked. Otherwise, some of your meat flavor is going to making flavored butter.

The only purpose I can see to circulating non-water is if you are cooking something that is too big to bag - like Dave Arnold's bionic turkey that he had to keep whole due to family expectations.

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I strongly advise against circulating milk - see earlier posts!

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If cooking in butter at SV temps is really what you want to do then the Sous Vide Supreme is the way to go. Circulation is by convection but the unit is completely sealed.

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If cooking in butter at SV temps is really what you want to do then the Sous Vide Supreme is the way to go. Circulation is by convection but the unit is completely sealed.

I have one

 

but because the unit is all in one, and so not submersible, it's MUCH harder to clean than a cambro and separate circulator

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...To the same point, Modernist Cuisine points out that cooking in fat does not help cooking or add flavor to the interior of the meat - the fat molecules are too big to penetrate muscle - so you might as well bag naked then brush with butter once fully cooked. Otherwise, some of your meat flavor is going to making flavored butter.

 

so by this "logic" there's no such thing as confit? cooking in fat is "no different" for flavour than in a sealed bag and brushed with fat afterward?

 

really?

You're sticking to that?

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I have one

 

but because the unit is all in one, and so not submersible, it's MUCH harder to clean than a cambro and separate circulator

I am surprised to hear you say that. I have the Demi and have no issues cleaning it. I lay it on its side, wash it out with a soapy cloth, tip it slightly and hose it. I dont find it any more of a challenge to clean than the Anova and container. Obviously your mileage varies.

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That's what MC found.  As I recall, they blind-tasted duck (?) cooked in fat or brushed with it after cooking and found no difference.

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Another use for non-water circulation is if you're doing high volume of a single item, placing them directly in the bath will cause the bath water to eventually equilibriate with the item. This is similar to the principle behind "dirty water" hot dogs in NYC. The advantage is that you can add and remove items at will and not have to deal with opening and closing plastic bags.

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Another use for non-water circulation is if you're doing high volume of a single item, placing them directly in the bath will cause the bath water to eventually equilibriate with the item. This is similar to the principle behind "dirty water" hot dogs in NYC. The advantage is that you can add and remove items at will and not have to deal with opening and closing plastic bags.

OK - I get this for a restaurant situation turning out tons of the same dish.... another analogy would be the cooking water for chicken-rice - hawker stalls will recycle this liquid forever...

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That's what MC found.  As I recall, they blind-tasted duck (?) cooked in fat or brushed with it after cooking and found no difference.

That's what I was referring to. It was duck they tested, and they blind, triangle-tested several variations - cooked with no fat, then with no fat added; cooked in fat; cooked with no fat, then brushed with fat; then other variations brushing with other non-duck fats. They could absolutely tell the difference between non-duck fats and brushed with duck fat, but could not tell the difference between cooked in duck fat and no-fat cook and brushed with duck fat.

Because of this, when I do confit at home, I just package the duck legs naked - and you know what I find after the cooking is complete? The duck leg is surrounded by duck fat - no brushing required!

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Has anyone seen a similar evaluation of butter poaching? This is a technique Thomas Keller used a lot. Eventually he replaced the giant pot of beurre monté with butter in the sous-vide bags. But experiments ... real ones and my own .. suggest you don't infuse any butter flavor into proteins.

 

I've SV'd steaks with melted or mounted cultured butter in the bags, hoping for the best. I didn’t do any kind of blind testing, but did a lot of eating, and really couldn’t detect any butter flavor.

 

Which raises another question: if you’re cooking protein in ziplock bags, and want some liquid to displace the air, what are the best options?

 

Assume you’re not specifically making a braise. You just want liquid for conduction, with a minimum worry of osmotically leaching more than necessary from the meat, little risk of curing or excessive tenderizing, and ideally, something wouldn’t interfere with making a pan sauce from the bag juices.

 

Thoughts?

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It's in Keller's book that you can see what looks like a cambro filled with beurre monté, and a circulator 

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Which raises another question: if you’re cooking protein in ziplock bags, and want some liquid to displace the air, what are the best options?

 

Assume you’re not specifically making a braise. You just want liquid for conduction, with a minimum worry of osmotically leaching more than necessary from the meat, little risk of curing or excessive tenderizing, and ideally, something wouldn’t interfere with making a pan sauce from the bag juices.

 

Thoughts?

I have a couple thoughts... To answer your question, I just use a neutral oil (peanut mostly) when the goal is conduction. I don't use it for much, things like hamburger patties that have a very coarse surface. 

 

I've found that most whole proteins put out enough juice fairly quickly to surround themselves and push the air bubbles to the top of the bag. Couple that with the "fact" that small bubbles don't have a huge effect on <12 hour cooking times, I only add liquid to the bag (for conduction purposes) with chicken, because I find that chicken breasts get a weird "chicken-y" smell and taste if they don't have anything at all in the bag.

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I'm interested in trying to cook a whole fennel bulb SV, as I find that blanching makes it a bit watery. I understand Keller's book recommends doing most veg at 85C, but how long will it approximately take?


Edited by ahpadt (log)

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What texture are you trying to end up with? Still some crisp, or cooked until soft?

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there is probably a table for this somewhere where you enter the diameter  and relate that to the texture you want.

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I'm interested in trying to cook a whole fennel bulb SV, as I find that blanching makes it a bit watery. I understand Keller's book recommends doing most veg at 85C, but how long will it approximately take?

I've done a cut up bulb 85c/60 min with a shot of sambuca. Cooked through but still had good texture

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I recently finished reading Under Pressure and was not terribly inspired by it.  But I am fond of fennel and might give fennel a try sous vide.  I cooked carrots sous vide at 85 deg C and was not terribly taken by the texture.  Pork/beef/chicken/lamb sous vide give much better results for me than vegetables.

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With vegetables, cooking is a matter of breaking down cell walls, which is roughly analogous to breaking down collagen in meat. We're not going for a level of temperature-determined doneness, but for a temperature/time-determined texture. Which means timing is important in a way that it's not with most SV proteins.

 

I've only done a few vegetable experiments. So far I haven't achieved the carrot nirvana that some people talk about. I've had great asparagus, though. SV has been brilliant for in-season, fat stalks of it. Just prep them well (including peeling the bottom halves) and bag them with some salt and pepper and olive oil (or whatever) ... 85C for 15 minutes. Really beautiful flavor and texture. 

 

Not a total replacement for roasted asparagus (which I still prefer if the asparagus is less than great). But much prettier, and much more pure asparagus flavor. 

 

Next up is mashed potatoes ... the circulator is the perfect tool for retrograding the starch for a smooth puree.

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Ive only done a few veg

 

Asp. when plump w tight tips are excellent..  much better than I can do by streaming or simmering.  there is a very narrow window of

 

'personal doneness' w Asp.   I usually miss it most other ways  except grill

 

i did supermarket carrots  not much there for me.  you know the ones  no tops.   got some w tops ;  a bit better

 

Farmers Market carrots w tops are another matter, very very good.  but they dont come around here for long.

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