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


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A quick report on an experiment I ran this week.  I had a nice piece of sirloin steak to SV and thought I would try to cut it up before cooking and searing to increase the ratio of sear to inside (Since the seared layer is so thin with SV).  But then I wondered if I would lose more moisture if I did that so I divided the meat in half and left one half whole while the other half was sliced into about 3 cm wide pieces.  I weighed both bags then put in the SV at 58 C for 40 min.  I then drained the liquid and reweighed.  Obviously the meat isn't perfectly uniform, but the cut up part lost 6% of its weight while the whole piece lost just under 3%.

 

So, I think that I would be better off doing the SV on larger pieces of meat and then cutting before searing.

It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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 They were okay to eat (with aioli), but I found them a bit chewy and almost a bit crunchy. What went wrong? From what I've read, 49 C (or even 46 C) should be perfect for lobster.

well, could be that they're overcooked.

 

I'd try lower and shorter

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  • 1 month later...

The Seattle Food Geek folks have a new $199 immersion circulator on Kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/seattlefoodgeek/sansaire-sous-vide-circulator-for-199

On a related note, has anyone cooked a whole turkey SV? The recipes I've seen call for preparatory dismemberment. I have a large enough rig to fit a whole turkey (in fact, it uses the same cooler in which I typically brine my turkey), but the obvious concerns (other than a big enough bag) are air spaces and thickness. Almost seems like using a low sodium broth as the medium might work. Thoughts?

I wouldn't think cooking a whole turkey sous vide is ideal, either. As a minimum I'd suggest parting the turkey like fried chicken pieces and bagging separately -- a few hours at 60C/140F. Pull out the white meat, pour in a teapot of boiling water, and set the temperature to 65C for 20 minutes to cook the dark meat more fully. After a few minutes cooling, sear the skin side of the white meat briefly in butter if desired. Similarly, cool and sear the dark meat. Deglaze the searing pan with reserved bag juices and make gravy.

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Dave Arnold makes sous-viding a whole turkey simple.

 

Just set up two immersion circulators with cooking oil, one at 50C or so for the light meat, one at 60C or so for the dark; extract the leg bones of the bird and replace with an assembly of aluminum pipes (think of it as a couple of routine hip and knee replacement operations), immerse the bird in the lower temperature oil bath; pump oil from the higher temperature circulator through the leg pipes. 

 

Brown the bird by pour-over frying, using a stock pot of 200C oil and a ladle.

 

Presto.

Notes from the underbelly

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I want to share a strategy I've worked out for determining cooking times. This is all about short-cooking (without added time for tenderization).

 

When I first got the Sous-Vide Dash app, I was confused that the suggested times were all much longer than times given in the tables in Modernist Cuisine. In some cases the differences were close to 50%. I exchanged some emails with Darren Vengroff, the app's developer, who explained that the app strictly follows the best models for heat propagation. The issue is the long tail of the curves: you might get within 1/2 degree after 30 minutes, but that last final bit can take a long time.

 

This is why Myhrvold recommends setting the circulator to 1°C higher than the target temperature. But I find that this still leads to surprisingly long cooking times.

 

It occurred to me that we habitually use the core temperature as the target temperature. This makes sense in cases where you need to pasteurize food all the way to the core, but in practice it means either 1) if you set the water bath temperature higher than the target, you will have a gradient, and every part of food besides the center will be cooked higher than the core, or 2) if you set the water bath exactly to the core temperature, cooking times will be extremely long.

 

After a bit of experimenting, I've started following the Mhyrvold recommendation of setting the bath 1°C higher than the target temperature, but then in the SV dash app, setting the core temperature 1/2°C LOWER than the target temperature. This achieves two things. It significantly shortens cooking times, actually bringing them into a range that's roughly similar to the MC tables. And the gradient, if it's perceptible at all, puts a larger portion of the food close to the target temperature.

 

Of course I'm not talking about huge gradients like you see in conventional cooking. I don't notice this kind of gradient at all when cooking beef. But with salmon, it's perceptible, and can actually be pleasant. You get a very subtle range of textures, from less cooked than the target at the center to slightly more cooked at the edge.

I hope you won't hold it against me, but I have a somewhat different method. Simply put, five nights a week I have to put the meat in the water bath before going to work in the morning, then I get home 12 hours later. This has made me quite comfortably with longer cooking times for a variety of SV meats. I wouldn't do this with filet mignon, but it works great with New York steak, sirloin, and tri-tip. In fact, they could be in the water bath all night, too, without worry. Leave the meat in the water bath until several minutes before searing, then un-bag and cool a while to protect against overcooking before browning. I prefer making grill marks.

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I hope you won't hold it against me, but I have a somewhat different method. 

 

I don't hold it against you. It's a reasonable way to do things in the name of convenience, assuming you're cooking at a pasteurizing temperature. I don't use this method for tender cuts because I don't like the resulting texture and moisture loss. I suspect I would like it for less tender steak cuts, like hanger and skirt.

Notes from the underbelly

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Assuming a person doesn't have a probe that can be inserted into the vacuum bag to monitor temp, how would you determine a time for bringing a 5 lb. homemade bologna or mortadella (105 mm x ~61 cm) up to 160 F internal? I'm pretty sure this would be a case where longer is not better and I'd be shooting for a minimum time that would still assure that it's safe to eat without further cooking. I'm not opposed to checking with a thermometer and bagging again to cook longer if needed but would like to minimize the number of times I'd have to do that so I'm trying to come up with a close starting point. Also, would it be beneficial to drop them in a cold bath and ramp them up to temp along with the water? Similar to bringing up the temp in stages when doing them in a smoker.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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If you don't have a needle probe.....don't worry about using a vacuum bag...insert a regular probe and hang an open bag off the side of the bath......

 

~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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I agree with DDF.  If I have to monitor temp, that's pretty much how I do it also.  But, I'm curious, why are you taking it to 160º?  I should think 140º is plenty safe and would give you a better texture.

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Assuming a person doesn't have a probe that can be inserted into the vacuum bag to monitor temp, how would you determine a time for bringing a 5 lb. homemade bologna or mortadella (105 mm x ~61 cm) up to 160 F internal? I'm pretty sure this would be a case where longer is not better and I'd be shooting for a minimum time that would still assure that it's safe to eat without further cooking. I'm not opposed to checking with a thermometer and bagging again to cook longer if needed but would like to minimize the number of times I'd have to do that so I'm trying to come up with a close starting point. Also, would it be beneficial to drop them in a cold bath and ramp them up to temp along with the water? Similar to bringing up the temp in stages when doing them in a smoker.

A probe is the most accurate way, but since you're talking about cyclinder shaped food, predictive models should work fine. MC has tables for cylinders, or you can use SV Dash and plug in the numbers.

 

I don't know any specifics about charcuterie, but in general you want to get things up to temperature as fast as possible. Forcemeats can be presumed contaminated all the way through, so for safety you'd want to make sure the core spends as little time as possible between fridge temperatures and 54°C.. This would suggest putting it straight in the preheated bath, and making sure the diameter isn't too large.

Notes from the underbelly

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If you don't have a needle probe.....don't worry about using a vacuum bag...insert a regular probe and hang an open bag off the side of the bath......

 

That works for me. Thanks!

 

I agree with DDF.  If I have to monitor temp, that's pretty much how I do it also.  But, I'm curious, why are you taking it to 160º?  I should think 140º is plenty safe and would give you a better texture.

 

First time making either of these items so I just going to follow the recipes which suggested 160 F. If I'm better off going to 140 F I'm fine with that. Thanks!

 

A probe is the most accurate way, but since you're talking about cyclinder shaped food, predictive models should work fine. MC has tables for cylinders, or you can use SV Dash and plug in the numbers.

 

I don't know any specifics about charcuterie, but in general you want to get things up to temperature as fast as possible. Forcemeats can be presumed contaminated all the way through, so for safety you'd want to make sure the core spends as little time as possible between fridge temperatures and 54°C.. This would suggest putting it straight in the preheated bath, and making sure the diameter isn't too large.

Thanks! The diameter isn't really negotiable on this one, I already purchased the 105 mm (~4") fibrous casings for this project but that answers my question about ramping up the temp. Just out of curiosity, is ramping the temp over time somehow more risky with sous vide or are we just taking our chances when we do it in the smoker?

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Just out of curiosity, is ramping the temp over time somehow more risky with sous vide or are we just taking our chances when we do it in the smoker?

 

The latter. A lot of the health concerns we attach to s.v. are really just about new-found awareness. 

 

I wonder if ramping up temperatures during smoking is about creating conditions that will get the smoke compounds to penetrate more effectively.

Notes from the underbelly

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> Just out of curiosity, is ramping the temp over time somehow more risky with sous vide

 

No, the sous-vide technical crowd just tends to be more paranoid about this sort of thing. If you're cooking to 160 for more than couple hours, there's no need for probing. You can try 150 to retain some of that rawer meat "flavor".

 

The thing to watch out for in ground-up meats is that bigger peices of tendony-type bits gelatize much slower than the meat, so avoid those in the mix if you want short/low temp. Same for meats like chuck blade where the meat tenderizes much faster than the tendon edges and therefore less unsuitable for sous-vide unless you seperate.

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The latter. A lot of the health concerns we attach to s.v. are really just about new-found awareness. 

 

I wonder if ramping up temperatures during smoking is about creating conditions that will get the smoke compounds to penetrate more effectively.

 

Meat tends to hang out in the open much more than consumers realize, and the inside of a vacu-sealed bag tends to be pretty sanitary.

I suspect it's the same crowd that's reluctant to leave the house for fear of ebola.

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I wonder if ramping up temperatures during smoking is about creating conditions that will get the smoke compounds to penetrate more effectively.

I'm pretty new to this sausage-making thing but according to what I've read, the idea behind ramping the temp up over time is supposed to help with not melting out the fat. It's been a while since I read that but now that you mention it, I'm thinking maybe the idea was to allow more time for the smoke without risking melting the fat out and then bringing it up to finish temp for as brief a time as possible. That makes more sense.

 

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Meat tends to hang out in the open much more than consumers realize, and the inside of a vacu-sealed bag tends to be pretty sanitary.

I suspect it's the same crowd that's reluctant to leave the house for fear of ebola.

 

It's got nothing to do with hanging out in the open. The issue is that with forcemeats, you've got meat that's been exposed to pathogens that's now at the center of a big piece of food. With whole pieces of meat, this only happens to the surface. The surface of meat reaches pasteurizing temperature very quickly with any cooking method. But the center can take a long time, and is at risk of spending too long in the temperature range where pathogens multiply very quickly.

 

Because of this, with forcemeats, or any kind of ground meat, rolled meat, or cut and reassembled meat, you want to make sure that it's thin enough and that the cooking temperature is high enough that the center gets out of the danger zone in a reasonable amount of time.

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Notes from the underbelly

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The OP is presumably cooking this right after making it or it's coming out of the fridge. It's a matter of few hours at most esp when immersion temp is 70degC.

 

Those super-paranoid can run the thermal transfer equations against bacterial reduction curves themselves.

If this is dangerous then the time it takes for sausage to cool down from manufacture to refridgerated temps (by air not liquid) is far more so, yet we don't have the same complaints forcemeat is inherently dangerous unless flashfrozen.

Edited by agent00F (log)
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Yeah, I'm going to cook it right after making it. And it's going to be 4" diameter no matter how I go about it. I've never done the cook for any type of sausage sous vide but I'm not planning on smoking these so it seemed like a good option. With something like this, would I be better off setting the bath to the finish temp or setting it higher and keeping a close watch on the internal temp? I may have to buy that SV Dash app...

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It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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You'll be ok. You might want a finer grind just to make sure the end texture is uniform (to prevent that aforementioned problem with bits from different areas).  You might want to experiment first with some store sausage to get an idea of what you'll get.

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You'll be ok. You might want a finer grind just to make sure the end texture is uniform (to prevent that aforementioned problem with bits from different areas).  You might want to experiment first with some store sausage to get an idea of what you'll get.

The grind shouldn't be a problem, they will be completely emulsified into a paste. The bologna will be a paste of beef and pork. The mortadella will be a similar paste but all pork and different seasonings with blanched fat cubes, black peppercorns and pistachios mixed in after emulsifying the paste.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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You probably don't need it for this project, but the SV dash app is a great resource. Takes out most of the guesswork and helps answer just about any kind of "what if" question. Playing with also helps you develop a better mental model of heat transfer ... it will help you guess better if you ever have to

Notes from the underbelly

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hello all!

First of all, thank you for all information gathered it these threads. I learned so much, mostly important food safety protocols and guidelines.

I'v made my SV setup myself. I used 1kW bucket hater for heat source, beer can for should so it would not melt container and bags, small submersible pump for circulation, MAXIM/DALLAS DS18B20 digital temperature sensor, Arduino for control board and mechanical relay.

So far I'm satisfied with performance, and I can control every detail of algorithm as I coded it myself.

Bonus feature is that board can control multiple bathes at different temperatures.

I'm planning to add Bluetooth module to control it with my phone - I think it would be nice with presets and timers.

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I did sous vide a whole turkey this year. First I quartered it and packed the legs/thighs in separate bags with herbs and some duck fat. Then each breast in its separate bag with herbs and duck fat. Sous vide each at slightly different temps and times. Chilled and put in frig. Re-thermed them in the sink (since it was too much meat for my sous vide container - it was a 23 lb turkey) and finished for 20 minutes in a 500 oven till the skin browned and got crispy. It was great! Evenly and perfectly cooked - every single piece. Now I'm making soup stock. 

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