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Cooking with the Searzall


Ozcook
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I haven't seen the searzall yet. You can get an idea by watching the videos on the cookingissues site and their kickstarter page. It appears to do a much better job than any unmodified torch.

 

If you look back to Dave Arnold's original posts on how to sear a sous-vide turkey, you'll see the limitations of a roofing torch. They work very poorly. Besides "torch taste," which is caused by all the products of incomplete combustion, they tend to scorch the skin of a bird without making it crisp. This is because part of the crisping process comes from dehydration. If a flame is too hot, the outer layers of skin will burn before the inner layers are able to desiccate enough get crisp. Arnold was unable to get crisp skin from the roofing torch.

 

A searzall does a few things: it converts a much greater proportion of the heat of gas combustion into radiant heat, making the torch more efficient. It almost completely eliminates partial combustion products. And it defuses the radiant heat over a large area, which tempers the heat enough to allow crisping without burning.

 

I use a plane old propane torch quite often, and can tell from watching the videos that the searzall is much better.

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Notes from the underbelly

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Returning to the original question, I have a Searzall and have made several attempts at browning poultry skin.  Maybe there's some trick I have yet to discover, but so far it's not been successful.  I can get brown without scorching, but the skin retains a fair amount of water and fat below the surface, so the texture is flaccid rather than crisp.  The tool is good for other things, but not this one AFAICT.

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Returning to the original question, I have a Searzall and have made several attempts at browning poultry skin.  Maybe there's some trick I have yet to discover, but so far it's not been successful.  I can get brown without scorching, but the skin retains a fair amount of water and fat below the surface, so the texture is flaccid rather than crisp.  The tool is good for other things, but not this one AFAICT.

 

Thanks, that was the info I was looking for.

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Returning to the original question, I have a Searzall and have made several attempts at browning poultry skin.  Maybe there's some trick I have yet to discover, but so far it's not been successful.  I can get brown without scorching, but the skin retains a fair amount of water and fat below the surface, so the texture is flaccid rather than crisp.  The tool is good for other things, but not this one AFAICT.

 

Is this poultry skin that's been sous-vided?

Notes from the underbelly

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Correct.

 

I should like to emphasize that I've only done about half-a-dozen trials, so I wouldn't be surprised if there's a way to do this.  But Ozcook asked us to relate our experiences and those to date are mine.

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I suspect the problem is that skin gets saturated when you sous-vide it, and there's no way to crisp it without burning it, unless there's some other step to get the excess moisture out of there first. I don't know if anyone's found a good sous-vide solution to bird and fish skin (besides removing it before sv and crisping it afterwards).

 

The one exception is sous-vide in oil, which Dave Arnold does with his infamous bionic turkey. He heats gallons of oil in a circulator (which I'm not about to do at home) ... I don't know if you could duplicate the results by putting oil or butter in the sv bag. The problem with using a bag is that all the liquid expelled by the meat stays in the bag, rather than dispersing far and wide. Enough liquid may accumulate in there to saturate the skin ... but maybe not. It would be worth trying.

Notes from the underbelly

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  • 3 weeks later...

I did a sous vide chicken breast the other night with the skin on. I was able to use the searzall to crisp up the skin. The only issue was that I found that as the skin crisped it caused the underlying meat to contract resulting in a crescent shaped chicken breast. On a positive note, the skin stayed crisp through the entire meal.

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  • 8 months later...

Has anyone tried searing a sous-vide steak with a sandwich grill either with or without a searzall?

I am reasonably happy with the Searzall but it can be time consuming doing 4 or more steaks so I wondered about speeding up the process by putting the steaks onto a sandwich grill and finishing them with a Searzall.

 

It may be that sandwich grills don't get hot enough to do much good but I thought I would ask before experimenting.

Edited by Ozcook (log)
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I have heard complaints about the Searzall: too small footprint. 

I use a Weber chimney, half filled with red hot charcoal lumps. This will apply incredible heat to one or two steaks at a time. Each side about one minute, or else constant flipping until a crust forms, maybe 90 seconds.

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  • 10 months later...

I've had my Searzall since the first Kickstartered batch shipped and I've played with it a bunch... Thought I'd share my observations.

 

1. Food straight out of a sous vide bag is generally too wet for the Searzall to be a quick and effective finishing blast.  The whole idea of getting an even doneness all the way through is sabotaged by the need to boil off the wet before the browning even starts. 

 

2. The real value and utility of the Searzall is not in blasting a crust on something that is already cooked through... it is that you can take a steak out of the freezer, unwrap it, salt it, and blast a lovely crispy crust on the outside, then finish cooking it on a low temp grill with a thermometer stuck in.  You never ever find yourself in the position of making the decision to leave meat on the heat to get more browned when it is approaching the doneness you really wanted.

 

3. Same trick works like a champ for salmon.  Start blasting a crust on it, and finish it in a low oven to get the middle up to 115F.

 

4. I've had no luck making anything worthwhile out of poultry skin with this device. Poultry just doesn't seem to benefit from this sort of heat application.

 

5. This thing is the best grilled cheese tool available.

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Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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