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Sous Vide and Sauces


TdeV
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I'm sorry that this post is so roundabout but I'm hoping to paint a clear picture of my dilemma.

 

In anticipation of a post-Covid world, I need some help resetting my mental orientation. Some part of my learned behaviour is designed around entertaining. I'm a very distractible person. I really don't like the anxiety of worrying about the state of dinner combined with wine and socializing, so I tend to want to get completely underway early.

 

For nearly 10 years, my first step when returning from the butcher is to cut meats into cooking sizes, then vacuum-seal each in sous-vide-ready bags. This meat is never pre-seasoned in any way (My early reading had reasons for this).

 

A few days away from a dinner, I'll find a piece of meat in the freezer and start the sous vide.

 

While the meat is cooking sous vide, I'll investigate that cut (e.g. "beef brisket" + "sous vide") from my SV Diary, my own database of recipes, eGullet, and the internet. I'll have selected a few recipes and considered the fridge contents. For a couple of days I'll putter around adding a bit of this and that to my concept for dinner. I'll find a vegetable dish which I can prepare during the day, so all that is required is to pop into the oven before dinner. Sometimes this dish is really interesting.

 

Very rarely I'll reduce the cooking juices to make a sauce. This is complicated by not knowing what to do with the hunk of meat; it has to be kept warm. Do I slit open the bag, pour out the juices, then peg the opened bag to the top of the sous vide water? Putting it in the oven will dry it out, no? Does the Anova Precision Oven change this calculation in any way?

 

The meat is given a fast crust under the grill or with a blow torch .

 

That's it. The meat always tastes good. It's not dry, exactly, but I'm bored.

 

 

So, in addition to the questions above:

  • What does this dinner-started-days-in-advance dance look like for you?
  • Should I open my vac-packed meat bag before the start of sous vide in order to put on s+p or a rub? Presumably I could reseal in the same bag if I started using larger bags, somehow keeping the grease out of the vacuum sealer.
  • How do you organize your timing so you start to make a sauce during the time the meat is in the sous vide? How far in advance can one make a sauce? What components go into your sauce?
  • Do you have tricks (habits) which help you get a sauce underway before company comes?

 

And, lastly, can you give me some examples of meats you cook sous vide and sauces you make to accompany them?

 

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Bag juices are a mixed bag. They're shot through with all sorts of protein and gunk that requires a separate step to deal with in order to make the bag juices useful. One way to do this is a quick boil and strain. The chunks will flock together and form a raft which can be removed easily. The resulting juices are clear but flavorful and gelatinous. They're useful as a liaison to sauces and stocks, but won't alone yield a traditional pan sauce because those are built around browned protein bits (fond) that you've removed in the boiling step. This leads us to the second strategy, which is to reduce the bag juices fully, evaporating all moisture, and then frying the gunk to create a fond. Once the gunk has browned, deglaze with your liquid of choice, and voila -- a pan sauce. ChefSteps does this in one of their prime rib recipes, and they remark in the video that "it looks like Swamp Thing" while you're reducing it; that's a pretty apt description. I haven't had super great luck with this technique, as there end up being a lot of small lumps in the sauce from the flocked-together proteins. I bet hitting it with an immersion blender would solve this problem.

 

As for how to separate meat from bag jus, I do exactly what you describe: slit open the bag, pour out the juices, then peg the opened bag to the top of the sous vide bath. You can also move the meat to an oven; I wouldn't worry about it drying out, especially if you're cooking a larger cut and/or your oven is set to a low temperature.

 

With all that said, I usually treat sauce-making and SV cooking as separate processes altogether. I make or buy jus and demi glace and use them on their own to make sauces. If I cook something large enough to get significant amounts of jus, I'll boil and strain it, and save it for a later use. It's great to add to braises or soups, or to deglaze a fondy-pan. 

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Great post.

 

I'll start the SV to be done shortly prior to guest arrival. Usually it can hang out in the bag through cocktails without suffering.  Usually I sear it after SV, but you could pre-sear.

 

Typically I make a sauce earlier out of whatever stock or stock concentrate I have.  SV juice (which  I keep frozen from a past SV)  sometimes form a denatured protein scum when you heat to make a sauce. This can be skimmed prior to adding starch or Wondra for thickening.  Then I'll put it in the SV to stay warm.

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Meats I cook SV and sauces...

 

Tri-tip and a chili/coffee/maple syrup sauce

 

Flat Iron and NY strip need no sauce for me

 

Turkey breast (smoked or not) makes a nice salad with slivered grapes and pickled red onion

 

Smoked pork tenderloin with a light lingonberry sauce

 

Pork loin with apple/mustard/chicken stock sauce

 

eta....Shrimp SV in  butter/sherry vinegar/pimenton, which then becomes the sauce...served w grits or on toast

 

 

Edited by gfweb (log)
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this is perhaps against the grain of most here but i almost always use the bag juice in its entirety, especially if i don't have some kind of other sauce in mind. some spices or salt and pepper, reduced/browned in the skillet in high heat, add fat or liquids as necessary and (as @btbyrd intimates) in the vitamix or stick blender to re-emulsify. generally works well, especially if you end up doing a sweet sauce (heavy spoon of tomato paste, some vinegar, mustard, and some kind of sweetener and you've got a quick and meaty bbq sauce, for example). i don't bother straining, that's too much work.

 

meat can be kept warm as suggested in an open bag in the water bath, or a warmed-and-turned-off oven, covered to keep moisture in. the sauce only takes five minutes to bring together so it's hardly going to be there for long.

Edited by jimb0 (log)
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3 minutes ago, TdeV said:

@gfweb, how far in advance do you make your sauce?

Usually earlier in the day. But for big meals, like thanksgiving, I'll make the gravy the day before. ( I don't make dripping-based gravies, typically I use seasoned turkey stock (from last year's bird) thickened with Wondra).

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