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What's the Appeal of Cooking Sous Vide?


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it becomes silly.

 

it starts to read like: "I broil. I don't get why you cook in a pan."

 

it's just another technique; and there is no denying that you can do things SV that you cannot do another way, just as there are things you can do in hot pan that you can't in a pressure cooker, etc.

 

 

Edited by weedy (log)
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22 hours ago, Baron d'Apcher said:

 

Perhaps, but the product itself may not be consistent to begin with.  Any vegetable/protein is sure to vary from one to another by virtue of season/location/manner in which it was raised,etc...

 

SV has its merits (hams, galantines, large roasts), but it is difficult to check, poke, taste, probe or baste what is inside the bag and any applications that run on for 2 days take some of the joy out of analog cooking  With a boneless leg of lamb, sure.  Shanks not so much, less so when I don’t get any sauce.

 

I simmer (low, controlled heat)  stovetop often (shanks/pig head), with a thermometer and the variance of a few degrees is negligible over 5-6 hours.  I'd be remiss if I relied on numbers for doneness/tenderness rather than tangible touching.  Hearts & tongues I’ll gladly SV since the sizes are generally similar, don’t have the sinew/tendons of shanks, don't have any collagen for aspic and I dice them up anyway.

 

I get satisfaction and joy from the entire process of a traditional braise; the aromas that draft from the oven, rotating them so they brown evenly, testing for doneness, playing with the temperature, building a sauce and being pleased with the results.  It is validation and the sum of attention, senses, discipline and skill.  I don’t get that from SV.  The end product of SV may be close to subjective perfection, but the journey isn’t scenic and analog nuances aren’t a bad thing, like in live music, hand-blown glasses and a craftsman’s woodwork.

 

What bothers me to no end is that the bags end up in a landfill.  If someone can develop biodegradable no-cook vacuum bags and/or reusable bags, they'd do humanity a favor.

 

 

Don't get me wrong, I agree with you and also love braises and employing other methods of cooking. The joy of cooking is that just because one adopts sous vide as a method, doesn't mean that all other methods become unused. To me, it's about visualizing a finished dish and then using whichever method(s) that will help you achieve the desired results, be it sous vide, saute, braising, roasting, etc.

 

There are results that you cannot achieve any other way than sous vide, and there are a lot of things that sous vide cooking cannot do. It's about pushing the limitations in general, not accepting restrictions. 

Edited by Nauticus (log)
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When I started doing SV, I did it with plastic wrap and a pot with lid on the stove top with a thermometer.  I had done a lot of reading on this site about how great it was, but at the time, circulators were really expensive, so before I invested any money, I wanted to try it.  My first experiment was with a chicken breast - I wrapped it with a couple layers of plastic wrap and used a thermometer to manually adjust the temperature of the water in the pot on the stovetop to about 145degF, using a wooden spoon to stir once in a while.  The results came out great, and I was sold.

 

Nowadays, I use a circulator for convenience, but don't have a bag sealer or any other paraphenalia.... I use zip lock bags, and a big stockpot that I've had forever....  and I've done everything from simple chicken breasts to 72 hour beef cheeks, or duck confit with fantastic results.

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I've never tried sous vide cooking manually without an immersion circulator, but nowadays you can pick one up for a pretty reasonable price (I use an Anova, but there's Joule and a few others). You'd still need your own pot, but the device will heat the water and keep it at temperature automatically after you set it. 

 

I do own a Foodsaver vacuum sealer but honestly just find myself more often using zip lock bags and the water immersion method to get rid of air inside the bag. 

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2 hours ago, MetsFan5 said:

Does proper SVing not require and immersion circulator, bag sealer, bags and a proper vessel for the water bath?  That's my assumption but it could very well be erroneous. 

  

 

 

I have an Anova but as mentioned there are other ways. I don't have a bag sealer, just freezer weight zip bags, although I did recently buy a roll of larger bags intended for a bag sealer just for the size and weight. (I have a larger piece of meat to cook that I decided would better fit in the larger bag, and you can just fold the top over and clip it shut as long as you keep that end out of the water bath.) For a vessel you can use anything that is large enough for the item you are cooking and works with your set up - stock pot, sink bowl, cooler, I think @Anna N once used the pot of her Instant Pot because it was there and a handy size.

 

I think it was easier to see it as 'whatever stuff that you have that works for you' before there were so many SV products aimed at the home cook, because now when you read about or watch a video the person almost always has a full home set up with circulator and vacuum sealer (half the time now it is a chamber vacuum sealer, too, not even a less expensive bag version) and all the other bells and whistles and it makes it look less approachable if you don't want to buy all the Stuff to start out with.

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On December 28, 2016 at 7:31 PM, mgaretz said:

 

Sous vide costs considerably less these days.  Circulators can be had for as low $85 (a Gourmia, which gets mixed reviews, I haven't seen one) and a top of the line Joule for $199.  

 

I have a Gourmia and I love it.  I also have an Anova.  Love that too.

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3 hours ago, MetsFan5 said:

Does proper SVing not require and immersion circulator, bag sealer, bags and a proper vessel for the water bath?  That's my assumption but it could very well be erroneous. 

  

 

 

"Sous vide" is an ambiguous term. Taking the term literally, "sous vide" refers to techniques that involve putting food in a vacuum machine. This need not even involve the application of heat; vacuum infusion and packaging for convenience/presentation would also qualify as sous vide. In this clip about "the art of sous vide," Chef Daniel Humm only uses SV for packaging avocado in a way that allows him to hold thin slices for service that would otherwise oxidize and discolor. The SV bag also works as a "sushi mat" to help roll the finished dish. Fancy equipment is required, but not for cooking (i.e., heating) purposes.

 

 

However, most people use "sous vide" to refer to precise, low temperature cooking in a water bath. This doesn't require a vacuum machine and inherently involves the application of heat. Some foods, such as eggs, don't need to be sealed in order to be cooked with this method... and those foods that do need to be in a plastic bag are most often just fine in a Ziploc freezer bag. All you need for this type of SV cooking is an immersion circulator, and those have never been cheaper. All you need is a circulator, a pot, and some Ziplocs to get going with SV. And even that's not necessary. You can cook SV using Ziplocs, a cooler, hot water, and a thermometer. It's not nearly as precise, and it requires some babysitting... but you can still cook "sous vide" using low tech equipment.

 

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4 hours ago, MetsFan5 said:

Does proper SVing not require and immersion circulator, bag sealer, bags and a proper vessel for the water bath?  That's my assumption but it could very well be erroneous. 

  

 

 

It really doesn't need more than a thermometer, a beer cooler, zip loc bags and hot water for typical cooks of < an hour or 2.

http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/04/cook-your-meat-in-a-beer-cooler-the-worlds-best-sous-vide-hack.html

 

You could even avoid the occasional temp check if you have an regular oven that will give temps in the range you want to cook.  (I know some will go down to 130 or 140F) .  Just heat your water to the temp you want in a pot on the stove and then put your meat in the bag in the pot and put the pot in the oven.

Edited by gfweb (log)
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I have an Anova, one of the lower-end Food Saver vacuum sealers (worth having for freezing leftovers, or portioning out large packages of meat for freezing smaller portions, whether you use it for SV or not), but often use just a freezer-weight zip lock bag. As for a proper vessel, I've cooked in a styrofoam cooler, a regular Igloo-type cooler, a big stock pot, and right now most of my cooks take place in a 3-gallon white plastic pail.

 

I think SV lends itself to improvisation. Flatware or marbles sealed in the bag to weight it down, whatever kind of vessel you have that's handy. I never tried the slow-cooker or oven.

 

For me, the big attraction is that I can get a much more tender end product without having to resort to a braise. That's a major deal here, where it's damn difficult to find anything better than choice beef, and grass-fed, free-range beef and pork tend toward being tougher, anyway, since those muscles get more of a work-out.

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Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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See, I'm learning here. I leave all the protein cooking to my husband because 1- the BGE is his thing and he is vastly better at grilled than I and 2- despite knowing I should use thermometers and "trust my instinct" when cooking meat, I just don't. Even if it's a chicken breast. So maybe this is something I should look into- especially if I can use it as I might a slow cooker-- put things together and walk away and do laundry and clean, etc. 

  I am a bit OCD about food safety. I call my husband the human garbage disposal- he will eat week old left overs-- they make me gag-- having an undiagnosed gastrointestinal disease. 

  So thanks to all for breaking this down for me because it seems like something worth looking into. And I know there are threads to help with cooking if I try this. I also trust myself not at all, so I'd probably buy a food saver, an immersion circulator, bags and a proper vessel (I haven't amassed enough pots and pans to give one up or that I think is large enough) and hold my breath and dive in. I really appreciate all your input. 

(However if you want to make fun of the NY Mets? You'd be hard pressed to critic my (yes MY) team in recent years!)

  

 

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1 hour ago, MetsFan5 said:

See, I'm learning here. I leave all the protein cooking to my husband because 1- the BGE is his thing and he is vastly better at grilled than I and 2- despite knowing I should use thermometers and "trust my instinct" when cooking meat, I just don't. Even if it's a chicken breast. So maybe this is something I should look into- especially if I can use it as I might a slow cooker-- put things together and walk away and do laundry and clean, etc. 

  I am a bit OCD about food safety. I call my husband the human garbage disposal- he will eat week old left overs-- they make me gag-- having an undiagnosed gastrointestinal disease. 

  So thanks to all for breaking this down for me because it seems like something worth looking into. And I know there are threads to help with cooking if I try this. I also trust myself not at all, so I'd probably buy a food saver, an immersion circulator, bags and a proper vessel (I haven't amassed enough pots and pans to give one up or that I think is large enough) and hold my breath and dive in. I really appreciate all your input. 

(However if you want to make fun of the NY Mets? You'd be hard pressed to critic my (yes MY) team in recent years!)

  

 

 

'You only use the pot as long as you are actually SVing, and many things don't take that long, so keep that in mind. With that said, if you are using a circulator (rather than trying to heat the water on the stove or in the oven) then many people use Cambro containers which are available in various sizes and I understand not that expensive. You can even get lids, which helps with evaporation on longer cooking times, though you do have to cut a hole for the circulator to poke through in the lid. Plenty of guides for that online. :)

 

The food safety thing is what made me buy an Anova - my mom and I both count as immune compromised (so far I haven't had any issues, but why risk it?) and with the processing many meats get today ('tenderizing') before you buy, to be safest you're really best cooking everything to death and then some, which is, well, not always that nice. (I cry a little when I have to turn my mom's steak into a hockey puck, y'know?) With SV you can heat a steak long enough to kill off a good percentage of everything all the way through without overcooking the meat itself, so rare/medium rare steaks are safer. Same with eggs, you can pasteurize your own for use in raw egg recipes or lightly cooked eggs and reduce the risk of salmonella. Heck, plenty of people SV burgers (it takes a bit of fiddling to get it sealed in a bag without squishing it flat - the water bath method of getting air out seems to work pretty well, but a food saver risks compressing the burger more than you might want) and then give them a quick sear so they can enjoy other than well done burgers without having to fuss grinding your own meat just before cooking. I haven't tried that one yet but it is on my list since my housemate likes his beef mooing.

 

Also, if you think you will use a food saver in general, go for it, but you really really don't need one to SV - you can get air out just fine by using freezer zip bags and a sink full of water, and the zip bags are strong enough for most things you'd SV, especially starting out.

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Thanks for the info. It is useful! I do not trust myself at all in the kitchen, having left the second fridge's freezer wide open (there way have been booze clouding my judgement) and I just lost a ton of food. Not at all happy. So I'm the type who fucks things up when I I am going by the book! 

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On January 3, 2017 at 1:25 AM, MetsFan5 said:

Thanks for the info. It is useful! I do not trust myself at all in the kitchen, having left the second fridge's freezer wide open (there way have been booze clouding my judgement) and I just lost a ton of food. Not at all happy. So I'm the type who fucks things up when I I am going by the book! 

Lord knows I've done more than my share of  stupid things in the kitchen and elsewhere.  But SV is a great tool that gives me a wider margin of error time wise when preparing some things.   Just using it to quickly thaw vac packed meats in the sink in half the time is worth it

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45 minutes ago, scubadoo97 said:

....But SV is a great tool that gives me a wider margin of error time wise when preparing some things.   Just using it to quickly thaw vac packed meats in the sink in half the time is worth it

 

The question of the appeal of cooking sous vide is curious.  I have two brothers.  One is a fabulous home cook who regularly turns out perfectly timed and cooked multi-course extravaganzas for friends and family.  I thought an Anova or Joule would be a perfect gift for him but it turns out that he attended a demo that featured a bunch of 48-72 hr meats that were certainly delicious but caused him to dismiss the process because of the time factor.  He's an airline pilot whose schedule can be unpredictable. I have tried but have yet to change his mind after that first impression.

The other brother does not cook.  At all.   He gets most of his food delivered from a service or restaurant of the moment in his urban area but has recently expressed displeasure with the quality of the re-heated dishes.  While visiting over the holidays, he watched me use the circulator to quickly thaw some previously SV cooked chicken breasts to put into a pasta dish (I told him how I'd cooked them with the same system) and use it to easily prepare perfectly cooked salmon filets and scallops.  His reaction was, "Wow, I could do that!"  Ironically, the non-cook was the easier convert!

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