Sous Vide Cookery at Home

Cooking at home and sourcing ingredients
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Skillet Doux
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5 years ago

Since a bunch of us are just starting to enjoy our freshly minted Nomikus, I figure the time is ripe to get a thread going for trading tips on sous vide cookery. I decided to break mine in tonight, and... well... I might need the help :-)

Tonight's dinner was the miso salmon recipe found in the Nomiku's enclosed primer.
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Ready for a bath! The sauce was a mix of white miso, mirin, rice vinegar, scallions, ginger, and sesame oil. I'm... not a big fan of this sauce. It's a little clumsy. But it's proof of concept I was after, and I can edit the sauce later. Incidentally, the Food Saver was a total champ at sealing a rather wet bag. I shut it off just as the liquid was getting to the top. There was very little air in the bag -- just a couple of small bubbles -- and the drip tray was bone dry. So that was a nice surprise. I was worried I was going to start pining for a chamber sealer (and there's no damn way I'm getting a chamber sealer).
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In the water. This recipe suggests going one of two directions -- a really low-heat cook at 43°C for 20 minutes for a "jewel-like appearance and buttery texture," or a shorter cook at higher temp for a more traditional texture. I dig that barely cooked thing, but the rest of the family... not so much. So I went with the higher temp, 50.5°C for 12-15 minutes. But I pulled it right around 12 or 13 minutes.
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Looks pretty, but I'm thinking that 12-13 minutes was a bad call. It was a really thick fillet, and it was practically raw in the center. My guess is the temp was fine, just needed more time. Anybody tried this yet?

I suspect there will be no danger of undercooking tomorrow's dinner. It went in the pot shortly after we ate, and will go through the night and all day tomorrow.
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Skirt steaks, salted and peppered, with some shallot, rosemary, and rendered bacon fat. This recipe I pulled off the Sous Vide Supreme website, and it goes for 16-24 hours at 59°C, then gets a quick sear. Again, I got a really nice seal with the Food Saver. Has anybody done much sous vide? It isn't perfect... each of the packet has a few nickel-sized bubbles between the steak and the bag. But it's very little air, and the bags are going right to the bottom. No issues with floating. So I'm guessing it's okay.

Will report back.
Dominic Armato
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azhotdish
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5 years ago

Salmon was the absolute worst thing I've ever cooked sous vide - I'll have to dig through the archives, but I think I even took a picture of the abomination. The texture for me wasn't close to being right - even though I wasn't afraid of any kind of foodborne illness, I couldn't get past how underdone it felt, even though I cooked it longer than you did (though it's been two years, so I have no idea how long it was). I've never done any other type of fish, because I couldn't get past the salmon.
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Lunchbox
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5 years ago

Skillet Doux wrote: Incidentally, the Food Saver was a total champ at sealing a rather wet bag. I shut it off just as the liquid was getting to the top. There was very little air in the bag -- just a couple of small bubbles -- and the drip tray was bone dry. So that was a nice surprise. I was worried I was going to start pining for a chamber sealer (and there's no damn way I'm getting a chamber sealer).
I've been impressed with my Food Saver as well. I heard or read something about people letting the bag hang over the end of the counter when you're doing liquids. That way most of the air will come to the top and get sucked out before the liquid starts getting sucked up. I tried it and it's kind of clumsy. It's like you need an extra hand if you go that route. But that being said, we're getting way more air out than you would if you're using a ziplock.

I've been doing steaks. This is a terrible picture but it turned out great. I've usually put them in raw with their accoutrements and then do a sear afterwards. Hotdish recommended trying it the other way around and I'm going to try that next.

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azhotdish
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5 years ago

Lunchbox wrote:Hotdish recommended trying it the other way around and I'm going to try that next.
Only for the sake of the comparison, not necessarily because it's better. If logistically it makes sense to pre-sear, it's at least good to know you can do it and produce an equally-quality product. I'm mostly in the post-sear camp, but I did this comparison early on.
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Skillet Doux
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5 years ago

Well, I got some... interesting results.

24 hours later, steaks come out of the bag to get ready for a quick sear, and... um...
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...wow, that's ugly.
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No, I mean really ugly (now post-sear). That bit of pink in a sea of grey-green, BTW, is where a shallot was pressed up against it. The sear first method is starting to make a lot more sense. Okay, what can we do with this...
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Okay, that doesn't look too bad. Sliced super thin, very low angle, and it looks pretty decent. Not that appearances are the most important thing.

It was pretty damn tasty. Unquestionably the most tender skirt steak I've ever had. Not that I generally place a big premium on tenderness -- I'm more of a "give me some flavor and let me chew it" kind of guy -- but there's something to be said for a skirt steak that comes apart so nicely. Wow, did it take on the flavor of the seasonings in the bag, with an incredibly strong flavor of rosemary, shallot, and bacon fat. The texture was really unusual. It actually reminded me quite a bit of pastrami. (Speaking of which, meat that completely sucks up seasoning and has the texture of pastrami -- somebody must've done sous vide pastrami already, right? ... Google search ... Oh, right, everybody has done it already.) But I don't know if that was the long cook, or if it was because I salted in the bag. I've seen warnings in places to season only after sous vide because it sucks out all the liquid (and, indeed, there was an awful lot of liquid left in the bags after removing the steaks), but this particular recipe called for salting first, so I decided to go with it. I mean, I basically cured and cooked this at the same time, right? Do you guys usually salt before or after? And I'm thinking the thinness of the steaks -- all edge, no middle -- made that texture even more pronounced.

So I guess what I'm saying is that I'll be bringing sous vide pastrami to the next potluck. Time to get working on it.
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ScottofStrand
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5 years ago

If you haven't checked out ChefSteps.com yet, I'd pay a visit. It's total Sous Vide porn. Here is their recipe for Sous Vide Pastrami.
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Skillet Doux
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5 years ago

ScottofStrand wrote:If you haven't checked out ChefSteps.com yet, I'd pay a visit. It's total Sous Vide porn. Here is their recipe for Sous Vide Pastrami.
Lunchbox, I'm going to need to borrow some smoker time.
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5 years ago

Skillet Doux wrote:
ScottofStrand wrote:If you haven't checked out ChefSteps.com yet, I'd pay a visit. It's total Sous Vide porn. Here is their recipe for Sous Vide Pastrami.
Lunchbox, I'm going to need to borrow some smoker time.
It's ready and waiting. I might have to try that too. Smoker is big enough for two slabs. :)
-- LBX

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M_L
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5 years ago

I am going to try and do the chicken for the SE Hala Cart C&R tomorrow and see how it comes out.
Here is what I was planning on:
Make Marinade
Put half marinade and chicken into the vacuum bag, seal
Nomiku that bad boy at 140 - 145 for 90 minutes
Sear it
Let it rest
Cut it up
Rest of marinade
Then make rice.

Suggestions welcome.
M_L
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5 years ago

Okay here is what I ended up doing and some pics. Sorry I did not remember to take a picture of when I took the breasts out of the water but I was crunching to get things done.

Here is a picture of my setup as it got to temperature.
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Nom Setup Getting Up to Temp
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I chose to go with 145F for the chicken mostly because it was still slightly frozen and because my wife is a scientist and gets weird about food temperatures. Plus it was an experiment and I did not want to make anyone sick. Though I would consider if it was not frozen a lower temperature. However I kept it in the water for 60 minutes at that temperature and it was pretty perfect. Though the guide I was looking at suggested more like 45 for chicken at that temp.
http://www.edinformatics.com/math_scien ... s_vide.htm

Here is the chicken doing its happy heating.
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Chicken In The Pot
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Again spaced the most important picture but my hands were full and I was busy trying not to mess up. When the chicken came out of the bag it was white, floppy and soft. The marinade was gloppy on the surface. At first blush not a great sign. It was however very juicy and you could feel they were heavy with moisture and if you pressed on them liquid would well up on the surface. (I did pat them down and redo salt/pepper to them) Also you could tell that some surfaces of the breasts were still red/pink this was due to my error of not putting the breasts in separate bags a mistake I would not repeat.

I patted them down threw them into a pipping hot pan with oil for some browning/sear time and this was the result.
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Chicken Browned
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After this their internal texture still felt a bit off to me. Some of the cut down pieces felt almost mushy when I cut them. Again not the best sign. However I threw them into the fridge for the second marinade for maybe 30 minutes while I made the rice. Then I took it out and did another round of browning with the pieces just to get a bit more crust on them.

Here is the end result.
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The Final Product
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Again forgot to take a picture of just the finished chicken. However there was not of the normal charring and stringy texture I often get when I make the chicken the way the recipe calls for. The chicken did take on a mostly golden hue and was very juicy and flavorful. EH said it was the best chicken I had made for the dish and I should do it this way again. All in all it was a pretty solid sucess with a bit of tinkering I think I can get it perfect. Though I do need to figure out a way to make the chicken slightly more browned and crisp but that is more a personal preference.
BrandonPHX
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5 years ago

Have you guys tried just using zip-lock bags instead of the sealer bags? I've been doing this since I got my circulator 9 months ago. Dave Arnold from Cooking Issues used them, as do many of the ChefSteps readers. It can really help with texture, since there is no pressure being placed on the product.

Another tip I've picked up, is to sear before and after the bath. I normally pre-sear with a blow torch and finish products on the grill or in a pan. The maillaird reaction happens a lot quicker when you sear twice.

I used my circulator this weekend on some baby back ribs. 142 degrees for 36 hours. They turned out really good.
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Skillet Doux
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5 years ago

Welcome, Brandon, and thanks for the tips!

I'll give the Ziplocs a try... maybe side-by-side, for comparison's sake? I wondered about pressure being an issue, but it seems that's kind of standard practice for the restaurants that do this, so I didn't question it.
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BrandonPHX
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5 years ago

Just make sure to use actual ziplocs. They are temp rated up to 90c and do not have any harmful plasticizers in them. Other brands, I'm not so sure about.

Most restaurants do the vacuum sealed bags because of health code regulations, I believe.

You do need to dunk the bag into water while you seal it. This will help push most of the air out of the bag. Having a small amount of oil or liquid in the bag also helps make sure there are no air pockets.
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5 years ago

I should have jumped in on this long ago.

I missed my chance to grab a Nomiku and have been kicking myself ever since.

In the meantime, I've been using my self titled "Redneck" Sous Vide. It's not quite as sleek as the Nomiku and doesn't allow for the loooong cooking times. But what it lacks in sexy it makes up for in versatility while still delivering the great flavors and textures that sous vide has become known for without being a counter space hog!

Here's a picture of the maiden voyage of my little warm water wonder!
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Redneck Sous Vide - maiden voyage (chicken piccata)
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You'll notice I had difficulty keeping the thermometer in the water, so I actually dispensed with the temperature monitoring aspect of the process. Just add water to the cooler at the correct temp and all works well.

I completely agree with Brandon's reco on the Ziplock. This works extremely well and is less work, expense & mess than Food Saver bags. I particularly like this method for dry aged beef, lamb and pork loin chops. Though I must admit, I have to brine the pork first to get maximum juiciness because I lack the ability to provide long cook times (over 90 minutes).

All of my cook times wind up being in the neighborhood of 45 - 75 minutes. I add water (approx 3 - 3.5 gal) to my favorite little 30-pack Igloo cooler at 134 - 136 F (I can usually get this temp straight from the tap), add the protein (not more than 4-5 lbs max), lowering the open Ziplock bags into the water so that the air is bled out naturally, then seal the bags and put the lid on. A good quality cooler will keep water temp (without losing more than 6-8 degrees) for about 120 minutes. At about 75 minutes the water temp will have dropped to about 126-128 F depending on where you started and how much protein you added and how tightly your lid fits (mine is fairly loose). To minimize the thermal loss let the protein come to room temp for 20 minutes.

Then, remove the protein and post sear only. However, because you do get quite a bit of moisture extraction from most proteins, I lightly pat all proteins dry before searing either in a cast iron skillet or on the grill at 600+ F. Patting dry helps get maximum maillard reaction.

Here are a few more photos from the last year or so.
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rack of lamb - 75 min sous vide (145 F internal)
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beef filet - 50 min sous vide (140F internal)
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NYS - 60 min sous vide (145F internal)
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dry aged ribeye - 45 min sous vide (135F internal)
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chicken piccata - 65 min sous vide (175F water bath - 160F internal)
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M_L
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5 years ago

I have already backed this beast. It looks like it could be a game changer.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/170 ... e-searzall
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Lunchbox
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5 years ago

I saw this on Chow.com today. I don't know if I'm ready for this yet. ;)
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Skillet Doux
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5 years ago

I'm similarly on the fence. It's a slippery slope :-)
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5 years ago

Last Thanksgiving I did turkey two ways - sous vide and smoked. When I looked online, several recipes I saw mentioned 135 for 2+ hrs for the breasts - I did this and found the texture to be not quite be to my liking. I decided to do the breasts at 145 this year, and I felt like the texture was much improved; I left them in the bath for four hrs, but I think I could have pulled them any time after 2.5 hrs.

Pretty damn tasty with some curd, turkey gravy and tater tots.
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turkey poutine
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I should mention apples. I did this a few yrs ago after I first got my SVS, and I have to say, apples kick ass under pressure. Josh Hebert from Posh mentioned he's cooked some apples in a "stock" made with Red Hots - I have always intended to try that. I didn't peel them here, but I should have. Butter, pinch of salt, apples, cinnamon, done.
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french toast sticks + sous vide apple + caramel + marcona almond powder
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Another brilliant veg sous vide? Fennel. You can get it really soft but held together, then you can pull it from the bag and really give it a nice sear in a pan.
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Skillet Doux
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5 years ago

Ooo... yeah, that was one of the best steaks I've ever made.

First, the new rig!
rig.jpg
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I got a camwear container and cut a chunk out of the lid -- the better to maintain temp and conserve energy (not that it's had any trouble maintaining temp so far). Bonus: not as hot to the touch as the pot. Especially nice with curious kids around. Extra Bonus: Watching my food bubbling away in a clear container with gradations makes me feel all sciencey. The awesomeness of this cannot be overstated.
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Standard issue top sirloin, salted and rested for about ten minutes (I was in a hurry), brief sear of the fat cap, then on both sides in a cast iron pan with grapeseed oil, into the bag with a splash of EVOO and a couple sprigs of thyme, sealed and in the water at 137F (I'm a 135 guy, Dr. Doux is a 140 girl... compromise, y'know). I'd intended to leave it in for an hour, but it got almost two owing to a busy day at the lab for Dr. Doux. This is, incidentally, one of my favorite benefits of cooking this way. If she's running late, I'm not scurrying trying to keep things alive. When she got home, I heated up the pan again, cut open the bag, seasoned again, and gave it a quick sear on both sides, basting with some butter, thyme, and garlic in the pan as I seared it.
steak.jpg
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Yeah. It turned out really well. Fabulously well. Two bites in I busted out some wine. I almost never drink wine at home (though I'm striving to correct that). I even convinced Dr. Doux to let me go to 135 next time. I think she prefers medium-rare, but orders medium because she's worried she'll end up with rare. Score one for temperature precision.

I'd considered it an experiment up until this point. I mean, I've been long sold on sous vide as a restaurant technique, of course, but I wasn't sure how I'd feel about doing it at home. No longer. I'm fully on board. When it comes to steak, it's not a substitute for grilling, of course -- they're totally different -- and I'll continue to do both as mood dictates. But I really enjoyed cooking this way, and I'm thrilled with the result.
Dominic Armato
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M_L
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5 years ago

So you are in favor of pre-searing?
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