Sous Vide

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Sous Vide

I'm relatively inexperienced in Sous Vide cooking.  While I get what's going on I'm a little unclear on a few things.

1.  What temp should I set.  I know this will vary by the type of protein and the cut but I'm having trouble finding good information.  This weekend I did a dry age Rib Eye, Porter House and Baby Back Ribs.  The Rib Eye and Porter House were done at 55 degree C for 4-6 hours (can't remember exactly) and I thought they were a little dry but then I figured it was due to the fact that it was dry aged beef.  The pork was done at 60 degrees C for about 24 hours and again I thought was a little dry and not as tender as when I steam them at 350 degrees F for 2 hours then grill to glaze them.  Perhaps I didn't cook them long enough to make them more tender, which brings me to the second real question.

2.  How long should I be cooking these different protein.  Again I know this will vary by the cut but I'm getting all types of information, everything from you can leave it indefinitely since you'll never over cook something.  But I know that the texture of the meat will suffer if I leave it on too long.  Other sites are saying meat goes through different zones based on time and may have 2 good windows to aim for and will vary depending on the time and the temperature.  this brings me back to cooking temperature and since your circulator can cook at 138.2 just as easy as it can 142.3 how do you decide what temp to set when the sources say here is your ranges.  Is that just by trail and experimentation?  

So I figured why not see what other issues people are having, what successes with this way of cooking has produced, things you like to sous vide, or even how you incorporate into you day to day so to speak.

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How are you finishing the steaks and ribs? Are you cutting them directly out of the package and serving or are you using a secondary cooking process?

 

A lot of this stuff is trial and error but there are a couple of strategies I use:

 

  1. Cook cuts of meat that don't have a lot of connective tissue at your desired finished temperature for 1-6 hours. Super lean meats like pork and beef tenderloin are usually done within 1-2 hours. Steaks that tend to have more "gristle," fat and a little bit of connective tissue, usually are great at the 3-6 hour mark.
  2. Generally speaking, you don't want to cook meats above 65C/149F because you risk drying the meat out. There are some cases where people will try and mimic a braise a la sous vide by cooking at a higher temperature and finishing in a shorter period of time, but this is usually only done when you're in the weeds and kind of negates the whole purpose of sous vide in the first place.
  3. If using a secondary cooking process after sous vide, allow the meat to cool down enough so you can then sear to finish. If you take a steak right out of the circulator, it will be perfectly cooked all the way through. But if you sear it immediately, it doesn't take much for the steak to go from perfect to over cooked.

Cooking issue has a great sous vide primer that I highly recommend. Here are some times and temps that I use at the restaurant that I feel give good results:

 

Item Time Temp Notes
Filet of Beef 1-2 Hours 52C Sear before cooking. Vacuum Pack in veal stock, finish with torch if a stronger crust is desired on the pick-up.
Pork Tenderloin 1-2 hours 55C

Pink pork sometimes freaks people out, but that's their problem.

Pork Chop 2 hours 55C NA
Halibut/Salmon ~20 Min 52C This mimics a perfectly poached piece of fish. If you can, vacuum pack with olive oil and a small pinch of salt. A lot of people like to do a lower temp and call the fish "mi cuit" or "barely cooked." I'm not a huge fan of the texture though.
Lamb Rack 3-4 hours 55C I find that it actually gets better at about the 5-6 hour mark. Finish with blow-torch. See this video for more ideas.
Chicken Breast 4 hours 60C Makes for a super moist and tender breast. The extended amount of cooking time is for safety purposes. See Video.
Turkey Breast 4-6 hours 60C Same as above.
Chicken Thighs 6 hours 60C Just utilized this for a delicious "smoked" chicken thigh recipe. After the sous vide process, the thighs were removed from the bag, allowed to cool at room temp for one hour and then hot smoked for 30 minutes with the BBQ sauce being brushed on at the 20 minute mark.
Vegetables 20-60 Min 85C Depends on size and shape and cell structure. Root vegetables tend to take longer.
Egg 1 hour 63C The ubiquitous "hour egg." There are a lot of different opinions on this, but for me, its all about the yolk and 63C is my favorite. Some people prefer the more viscous temperature of 63.5. Place eggs in a whisk to keep them from moving around in the water bath.

 

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When I bought the steaks at the butcher I saw they had a cryovac machine so I figured I'd take advantage of that and save the trouble of using the food saver at home.  So I seasoned the meat after I sous vide but before I seared.  Now when I pulled the steaks out of the bag there was a little juice and some "stuff" on the steak and "blood blogs" by the bone that I wasn't sure was and figured it would be best to wipe down before searing.  I didn't bother to cool the meat before searing, do you think I should?  I don't think I over cooked the meat as it was still red/pink.  The Ribeye has the upper cap part that was a deep red and the center part was a pink.  The color was consistent all the way through it just had 2 different color zones so to speak.  I remembered that you told me that I didn't need to season before I sous vide (maybe I was wrong) (lamb video meat came in a cryobag)  but both my steak and ribs tasted under seasoned and I had to add more salt at the table which typically never happens.  I seasoned the ribs with salt and pepper cooked them like I said in my earlier post and same result.  Bag of liquid and "goop" on the meat that was cleaned off.  Then I tossed them on the grill with a little BBQ sauce and left them on long enough for the sauce to caramelize and give me some char....cause hey who doesn't like chared meat?!?!

 

1.  Does wiping down the meat remove the salt?

2  What am I wiping off?

3.  Should I always season/sear first? What if it comes in a cryobag from the store, remove and season and sear?

4.  Should I rest before I sear?

5.  Since the internal temp is pretty much the final temp if you don't sear is there really a need to rest and does this change if you sear?

 

 

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I saw a video with Gordon Ramsey at his house making a holiday dinner there.  One of his dishes was a pork stuffing with grated apples, Merguez or Chorizo chopped apricots and pistachios.  He wrapped it in sage leaves and cooked it.  I was thinking this is pretty much a pork roulade and it may be fun to sous vide it and then to sear it before searing it to crisp up the sage leaves.  But then I started thinking what temp should I cook it at and for how long.  Does the addition of all the nuts, fruit, apples and sausage change the cooking time & temp since I'm not just cooking a solid piece of meat?  More importantly the apple won't really cook or break down unless I'm cooking it above 170 or 180 right?  Also since it's ground pork don't I need to cook it hotter than a solid piece?  In this instance would it just be safer/better to cook it traditionally in the oven?  Thanks for all your input!

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Wow i wish i had remembered aboit your time temp chart when i started experimenting with sous vide. It explains why my pork chops have been over cooked. I did mine for 4 hrs at 57 C. The interesting thing is one batch came out beautifully, but the second batch was medium and not as juicy.
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