Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
happyfunball

Sous vide, anyone?

Recommended Posts

Have any of you tried sous vide cooking? It's basically cooking in temperature controlled water bath with the food (generally meat) in a vacuum or water tight bag. I know, it sounds horrible if you've never heard of it before, reminiscent of boil-in-a-bag freezer food. But apparently this is the new hot (no pun intended) thing.

 

My friend has just bought a $200 sous vide unit to maintain the water bath temperature. I'm considering a DIY method using an old crockpot and a simple temperature sensor controlled AC on/off switch before I commit to anything too expensive. Just wanted to know if anyone has experience with it and give me some tips.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah I've seen it as well, but I'd be worried about the plastic bags and the leaching of chemicals due to the heat.

 

...I'm not an uber healthy tree hugger type (I still love me some scrapple), but eliminating some things is easier than others.  Nitrate free hotdogs/bacon, BPA free plastics, chems in cosmetics (wife sells Beautycounter), not microwaving in plastics.  Microwave safe mean it won't melt.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For sous vide cooking the temperature doesn't get that hot. The goal is to aim for the final internal temperature, so it never overcooks. For example, for pork shoulder you'd use 158F (70C), 130F (54C) for medium rare beef, which are cooler than the cup of tea at my desk right now.

 

Also, BPA is generally used in stiff plastics and aren't found in plastic bags. Although not extensive, some existing studies have shown the common bags used for sous vide cooking (Foodsaver vac bags, Zip-lock brand bags) do not leach chemicals in any significant amount at this temperature range. So personally I'm not too concerned about it. It's probably less dangerous than a plastic water bottle left in a hot car.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am a huge steak guy, I like my steak perfectly rare-medium rare (may be a touch on the rare side) been reading up on how high end restaurant sous vide their steaks to the perfect temp, probably 10 degree less than serving temperature, then sear on ultra high heat for crust to serve.  I seriously want to try but cant justify the cost of buying the immersion circulator wand, about $250 bucks for a decent one.  The wand type is the one I would buy, small and easy to store.  That final sear at 500-1000 degrees is needed for that crust though.

 

everything to moderation, for the amount of food I will sous vide, not overly concerned about the bags, more concerned about the water bottle I use at the gym...  that thing can get nasty.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Allbeefy, if you have an old style crockpot with the dial (not the digital one), you can try this setup:

 

http://www.instructables.com/id/Sous-vide-cooker-for-less-than-40/

 

Basically it uses a temperature probe to control the 110v on/off. You need the old style crockpot because the digital ones don't start up with power.

 

I didn't have to build my own temperature controller, I picked one up from Amazon:

 

https://www.amazon.com/WILLHI-Temperature-Controller-Pre-wired-Stainless/dp/B01JP8DYFK/

 

If I ever decide to go to an immersion circular wand, I can convert the controller to a fan control for my smoker, so it'll have a second life, whether I like the sous vide method or not. :lol

 

The controller should arrive sometime next week. I'll report back once I've tried it on a steak or two.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm sure you're all waiting with bated breath on the result, so here it is.

 

First, this is my setup. It's basically the temperature controller I linked earlier used to control the power to an old crock pot:

 

IMG_20161017_171448811.jpg

 

Next, I prepped my beef chuck roast by cutting the larger piece into steak size that fits into a quart bag. I used salt and pepper only on the steaks. Here they are in the bags just after submersion:

 

IMG_20161017_193311059.jpg

 

I put the lid on and set the temperature controller between 132F and 137F, which is the range for medium that my wife likes. I'm more of a medium rare guy, and that would have been around 126F. Note that the temperature overshot by about 2F, so that's something I'll have to take into consideration next time.

 

IMG_20161017_202243586.jpg

 

After 24 hours, it was the moment of truth:

 

IMG_20161018_205134368.jpg

 

Ick! What the heck? OK, don't panic. Online instructions say the meat will come out not looking great, and a quick sear on the outside is recommended for presentation and taste. I carefully poured out the juice to make gravy and slapped the steaks on the searing grill for about 30 seconds a side (sorry, didn't realize I took a bad photo):

 

IMG_20161018_205936188.jpg

 

And the cut:

 

IMG_20161018_210904951.jpg

 

Final verdict: It was fantastic. The meat was the most tender chuck steak I've ever had, given that chuck is normally used for stew meat. The flavor was very concentrated, a very earthy beefy taste. The juice made a great gravy for the potatoes we had on the side. Overall, it exceeded my expectations. I will definitely do this again. Next time I'll aim a little lower on the temperature zone for the medium rare.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, for chuck, you want to break down the connective tissues. Normally that's done in a stew, but then the meat gets boiled all out of shape. In this case, it's just a long process. Supposedly 48 hours is even better, but I didn't have the patience.

 

For other, more traditional steak cuts, it's much shorter. Also, the thickness plays a role in cooking time too. Still, it's on the order of hours:

 

sous-vide-cooking-time-for-core-temperat

 

So if you're looking for a quick meal, you should probably just grill it. However, you can also set it up like a crock pot in the morning. The cook time is a minimum. Since it's just waiting for the meat to reach equilibrium temperature, once it reaches the temperature the meat stops cooking. So you can leave it in at 126F all day and still come home to medium-rare steak.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Happyfunball, the pictures were awesome.  Ordering a temperature probe soon.  Love it.

 

The thing is I actually love Chuck (or Blade as we call them here) because of the flavor.  To make it edible, I actually cook them super rare, Blue to Rare.  Otherwise, it become rubber.  This new technique is probably exactly what I need to make Blade Steaks good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We just bought some fancier crock pot that is digital, but has a temp probe and manual settings for temp. You think that work ok? Your results look fantastic!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...