"Sous Vide" Discussion

Discussion in 'Sous Vide Cooking' started by sqwib, Mar 8, 2014.

  1. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    No I took what Case said as joking with his wife. I do not think using a hot tub would be safe. Funny, but not safe. I could see it now as you walk out with a whole hog in a vaccuum bag and try to place it in a hot tub while a couple are sitting in there. The expression on thier faces would be priceless.

    As for the seasoning I would agree with Sqwib and JohnDuoh on their findings on timing and delivery. We have done duck and chicken confit that was the best I have ever had and it used way less fat to do it and was extremely tender.
  2. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Absolutely, I should have mentioned that in my earlier post
    I figured you were, but you never know, I've seen crazier things[​IMG]
  3. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    As promised.

    July 19th, 2014

    "Sous Vide Chicken Breast "

    This was an experiment on cooking temps, time and flavor profile.

    Chicken breasts were trimmed and sliced down to chunks.
    The fat was added back to the bag, this helps transfer heat better and in my opinion helps with moisture retention, mingles the flavors and aids in flavor penetration, think of Confit, well sort of.

    Breasts were cooked for 3 hours at 165°

    I was very conservative with the spices as to not overpower the chicken. I really wanted to try a rosemary profile, but my rosemary plant isn't doing well, oh well, maybe next time.

    All the chicken came out great everyone liked the texture and flavor, the Sage chicken won out for flavor, personally I thought that all the chicken was a bit spongy and I am sure this has to do with the temp and time. I am so programmed to cook chicken to 165° that I did not venture outside my comfort zone.

    These chicken breasts should have either been cooked at 165° for 30 minutes - 60 minutes max, or at a lower temp for two hours such as 145° or even lower.

    But that is why I have been experimenting and will need to do a lot more.

    I was extremely satisfied with this cook and can't wait to try more flavor profiles and mess with lowrr temps and cooking times.

    • Salt
    • Butter


    Honey Mustard
    • Honey
    • Mustard
    • Butter
    • Salt

    Basil, Sundried Tomatoes
    • Fresh Basil
    • Fresh Chives
    • Sundried Tomatoes in olive oil
    • Butter
    • Salt

    Sage, Oregano, Sundried Tomatoes
    • Fresh Sage
    • Fresh Oregano
    • Sundried Tomatoes in olive oil
    • Butter
    • Salt
    • Four samples ready for the heated bath, I did not use my Immersion circulator on this batch, i used my homemade controller and roasting pan...so easy!



    After the bath, all chicken is browned on a hot cast iron skillet with olive oil then labeled and plated for testing.

    • Plain
    • Honey Mustard
    • Basil, Sundried Tomatoes

    • Sage, Oregano, Sundried Tomatoes

  4. gerk

    gerk Fire Starter

    Wanted to chime in on this one as I have a good bit of experience with Sous Vide and have some things that I've discovered over the last couple of years doing it to add to the conversation.

    Fat Component

    This is critical.  It doesn't matter if it's fillet or the toughest piece of beef known to exist ... you need proper fat component for things to work.  The leaner meats, like fillet for example, need some help.  For these types of sous vide cooks I keep around some rendered beef fat -- I always render up my own when trimming up large pieces of beef (I often buy large wholesale pieces cryovac style from Costco or the butcher and do some of the end bits myself).  Rendered beef fat for beef, bacon grease for pork (and even some beef too, depending on the flavour you are looking for), and duck fat for any poultry ... these have been the best combinations in my experience.  The "tougher" bits of meat tend to come with a good bit of their own fat in the marbling ... but it doesn't generally hurt to add more to these ones either.


    Butter, while yummy, is actually not a great choice for any long/slow cooks, nor is anything else dairy.  Even though you're not passing the temperatures required it often breaks.  If you want to add this type of component to your bags before cooking use some evoo.  Even for fast cooks I try to avoid butter.  Try doing some A/B if you are skeptical of this and you'll find that the butter really changes things in a bad way.


    I feel very strongly on this one as do a lot of high end chefs apparently.  DO NOT pre-salt meat before cooking sous vide, at least not directly.  If you have meat that you feel really needs the salt ahead of time brine it, but again DO NOT add salt directly to the bags.  This massively changes the texture of pretty much all meat when using this technique, and generally not in a good way.  Again if you are skeptical on this one do some A/B testing for yourself.  And yes I know that things like beef really really need to salt ... but you would be surprised how far some really nice finish salt goes after you're rested and sliced.  If you really feel the need to get it in and through the meat before then you can inject at the resting phase as well (in fact that might be a perfectly appropriate time for butter depending on your tastes).


    Again this one is a no-no.  If you need to use garlic for sous vide use powdered garlic.  Fresh garlic will turn very metallic and will change the whole flavour (and sometimes even the texture) of your dish, this is amplified by longer cooking times.

    Long and Slow vs Fast Cook and Temperature choices

    This can be a doozy and I won't try to cover tons of it here, but a good rule to follow is to base your cooking time on a) how much fat content is within the meat itself (not added to the bag) and b) what kind of texture are you looking for?  I see lots of people online that just assume if you cook anything for a ton of time sous vide it's going to make it better.  That can't be farther from the truth!  Lean cuts will cook quickly and will not benefit from longer cooking times -- in fact they will quickly get mushy and you will ruin the flavour of them.  Things like fillet/tenderloin, prime rib, strip loin, and even round only really need to come up to temperature.  Save the longer cooks for tougher bits that have a good bit of collagens to break down (like brisket, blade, etc).  Cooking a lean piece of meat for longer than it takes to come up to temperature is going to do nothing except ruin it's texture, but cooking a tougher piece of meat for an appropriate amount of time on a long cook and breaking down all the collagens can do wonders :)

    And as probably has been mentioned many times all over this forum ... FOOD SAFETY IS VERY IMPORTANT!  Especially with anything you are doing long and slow.  Keep a very clean environment when working with this sort of stuff, hit your target temperatures within your safety window (get up to 140 within 4 hours max!), and when doing large pieces of meat sous vide there are really easy to use and cheap to get apps for your portable devices that will help with time calculation (and even show you graphs on when all the pathogens are dead, etc).
  5. gerk

    gerk Fire Starter

    Here's something I just loooooove to do in the sous vide, Tomato Confit.

  6. shtrdave

    shtrdave Smoking Fanatic

    So how do we do the Tomato thing in the pic? I like tomatoes.
    I need to bust mine cooker out of the box and use it.
  7. gerk

    gerk Fire Starter

    Fresh tomatoes (hothouse are just not the same), peel them and remove the end core (easy to do if you cut an X in the bottom of them and then heat with a torch/open flame).  Put in sous vide bag with a few tbsp of evoo and fresh herbs -- I like basil and oregano personally but lots of options there.  Seal up the bag and cook at 183F for 3-4 hours.  They make a great accompaniment for just about any meat but especially so with beef.  They are bursting with very big tomato (and whatever herb you add) flavour and just melt in your mouth.

    EDIT:  And salt and some course pepper to taste (I like a 4 pepper mix as opposed to straight black or red personally), this is not meat so no worries about the texture changes, you will want a bit of salt in this one.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2014
  8. gerk

    gerk Fire Starter

    They also freeze and reheat really nicely.   To reheat from frozen just drop them into the sous video for about 30-40 minutes at just about any temp (below 180F so you don't cook them again).  That makes them easy to add on to just about any other sous vide cook you might have going on for a fast side dish that's super yummy :)

    I like to get a couple big baskets of tomatoes when they are in season and cheap and do them all up in a big batch and freeze them.  So nice to pull out such wonderful tomato flavour in the middle of a long, cold winter ... or at least for those of that have long cold winters! :)
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2014
  9. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I like the tomato process. Will have to try it. Thamk you for the great info.
  10. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Gerk.... awesome post... thanks for adding to this discussion.
    Little I knew and lots I learned. I will take your advice my next Sous Vide cook.
    Thanks again
  11. gerk

    gerk Fire Starter

    Glad to add to the vast fountain of knowledge here!  Hope it helps out some people.

    If it hasn't been mentioned here in this thread before this guy really knows his stuff in terms of the mechanics of it all (which is super helpful if you were w "why" kid like me) :D


    I bought his book just to support his, I referred to his website so often in the early sous vide cooks, and still do for things now and then.
  12. smok

    smok Newbie

     Can you give an overview of your process for a brisket? 
  13. gerk

    gerk Fire Starter

    Well if you want a more traditional type of brisket I would honestly do it in a smoker :)  But if you want to do that type of cut (set aside all the traditional brisket flavour like you would do on a smoker) I would do a long slow cook for it, maybe 12-24 hours depending on what you're going for.  Fairly high temperature, say 160F-170F as you want it mostly well done.  For the fat component -- which technically you don't need much of when doing this type of cut as it has a lot of marbling already either rendered beef fat or a couple of teaspoons of rendered bacon fat (make sure to strain it).  I also like a couple of tablespoons of Worcestershire with most beef dishes sous-vide, it adds a bit of zip to things without being overkill.  

    One of the things with sous vide that's easy to mess up at first is the fact that you don't need to add a lot to the bag to make it work, small amounts of any spice or add on component are generally enough because they are evenly distributed around the bag when you vacuum seal it.  That's one of the reasons why a traditional type of confit (like the tomato one above or even duck, etc) are easy to accomplish because you don't need a full pot of oil to submerge your food in -- just a few tablespoons.  Another tip is to use fresh herbs where possible, they work really really well as aromatics in sous vide -- think fresh rosemary, oregano, mint, dill, sage, etc.  But beef I tend to like the meaty flavour, I typically only add aromatics to pork, poultry, etc.

    Hope this helps.

    For good reading material on sous vide in general you can also google Thomas Keller's "Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide" ... it's pretty much the sous vide bible for the high end stuff.  it's not cheap but it's worth it if you want to understand more of the process and how to mix and blend flavours with that process.
  14. gerk

    gerk Fire Starter

    I also wanted to add that a dry rub (used sparingly) can go a long way to add flavour to sous vide meat .. just watch out for the salt content.
  15. smok

    smok Newbie

    Thanks. Brisket is fantastic fresh off the smoker but I am the opposite after a long cook; tired, older and wasted. I love brisket when I don't have to cook it. Ha. 

    I thought this might be an alternative to the 19 hour battle; get the meat cooked then finish it over the hickory. 
  16. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    If you are looking for an alternative to the 19 hour battle....... You found it in "Sous Vide"..... 51 + hours.....


    Tenderloin 138°F / 59°C 2 inches 1 hour, 58 min 5 hours, 35 min
    Rib Eye Steak 138°F / 59°C 1.5 inches 1 hour, 58 min 3 hours, 20 min
    Strip Steak 138°F / 59°C 1.5 inches 1 hour, 58 min 3 hours, 20 min
    Porterhouse Steak 138°F / 59°C 1.5 inches 1 hour, 58 min 3 hours, 20 min
    Brisket 147°F / 64°C 48 Hours* 3 hours, 21 min
    Veal Shank 167°F / 75°C 12-24 Hours* 9 hours, 03 min
  17. gerk

    gerk Fire Starter

    The problem is with those types of general temperatures and times is that they rarely get it right IMHO.  At 147F for 48 hours the meat will end up with a terrible texture and will likely take on some of that "powdery" taste that I really really hate.  Some people apparently can't even taste it but me and the Mrs certainly can.  Also that's going to get you right about medium in terms of doneness .... I like my brisket more well done than that personally and I like it to have a little more "bite", not just a big pile of mush.

    Polyscience make great hardware (I own some), but their recipes honestly leave a lot to be desired.  I also object to their timing for other things on there too ... 2 hours for a piece of NY strip, Tenderloin or Porterhouse is a crime, not to mention 12-24 hours for a veal shank!  Blasphemy! LOL
  18. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I haven't read all of your posts, but..... Are there recipes that are better than others and where can they be found .... besides your personal folder... HAHAHA
  19. gerk

    gerk Fire Starter

    This is a good place to start: http://www.douglasbaldwin.com/sous-vide.html -- while flavour wise I don't find a lot of his stuff exciting he has the mechanics down pat and does a good job explaining all of them.  He does a really good job also explaining the science behind the time/temperature debate. I think that he does some beef chuck at lower and higher temps and shows you the difference first hand.

    As for other recipes I like some of the stuff from nom-nom paleo (mostly, sometimes she does things a bit weird) -- but also remember that she is mostly doing grass fed meats which tend to require more cooking time and adding additional fats (which she doesn't do all that often), but she does come up with some nice flavour blends at times:  http://nomnompaleo.com/recipeindex

    Lastly, while I love Thomas Keller stuff, I do find that a lot of his recipes are pretty stuffy/stuck in oldschool (if there's such a thing with Sous Vide).  Do some googling and compare for yourself.  You'll find a lot of people that are just posting things like "48 hour beef brisket" type things that they did because Thomas Keller or someone else important said so -- and then they don't do it with super high quality grain fed beef and it turns into mush and they don't know why .... and then you'll find the people that tell you to salt everything ... and then you'll find the rare, rare gems of real high end chefs that are on the cutting edge and have done tons of experimentation, but those guys don't let out their secrets quite as easily as some others.  After all they probably spent a couple years and who knows how much in meat getting it right, trade secrets you know ;)  Those are the guys that don't pre-salt things.  The best quote I saw in a youtube video about that was some high end NY chef testing out a Sous Vide Supreme and comparing it to his immersion circulator, the interviewer (who wasn't that great to start with) asks him about salting the meat ahead of time and he replies that he never does it because it "changes the texture" in a not so nice way (and he is right).  What that salting really ends up doing is drawing all of the moisture out of the meat and into the bag, so all of your juiciness is lost and you're left with tougher, drier meat.  If you do this on long cooks that also leads a lot more to that powdery sort of taste.
  20. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thank you...... Dave

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