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Sous Vide

The Knize

Moderator Emeritus
Are folks who have been cooking with this method for a while still feeling real positive about sous vide? I finally broke down and bought a sous vide "wand." Chefman brand from Costco for $99, with Bluetooth and wifi. I had been wanting to try sous vide for a long time. The best pork chop I ever had was sous vide from an otherwise nonspectacular restaurant.

I do not have a vacuum sealer so I am using freezer bags, which seem to do the trick. I have done pork chops, a rib eye, sockeye salmon, and carrots. I cannot say I am all that impressed so far though. I think I would have done better with the meat and fish on a grill or in a cast iron pan. I did finish the pork and the steak in a pan. I am going to keep going with this. Practice makes perfect, etc. I would say the pork seemed rather underdone. The steak was more like it.

Anyway, thought I would see if anyone had any updated thoughts. At $99 this is a lot of fun. So far I think I am glad I did not buy a vacuum sealer.
 
Initially I had a couple of misses, but once I was used to it, I can get pretty much spot on every time. If you do want to sear meat after the sous vide, be bold with the heat of the searing pan, which I wasn't the first couple of times(!)
 
I think they're terrific - for proteins. I don't bother with eggs, or pasta sauce, or coffee, or all the other, random things you hear about. My favorite trait: it makes the timing of the meal sooo much easier. Things are't rushed with sous vide; at least not until the final, searing stage of the meal.

The trick (if there is one) is the proper sear at the end:
1) pat dry the meat (otherwise you're steaming) and season,
2) in a ROCKET hot pan, sear. If the pan isn't hot enough, you're just re-cooking and over-cooking.
 

The Knize

Moderator Emeritus
Thanks for the advice. I thought I did okay with the sear, but I will work on that technique.

I did eggs, too. Interesting and easy. I am not sure compelling, but I do get the convenience factor there with no really off set for poached eggs!
 
You need to look through some cookbooks. Or, use the sous vide mfgs websites for ideas and their knowledge base about how varying time and temperature react upon the foods. Often they'll demonstrate a recipe and preface with how sous vide changes the game. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt has an accessible presence on the web and a nice cookbook "The Food Lab; Better Home Cooking through Science"

And about the vacuum sealers, ya, it's challenging. While you can, immersion of a ziplock in a pot of water can do a lot for evacuating air out of the bag. I have Food Saver and Oliso branded devices. Both appeal to different methods of use, simplifying one or the other while doing the rest of the sealing jobs good enough. Take your choice you won't go far wrong. I'd love to own a vacuum table (professional equipment at price), but it's out of my budget and I don't use it enough to justify at this time.

The wifi/bluetooth thing sounds cool. Let us know if you find it useful. I've never had the option yet!
 
Yes, still a fan. I don’t have a sous vide cooker, as my hob will main the temperature of the water at whatever I need, but IMHO the vacuum sealer is a must (after all, it is the “vide” in “sous vide”). Without a vacuum, I can’t understand how the cooking process works as well.

Takes the guesswork out of cooking steaks, yields moist, succulent chicken, and is particularly good at cooking the tougher cuts of meat which tend to be more flavoursome. I did some lamb shoulder fillets the other day, cooked them at ~130F (med rare) for about three hours, then seared them for a few seconds in a hot pan. Try and cook a cut like that to med rare in a pan and it’s likely to be as tough as old boots, but this was as tender as Snow White’s breasts.

100% agree with others who’ve said to make sure you pat dry the meat and get the pan really hot before searing.
 

The Knize

Moderator Emeritus
<The wifi/bluetooth thing sounds cool. Let us know if you find it useful.>

Absolutely! I have not used the wifi from a distance or anything. But it is what I use to set the unit and turn it on. Very easy setup and utterly user friendly. On the other hand, for what I have done so far, I could easily do without it!

Re no vacuum sealer, by being careful and patient, one can get virtually all of the air out of a freezer "baggie." Among other things by immersing the ziplock in a pot of water. I have placed a soda straw along one side through a tight opening in the seal and sucked out the air, too. I am not sure inhaling air from around raw pork chops is that great an idea, however. At this point a inexpensive vacuum sealer is as expensive as the sous vide wand, and takes up storage space, which is an issue with my wife, who is not loving the sous vide results so far. But I am guessing I will end up with one! Thanks e everyone. I intend to keep pursuing this.
 

TexLaw

Contributor
I still love it for soft-cooked eggs, and it's nice for some other things, but I don't know that it ever will be my go-to way of cooking anything other than the eggs. One house favorite I've not tried it with, yet, is pepper crusted filet mignon.

I wouldn't buy a vacuum sealer solely for sous vide unless I also planned on doing it very often. However, a vacuum sealer is so very useful for many other things (especially in a humid climate like mine).
 

cleanshaved

The Meat Poisoner
Moderator
I don't have a sous vide cooker at home but have a bit of play time with sous vide on the commercial side. Lamb Shanks cooked in a Rosemary & Mint sauce makes a nice meal.
Do you guys cook anything with gravy in the bag?
 
oh ya, don't get hung up on the idea the only place vacuum sealing helps in the kitchen is sous vide. My gosh, shopping at Costco and getting bulk products, the bags help presort things for a cooking day. In the meantime, they keep cold food from freezer burn for more months than store packaging and can be dropped right into the bath when you're ready to go. This also works wonders in the pantry, again to sort out quantities I want to work with vice busy work doing mise en place same day. Toasted nuts, daily rice, sorting pasta. Foul, beef, pork, & lamb in serving quantities so they're ready for any preparation technique. Snacks!

If you tend to a lot of cold storage and open to prep or dry pantry and same, the Oliso bags are ziplock with a cool method of sealing the bags many many times over. The Oliso has got an effective method of sealing liquids too, which can save hundreds of dollars and kitchen counter real estate over the purchase of a vacuum table.

The Food saver system is still very effective and cost of rolls of bag materials is getting better. If you're doing long cut prep for storage and volume work they're still the way to go before expensing vac tables and the options they open up.

So, sous vide is a process which can save you time and frustration in preparing many foods; proteins being one of the biggest winners. But don't overlook sauces and vegetables; flavor notes lost in other methods will be kept locked in. And if you can accentuate that pop it's a whole new experience for your dining pleasure.
 

TexLaw

Contributor
But don't overlook sauces and vegetables; flavor notes lost in other methods will be kept locked in. And if you can accentuate that pop it's a whole new experience for your dining pleasure.
I've heard many rave about sous vide vegetables, although I've yet to try it. I'm still too stuck on steaming or roasting. Both are easy and hands-off, but I do want to try sous vide. I know I'll get around to it.

I've also heard many talk about sauces. I really need to get into that, too.
 

TexLaw

Contributor
The Food saver system is still very effective and cost of rolls of bag materials is getting better. If you're doing long cut prep for storage and volume work they're still the way to go before expensing vac tables and the options they open up.
(whoops--I meant to comment on this in my last reply)

I fell out of love with FoodSaver products when I went through 3 of them in about 4 years, two of those being "Pro" models, and one of those only lasting about a month. Enough of that nonsense. After consulting some of my barbecue buddies, I went with the Weston 2300. I don't remember what I paid for it, since I bought it about 10 or 12 years ago, but the current price of about $380-400 sounds about right in today's dollars. That's one heck of a chunk of change, but allow me to reiterate that I bought it about 10 or 12 years ago and add that it is still going as strong as an ox. The only maintenance has been (1) to replace the teflon tape about once each year (a roll of that tape is pretty cheap), (2) replace the gasket about every few years or so (also not expensive), (3) replace the heating wire once (it came in a set with the gasket), and (4) wipe it down as needed.

I buy the pre-made bags in bulk because they are cheap and easy, and I also keep a 11" and 8" roll around to make bags when I have something that needs a little special attention. A whole brisket flat or point rarely fits in a pre-made bag.
 
@TexLaw Thanks for the heads up regards Weston products. I'll certainly look into them. Earlier I let slip I do some business with Costco. Food Saver is one of their long-term relationships and, with Costco offering an absolute guarantee of satisfaction, I've felt comfortable using their product. That said, I haven't had to replace a unit I've had for 8 to 10 years now, so... But that could be due to the light use I've put it to.

Pre-made bags are heaven on earth if you've got a consistent need for a given size and can buy enough of them to bring the cost per unit in line. And making bags from a roll can be a challenge to size the excess trim accurately with minimal waste.
 

The Knize

Moderator Emeritus
I bought these on Amazon for $10: TAILI Sous Vide Bags Kit for Anova Cookers 10 Reusable Vacuum Sealer Bags with Hand Pump, in lieu of going to a full on electric powered vacuum sealer, at least right away. I will post my experiences with them. Certainly well-priced!

Do you all ever put oil or butter in the vacuum sealed bag with whatever you are sous viding? I am not sure it makes sense to do that with a steak or pork chop that has a substantial amount of fat. But let's say a piece or salmon or carrots? The discussion I see on-line seems to give conflicting advice. It may depend on whether the flavor components of any other seasoning ingredients you are putting into the bag are oil or water soluble, I suppose.

For that matter, do you put raw garlic cloves or powdered garlic of some type into the bag when you want a garlic "seasoning"? Or, I suppose, one could wait until the searing stage. (I like the Costco dried granulated garlic for various purposes when I think something besides regular raw garlic is needed or sometimes in addition. I do not know that I am ever tempted to use grocery store garlic powder much less garlic salt for anything so long as I have that Costco dry granulated stuff.)
 

The Knize

Moderator Emeritus
Keep the information on sealers and the like coming gentlemen. It is all of interest!
 
This past winter started messing around with low and slow oven roasting then sear for varying chunks of beef and was very pleased with the results. Does sous vide offer anything more over the low and slow method of cooking a piece of beef?
dave
 
Precision. Repeatable results. Very very long cooking times without user intervention if you need them.
This past winter started messing around with low and slow oven roasting then sear for varying chunks of beef and was very pleased with the results. Does sous vide offer anything more over the low and slow method of cooking a piece of beef?
dave
 
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add to @jmudrick the flavor volatile compounds aren't nearly as free to migrate out of the foodstuffs or liquids as they might be in a more open moist braise. Cooking temperatures, which are usually not available nor desirable in the cooking equipment of the past, that can be precisely maintained allowing for pasteurization over a longer period of time. This can result in textures, chew, and mouthfeel very different; often appreciated for its own sake.
 

The Knize

Moderator Emeritus
The TAILI sous vide bags came. Have not yet used them, but I am impressed with how tight they suck in around the contents.

I would think an advantage of sous vide would be the ability to prepare long in advance and "hold" dishes until the very final prep.

I did bring out a pork chop I had done in sous vide and put in the fridge. I made sure to thoroughly sear it in cast iron. It was amazing.
 

TexLaw

Contributor
The newly reopened (hooray!) supermarket had a very nice sale on some very nice, prime ribeyes that I simply could not pass up. We picked up a couple of wonderfully thick ones (each came in about 26-27 ounces and could stand on its side). It seemed like a good time to bring out the sous vide cooker.

Holy cow. Those were some of the best steaks I've ever made. The sous vide method worked like a charm. I was particularly pleased at how the fatty parts came out, which was my greatest concern with the ribeyes. The fat was soft and succulent (better than what usually comes off the grill or skillet, if I'm honest).

Just for a recap, I seasoned and vacuum sealed each steak while the water heated to 130F, and then I just popped them in the water and set the timer. I couldn't quite find a straight answer as to whether they needed to be in there for an hour or two hours, so I aimed to split the difference with an hour and a half. In the end, it was more like 1.75 hours because of some other stuff going on, but no worries, right? The only reason I was worried about minimum time was because I didn't want supper to be too late (I got a late start).

I went for a hot fire on the grill for searing, and that worked pretty well. It would have worked far better had I paid more attention to patting the steaks dry and reseasoning them a bit first--something I most certainly shall do in the future. However, that is the only improvement I can see, and I will do this again.

We served 'em up alongside some mushrooms and roasted brussels sprouts, and we topped 'em with compound butter (St. Pete's Select blue cheese and a touch of honey).
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