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sous vide advice?

I would like to sous vide a 3lb sirlion roast; i tested my crock pot and it maintains a temperature of 130. Is that hot enough? Seems too low; perhaps if I browned afterward I could bring the temp up to 145 while still having it be tender? How long would I have to leave the roast in the pot to get it up to 130? If I used a big pot and a candy thermometer, what time and temp should I use?

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  1. I think this article will help! The recipe itself is attached: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...

    2 Replies
    1. re: katecm

      Wow. The author is inspiring, courageous and ballsy, especially to have experimented with something so dicey for the first time for guests.

      1. re: chicgail

        I know, isn't it great? His columns are wonderful. But inspiring is right - I imagine a lot of people in the DC area tried this after reading the article.

    2. Plume, You should sear the meat before you vaccum it, this will enhance flavor build. 130 f is a good temp to cook at but it will take a long time, but that is not a bad thing. I have been working on cooking a chuck tender and trying to find the perfect water temp and have found 58-59 celsius works well. I have been cooking the 1.5# roast for 48 hours to make it tender. The meat is has a pink, medium doneness look but is fork tender. Check out a paper by Douglas Baldwin called "A practical guide to Sous-Vide Cooking. If you google it you will find it. Loads of good info and pick up a copy of Thomas Keller's book Under Pressure, very good info. Good Luck.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jscott65

        I'd sear after sous-vide. Otherwise the crust will get all soggy sitting int he bag.

      2. NDP, please be careful and impeccably sanitary if you do this. This is nothing to play with without the proper tools and equipment. Sterilize everything, - think operating room clean.
        Sous vide is a potentially hazardous technique as uses temperatures below the thermal death point of microbes, 138F. This anaerobic technique also permits the possible growth of deadly botulism toxin (kills about 800 Americans a year) as it takes place without oxygen over an extended period of time.

        4 Replies
          1. re: iamafoodie

            800 deaths/year is a gross exaggeration. There are not even 800 cases of botulism/year, there are about 145 cases/year on average, and most are not related to food.

            1. re: jaykayen

              I'm going to agree with you, but I agree that you need to be VERY careful when it comes to sous vide processing and C. bot. The Canadian Stats from 1997 were 18 cases with 1 fatality and most of them were traditionally fermented Inuit food.

              1. re: jaykayen

                I do quite a bit of sous vide cooking and while the potential for botulism is there, it would take a cook time of over three days to achieve.

                As for myself, I use a vacuum sealer and have the appropriate Polyscience equipment to do the job. However, I've been thinking more about how one can achieve the sous vide thing at home without the expensive cooking and wrote about it on my blog:

                http://onocoffee.blogspot.com/2009/01...

                Use it as a guideline but you take on the risk.

            2. This is tricky for a professional. You're nuts if you're trying to do this at home.

              1. I've been having a lot of fun playing with sous vide in the crock pot. Here's a website that has a lot of very useful information. Take a look at table 2.3 for cooking times for beef:

                http://amath.colorado.edu/~baldwind/s...

                As far as searing goes, if you do it before the bath you get Maillard flavors penetrating the meat, but the crust isn't crispy. So I prefer searing afterward. The only problem I've seen is that the internal temperature rises quickly when searing in a pan, and small things like scallops can end up egregiously overdone. The next time, I'm going to try using a blowtorch.

                1 Reply
                1. re: alanbarnes

                  The website for my guide, "A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking", has moved to
                  http://www.douglasbaldwin.com/sous-vi...

                2. Thanks for all the advice. I was not brave enough to use my kitchen sink. I tried the crockpot, but it could not hold the temperature. So now I need a water circulotor or lab bath or some other such contraption. Or maybe the sink? Also, the meat required longer than expected to get tender. This needs more experimentation before I could really use this technique to enhance flavor and convenience. For the scientists out there - wouldn't searing after sous vide kill any bacteria? Just curious.

                  12 Replies
                  1. re: nomdeplume

                    Searing will kill bacteria on the surface of the meat only. And searing will not remove the toxins that the bacteria produced. As mentioned above, you must work in an extremely clean environment with the right tools and with ingredients that you know were properly handled all the way to you. Consider that any cross contamination that happened anywhere in the meat's journey can get you sick. Are you sure the minimum wage worker at the supermarket washed his hands before he wrapped the plastic wrap on your roast? Make sure you know your ingredients well and know what your doing with the proper equipment. Also remember that 4 hours in the danger zone (40-140) is too long.

                    1. re: Shane Greenwood

                      actually, this is 100% grass fed beef (not grained finished at all). i know the farmer and the processor and get directly from the processor as part of a grass fed coop. because this meat tends to be a little tougher, i thought it in particular would benefit from sous vide treatment.

                      1. re: nomdeplume

                        Whether the beef is grass or grain fed doesn't affect the microbiological quality of the meat. Searing would kill most of the surface bacteria and then sous vide at say over 55 celcius for over an hour would finish off the rest likely barring any super hardy mutant pathogens.

                    2. re: nomdeplume

                      Rather than buying a dedicated lab bath, try plugging your crock pot (rice cooker, roaster oven) into a PID controller:

                      http://auberins.com/index.php?main_pa...

                      As far as bacteria go, solid pieces of muscle are largely impenetrable to bacteria. So they'll all be on the surface of the meat, and searing will kill them. But if you're going to be cooking ground meat or anything else with surface area that can get pushed to the inside, be sure it's pasteurized. Time and temp tables here:

                      http://amath.colorado.edu/~baldwind/s...

                      The "danger zone" is a myth that has only a passing acquaintence with food science. If you're going to be messing around with sous vide, inform yourself as to the risks involved and take the safety precautions you think are appropriate.

                      1. re: alanbarnes

                        The "danger zone" is not a myth. It is an FDA guideline designed to protect the food eating public from unsafe food storage practices. Restaurants and food purveyors are required to follow the guideline, which sets a 4 hour cumulative time limit on certain foods in the zone (loosely and often stated as 40-140 degrees, but in the code the range is actually 41-135 degrees). It's good practice to observe the same guideline at home, especially if you are preparing food for other people.

                        1. re: Shane Greenwood

                          It may be an FDA guideline, but that doesn't mean it's correct. Food pathogens multiply between 29F and 127.5F, while spoilage bacteria begin to multiply at 23F. So bacteria can grow at 35F - a temperature that's outside the "danger zone," while food can be pasteurized at 130F - a temperature that's ostensibly in the "danger zone." Moreover, the "danger zone" concept fails to take bacterial growth rates into account. It's a good rule of thumb for minimum-wage workers in restaurant kitchens, but anybody who's going to be messing with sous vide should have knowledge that goes beyond rules of thumb.

                          1. re: alanbarnes

                            Totally agree that if you'll be messing with sous vide, you have to take all of this into consideration.

                            You called it a "myth" in your previous post, so I thought you were saying there is no danger (as others on CH have asserted in the past). 4 at 40-140 is just a guideline, but a useful one.

                      2. re: nomdeplume

                        I talked to my friend who did a project on the safety of sous vide and we agreed that sous vide is a safe thing to do in your home as long as you are not storing the cooked meat in the vacuum bag for any length of time (over a day). If it is a cut of beef or pork the searing kills most of the bacteria because it's an entire muscle. For chicken it's a little different because of the surface area to volume ratio of the whole chicken and that's why we have to cook it through, but I have yet to get a straight answer on that one from any of my food microbiology profs.

                        1. re: Bryn

                          can you clarify the chicken comment? would your friend care to share his work? i agree that probably for the home environment it wouldn't be wise to pull a thomas keller and sous vide brisket for 48 hours the first time out; but other cuts may benefit; although if it is something that could be cooked in less than four hours, is there a real benefit to sous vide? i would think not...

                          1. re: nomdeplume

                            Chicken is weird it's the exception to every rule, but what I was trying to get at is Cows are big, chickens are small so chickens have a smaller surface area to volume (entire muscle) ratio. My friend just did a review paper of literature that is already out there on Sous vide. If C. bot is on the brisket it will take more than 12 hours to start producing the toxin (botulism) unless it is there in extremely high numbers to begin with, but if you sear it first you reduce the numbers, so you don't have anything to worry about.

                            1. re: Bryn

                              So, as someone currently contemplating making a Sous Vide brisket for St. Patrick's Day, I was wondering would the corning/curing process in making a Corned Beef Brisket solve the Botulism problem without searing? Especially if i used something like Insta-Cure?

                              If possible, I'd like to avoid the searing step, because my plan was to make the brisket sous vide the day before, and on the day of, roast it at a high tem. with a Whiskey glaze for a few min. I'm afraid the searing before hand wont give me the type of caramelization I'm after.

                              1. re: Collin81

                                I think the acidic/ salty environment would prevent the C. Bot spores from producing their toxin.

                      3. I can not imagine that some of the plastic is not be absorbed into the cooking food. I do not beleive it to be healthy, I think it is a fad. I do not even cook prepared items in the Micro in the plastic containers.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                          You're probably right about not microwaving in plastic containers. The microwaves interact with the plastic in ways we don't fully understand and most plastic containers aren't meant to be heated that way.

                          The plastic that is used in bags for Sous Vide are a different type of plastic, and most chemists feel that the risks associated with microwaving in plastic aren't present during sous vide because of the drastically lower cooking temperatures. Most sous vide cooking doesn't exceed 65 C.

                          1. re: Collin81

                            See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plastic_... . As long as you use polyethylene (or other non-PVC) film or bags, you are on the safe side, as they do not contain any plasticizers like phthalates (giving the typical plastic odor) as used in polyvinylchloride film.