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are there restaurants that still do not use sous vide method when cooking their meats such as steaks?

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hae young Oct 17, 2009 09:37 AM

hi!
i heard that thomas keller use in his resaturants the sous vide when cooking their meats and other ingredients. even though it is becoming wide spread phenomenon in US, is there anyone who think some trade offs could be occuriing because of cooking with sous vide method?
and i saw in tv that professional kitchen staffs in craft steak, which tom collichi manages, use pan roasting method when cooking steak types of meats. but do they still do that way?
i widely guess that they may not pan roast their steaks anymore as what they did in the past.
does anyone know about that?

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  1. l
    LauraGrace Oct 17, 2009 03:16 PM

    I don't know of ANY restaurant that uses the sous vide method to cook steaks. Maybe I'm just not going to places that are upscale enough, but to me, hot and fast cooking methods (grilling, broiling, pan searing, etc.) are essential to good steak, and direct heat is what promotes browning on all meat.

    I may be wrong, but I understood that sous vide is typically used for more delicate meats like lobster and other seafood.

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    1. re: LauraGrace
      DallasDude Oct 17, 2009 05:22 PM

      I would agree with the steaks. However one method would be to use the contraption, then brown. I would just think it to be another method, not a total replacement of line cooks and grills.

      The advantage is that certain products come out perfect and consistent 100% of the time. The device is large, like a commercial mixer and costs about 2000. Very minimal as far as a commercial appliance goes.

      I know Charlie Trotter is a fan. I read that Amtrak is equipped with the devices.

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      1. re: DallasDude
        Veggo Oct 20, 2009 12:47 PM

        Train food....yum! And the delicious water! But I suppose a wine cellar on a train is impractical.

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    2. bushwickgirl Oct 17, 2009 06:12 PM

      Really, if I went into a high-end steak place for a 24 oz porterhouse, there's no way I want anyone sous-viding anything near my steak.
      Sous vide has certain applications for particular food products, say seafood, vegetables or certain cuts of meat, but pan searing, broiling or char grilling aren't going away. Upscale or not, it doesn't work for everything.
      I'm not sure about the Amtrack usage, as mentioned by Dallasdude, as sous vide is vacuum cooking at low temp for long periods of time so I don't know how it would apply to the NYC to Philly ride, but maybe to LA?

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      1. re: bushwickgirl
        jfood Oct 17, 2009 06:35 PM

        Amtrak sous vide? :-))

        They take their food out of the fridge and stick in the MV on the BOS to DC runs.

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        1. re: jfood
          pikawicca Oct 17, 2009 07:11 PM

          Who wants a slow-poached steak, for Christ's sake?

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          1. re: pikawicca
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            hae young Oct 17, 2009 08:55 PM

            you know? i saw michael mina's cookbook. in there he poached his steak in huge amount of melted butter

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            1. re: hae young
              bushwickgirl Oct 17, 2009 09:23 PM

              Poached or sous vide? What cut of steak are we talking about? To what degree of doneness? Which cookbook? These are questions that need to be answered before any decision can be made regarding cooking techniques discussed in this thread. This is an apples to oranges thing. Poaching is a great way to cook for some food products like seafood, but other methods, aformentioned, work for others.
              With all due respect, I *guess* I could see a ribeye poached in butter but where's the char, the tasty crust gained in searing or grilling? How would you guarantee the steak be med. rare? or rare, for that matter?
              I googled Michael Mina but could not find any reference to steak poached in butter at any of his restaurants or with any of his recipes.
              With further respect and not to be snarky but I think you have sous vide on the brain. It's not the entire answer. It's a technique that has limited, if not appropriate use.

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              1. re: bushwickgirl
                ipsedixit Oct 17, 2009 11:50 PM

                Michael Mina does in fact sous vide his steaks in butter:

                "Enough about the surroundings—it’s the food that really deserves your attention. Yes, the steaks (poached sous vide in clarified butter, then seared and grilled) are as tender and juicy as you could hope for, but we were also pleasantly surprised by the wide array of tempting fish, poultry, and meat offerings on BOURBON STEAK’s menu."

                Read full review here: http://gregslistdc.com/spotlight/2009...

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                1. re: ipsedixit
                  bushwickgirl Oct 18, 2009 12:19 AM

                  Ok, but the review doesn't mention what type of steak he poaches in butter, nor does it get into the finer points of the process. I guess it's a trade secret, or something like that. At this point, I can only think the steak's got to be a hefty one, as not be to done well.
                  Does the process really improve over prime beef with great marbling?
                  Anyway, thanks for the link.

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                  1. re: ipsedixit
                    k
                    kmcarr Oct 18, 2009 11:24 AM

                    I think the reviewer really didn't fully understand how the steaks were cooked, or she just wanted to throw the phrase "sous vide" into her story. "Poached sous vide" is self contradictory. Poaching is a technique in which flavors from the poaching liquid are infused into the item being poached. Sous vide (literally "under vacuum") isolates the food from the cooking medium. What would be the point of cooking sous vide in clarified butter since the butter never actually touches the meat?

                    If the technique is slow poaching in fat, which is what I suspect is true, then is has nothing whatsoever to do with sous vide.

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                    1. re: kmcarr
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                      Humbucker Oct 18, 2009 11:38 AM

                      Could butter have been added to the vacuum pack with the steak?

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                      1. re: Humbucker
                        Full tummy Oct 18, 2009 11:44 AM

                        Exactly. The butter would be the liquid in the pouch with the steak, essentially.

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                        1. re: Humbucker
                          k
                          kmcarr Oct 18, 2009 11:51 AM

                          One typically will add flavorings such as herbs, spices, small amounts of wine, oil or butter when you are cooking sous vide but I can't imagine what the benefit would be to seal a large volume of clarified butter along with the steak in a sous vide bag and then submerge that in a water bath. You would then need the water to first heat the mass of clarified butter which in turn poaches the steak. It would be far easier to simply poach the steak directly in clarified butter.

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                          1. re: kmcarr
                            Full tummy Oct 18, 2009 11:53 AM

                            A sous vide pouch doesn't need very much liquid, actually. It is vacuum sealed around the solids, and so you can use much less butter than you would need in a pan.

                            Edit: And to add one more point, to my knowledge the review doesn't say anything about a "huge amount" of butter being used.

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                            1. re: Full tummy
                              k
                              kmcarr Oct 18, 2009 12:15 PM

                              But in sous vide you do not put the cooking medium inside the bag; it stay strictly outside the bag. The phrased used by the reviewer was "poached sous vide in clarified butter". Reading the Q & A with chef Mina at the bottom of the page there is this exchange:

                              Q: Tell us about the origins of your cooking technique?

                              A: I was not a fan of the filet cut, and American [Wagyu] is not as tender as Japanese Kobe. So I experimented with a small steam table and poaching meats [sous vide] at a set temperature. I finish them on the grill. This lets the meat get to rare with no shrinkage and a consistent color.

                              Apparently chef Mina conflates these two cooking techniques.

                              O.K. Just found a much better description of how the steaks are cooked at Bourbon Steak: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi...

                              They use a water bath with an immersion circulator (the typical set up for sous vide) but only as method for keeping their poaching solution of clarified butter at a constant temperature. I imagine the pumps in the circulators could not handle the viscosity of the butter. The steaks are then poached in the flavored clarified butter. There is no sous vide (vacuum sealing) involved.

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                              1. re: kmcarr
                                Full tummy Oct 18, 2009 12:22 PM

                                The actual meaning of "sous vide" is "under vacuum". Does that mean there is a vacuum created in the internal well? Thanks for the link.

                                And, I just wanted to add that you wouldn't call the cooking medium (the water), the poaching liquid. So, if you wanted to poach fish in olive-oil, using sous vide, you would put the olive oil inside the pouch, with the fish.

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                                1. re: Full tummy
                                  k
                                  kmcarr Oct 18, 2009 12:37 PM

                                  No, I don't believe there is any vacuum involved here. Further down the article they make the distinction between sous vide, cooking of individual portions in vacuum sealed bags, with fat poaching which is what they do now. Chef Mina did at one time cooks steaks sous vide but now uses low temperature fat poaching.

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                                  1. re: kmcarr
                                    Full tummy Oct 18, 2009 06:21 PM

                                    I guess the author, Anita, got it wrong, as you suggest. Thanks for the additional info. Wonder what would be better: Butter poached steak or sous-vide steak, hahaha.

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                            2. re: kmcarr
                              Full tummy Oct 18, 2009 11:58 AM

                              Here's a link with a photo and some information:

                              http://www.cookingsousvide.com/info/w...

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                          2. re: kmcarr
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                            celeryroot Oct 18, 2009 01:05 PM

                            Kmcarr you are absolutley correct. I do not think many of the people posting have a clue about sous vide. You can put butter ,olive oil etc inside the packet BUT we are talking a very small amount. With a pound of salmon you might add a tablespoon or so.
                            In addition , you do not bring the product up to a certain temperature and then throw in fridge...... you sous vide the product for many hours.......depending what,sometime 50 plus hours at a fixed temperature. It is crucial the temperature not vary . Even a degree can cause problems.
                            You will not find more tasty and tender meat if done properly. Yes it even makes a big difference with prime and kobe. You do not get some weird product, 95% would not even know except they got a really tasty tender meal.
                            Most high end restaurants use. In Europe it has been used since the early 70's and probably 75% of Michelins stared restaurants practice .

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                2. re: bushwickgirl
                  DallasDude Oct 18, 2009 09:12 AM

                  Yes Amtrak. I got my information from a handy press release from a leading manufacturer of such devices, Cuisine Solutions. The following is from the release for visitors of the NRA trade show last year in Chicago:

                  “From quality to flavor profile and packaging, sous-vide products from Cuisine Solutions have played a vital role in Amtrak’s past, current and future design,” maintains Timothy Costello, Amtrak Corporate Executive Chef. “With their dedicated partnership and knowledge of our foodservice operation; Amtrak is able to offer to our customers safe and consistent menu selections.”

                  Enjoy.

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                  1. re: DallasDude
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                    small h Oct 18, 2009 09:49 AM

                    I looked at the Cuisine Solutions website - it seems as if they sell pre-cooked food in pouches. Which means Amtrak is likely just reheating the pouches in a microwave and serving them, not going through the entire sous vide process. Cuisine Solutions has videos of this on their site:

                    http://www.cuisinesolutions.com/Rehea...

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                    1. re: DallasDude
                      jfood Oct 18, 2009 09:58 AM

                      Yup, they prepare the food in the sous vide methon and sell it frozen.

                      Double-D if you read further down this link at the Cuisine solutions article

                      http://www.allbusiness.com/food-bever...

                      you will also find the following statement:

                      "Cuisine Solutions' sous-vide products have helped us at T.G.I. Fridays increase quality as well as maintain consistency," says Scott Randolph, Senior Director of Culinary Development.

                      So yes, from a technical POV AMTRAK is usingthe sous vide method (jfood stands corrected) but they buy frozen food which uses TGIF as their benchmark. Not exactly Citronelle.

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                      1. re: jfood
                        DallasDude Oct 18, 2009 10:02 AM

                        mmm sous-vide stuffed potato skins. A morose use of the method.

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                        1. re: DallasDude
                          SnackHappy Oct 18, 2009 01:45 PM

                          Sous-vide just means vacuum sealed. Those Green Giant and Stouffers boil-in-the-bag meals and pouches you can or could get from the freezer section of a supermarket are just as sous-vide as anything you can get at your fancypants New-York restaurants. Sous-vide is just a method of packaging and preparation. Whether it's used for cooking foie gras in a five-star restaurant or boiling up fettuccine alfredo at TGI McFunster's is neither here nor there.

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                  2. h
                    hsk Oct 17, 2009 07:33 PM

                    I've only had it for fish and duck, very nice, tender and moist. I can't imagine sous vide for steak, I understand it's a long low-temp process (whereas my favourite rare steak would be short and high-temp).

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                    1. re: hsk
                      bushwickgirl Oct 17, 2009 07:45 PM

                      I really don't know if sous vide is around for the long haul, as a cooking technique. I first heard about it in the 80's, in Hartford CT and it wasn't very well accepted, certainly not understood. Humans just can't get beyond the blazing flames style of cooking, I think, is it a gene thing?

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                      1. re: hsk
                        h
                        hae young Oct 17, 2009 08:58 PM

                        it seems tomas keller cook his meats in sous vide style. i am going to purchase his cookbook about sous vide style. i cannot afford to buy sous vide equipment though

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                        1. re: hae young
                          Paulustrious Oct 19, 2009 08:45 AM

                          I wonder if you can get away with vacuum sealed bags in a slow cooker with the lid off?

                          I poach in chicken fat but have no real temperature control. I use a meat thermometer, a cast iron casserole and on the lowest setting of my gas cooktop can maintain a reasonable 130 +/- 10 by displacing the lid slightly. Is there a better way?

                          Thirty years ago I had an electric range with a 'meat thermometer' built into it that controlled the temperature on one of the rings. Not seen anything like that since. Never used it except to stop milk boiling over.

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                          1. re: Paulustrious
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                            celeryroot Oct 19, 2009 09:31 AM

                            The equipment used controls temperatures within 1/10th of a degree. There are guidelines on what temperature to use for various products. You need to becareful of botulism.

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                            1. re: Paulustrious
                              Caroline1 Oct 19, 2009 09:39 AM

                              Slow cookers do not keep the temperature stable enough for true sous vide cooking. A home unit with a recirculating heater that keeps the temperature within a fraction of a degree of the setting is about a grand. Oven, stove top units with temperature sensor and thermostaticcally controlled counter top appliances all have way too much variation in temperature because they switch off and on to maintain a "temperature range" as oppose to an outright continuing temperature.

                              It's been a while since I did much research on the equipment, but prices MAY have come down. I don't know. Google things like "sous vide," "immersion circulators," and any other "key word" type terms you run across in your quest. Keep in mind that true sous vide is always accomplished by sealing the food in a cryovac vacii, pouch and then immersing that in a circulating water bath with low constant temperature. Do not fall for equipment spiels that tell you you can cook food directly in it. Well, with the possible exception of eggs in the shell. There is a ryokan in Japan that is famous for its eggs "cooked" by keeping them overnight in their natural hot spring, and from that sous vied eggs in the shell have become a favorite. Good luck!

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                              1. re: Caroline1
                                DallasDude Oct 19, 2009 01:47 PM

                                One of the things we really haven't touched on in the thread is the lliklihood of poisoning when using the method in less than stellar environment, or equipment. Botulism thrives in a vacuum. I would be careful in using an ad hoc solution.

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                                1. re: DallasDude
                                  Caroline1 Oct 20, 2009 03:20 AM

                                  I thought about mentioning that sous vide can be a form of Russian roulette, but thought, hey! They'll find out soon enough! '-)

                                  You make a valid point, and welcome to the nay-sayers bench.

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                                2. re: Caroline1
                                  Paulustrious Oct 20, 2009 07:58 AM

                                  I am prepared to take that chance. There are only on average 24 cases per year of foodborne botulism in the USA. According to what I have been reading most occurrences are in home-canning where the contaminant has had months, or even years, to reproduce. Next is from long-preserved processed meats - salamis etc.. (The previous statement is semi-informed opinion). I age meat for up to 28 days in my fridge - so do many others. Botulism is a relatively slow reproducing bacterium even under ideal conditions. Granted sous vide is an aerobic environment - but so is any submerged confit. So what evidence is there that one has a reasonable chance (say 1 in 100 million) of 'catching' botulism from after a twelve hour stint in a plastic bag at 120F. The French routinely poach meat in fat at low temperature - as do I. What difference does it make if it is sous-vide?

                                  I am not trying to minimise your worry - but just get a reasonable handle on the odds. As far as I can see you are a 1000 times more likely to contract MRSA or die from it.

                                  Oh yes - chucking a bit of vinegar in the bag will decrease the odds even further.

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                          2. Full tummy Oct 17, 2009 09:22 PM

                            According to this website, steak can be cooked sous vide and then finished with a blow torch, resulting in a medium-rare steak!!! I live in Toronto and don't know of any restaurants preparing steak this way, though it is possible there are. I do, however, know of many restaurants preparing steak the old-fashioned way on a grill.

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

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                            1. Caroline1 Oct 18, 2009 05:48 AM

                              Why would a restaurant turn to methods that are cumbersome, take much longer than the traditional method, and that produces something the customer is unlikely to be familiar with and may therefore reject it because "this isn't what I ordered?" Thomas Keller does not run "standard" high end (or any other end) restaurants. The vast majority of diners are not all that flexible with what they are served. If they order mac and cheese, not everyone will be happy with Camembert over orzo. Restaurants, by nature, must pursue quality, consistency and expediency. Sous vide is a no-show on most of that list.

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                              1. re: Caroline1
                                c
                                celeryroot Oct 18, 2009 01:33 PM

                                " Sous vide is a no-show on most of that list"
                                It is very much the opposite and that is why your best trained chefs utilize.

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                              2. k
                                ktb615 Oct 18, 2009 06:45 AM

                                Maybe I'm reading the replies wrong, but I get the feeling that sous-vide is not fully understood here.

                                At the restaurant I used to work at, we had a chef that was very into sous-vide. We would sous-vide our steaks to rare, and then they would go in the ice bath to cool quickly. During service, we would take them out of their cryovac bag and put them on the grill. We would char all sides which would give you a perfect rare steak, if you wanted it brought up anymore, you would put it in the oven to finish. They were beautiful and delicious steaks, perfect temperature from outside to in.

                                I have also seen sous-vide done by people who don't know what they are doing, and it come it very badly, but done right it can be eye-opening.

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                                1. re: ktb615
                                  jfood Oct 18, 2009 06:50 AM

                                  Nope, we understand but just disagree with the conclusion.

                                  Sous vide, as far as jfood is concerned, is used at very few restaurants while >90% of restaurants cook their steaks 100% on a grill, under a broiler or in a pan.

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                                  1. re: jfood
                                    Full tummy Oct 18, 2009 08:27 AM

                                    Actually, it seems clear that some people don't understand (you may not be one of them), and think that sous vide will yield some sort of strange result unfamiliar to diners. What ktb615 is saying is that this is not the case. He didn't address how common it is.

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                                    1. re: Full tummy
                                      jfood Oct 18, 2009 09:05 AM

                                      Au contraire. Jfood thinks almost everyone on this thread knows waht it is. And it may result in a weird experience.

                                      Let's assume you sous vide the steak to 145 and the, as suggested it is place in the fridge until service. Upon throwing on the flat top to achieve the char, the outside is not hot and charry and the side may be a cold pink. since the heat from the pan / flatop has not risen the internal temp.

                                      It's all in the procdure and the order.

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                                      1. re: jfood
                                        Full tummy Oct 18, 2009 11:07 AM

                                        Is that your experience? Because, though I am not aware that I have eaten a sous vide-prepared steak, that is not the result that I have been reading about. Poor results can be achieved with most any cooking technique, even tried-and-true methods, if you don't know what you're doing.

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                                        1. re: jfood
                                          k
                                          ktb615 Oct 18, 2009 06:16 PM

                                          I understand where you are coming from jfood, but the results you are offering as a weird experience are due to the cook not understanding the sous-vide technique.

                                          When sous-vide steaks are done correctly, they will not result in a weird experience. The trouble lies in that many cooks/chefs don't understand sous-vide (i worked for one at a different time) and think that all you are doing is the equivalent of boil-in-a-bag a la Olive Garden.

                                          Like everything else in the kitchen, technique is everything with sous-vide, and if you don't do it right, you will most certainly have a "weird experience".

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                                          1. re: ktb615
                                            jfood Oct 18, 2009 06:25 PM

                                            If you are stating that the steaks are all hanging out in the hot tub so when the chef reaches in and grabs a bag and then sears to get the crust jfood is with you and understands.

                                            But, in the example above, which was a continuation of an earlier post. How does the chef go from a 50degree steak from the fridge to sear it such that the inside is warm?

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                                            1. re: jfood
                                              k
                                              ktb615 Oct 18, 2009 07:02 PM

                                              You finish it in the oven. At least that was my experience working on a line in a less than ideal situation due to various factors. In an ideal situation, the steak would go back to the water bath to come back to temperature, then be removed from the bag and seared and plated.

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                                              1. re: ktb615
                                                jfood Oct 18, 2009 07:07 PM

                                                Thanks ktb. The oven method seems to defeat the purpose. The double dip for the steak and then sear seems like a good idea. Mayby jfood will have to give this atry one night.

                                                Thx again.

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                                                1. re: jfood
                                                  Full tummy Oct 18, 2009 07:53 PM

                                                  Let us know how it goes!!! I know of at least one well-known chef in Toronto who is doing dishes sous vide (I'm sure there are more, but I don't know much about the cooking techniques used in restaurant kitchens, just whether the food is good!!!), but I don't know if he does steak. Will have to look into it.

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                                                  1. re: jfood
                                                    k
                                                    ktb615 Oct 19, 2009 09:59 AM

                                                    You're welcome, the oven is definitely a compromise we had to make because of the setup of our line.

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                                          2. re: Full tummy
                                            Caroline1 Oct 18, 2009 11:41 AM

                                            I'm amused by your (and hae young's) attitude that, hey! you mean your local restaurant doesn't sous vide everything? Sous vide is not an inexpensive method to add to any kitchen's culinary venue. My viewpoint is not from not understanding sous vide but comes from the pragmatic viewpoint of overall cost and operation.

                                            First off, you have to set up a station for the immersion cooker, which runs a couple of thousand bucks in and of itself. Then the cost of setting up the station, which can vary widely depending on the current set up of the restaurant. Electrical outlets. Venting. Possibly drains in the floor. A nearby water supply and sink. It can add up.

                                            Then you need added refrigeration space for the sous vide steaks waiting to be charred and served. How many different types of steaks does your restaurant serve? You may need trays for filets mignon, strip steaks, porterhouse steaks, and what ever other kinds of steak you have on your menu, not to mention whatever other types of dishes you sous vide.

                                            Then there is the added expense of someone to prep/cryovac and pass the products through the sous vide process, cool them properly, sort them properly and get them to the cooler. Cryovac packaging again requires special equipment that is not normally part of a standard steak house kitchen, so there is that expense, plus the expense of the cryovac packaging. It may not be prohibitively expensive, but it's not free.

                                            And now you're back at the starting point of your original cooking method: char the steak to the customer's liking and serve. So what has all of this equipment, plumbing, refrigeration, prepping, work station additions and modifications and staff increase done to the original cost to the customer of a $20.00 steak? I don't think it's done much in the way of price control.

                                            There are restaurants out there -- often chains -- that use sous vide as the primary "cooking" method of their standardized menu for food heated and served in-house. Meaning little to no in-house cooking. A form of quality control and you don't have to pay a top chef for every restaurant outlet. Go to one of these places and ask them to hold the red pepper in the mussel stew or leave out the garbanzos because of an allergy and you're in a world of hurt. They can take out the garbanzos, they can fish out the chili flakes, but they cannot remove the impact those ingredients have already had on the dish.

                                            Sous vide is not the microwave of tomorrow. Sorry, but that's plain and simple pragmatic fact.

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                                            1. re: Caroline1
                                              Full tummy Oct 18, 2009 11:47 AM

                                              All I can say is, wow, Caroline1. Really, that's what I said? Please don't put words into my mouth. Can you provide quotes? I was simply saying that it seems that sous vide can turn out a half-decent steak. That's it. End of story. Nothing about economics, or who should do what, where, when.

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                                              1. re: Full tummy
                                                Caroline1 Oct 18, 2009 11:57 AM

                                                You said, "Actually, it seems clear that some people don't understand (you may not be one of them), and think that sous vide will yield some sort of strange result unfamiliar to diners." That statement forced me to the conclusion that you don't understand the economics of adding sous vide to a restaurant's prep techniques. It's not just slinging another condiment on the table. Think about it. The economics of turning out a "half decent steak" is the heart of the restaurant business I stand by all that I wrote.

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                                                1. re: Caroline1
                                                  Full tummy Oct 18, 2009 12:11 PM

                                                  Oh my!!! I was simply responding to those people who are of the opinion that a sous vide steak will be some sort of meat-Frankenstein. Maybe you could just accept that and move on. Please leave me out of your economics soapbox.

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                                                  1. re: Full tummy
                                                    q
                                                    queencru Oct 18, 2009 02:13 PM

                                                    To be fair, Caroline was also responding to the OP, who was asking why more restaurants don't use sous vide. I think economics is a valid response to this thread as a whole. Most restaurants don't use sous vide because it's not really practical financially outside of higher end restaurants.

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                                                    1. re: queencru
                                                      Full tummy Oct 18, 2009 06:26 PM

                                                      To be fair, she started with the line:

                                                      "I'm amused by your (and hae young's) attitude that, hey! you mean your local restaurant doesn't sous vide everything?"

                                                      If she wishes to respond to the OP, then fine, but the response was directed at me, with reference to the OP. And, it was further defended when I tried to clarify my position. If she had realized at that point that she had misinterpreted my position, it would have been helpful for her to say so and leave me be. This, she did not do. But, thanks for your help.

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                                              2. re: Caroline1
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                                                celeryroot Oct 18, 2009 01:11 PM

                                                In addition, some health boards require written approved guidelines before you can practice in your restaurant. The chain use is not primarily how high end are using. Many are going directly from circulator to quick water bath to grill , blow torch, hot pan etc.
                                                The texture and taste of sous vide salmon is wonderful.

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                                          3. re: ktb615
                                            bushwickgirl Oct 18, 2009 11:56 AM

                                            Would you venture to say that a steak prepared this way is better than one just sauteed or grilled? If so, how is it better, more tender, flavor more concentrated or heightened? What cut of steak were you using?

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                                            1. re: bushwickgirl
                                              DallasDude Oct 18, 2009 01:02 PM

                                              From my readings, bushwickgirl, the steak could come out better and more consistent. You can turn a very poor piece of meat out that is more tender and certainly more flavorful than a very expensive cut.

                                              The attached photo is a buffalo steak cooked sous-vide with a seared finish.

                                               
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                                              1. re: DallasDude
                                                jfood Oct 18, 2009 01:50 PM

                                                The photo looks like an outstanding steak, thanks for the photo.

                                                But jfood would challenge the notion that "You can turn a very poor piece of meat out that is more tender and certainly more flavorful than a very expensive cut". So jfood can buy a piece of chuck, cryovac, sous vide and sear and presto he has a kobe quality steak? Does not make a lot of sense to jfood.

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                                                1. re: jfood
                                                  bushwickgirl Oct 18, 2009 02:26 PM

                                                  That's a very handsome Buffalo steak photo.
                                                  Ha ha, I think not. If you want Kobe, you have to buy Kobe.
                                                  Don't get me wrong, sous vide has applications that produce wonderful results for a variety of food products. The science of very low temp cooking is solid. I sous vide scrambled eggs in my home kitchen sometimes, with great results. It results in a incredibly tender egg.
                                                  As I wrote in my earlier post, however, I prefer my dry aged, certified all natural 24 oz. porterhouse straight up grilled. I'll have to put a call into Peter Luger's to see if they've picked up on this trend...sure hope not.

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                                                  1. re: bushwickgirl
                                                    DallasDude Oct 18, 2009 02:34 PM

                                                    Oh certainly. i am not a shill for sous vide or anything for that matter. Rattled off some stats from various pieces of literature I have. Now as far as a sous vide scrambled egg goes, i am here to testify I have yet to have a tough egg, outside a bad hotel breakfast bar. And as far as steaks goes, I prefer the old fashioned grill as well. however isn't there health benefits by not eating this heavy char... purely devils advocate. Not that this thread needs any of that! lol

                                                    @ jfood: who is jfood and why do you have them held hostage and speaking for that person? And as far as the Kobe question, yes. Every piece of literature I have read said you can take a cheap roast and transform it into a wonderful roast beast. Look at the lowly brisket. Any Texas (which I am one) can say with proper cooking methods this horrid slab of beef is given a second life.

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                                                    1. re: DallasDude
                                                      jfood Oct 18, 2009 02:46 PM

                                                      Oh boy you better hope some of your neighbors do not read that you are comparing their Q-pit to the SV-hot tub, major problem in the 'hood. Jfood can understand that if one places the less tender cut in a heat environment for many hours it would do the same process as a long braise or a smoker. Jfood, right or wrong, always assumed that a sous vide method for a steak in the restaurant would bring the meat to a constant temperature, i.e. 135 for a steak, and then remove to the fridge until service. Jfood never considered a 200-degree bath for hours to simulate a braise method. Jfood will have to give that some thought. Thanks Double-D.

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                                                      1. re: jfood
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                                                        celeryroot Oct 18, 2009 03:09 PM

                                                        Jfood it is in a vacuum. It is not always removed to fridge .....it is many times fired directly to grill , or blow torch etc. Some chefs prefer to brown on front end. I did a blind tasting with someone and I preferred back end browning. It allows for a constant texture and color thru out....it will look almost raw even after 24 hours.
                                                        You are assuming all chefs use the technique so they can dump in fridge and remove upon order. This is not the case..... it provides an amazing texture and intensified true taste to the product , Anyone who eats at high end restaurants has had food sous vided.......you would not know the difference except you would rave about the tender wonderful tasting food.

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                                                      2. re: DallasDude
                                                        bushwickgirl Oct 18, 2009 03:16 PM

                                                        They were NY eggs, chuckle.
                                                        Don't you smoke your brisket, way down there in Texas? That's a very low and slow way to cook, IMO.

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                                                        1. re: bushwickgirl
                                                          c
                                                          celeryroot Oct 18, 2009 03:35 PM

                                                          Try putting eggs in shell in water at about 145 for 35 min. then crack and eat........

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                                                          1. re: bushwickgirl
                                                            DallasDude Oct 18, 2009 04:51 PM

                                                            Yea, we slow smoke brisket. It was merely an example of any slow cooking method, which I know isn't the only thing going on with sous vide. I want some bbq now.

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                                                        2. re: bushwickgirl
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                                                          celeryroot Oct 18, 2009 03:10 PM

                                                          Bushwickedgirl- So you have an immersion circulator and a professional vacuum sealer??
                                                          What kind?

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                                                          1. re: celeryroot
                                                            bushwickgirl Oct 18, 2009 04:02 PM

                                                            Vacuum sealer but not immersion circulator, just water bath with good thermometer, flame tamer, watchful eyes and patience. This is a home made job.
                                                            BTW, I'm wick, not wicked, although some people have a different opinion.

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                                                2. Sam Fujisaka Oct 18, 2009 04:13 PM

                                                  I enjoy a good steak a couple of times a year. But what's the big deal? A steak is still just a slab of cooked meat. A good piece of meat plus a steel skillet and my wok flame here at home or on a wood fired grill (as per my local Argentine-run place) and good to go. IMNSHO, anything else is just BS.

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                                                  1. pikawicca Oct 18, 2009 06:30 PM

                                                    I'd guess that 99.9% of restaurants in the States have never contemplated sous viding anything. It's gimmicky, expensive, and not particularly diner-friendly. It's possible to produce a sublime steak without all of the over-involved frou-frou.

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                                                    1. re: pikawicca
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                                                      soupkitten Oct 18, 2009 08:45 PM

                                                      i guess i'll just agree w this post. most restaurants don't use this technique, or they use a jury-rigged setup to do limited sous vide for one or 2 items occasionally, like an egg or fish. if you handed chefs or restaurateurs $2k and said spend on your choice of a) double-door reach-in cooler b) deep fryer c) sous vide machine, about 85% would spend their cash and premium kitchen floor space on the refrigeration, 13% would do the deep fry (higher % monetary return for investment here than sous vide, actually). . . & you'd be lucky to get 2% to spring for a sous vide (actually think that Pikawicca is closer with her .1%). if you restricted the sample to very high end restaurateurs you might get 4-8% to take the sous vide-- but they'd sing a different tune if they had to spend their own money. this technique is a valid addition to pans, burners, ovens & grills, but is an inadequate replacement for any of these methods.

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                                                      1. re: soupkitten
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                                                        celeryroot Oct 19, 2009 05:11 AM

                                                        "jury rigged" very dangerous....most health departments would shut them down. You must maintain temperature within a very small tolerance ,a fraction of a degree. 2K will barely buy a commercial sealer.
                                                        As far as not being diner friendly why? The diner would not even know.
                                                        As stated before many high end restaurants utilize these techniques especially in Europe.

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                                                        1. re: celeryroot
                                                          s
                                                          soupkitten Oct 20, 2009 08:27 PM

                                                          if you're stating that most high end restaurants in the u.s. use sous vide then i definitely disagree-- most do not.

                                                          "2K will barely buy a commercial sealer."-- you are correct. many people have already pointed out that sous vide adds another layer of expense, staff time, kitchen square footage which would deincentivize its use in american kitchens. paying the equivalent cost of a small walk-in cooler for a sous vide station isn't necessarily smart.

                                                          not being diner friendly because the diner would not even know? weird. i kind of tell my customers how items are cooked on the menu and i think there is probably something wrong with a scenario where i was using a cooking method i would want to keep secret from them.

                                                          customer friendly = something that makes a customer desire the object more. so "woodfire grilled steak" would be something many customers would desire-- the description of the cooking method makes a desirable item more desirable: ergo, woodfire grill= customer friendly.

                                                          compare to "sous vide steak" where you may actually turn many people off. . . or "steak" because you're keeping cooking method secret (& if i was the customer i would be like, wtf). sous vide =/= customer friendly. my customers would not want this method because it obviously equals wasteful practices.

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                                                          1. re: soupkitten
                                                            DallasDude Oct 21, 2009 12:09 AM

                                                            Well, not sure if they are buying these little coolers at an auction or what, but the costs of a walk in can start at 5k up to 20k. 2k for sous-vide is a cake walk. and take about the same room as a stand up industrial mixer. This thread is giving me a head ache, lol.

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                                                            1. re: DallasDude
                                                              Full tummy Oct 21, 2009 06:46 AM

                                                              Here's a report by someone using their Combi oven for sous vide.

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                                                              1. re: Full tummy
                                                                haggisdragon Oct 21, 2009 07:37 AM

                                                                There's no link Full tummy.

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                                                                1. re: haggisdragon
                                                                  Full tummy Oct 21, 2009 08:48 AM

                                                                  Oh, sorry!!! Not the first time I did that.

                                                                  http://chefz.net/blog/2009/03/23/flan...

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                                                                2. re: Full tummy
                                                                  h
                                                                  hsk Oct 21, 2009 08:37 AM

                                                                  Thanks for that, FullTummy. I googled it and got this:
                                                                  http://www.datak9.com/als/0208/landin...

                                                                  "The Alto-Shaam Cook and Hold handles sous vide cooking like a pro, without the bother of a water bath. A circulating water bath is usually required to maintain the strict temperature tolerances for extended periods of time, as well as to provide soft, even heat. With the Alto-Shaam Cook and Hold, the Halo Heat technology provides heat that is soft and even enough to cook for 12 hours or more without developing hotspots. And the tight temperature holding capacity in the sealed environment renders water circulation baths obsolete for this type of cooking."

                                                                  I think that changes things, most restaurants that serve meat have a combi-oven or a cook and hold, so the additional investment would be a cryovac machine which runs $1.5K for a basic model.

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                                                      2. Sam Fujisaka Oct 20, 2009 04:44 AM

                                                        I still haven't seen anyone stepping forward and saying, "Ohh, sous vide steaks are so much better!!". Still seems like a lot of hype to replace the age old applying fire to a slab of meat.

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                                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                          Caroline1 Oct 20, 2009 06:25 AM

                                                          Personally, I like the ribbon of red that runs through the center a perfectly prepared steak. You cannot get that with sous vide. You eat first with your eyes!

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                                                          1. re: Caroline1
                                                            h
                                                            hae young Oct 20, 2009 06:31 AM

                                                            what do you think of cookbook : under pressure by thomas keller?

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                                                            1. re: hae young
                                                              Caroline1 Oct 20, 2009 06:55 AM

                                                              First thought: The book is pretty expensive.

                                                              Second thought: It's misnamed. There is no pressure cooker involved!

                                                              But seriously... Thomas Keller's cooking is legendary. But "legendary" does not necessarily mean it should be emulated. First off, in ALL of his restaurants, the man has equipment August Escoffier would die for! And he plays. All geniuses play. I've known many, and not one of them "worked" in the sense that the rest of the world works. Doesn't matter whether they're physicists or painters or cooks, they play! I don't see much future in the common man trying to emulate genius. Well, I mean it's one thing to do a painting in the style of a great artists; no one has to eat that, and if they don't like it they can look away. But call me cynical, I don't think I or anyone I know can duplicate or even closely approximate the results gained in Tomas Keller's kitchens. And in some cases, such as do-it-yourself sous vide, it can be a very dangerous experiment. Botulism has already been mentioned.

                                                              So, it's an interesting book to read, but I don't think it's all that useful as a cook book for most of the world. Not to mention that sous vide cooking is expensive. The equipment is expensive. And I remain unconvinced that cooking in plastic, ANY kind of plastic, is all that safe. Spend your money on lunch at the French Laundry! '-)

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                                                              1. re: Caroline1
                                                                h
                                                                hae young Oct 20, 2009 07:12 AM

                                                                if the botulism is really issue, i think FDA must warn its buyer of the book and reader. i wonder if thomas keller wrote sth about this botulism issue in his book
                                                                and with what intention did he publish this book. could it be for public-attention seeking event?

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                                                                1. re: hae young
                                                                  Caroline1 Oct 20, 2009 08:12 AM

                                                                  I doubt very much there is a danger of botulism from the French Laundry, but it's not an absolute impossibility. But the risk factors of using the sous vide technique at home are a lot higher than it is of contracting the poison from anything you might eat from a Thomas Keller kitchen!

                                                                  Sous vide "cooks" food at a temperature that is lower than the boiling point (212F at sea level). Most tiny critters (germs, virii, bugs, bacteria) are killed off by being heated to boiling or above and held at that temperature for X amount of time, depending on the critter. Now, if you're using the sous vide method and you can be absolutely beyond-a-doubt sure that you have NO bugs in the cryovac bag, you're good to go. But in a home environment, is it worth the risk? And if you have a family or roommates, do you want to expose them to the risks too?

                                                                  So, why did Thomas Keller write the book? To share. People are interested in new ways of doing things. Hey, I really enjoy reading about CERN's hadron collider, but reading about it doesn't mean I have to build one in my back yard. For me, hadron colliders, home made sous vide, and home made sushi or sashimi using raw fish (I live in the Dallas area) all fall in the same category. Fun to read about but "Don't try this at home."

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                                                                  1. re: Caroline1
                                                                    haggisdragon Oct 20, 2009 09:59 AM

                                                                    I'm glad you won't be building any hadron colliders C1, we'd all be sucked into a worm hole.

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                                                                    1. re: haggisdragon
                                                                      Caroline1 Oct 20, 2009 10:03 AM

                                                                      On the other hand, we might all end up where food is even better than on planet earth and you have to eat and eat and eat to stay thin! You just never know what lurks at the other end of a worm hole! '-)

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                                                                  2. re: hae young
                                                                    k
                                                                    ktb615 Oct 20, 2009 10:52 AM

                                                                    For the record, Keller does cover the botulism issue in "Under Pressure". He also addresses Salmonella and E. Coli.

                                                                    As for what intention he published the book, he stated that it was meant as a manual for professional chefs.

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                                                                    1. re: ktb615
                                                                      c
                                                                      celeryroot Oct 20, 2009 12:10 PM

                                                                      The best book on subject is Joan Roca book on sous vide. It is considered the definitive book on the subject. It has been translated and has been available for a few years. It is very detailed and I would not recommend it for the home hobbiest. It is excellent and detailed.
                                                                      Sous vide is not a gimmick , it has been used since the early 70's in industry and the last 10 plus years in restaurants where chefs are applying some of the techniques and science on a smaller scale.

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                                                              2. re: Caroline1
                                                                c
                                                                celeryroot Oct 20, 2009 06:51 AM

                                                                Yes sous vide gives items a identical look through out. That is why one puts on grill , very hot oven , blow torch to sear at high temp before serving.This is done in order to cause a Maillard reaction which enhances the flavor and adds to visual. The texture of meat will be very tender and in some cases sort of silky and the vacumn allows for very little flavor loss or weight loss due to moisture loss. And yes I do find the flavor more intense when sous vide and very hot searing is done before serving.

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                                                                1. re: celeryroot
                                                                  bushwickgirl Oct 20, 2009 10:35 AM

                                                                  I'm all for more intense flavor in anything but I really like some heft and chew with my steak, some inherent beefiness; I don't think silky is a texture that really works with steaks, more the case with organ meats and certain desserts. I'm not really getting how sous vide causes flavor to "become" more intense, either, in a purely scientific manner.
                                                                  To each his (or her) own, I guess. For me, it's lit up the grill.

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                                                                  1. re: bushwickgirl
                                                                    c
                                                                    celeryroot Oct 20, 2009 12:00 PM

                                                                    Silky used for lack of better word....... Ypu arent losing moisture and the flavor stays , fat stays there which is where alot of flavor comes from

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                                                                    1. re: celeryroot
                                                                      bushwickgirl Oct 20, 2009 12:36 PM

                                                                      Which would be great for leaner meats like bison. You know, I can't say any more about this without actually experiencing it, so in all fairness, I'm going to be quiet now.
                                                                      Enlightening thread.

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                                                              3. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                                haggisdragon Oct 20, 2009 11:13 AM

                                                                I think Mr. Fujisaka is correct in pointing out that there is some gimmickry at work here. However, soux vide cooking is also a toy for geniuses like Keller to play with, as C1 points out. When geniuses play, they make neat things that impress us regular folk.

                                                                At a restaurant in Toronto, I've tried a ribeye steak cooked sous vide, with butter and finished on the grill. It was a damn good cut of meat to begin with and it was a fantastic steak, cooked a perfectly even medium rare. But it wasn't revelatory. I've had better steaks cooked the conventional way.

                                                                You're not going to see all the steak houses equipping their lines with immersion circulators, not even the very high end places. Its the restaurants with tasting menus, who perhaps dabble in or full out embrace 'molecular gastronomy', who use this tool.

                                                                For the record: Me like fire!

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                                                              4. MandalayVA Oct 20, 2009 11:13 AM

                                                                Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades (authors of the "Protein Power" low-carb plans) are coming out with a home sous vide machine. The website is www.sousvidesupreme.com. Per the site it'll run about $500. However, on one of the blogs I read the writer had a good experience doing sous vide steaks using a rice cooker as the device. I've heard sous vide is good for grassfed meats which tend to be less tender.

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                                                                1. re: MandalayVA
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                                                                  celeryroot Oct 20, 2009 12:03 PM

                                                                  Polysci has a homeone for about 1200.....it is very small but nice and accurate. They make some of the best commercial stuff. Keller works with there stuff.

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                                                                  1. re: MandalayVA
                                                                    Miss Needle Oct 20, 2009 12:09 PM

                                                                    "I've heard sous vide is good for grassfed meats which tend to be less tender."

                                                                    Yes, I've had the most delicious grass-fed eye round prepared sous vide style. It was wonderful, and I'm sure it would have been difficult to achieve that type of succulence using conventional methods.

                                                                    Sous-vide steak? Well, I'm always up for trying something new, but I think I would prefer my steak cooked over a charcoal grill. But I would gladly try a sous-vide steak that's finished off on a grill. Who knows? It may taste better.

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                                                                  2. r
                                                                    Rick Oct 21, 2009 02:38 PM

                                                                    What an odd post topic. Thomas Keller uses the sous vide method for his steaks so every other restaurant in the counry should follow suit?

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                                                                    1. re: Rick
                                                                      Full tummy Oct 21, 2009 08:12 PM

                                                                      How, may I ask, do you read that from the words written in the OP's post? I don't know that the OP is making a value judgement in his/her use of the word "still", as it seems by what he/she says in his/her actual post that he/she is trying to gather information about how widely-used sous-vide is...

                                                                      He/she even expresses skepticism by asking "are there some trade-offs"...

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                                                                      1. re: Full tummy
                                                                        r
                                                                        Rick Oct 22, 2009 09:23 AM

                                                                        "but do they still do that way?
                                                                        i widely guess that they may not pan roast their steaks anymore as what they did in the past."

                                                                        Not sure how you don't read it the way I do? . . .

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                                                                    2. The Chowhound Team Oct 22, 2009 04:12 PM

                                                                      We've had to remove a number of angry responses from this thread, and the discussion as a whole is increasingly unfriendly. We're going to lock this topic now.

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