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Does anyone really LOVE sous vide?

Big Eater Feb 25, 2011 04:21 PM

In talking with my food-loving friends, we've all concluded that food cooked sous vide is uniformly ghastly, especially proteins. They all seem to take on an odd, pre-digested texture and sometimes have an off-putting reduced aroma (as in the chemical reaction, not the technique). Other times the flavor is just gone all together.
I know it saves restaurants money and tenderizes tough meat, but how many of us can stand up and say they love food cooked this way?

  1. Quine Feb 25, 2011 04:33 PM

    Thank goodness, no place I go does this. And from what I am able to gleam from various food shows, I really do say I so agree, it looks were than nasty.

    But on Chow video after a good while of trying to ignore it, I finally watched. Something about hacking your slow cooker so you can SV.
    I would love to have that egg on my plate now, yes now.

    So I am very sure that since it is so Uber trendy, SV, especially bad SV", will rise on menus. Home cooks will make SV parties! Nasty bas stuff in the forecast.

    But I do not think it is the technique that is faulty but rather the person using it.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Quine
      Big Eater Feb 25, 2011 04:39 PM

      Good point. Maybe I'm not giving it a fair chance.

      1. re: Big Eater
        Quine Feb 25, 2011 04:46 PM

        Here's the vid link, see what you think.


    2. pdxgastro Feb 25, 2011 05:07 PM

      THANK YOU for saying this!!
      I mean, the meat looks BOILED. Where's the char?

      1. c
        cacio e pepe Feb 25, 2011 05:11 PM

        I do.

        1. r
          runwestierun Feb 25, 2011 05:38 PM

          I LOVE it! I cook this way at least twice a week. You have to sear the meat after you sous vide it.

          I use a Sous Vide Supreme because I wanted to have more control over temperature than my crockpot with a cocked lid afforded me. I usually use a propane torch to sear the meat (be sure the flame is all blue and clear) but sometimes I pan sear it. I'll even toss it on the grill for literally a minute.

          For me, this cooking method is infallible and it also takes so little hands-on time. I really love it.

          1. cowboyardee Feb 25, 2011 09:32 PM

            Sounds like you've only have sous vide done badly.

            I cook sous vide on a regular basis. There is no reason sous vide cooking necessarily has to have any of the negative effects you describe.

            I will say that I don't generally enjoy the 30-72 hour long sous vide "braises" because they are generally too mushy for me. I cook less braising cuts for less time, and the texture is typically more meaty and cohesive, similar to a good steak.

            2 Replies
            1. re: cowboyardee
              runwestierun Feb 25, 2011 10:18 PM

              See, I love the 48 hour 135F short ribs. It's in my top 3 things to sous vide.

              1. re: runwestierun
                cowboyardee Feb 26, 2011 04:20 AM

                Personal preference. I'm not saying they're objectively bad - just not to my tastes.

            2. Funwithfood Feb 25, 2011 10:22 PM

              Yuck city. I returned my salmon dish at a very nice restaurant--it was tender but disgusting in both texture and flavor. Classic case of the Emperor's New Clothes IMO: A Fad that will fade.

              10 Replies
              1. re: Funwithfood
                cowboyardee Feb 26, 2011 04:36 AM

                Very very much doubt it. Too useful. Allows a single cook prepare far more portions at service at a restaurant. And on top of sous-vide specific effects, sous vide can be used to VERY closely mimic the effects of other cooking methods, just with greater margin for error and more front-loading of prep work in exchange for easy and fast finishing. We may see some other or modified form of precise low temp cooking, but the people who swear by the technique have perfectly good reasons for doing so - emp's new clothes, it is certainly not.

                Low temp salmon is far from the extent of sous vide's usefulness. Plenty of people don't like low temp sous vide salmon - it's one of those preparations that you either love or hate. Plenty of people also dislike sauteed liver. Doesn't mean sauteing is a poor technique.

                1. re: cowboyardee
                  Funwithfood Feb 28, 2011 04:43 PM

                  I love good food, and if it tasted good I'd be all for it. After that experience though I'm hesitant to give it another try. Maybe I'd risk it with a small appetizer plate!

                  1. re: Funwithfood
                    cacio e pepe Feb 28, 2011 09:30 PM

                    I just want to be clear. You had a sous vide prepared dish once and you're dismissing the technique?

                    Respectfully, I think your reaction is a bit knee-jerk. I love the technique in general and I personally don't like salmon sous vide. It's a matter of taste, but it just doesn't work for me. I also wouldn't braise a burger, but braising shortribs is an excellent choice.

                    There are truly revelatory dishes that exist only because of sous vide cooking.

                    1. re: Funwithfood
                      cowboyardee Mar 1, 2011 05:19 AM

                      That's like trying Peking Duck once, not liking it, and going around sayin "Chinese food is BS - a case of emperor's new clothes." You haven't even bothered to survey the tip of the icberg, but you feel comfortable saying everyone else must be wrong and just going along with the crowd.

                      We don't even know if it was just that one place's preparation that you disliked or salmon sous vide in general. The technique as a whole shouldn't enter into the conversation.

                      1. re: cowboyardee
                        Funwithfood Mar 1, 2011 10:00 PM

                        Not really a proper analogy. Just "sayin".

                        1. re: Funwithfood
                          cowboyardee Mar 2, 2011 06:08 AM

                          Someday you'll have to school me on what makes for a proper analo'y. Seemed apt to me.

                          1. re: cowboyardee
                            Funwithfood Mar 2, 2011 06:43 AM

                            Someone pan fries a burger, doesn't like it and says "I hate American food" (parallel to your analogy). But a person may just not like pan-fried burgers.

                            Sous vide is just a method of cooking: I love salmon. I don't love sous vide salmon.

                            1. re: Funwithfood
                              cowboyardee Mar 2, 2011 07:09 AM

                              My point was that having a pan fried burger once is not enough to definitively say you don't like the technique (if you weren't already familiar with pan frying). Even when only applied to burgers. And whereas the person saying they dislike pan-fried burgers is likely at least to have a good concept of what pan frying can do, you seem to have little concept of or familiarity with the technique of sous vide. I don't doubt that you disliked that salmon dish. But you're underestimating how versatile the technique is.

                              I could make salmon sous vide in such a way that you would think it had been sauteed or baked or poached in olive oil. Time, temperature, seasonings, and how a dish is finished and presented make all the difference in sous vide cookery.

                              And while it's understandable that you would be wary of the technique after trying a dish that you didn't like, it's much less sympathetic of you to assume that you know enough about it to imply that its practitioners and converts are disingenuous in their love of sous vide cookery.

                              1. re: cowboyardee
                                Pollo Mar 2, 2011 07:25 AM

                                I found that Salmon (or any fish for that matter) don't lend themselves to sous vide preparations.

                                1. re: Pollo
                                  cowboyardee Mar 2, 2011 07:34 AM

                                  Many people disagree with you. I think fish and shellfish are especially well suited to sous vide cooking. They're delicate, easy to over- or under-cook with normal methods, and take well to the fresh and vibrant flavors that sous vide cooking helps to preserve.

                                  But that's beside the point. Why do you feel that way? What have you tried? What types of fish, and how were they prepared? What was the problem with them?

                                  Salmon sous vide is far more likely than other fish to be cooked to a very low temp - people mess around with 'cooking' it as low as, like, 106 F. Most other fish are typically cooked a good bit hotter, and show off a different effect - greater precision in cooking, rather than a whole new texture like low-temp salmon.

                2. h
                  Harters Feb 26, 2011 02:13 AM

                  Where I am, it's becoming difficult to avoid sous-vide, even in mid-range places. Of course, there are dishes which work cooked in this fashion by an expert - but they are few and far between. The whole concept just reminds me of the old "boil in the bag" crap of restaurant yesteryear.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Harters
                    KailuaGirl Feb 26, 2011 01:08 PM

                    Harters, thank you for saying that! I keep thinking about the "boil in bag" preps, and contraptions, of yesteryear - they weren't good then so I haven't tried them again now.

                    1. re: KailuaGirl
                      cacio e pepe Feb 26, 2011 03:57 PM

                      Except the two techniques aren't the same at all.

                  2. w
                    wattacetti Feb 26, 2011 08:49 AM

                    I'll stand up and say I love sous-vide cooking. I do it myself and I'm looking forward to improving my technique to be able to handle more varied foodstuffs and prep methods.

                    It's similar to any other cooking method: if you know how to do it and employ other techniques to round it off (e.g. rest and sear), it's great. Unfortunately, it's like nouvelle cuisine, barbecue, molecular gastronomy and cupcakes: people see it, people jump on the bandwagon because it's the current cool thing, and people suck at it. Why? because they don't apply the level of attention that's required, cut corners, and/or miss the concept entirely.

                    Cowboyardee is right: sous-vide done right is great, sous-vide done poorly is well, any adjective that you'd like to use for "bad".

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: wattacetti
                      chefathome Feb 26, 2011 09:38 AM

                      I'm so with you! It done well, it is incredible. I do it myself as well and intend to continue to do so and expand my repetoire. Part of the reason I enjoy it is in the process of doing it - I find it exciting and adventurous. Plus it cannot hurt to learn more culinary skills.

                      I hold ingredients in high regard and love to treat them in different ways. It actually makes me appreciate ingredients even more than I did before by learning more about them, various techniques that work/don't work and so on.

                      1. re: wattacetti
                        cowboyardee Feb 26, 2011 01:42 PM

                        "Unfortunately, it's like nouvelle cuisine, barbecue, molecular gastronomy and cupcakes: people see it, people jump on the bandwagon because it's the current cool thing, and people suck at it. Why? because they don't apply the level of attention that's required, cut corners, and/or miss the concept entirely."
                        Bingo. And unlike cupcakes and NC and barbecue, it's still new enough that people can mistake someone using the technique poorly for the technique itself being bad.

                        Because it's perceived as new and exciting, I think many of its recent converts mistake it for being more than it is - a 'win' button, like you can just prepare a piece of meat sous vide and that alone is enough to make it good. No. You still have to make it nice - get some browning done, or a lick-your-plate-clean sauce, or crunch, or complexity in the dish, whatever normally makes good cooking appealing. You still have to be a good cook.

                      2. scarmoza Feb 26, 2011 09:23 AM

                        I can't get past the idea of preparing food in heated plastic.

                        21 Replies
                        1. re: scarmoza
                          Pollo Feb 26, 2011 12:47 PM

                          You beat me to the punch with your comment - agree 100%. There is also that "small" issue of plastic components migrating to food during the hours of expossure at elevated temperatures but I guess for most people that's not an issue....

                          1. re: Pollo
                            pericolosa Feb 27, 2011 04:55 PM

                            I find it helpful to keep in mind that the point of sous vide is to permit cooking at lowered temperatures, not elevated -- significantly lower than "boiling in a bag," especially for proteins -- and the fact that plastic can be be food-safe when heated. Although I am skeptical of the effectiveness of the relevant regulatory regime.

                            Still, I have a much easier time reconciling the idea of my food touching plastic that's being heated to 115-135*F than I do with it being heated to 212.*

                            1. re: pericolosa
                              scarmoza Feb 27, 2011 07:27 PM

                              I don't even like steeping tea in a plastic cup. Heat + plastic + food or drink is just wrong in my opinion - especially plastic food wrap.

                              1. re: pericolosa
                                Pollo Mar 2, 2011 07:43 AM

                                Problem with plastics is (like you mentioned) the "regulatory regime". It is generally assumed that plastics can/are food-safe when heated but that's all based on "migration" studies and how they are conducted (and there is lot's to be said about that). Anyway, you still have very long contact time (i.e. hours) with fat/protein containing foods which act like "solvents" when interacting with plastics....

                                1. re: Pollo
                                  Pincus Mar 4, 2011 10:10 AM

                                  The same reason why I never microwave food inside Tupperware. Sure, it's "safe", but is it safe?

                                  1. re: Pincus
                                    cacio e pepe Mar 4, 2011 12:41 PM


                                    1. re: cacio e pepe
                                      cowboyardee Mar 4, 2011 12:51 PM

                                      LOL! Great clip. Really captures how Kafkaesque some of these food safety discussions can become.

                                      Anyone who wants to err on the side of caution (I might say extreme caution in this case) is welcome to. It's cool. Really. And I know absence of evidence is not evidence of absence (of health risks in this case).

                                      But it IS still absence of evidence. If anyone ever comes up with some actual evidence that cooking in no-BPA plastic at sub-simmering temperatures poses actual risks, I'd love to hear about it. Until then, objections have already been noted.

                                      1. re: cowboyardee
                                        scarmoza Mar 4, 2011 02:29 PM

                                        Are you sure the plastic wrap used in chow's clip of Ryan Farr teaching fake sous-vide is safe and free of plasticizers? Has there been research on that and the use of other plastics that are not specifically made for sous-vide? I know he's not the only one using makeshift sous-vide bags. Would you drink/eat the water it was cooked in?

                                        1. re: scarmoza
                                          cowboyardee Mar 4, 2011 02:44 PM

                                          I have no idea. I don't use that stuff. Ziplock brand freezer bags for me. Sturdy and BPA free. No degredation to the bags or off-taste in the food that I have ever noticed.

                                          I've already stated I'm not 100% positive of anything in terms of safety. Incidentally, in practice that applies to pretty much everything we put in our bodies, unless you distill your own water. But I've come to accept that the great majority of foods we eat (unless we actually live a radically different lifestyle) have come into contact with plastics at some point and I see no convincing reason to think that said plastics are more dangerous heated to ~120-180 f than they are at room temperature.

                                          Your anxieties on the matter remain completely speculative. Bring me some evidence of danger or we will stay at a philosophical impasse.

                                          1. re: cowboyardee
                                            Pollo Mar 4, 2011 02:53 PM

                                            Anyone with any knowledge of chemistry will tell you that temperature (i.e. heat) drives chemical reactions...any reaction including leaching of plastics. So, yes one can say that cooking product at sous vide temperatures for hours will be more problematic that stoarge at room or freezer temperatures.

                                            1. re: Pollo
                                              cowboyardee Mar 4, 2011 03:07 PM

                                              Anyone with any knowledge of chemistry will also tell you that general principle is also too vague and unspecific to be of any particular guidance here. The same principle would imply that keeping food in plastic at room temperature is dangerous because it is warmer than fridge temperature, that fridge temp plastic is dangerous because it is warmer than freezer temp, and that freezer temp is dangerous because its warmer than cryogenic temperatures.

                                              So once again I'll sing my refrain - evidence or bust, la la la.

                                              1. re: cowboyardee
                                                Pollo Mar 4, 2011 03:19 PM

                                                Congratulations!...looks like you got my point. If you want hard/scientific evidence that this is how things "work" I would suggest a trip to university library (may want to do a quick "google" search first).

                                                1. re: Pollo
                                                  cacio e pepe Mar 4, 2011 04:19 PM

                                                  I have a strong background in chemistry. All I can say is, a little knowledge is usually just that -- a little knowledge.

                                                  You are over-reaching on this one.

                                                  Nothing wrong with being very circumspect and distrustful of plastics and the regulatory bodies deeming them safe or not. But let's not act like remembering one very general rule of thumb from a high school chemistry class empowers anyone to make sweeping generalizations.

                                                  1. re: cacio e pepe
                                                    Pollo Mar 4, 2011 04:38 PM

                                                    Like I said - go do your research and make your own conclusions. All chemistry aside my take on sous vide is that the benefits outweight the effort/cost for all but a few specialized/specific applications.
                                                    BTW - what qualifies as a "strong background in chemistry"?

                                                    1. re: Pollo
                                                      cacio e pepe Mar 4, 2011 05:31 PM

                                                      Me? Oh, I watch a lot of Bill Nye and I took an afternoon class at the Learning Annex a few years back.

                                                      I have done my research. You are repeating a rule of thumb, accusing others of not getting how things "work," and preaching about the dangers of plastic.

                                                      But I agree. Let's talk about the food. The question remains: does food cooked this way taste good? I think it can be the foundation for some very good, even transcendent food. It won't make a chef better at seasoning, building a sauce, choosing flavor profiles, etc. But the technique can create remarkably intense flavors due to being cooked under vacuum. It can create very unique textures and flavors while allowing for astounding precision and consistency. And who wouldn't want to eat food like that?

                                                      1. re: Pollo
                                                        wattacetti Mar 7, 2011 09:20 AM

                                                        I have done my research (and I work in research) and you are overreaching. Does my biosciences MSc and PhD qualify as strong background to you?

                                                        Any new chromatograph call detect anything you want in single parts per trillion, but in the grand scheme of things what does it actually mean? You are essentially talking about less contaminant than in filtered water, and possibly less than what a residential reverse osmosis water system would deliver. But that latter source touches plastic and isn't considered pure by your reasoning.

                                                        If you were that worried, you wouldn't have any packaging and you wouldn't be washing your foods in any water, and you wouldn't be cooking because the application of heat would transfer a little bit of the underlying cooking vessel to your food.

                                                        None of the locavore raw vegans that I know are that paranoid.

                                                    2. re: Pollo
                                                      cowboyardee Mar 4, 2011 04:37 PM

                                                      "Congratulations!...looks like you got my point. If you want hard/scientific evidence that this is how things "work" I would suggest a trip to university library (may want to do a quick "google" search first)."
                                                      What? You take that concession as vindication? Are you misreading me or are you actually so unfamiliar with the concepts at play here that you think that's all the case you need?

                                                      There are not one but two critical parts of your argument that are backed by nothing more than bald speculation and pseudoscience:

                                                      1) Heating plastic to sub simmering temperatures increases the ingestion of plastic particles or chemical byproducts significantly beyond levels of exposure from plastics held at room or refrigerator temperature. Your principle does not effectively show this. At all. At best it holds that this MIGHT be the case, and that the converse is unlikely to be true. Spend some time chatting up chemists.

                                                      2) Ingesting trace amounts of no-BPA plastic is dangerous in the first place. Also no evidence.

                                                      Speaking more frankly and less scientifically - do you ski? Sit outside at a barbecue? Ride a bike or, heaven forbid, a motorcycle? Eat oysters at a raw bar? Use a ladder every once in a while? Heck, spend much time in a car? I mean, I can't live your life for you or make health decisions for your family... But from my standpoint, we do so many things on a regular basis that have known, well demonstrated health risks that I don't see the point in freaking out about activities where two unfounded logical leaps are needed to show that they're dangerous at all.

                                                      I'm done arguing unless the 'What If' bureau of the AMA (apparently well represented on this thread) actually has anything substantive to say.

                                                2. re: cowboyardee
                                                  mucho gordo Mar 4, 2011 03:32 PM

                                                  I'm not 100% positive either but, it's my understanding that "food grade" plastics (PE, PP, etc.) are entirely safe

                                                3. re: scarmoza
                                                  Ruth Lafler Mar 4, 2011 04:00 PM

                                                  This reminds me of something I heard back in the fairly early days of the AIDS epidemic. Someone challenged an expert who was saying there was no reason to be afraid of getting HIV from a gay person handling your food by saying: would you eat food a gay waiter had spit in. To which the expert replied, I wouldn't eat food *anyone* had spit in. I mean, do you regularly go around drinking water that has been simmering for several hours?

                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                    Pollo Mar 4, 2011 04:42 PM

                                                    Only if the water has parasites!

                                            2. re: Pincus
                                              jmckee Mar 7, 2011 08:54 AM

                                              "Is it safe?" -- Laurence Olivier, "Marathon Man".

                                    2. mrbigshotno.1 Feb 26, 2011 09:40 AM

                                      I can't wait until summer, I'm going to sous vide a whole pig. I'm going to get a 55gal drum and then I'm going to...........

                                      1. e
                                        eber85 Feb 26, 2011 10:59 AM

                                        It sounds to me that you and your food-loving friends haved not had properly prepared sous vide foods (no offense). There are many preperations that sous vide works wonders on. I think that too many people "over-cook" their protiens, not in the temperature sense but the time. only really tough cuts should be cooked in the bath for hours upon hours, if you leave tender meats in that long they will certainly become mushy and lose their texture. The best steaks I have ever had are ribeyes that I cooked sous vide and then did a good post-cook sear. You should research and read up on the proper times and temperatures for all different protiens in the cooking issues primer on sous vide and low temperature cookery, the graphs and tables in that primer are invaluable.

                                        1. f
                                          ferret Feb 26, 2011 12:25 PM

                                          I'm curious, how many experiences are you basing this on? The idea behind sous vide is not saving money or tenderizing tough meat - though it can apply to both. But I eat out a lot and I certainly am not confronted with sous vide preparations to the point where I can just generalize that they're all bad.

                                          1. greygarious Feb 26, 2011 12:31 PM

                                            The only sous vide dish I am aware of eating is the lamb shanks with rosemary mint sauce sold at Costco, and they are wonderful. My holiday turkey (breast) was roasted on the lowest temp my oven would maintain, about 170, for I think 10 hrs. This method was promoted years ago by Adele Davis. Not sous vide but another example of cooking the meat at the approximate temp at which you want it to end up. Slow-roasting cheaper cuts of beef works wonders too, as in the Cook's Illustrated eye round threads. These all involve a brief hit of high heat either at the start or finish, to create a brown exterior. Well worth the extra time involved in cooking this way.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: greygarious
                                              Ruth Lafler Feb 27, 2011 04:39 PM

                                              Yes, I was taught low-slow roasting by my Adele-Davis disciple mom. Sous vide in the hands of a skilled cook can produce some amazing dishes you couldn't get any other way. Apparently, though, since there's been at least one other thread like this, it's being done poorly by a lot of people.

                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                cacio e pepe Feb 28, 2011 01:11 PM

                                                You know, I suspect most people that react negatively to this technique are doing so in a very visceral way. What I mean is that most people think the *idea* goes against their sensibilities and is therefore "wrong." I think a lot of people who don't like sous vide prepared food haven't had it. Or more comically, have had it and didn't know it. Very few places advertise that an item is cooked sous vide. You either recognize it or you have to ask in all but the rarest cases.

                                                It's a truly remarkable technique that will become a permanent part of professional cooking. That said, roasting over an open fire gives an entirely different set of flavors and textures. Ones that I prefer probably nine times out of ten.

                                                1. re: cacio e pepe
                                                  Ruth Lafler Feb 28, 2011 04:24 PM

                                                  The most interesting use of sous vide I've heard of is a white chocolate parfait that was created using sous vide white chocolate. So many foods change state at a certain temperature (proteins coagulate, chocolate melts, etc.) that experimenting with using precise temperature control was inevitable.

                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                    cacio e pepe Feb 28, 2011 09:31 PM

                                                    Sounds intriguing!

                                            2. jmckee Mar 3, 2011 09:28 AM

                                              I think it seems fussy and trendy and not a terribly nice thing to do to a piece of meat. I'll pass.

                                              1. s
                                                stomsf Mar 4, 2011 12:51 PM

                                                Count me in as a home cook that loves the technique. Would I cook a cake sous vide? No. But to understand the science behind the cooking has been a fascinating trip, to experiment with proteins and make the textures match and sometimes surpass what I've had in restaurants, that is great fun for me.

                                                Lastly, sous vide is one of the only ways I've found to make a chicken breast palatable. :o)

                                                1. s
                                                  Skidmark Mar 9, 2011 08:28 AM

                                                  OK, I'll take another angle at this one, given all of the responses:

                                                  I've never eaten sous vide. I live in the kountry. If I wanted to learn what sous vide cooking is all about, what are the best 3 (or 5 or 10) dishes I should try first? Like any cooking technique, not everything will taste good using sous vide -- so what will really showcase the technique? What was it invented to do?

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Skidmark
                                                    Ruth Lafler Mar 9, 2011 11:35 AM

                                                    If you want to showcase the technique: eggs. What sous vide was invented to do is to apply heat in a way that cooks the food to the same precisely determined temperature all the way through. For proteins, that means you can control the exact degree to which the proteins coagulate, and eggs, which have different proteins with different properties, are a perfect medium for showcasing this. Here's one article explaining this: http://www.edinformatics.com/math_sci...

                                                  2. r
                                                    racer x Jul 6, 2011 10:23 AM

                                                    I do really love sous vide.

                                                    I cook sous vide several times a month now.
                                                    Usually fish, and I usually don't do anything to sear the fish after the sous vide prep -- I usually just open the package and let the fish and all the juices slide right out. It's fantastic over plain rice. Usually very simple prep before it gets sealed in the bag -- salt, MSG, maybe some olive oil.
                                                    Sometimes no seasonings at all until after it comes out the bag. Every now and then, I'll add a sauce when it comes out the bag.

                                                    Have also cooked chicken, and pork. Chicken breasts never tasted so succulent and juicy.

                                                    Haven't cooked anything that took more than about 90 minutes or so, at this point. None of those 2-day braises as yet.

                                                    The extra time required to seal the meat and then get the cooking vessel up to the right temperature is a minor annoyance. But when everything is done, the clean up goes a lot faster than when cooking by many other means.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: racer x
                                                      jrock645 Jul 6, 2011 09:34 PM

                                                      To be so negative about it, you clearly just haven't had it done properly. For proteins, its very important to brine them first- Generally for as little for 15 minutes depending on the size of the cut of meat. Without that step, they can have a tendency to be a bit bloody or just water logged. Also, the searing is extremely important.

                                                      As for what I like to do with this technique... you can't beat 72 hour short ribs at 138 degrees. Chill them and deep fry them back to a temperature in the mid 130's- you'll get a deliciously tender and flavorful shortrib thats cooked midrare and has a nice crispiness to the outside. You'll never get that with conventional braising. I like to do sous vide pork belly at 147.4 for about two days then glaze with some hoisin and roast it a bit before slicing. Absolutely delicious, tender and the fat isn't all rendered out and it doesn't get chewy. Pork cheeks are great, too. Again, 147.4 for 2 days. Then dredge in seasoned flour and pan fry. Even something like a Berkshire pork chop done at 140 for about 40 minutes then seared in a very hot cast iron pan will be better than any pork chop you've probably ever had.

                                                      I like doing certain veggies, too. Perfect glazed carrots are a breeze- sous vide at 185 for about 30 minutes or so, then into a pan with your glaze and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes until the glaze gets thick and tacky. Even things like fondant potatoes are easier and better with sous vide.

                                                      Seriously, sous vide is great when properly executed and utilized and its not going anywhere. Its already been used widely in europe for 30 years. As usual, when it comes to food America is slow to catch on. We're only in the beginning of what sous vide is capable of in America. Stay tuned.

                                                    2. t
                                                      tpogue Mar 1, 2014 11:59 AM

                                                      We love Salmon done sous vide to med rare. Then seared off in butter flavored with fragrant coriander. Yes, we love sous vide. Most protein come out looking pretty gnarly. The trick is not to let your guests see it until you have put some beauty touches on with a sauté pan or torch. Which also adds load of flavor. The Salmon recipe came from ChefSteps.com They used a zip lock bag with oil. I did not but used my adjustment to pulse vac the FoodSaver bag so the fish was not mashed down.

                                                      1. f
                                                        foodiemahoodie Mar 30, 2014 07:26 PM

                                                        Thought, I think there is truth to this - but there are some things which come out stellar.

                                                        In trying to make the perfect chicken soup - I sous vide both boneless chicken breasts and thighs. Chill them then break them apart and drop them in the soup - the meat is unbelievably tender. (I brine the meat).

                                                        Last Thanksgiving I participated in a dinner - and I was the guy to do the meat. I brined the breasts and thighs in a pretty simple brine. And then I cooked them sous vide (140f for the breasts, 147 for the thighs - which went in the night before. duck fat, some cooks shallots, sage).

                                                        Filled up a cooler with hot tap water (around 140 degree, drop 1 degree ever 15 minutes. so as long as it was above 130, I was good). Browned them at the house. Made a turkey gravy with a little cognac, madeira and marsala. And porcinis.

                                                        A well regarded chef came and said it was "awesome" best turkey he'd ever had. He did the carving and when he saw the texture and color of the breast - he was stunned. Loved the taste too. The thighs were more like a duck confit. He thought they were better than the turkey we had the night before - which was excellent, conventionally-cooked by one of the best chefs in L.A. (sorry, can't out anyone with names - you're going to have the trust me here - it would destroy friendships).

                                                        I have tried cooking beef - and for me it doesn't work all that well. The taste has a little tiny bit of cardboard boringness to it. (bland).

                                                        I've done baby back ribs - brush some liquid smoke on them, then a few hours later, a dry rub. then into the bags with BBQ sauce and cook for a couple days. I chiill them, then put them on a very hot charcoal grill and gets some crush going. They're pink and remarkably tender in the middle, a little crunch on the outside. I've had better once - in a rib cook off. And there was one guy who knew low and slow - pink and tender, etc. But mind are so close - and no smoker.

                                                        Lastly, butter poached lobster tails. here's what sold me - local supermarket has some small tails on sale for 4 bucks a piece. I bought a box of them frozen. They were at the bottom of my deep freeze for a few months - and when I took them out - they had some freezer burn on them. Oh no! All that lobster! I defrosted one, got it out the shell and did butter poached sous vide with them. Holy Mother of Christ! it was delicious, tender, lobster-y and miracle of miracle - no freezer burn. I know it sounds like B.S. but it was amazing. I did a lobster risotto with a butter poached tail on top. I was a god that night.

                                                        I also do a 63 degree egg. In the shell for an hour, cut the top off with a clacker, take out the egg, slough off the white, put the egg back in the shell and do a variety of things with that .(Arpege egg, or a truffle egg, or caviar and creme fraich). Egg yolk is a perfect custard taste and consistency.

                                                        Ultimately, if you're a brilliant chef - you don't really need this to do a perfect short rib. You have the right gear, you have a kitchen of hand picked pros - and you get the temp and time down perfectly because you've had decades of experience, with years spend in the kitchen learning from pros.

                                                        1. sal_acid Mar 30, 2014 08:16 PM

                                                          SV is a great technique if used by someone who knows what they are doing.
                                                          Not at all nasty, but great when properly applied and finished.
                                                          Any technique done badly or applied to the wrong thing can suck.
                                                          FWIW I worry when I see SV described on a menu..sign of a newbie to it.

                                                          1. Tripeler Mar 30, 2014 09:32 PM

                                                            Sous Vide? No, it's really not my bag.

                                                            1. h
                                                              Hookoa Mar 31, 2014 07:14 AM

                                                              Sounds like you are eating in restaurants that "hold" the food too long. If you actually do the research, you will discover that it is possible to "ruin" good food by holding it in the water bath for waaay too long.
                                                              Done properly, sous vide is a much MORE flavorful way of cooking meats AND Vegetables.

                                                              1. t
                                                                tpogue Mar 31, 2014 07:45 AM

                                                                We love pork tenderloin cooked at 63c for two hours. Then brushed with sauce (like bourbon BBQ ). And torched. Sous vide meat comes out looking pretty gnarly and it can be seared in a pan or torched. My pork tender loin comes out with just a rosy blush and has a great texture. Incredibly tender though. It's the best. Another winner is boneless skinless chicken breast cooked at 63.5 for two hours. A lower temperature is often recommended but I dislike the spongy texture it produced. Raising the temp just a couple of degrees gave me a texture we find pleasing.

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