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Jun 17, 2011 01:30 AM

Sous vide won't work on grass-fed beef?

Is this true? What a drag if it is. I've ordered and paid for my machine, and our beef here is grass-fed.
I wanted it for steaks, for Pete's sake.

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  1. Yeah it would work. I've done it. Who told you that? Why wouldn't it?

    Grass fed can be tougher, leaner, and more sensitive to overcooking, but those are issues regardless of how you cook it.

    1. Why wouldn't this work? Protein is protein and as Cowboyardee has just given you the reasons why SV might be best for grass-fed beef.

      I'd just like to have an opportunity to consistently buy grass-fed.

      1. Don't know where you got this idea, but it's not true. I buy mostly grass-fed beef, and it cooks up nicely SV.

        1. Alright guys, thanks for the reassurance.
          I won't say where I got the idea from, it was a blog. The person said it keeps coming up "powdery" textured, regardless of cooking time or temp.
          I'm about to try sous vide ox fillet steaks- when my machine arrives.
          thanks again

          1 Reply
          1. re: Spanish Willy

            That particular blogger (googled 'grass fed' 'sous vide' and 'powdery') is cooking non-braising cuts waaaaayy too long. He's cooking rib eyes for 7 hours, flank steaks for 23 hours and bottom round roasts for 12 hours. In other words, he's is overcooking the crap out of meats that don't have the connective tissue to take it. He would have the same problem with grain fed beef, though the extra fat would help hide his mistakes a bit.

          2. Many restaurants cook grass fed beef sous vide. Personally, I hate it like that!

            9 Replies
              1. re: Spanish Willy

                Don't like the texture. It just doesnt seem "right" to me.

              2. re: Harters

                At the very worst, they should be able to make sous vide preparations almost completely indistinguishable from pan roasted ones.

                1. re: cowboyardee

                  Uh, since I've got you here, any suggestions on temps and time for tenderloin steaks from a slightly older grass-fed animal? I've eaten plenty of it cooked traditionally, and it's not tough by any means, just not as tender as regular beef fillet. (And with way more flavour.)

                  1. re: Spanish Willy


                    Not tender?

                    Looking at your profile, you're living in a part of Europe which grows some of our continent's best beef. I've never failed to have good steak in Andalucia. Is this a thing about the age at slaughter? Almost all cattle used for beef, here in the UK, are slaughtered at between 24 - 30 months, so I can understand how older cattle might not be as tender.

                    1. re: Harters

                      Yes, it's about age of slaughter. The ox meat has a richer "meat" flavour.

                      It's fillet steak, it's tender. It's just not as tender as younger slaughtered beef.

                      I prefer the taste to the seriously overhyped Argentinian beef everyone's so excited about down here.

                      Anyway, I've never sous vided anything, so I was just looking for some pointers .

                      1. re: Spanish Willy

                        Yep. Understood. We had a fortnight in Estepona a year or so back - and everywhere it seemed to be Argentinian getting the play. Not bad stuff but not as good as European (IMO)

                    2. re: Spanish Willy

                      It's all dependent upon thickness, for starters. But I'm of the opinion that tender cuts of beef cooked sous vide should apply the same logic w/r/t safety as if they were cooked otherwise. Heat it sous vide long enough to bring it to temp. Not long enough to pasteurize. Remove it from the bath and let it cool for a few minutes. Dry it and sear it. The rationale is that possible pathogens are on the meats surface, and the searing kills them. For reasons that should be obvious, don't use a jaccard or otherwise pierce the meat before cooking.

                      The downside of this is it won't work if you're storing the meat or prepping it well in advance (only store the meat if pasteurizing). On the other hand, cooking time is quick enough that there is no major reason to prep in advance unless you're making a HUGE number of steaks.

                      So for tenderloin, 130 is a nice medium rare. Cooking time is generally 2 hours or less for steaks. You can deduce the time to heat a given thickness and starting temperature of meat through from Douglas Baldwin's tables. Example - A five mm steak starting at 40 F takes 2 hours to pasteurize at 130 F, with a small amount of time assumed to be bringing the steak to temperature. A 30 mm steak takes 3 1/4 hours to pasteurize at the same temps. Therefore you can assume that an extra 75 minutes is being spent bringing the thicker steak up to temp. Add maybe another 15 minutes for that first 5 mm of thickness and you've got a 90 minute cook time.

                      However, since the safety aspect is being covered by the searing (which also raises the internal temp if you don't let it rest long), you can even cut this a little short. I do inch thick steaks in about an hour.

                      Grass fed steak from an older animal sous vide is usually gonna be a little tougher than grain fed beef sous vide, just as grass fed cooked otherwise is tougher than grain fed cooked otherwise. You can make it more tender by overcooking it (time-wise, not temp-wise), but it's an unpleasant, mushy, grainy type of tender.

                      If for whatever reason you insist on pasteurizing the meat (maybe someone who's eating is immunocompromised or whatever), make sure to buy thin cuts that can be pasteurized quickly.

                      If you don't want to sear for whatever reason (can't really think of one, but you're the cook), you can achieve the same degree of safety by giving the sealed meat a 45 second dunk in boiling water before proceeding with the sous vide process as usual.

                      1. re: cowboyardee

                        Once you've had enough fun messing around with that, you can also try differential temperatures out. Basically you deliberately cook a higher temp than your desired doneness, taking the meat out before it gets to the water temp. This creates an even more traditional texture within the meat, with the outside a little firmer and the center still rare. Some people prefer this. It also offers the upsides that it is more precise than traditional cooking, it applies a ceiling for overcooking, and it is quicker than normal sous vide. Try cooking an inch thick steak at 140 F for about 30-35 minutes. Of course this method still requires a searing.

                        Lots of ideas to play around with. That SVS should keep you occupied.