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Sous vide --- what should I cook first?!?!?!?!?

Just got the Anova one. It clamps onto pots and circulates ($200 with free shipping). Where would you start? A couple of eggs? A piece of meat? I'd appreciate any suggestions. TIA.

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  1. I would start with a steak. Sous vide until desired and then throw on a very hot grill or cast iron pan to crisp up the outside.

    Should be pretty dang good...

    2 Replies
    1. re: JayL

      When Mr. Brown (UPS) showed up with this I was dancing around the kitchen :) Really excited. And I understand that going with a super cheap cut is probably all I want.

      1. re: c oliver

        A tough cut will take a long time to tenderise at low temperature (24 / 36 hours or more), while a tender cut will be ready after an hour or so (depending on thickness). I don't think I could wait for days for my first taste!

    2. I make all my hamburgers sous-vide now. I get freshly ground mix of 50% chuck and 50% short rib, then seal them up when I get home and put in the freezer. I sous vide them when I want them, then finish with a blow torch.

      Onsen eggs are great and very easy to make.

      My next experiment will be to confit turkey legs.

      1 Reply
      1. re: calumin

        We grind our own meat so that sounds great.

        Just saw mention of "Onsen eggs" on Serious Eats.


      2. Most people who started off with the pot and thermometer method did chicken breasts as the first thing. You have a circulator so I'd suggest eggs at various times and temperatures.

        Of course, pork belly can be sublime when properly done.

        1 Reply
        1. re: wattacetti

          I was reading Kenji's egg treatise :)

        2. Farmed salmon.

          If there's magic in them contraptions, then we'll soon find out.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ipsedixit

            Ipse, Bob and I may be the only people on the Left Coast who just don't care much for salmon. Weird I know. Our Seattle kids even fixed us wild salmon and we were very hohum.

          2. The beauty of sous vide cooking for me anyway is to turn inexpensive, tougher cuts of beef into fork tender, still pink delicacies. Short ribs are great but they have gotten quite pricey, Even chuck roasts can cost $5.00 a pound. Last night we had a bottom round of beef roast that was on sale this week for $2.99 a pound. Couldn't be simpler to cook. I first salt & sear the roast then I bag it in a regular 2 gallon Ziploc bag. I put equal amounts of soy and Worcestershire sauce in the bag (maybe a 1/3 cup total) and cook @ 133 degrees for approximately 30 hours. This will yield meat cooked between medium & medium rare.When finished cooking you will have a good amount of purged liquid in the bag. Pour this into a saucepan and thicken with cornstarch or demi glace (I use Knorr if I don't have homemade). Just be careful with the salinity. You can add some unsalted stock before you thicken if it's too salty for your tastes.
            Eats like prime rib!
            Her's another new favorite I posted on another page: Also terrific and inexpensive:
            I recently saw a segment, on PBS I think, about an iconic fast food chicken place with several locations in and around Los Angeles, Dino’s Chicken and Burgers http://www.dinoschickenandburgers.com/. Read the reviews and you’ll see their patrons have a cult like devotion to their chicken. It doesn’t hurt that it’s only about six bucks for a half chicken and French fries. Living on the East Coast I wanted to see if I could duplicate their recipe. They precook the chicken then marinate it in their “secret” sauce then grill it to order. I’m generally am not a big fan of chicken breasts because they are blander easier to overcook than thighs but my local supermarket had bone-in, skin-on breasts on sale for .99 cents a pound, so I went with them for this recipe. The fact that I could pre-cook my chicken sous vide made me think I could get a juicy final product. After some online research for their secret sauce several people speculated it was a variation of Piri- Piri Sauce, which I had never heard of.
            From Wikipedia:
            Piri piri sauce (used as a seasoning or marinade) is Portuguese in origin and "especially prevalent in Angola, Namibia, Mozambique and South Africa".[5] It is made from crushed chilies, citrus peel, onion, garlic, pepper, salt, lemon juice, bay leaves, paprika, pimiento, basil, oregano, and tarragon.[6
            ]I used Emeril’s sauce with a few modifications.
            This recipe is just a starting point and by no means a recipe that you need to follow closely. I’ve used fresh jalapeno, bird’s eye, habanero, really any hot pepper as well as Cubanal and sweet bell peppers. I just balance the sauce with more heat (pepper flakes, cayenne, bottle hot sauce etc.) or more acid (cider or balsamic vinegar, lemons or limes) or I add a little sweetness (sugar, honey or agave or artificial sweetener). I add ground turmeric and sometime annatto and a tablespoon or two of tomato paste to mellow and thicken. Saffron would also be a great addition, I bet. Dino’s chicken looks like Tandoori Chicken so they probably use red food color. I like fresh cilantro so I add it if I have it on hand. I’ve made this sauce two ways, raw and cooked. I prefer heating everything in a saucepan then processing it in a blender but raw is good too.
            I salt and pepper the chicken breasts then add a little of the piri piri sauce to the bag and cook @ 60 degrees C. (140F.) for a minimum of 3 hours. I cool the still bagged chicken in running cold water until they are still slightly warm, then I add more sauce and marinade for @ least 1 hour but longer is better. Obviously, if you are marinating overnight you need to refrigerate. When I’m ready to serve I heat my gas grill and cook the breasts skin side up to start then flip them. I noticed that pre-cooked chicken skin does not stick to the grates as much as raw skin does. Remember, you are grilling only to warm through and get some tasty carmelization/charring of the surface. Do not overcook! That would defeat the benefit of pre-cooking them sous vide. I’ve never cooked them right from the refrigerator but I probably would warm the chicken first in the microwave @ a low setting prior to grilling. To serve: drizzle with more sauce , chopped cilantro or parsley and I like a big dollop of sour

            1 Reply
            1. re: zackly

              I saw that post of yours and maybe even replied. Sounds great. And, yeah, I wanna take those cheap tough cuts and make them tender.

            2. Love my Anova

              Might as well start with breakfast. My XL eggs average 45mm in diam

              40 min @ 63.3C then a one min dunk in 82C water to set the whites. I just heat water in micro for this.

              4 Replies
              1. re: scubadoo97

                Here's a good chart showing egg done ness at various temperatures


                1. re: scubadoo97

                  Fabulous! I'm miserable at real poaching of eggs. I really like the idea of MW at the end. What other things do you like to SV?

                  1. re: c oliver

                    Just to be clear, I heat a measuring cup of water to 180f/82c moments before I have to pull the eggs from the SV bath.

                    The Anova has such a strong circulation that just to be save I have popped a few eggs in the whisk attachment of our KA mixer and lower that into the bath. Keeps them secure and easy to retrieve

                    Boneless short ribs are a fav and I was blown away by carrots and fennel. Very concentrated flavors. Green beans didn't do so well and lost color. Carrots come out a vibrant bright orange

                    1. re: scubadoo97

                      All good tips. We've had super cold temps and icy roads so I need to get out tomorrow and find some test 'subjects.' Thanks as always.

                2. Thinking of asking santa for this; what are you doing about sealing?

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: DGresh

                    I have a Food Saver but from what I'm reading it's not the end of the world to use zipping bags.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      It’s been my experience that there is no need to vacuum seal for items cooked over a long period of time. The vacuum sealed bag is just about better conduction. Water is a better conductor than air. I frequently use these but in the gallon size:

                      1. re: zackly

                        Water is a good conductor but you don't always want it diluting the juices that are released

                        1. re: scubadoo97

                          Maybe I didn't make myself clear. I always seal the food in a bag, I just don't always vacuum seal the bag especially when I want to add marinade.

                          1. re: zackly

                            Gotcha. There are methods that do include liquid which is submerged to get rid of any air bubbles.

                            1. re: scubadoo97

                              Yeah, I read a little something about that.

                            2. re: zackly

                              Zackly, a few "tricks" you and some others may find helpful:

                              When you want to marinade a steak or turn a chuck roast into a Portehouse by long and slow cooking, FREEZE the marinade, THEN add it to the sous vide bag before vacuum sealing. The finished flavor of both the meat and the jus will taste exactly as if you marinated the beef before cooking, BUT if you're cooking the chuck steak to medium rare over two or three days time, any vegetables in the marinade will require further cooking if you wish to purée them into the sauce with a stick blender as a thickener to the jus.

                              Freezing stocks, soups, and any other flavoring agent you would normally use ahead of time will work if you freeze ahead then add it to the vacuum bag before the "suck, seal, and lock" process!

                              And if you ever find yourself wishing, with all of your heart and soul, that you had the counter room and/or the budget for a bona fide commercial chamber vacuum machine (last I checked they start around $700.00 and go up from there), the method I use to fake that and that works for ME (mileage may vary!) is to....

                              Well, let me give you a hard core example. I LOVE crème brulee. I HATE trying to carry a bunch of them to a very hot oven because the damned ramekins will probably be half empty by the time these shaky old arthritic hands get there, soooooo.... I put the small individual ramekins of custard mixture on a small pizza (flat!) pan with small individual "mesh" covers that fit over each ramekin completely (I saved a bunch of steamer colander trays from Healthy Choice "Top Chef" frozen meals and cut the perforated plastic steamer trays to fit my ramekins plus a margin to keep the perforated plastic from falling into the ramekins) and then make my own LARGE sous vide bag (cut your own size rolls) and then CAREFULLY set the bag with the ramekins inside the bag LEVEL on the counter in front of my Seal-A-Meal and suck out the air. The hard plastic "screen" over the ramekins stops the Seal-A-Meal from sucking out the egg mixture during the sealing process. You will need a pretty long "extra space" at the end of the bag to allow room to set the small pizza pan/ramekins flat on the counter with the dishes on it and still have room to seal, and then CAREFULLY move it all to your sous vide chamber and gently lower it into a flat level position to cook.
                              AAAANNNNDDDD... Make absolutely certain the pizza pan, however large or small, *WILL) fit in your sous vide cooking chamber!

                              With a Sous Vide Supreme, I don't have as much play room as someone with a sous vide circulator pump may have. But everything is a trade off, and I don't have to break down and put away my sous vide pump and chamber every time I use it. I also have the option of using individual small size cut-to-order sous vide bags and doing the screen topped ramekins one at a time. The CRITICAL trick with this method of simulating a chamber vac is that you MUST keep the ramekins LEVEL at all times, including lowering and placing them in your sous vide apparatus!

                              For clarity's sake, let me add that my Sous Vide Supreme *MAY* have advantages that a sous vide circulating pump does not have. It is possible that this method works well in a Sous Vide Supreme water oven simply because it does not have heavy circulation currents, but instead compensates with an elevated tray on the bottom of a precisely regulated "water oven." My point here being that I *DO* have experience with a Sous Vide Supreme, but I DO NOT have experience with an immersion circulator!

                              Anyway, with sous vide cooking, there are almost always reasonable "work arounds" when it comes to adapting favorite "real life" recipes to the fun and fabulous results you can achieve with precise and exact long (or short) term cooking magic!

                              Hope someone finds these tips useful! '-)

                              1. re: Caroline1

                                Mercy! Don't make it so hard to make creme brulee. I fill the ramekins beside the stove, place them in the pan (I use a roasting pan) and put them in the oven. Pour the hot water in. Couldn't be easier.

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  If you don't want to try it, your choice. The results are NOT identical! These tips were intended for more advanced users who may also be wishing they had a chamber vac. Read these again in about six months. '-)

                    2. Here are a few things I've had success with doing sous vide...

                      Short ribs. Marinate overnight in red wine, some soy sauce, garlic and herbs. Remove from marinade and dust with a little pepper, then vacuum seal and cook in a 134F (56.6C) water bath for 72 hours. Let cool in the bag a bit, then remove, pat dry, salt and sear in a very hot cast iron pan.

                      Steaks. Pepper both sides then sear in a hot pan. Vacuum seal along with some butter, herbs and granulated garlic. Cook about 45-90 minutes at 135F (57.2C). Allow to cool in the bag a little before removing, patting dry, salting and searing for a second time.

                      Chicken breasts. Marinate in some ponzu sauce, fish sauce, ginger, garlic and pepper for about 2 hours. Take directly from the marinade in to a vacuum bag, seal and cook for about an hour at 150F (65.5C). Allow to cool 10-15 minutes in the bag, then pat dry, salt and sear on a grill pan.

                      Pork carnitas. Rick Bayless showed this on his cooking show a while back. It's just cubed pork shoulder, salt pepper and a little lard sealed in a vacuum bag and cooked 50 hours at 143F (61.6C), then seared in rendered lard before serving to crisp up.

                      Have fun with your Anova!

                      1. Start with foods you _know_ how they taste - like a steak or chicken breast - so you can evaluate the SV difference.

                        Then soft eggs, then braised meat, and then you'll be ready for anything.

                        1. OKAY! I'm ready :) Picked up a 2# boneless, beef shank (see photo below), just under an inch and a half thick. I want it rare. Any rec for temp and time. I can do it as long as y'all say. And I'm seeing that some people sear before, some after and some before AND after. What say y'all? TIA.

                          68 Replies
                          1. re: c oliver

                            I wouldn't go below 130 degrees 48-72 hours for safety reasons. I'd salt & pepper and sear beforehand. Searing beef after cooking necessitates drying the meat first and for something this thin you might introduce too much heat and increase the internal temperature beyond the "doneness" you'tre looking for. Let us know how it turns out....

                            1. re: c oliver

                              Shank has a lot of connective tissue. I'd shoot for around 138-140 for no less than 48 hr. which will not be blood red but will be pink and tender

                              Searing first will kill off a bunch of surface bacteria before bagging. Not a bad thing for low temp long time cooking. A quick sear post SV if you want a crust

                              1. re: scubadoo97

                                And you lose the delicious bone marrow if you cut out the bone. Bone in may even be cheaper?

                                1. re: Caroline1

                                  *I* didn't cut it out. I frequent a wonderful Latino market and that's how they had it. I cook bone marrow regularly, not to worry.

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    I'm aware of that. I just added the comment so you would know that if the wonderful butcher who sold you the deboned beef shank knows what *HE* is doing, he can turn around and split that shank bone down the center on his electric saw, then sell those as rather expensive "marrow bones" in the form they are served in high end restaurants for a lotta bucks! Well, a high end restaurant will also serve them with a silver "marrow spoon" that it allows you to use for their super premium prices!

                                    *IF* you like roasted/toasted bone marrow spread on toast, sous vide cooking was invented for just such usage. Both bone marrow *AND* foie gras loose a ton of their fat weight through rendering the fat while heating/cooking, therefore if a chef pays $40.00 a pound for foie gras, then renders it down in trying to get it warm inside while ignoring the lost rendered fat, then he's gonna be losing lots of money in lost liver fat! And the same holds true for bone marrow. Sous vide retains the fat in foie gras AND bone marrow.

                                    When you slow cook a beef shank at say 140 degrees for two or three days (high end of medium rare that also precludes the need for "quick sear" sterilization to prevent any cross-contamination germs from growing because this temperature sterilizes AND pasteurizes when the beef is held at this temperature for this long), you will not only get "pink" filet mignon tenderness and MUCH richer flavor in the tough shank meat, the marrow in the shank slice with the bone in will be perfect medium rare and be the EXTREME LUXE you would get in a Michelin starred restaurant that offers bone marrow as a starter.

                                    If you LIKE exquisite bone marrow on toast, next time buy the shank bone in and you'll have a win/win situation!

                                2. re: scubadoo97

                                  Thanks, scoobie (A friend's lobster boat is named that). I started it a few hours ago at 130. I'll bump it up. I didn't sear but I live in a magic house :)

                                  I have a question that perhaps should be a thread unto itself. The ranges shown for cooking meat are huge, i.e., 12-24 hrs, 24-48, etc. I'm guessing that's based on the volume (not the weight) of the meat. But how does one know how long? Just trial and error? Is there any info on this? I've been lookin' but not findin'. Thanks always.

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    Longer times are needed to breakdown the collagen in tough meats. Same as with regular cooking. Just takes longer at lower temps. If your looking for red meat you may want to go lower temp for 72 hrs

                                    I personally haven't done shank so can't comment by experience. Have done short ribs a couple of times

                                    1. re: scubadoo97

                                      I get that but when a particular cut "calls for" 24-48 hours, is that then based on volume. So 1-1/2" thick would take less time than a bit honkin' tough roast?

                                      1. re: c oliver

                                        Thickness. 1.5" @130f will reach pasteurization to the core in a little over 3 hours. The rest of the time is for texture/tenderness

                                        1. re: scubadoo97

                                          Oh, god, I'm SO not explaining this. The "rest of the time"? How does one determine how much time that is supposed to be? I'm sorry :(

                                          1. re: c oliver

                                            I'm sure more time is needed when cooking a thick piece of meat compared to the same meat cut thin.

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              I haven't seen any graphs that relate to the added time for tenderness based on thickness. What I do know is tough cuts need a lot of time to become tender. The lower the temp the longer the time

                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                You may want to get Sous Vide for the Home Cook

                                                I think it list temps and times for a lot of common foods you would cook SV

                                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                                  You've just done me a HUGE favor! I'm a recipe follower, a cookbook nerd. It's in my Amazon cart. You're the best, s.

                                                2. re: c oliver

                                                  Here's a great temperature chart:

                                                  Which comes from this fantastic sous vide resource:

                                                  Unless you are cooking a USDA Prime rib roast or something similar that is cut relatively thin -- bulgogi might be a good example -- the original premise and objective of sous vide cooking is to basically transform something into something it is not, as in a foie gras that doesn't lose weight through cooking, turning a tough beef shank into tender deliciousness, and such.

                                                  What this boils down to is that if you are cooking a large piece of meat, in sous vide cooking a specific amount of time will be required to get that CUT to the core temperature you desire for serving all the way through *AND* modify it in the way you intend. So in the case of a beef shank you want to turn into a tenderloin pink tenderness (with more flavor than a tenderloin) then it will take X amount of time for X amount of weight, PLUS once you REACH the desired core temperature, then there is an additional range of time REQUIRED to allow collagen and gristle to break down to simulate a tenderloin. After that goal is achieved, then there is a "safe holding" window before the meat will break down farther to a point that it will become granular and mushy. Way too mushy to taste good! There are charts that disclose this information as given above.

                                                  But for right now for you with your shank in the water bath, the quick answer for turning your beef shank into deliriously great medium rare steak is.... Don't worry about it...! But I would suggest 140F for medium rare... *IF* you like medium rare. It all has to do with time, temperature, and preventing possible anaerobic cross contamination possibilities from getting the upper hand, so I recommend 140F for your beef shank if you did not sear prior to sealing it in the sous vide bag.

                                                  Hope this helps.

                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                      When it comes to the safety of cooking sous vide, THERE ARE NO MAGIC HOUSES!

                                                      Until your book arrives, the website at http://www.sousvidecooking.org/ is packed with good, solid information about anything and everything you need to know to cook well and safely with this cooking method.

                                                      DON'T influence others to disregard safety. That is a total disservice to all!

                                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                                        I wrote "I live in a "magic house." How that is influencing anyone is simply beyond me. As I've written many times here, I drink tap water all over the world, eat food that flies were on not long before, raw meat and eggs are no problem. We all do what we think is right.

                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                          Let me know how you like the book. I don't have it but it was listed as a good reference

                                                          I do have the Sous Vide Dash app on my phone. Will plot out times to pasteurization depending on thickness of meat or diam of an egg for instance. Inexpensive app with a timer function. Plug in your numbers and degree of doneness and it plots the time curve to completion.

                                                          Here's the link

                                                          1. re: scubadoo97

                                                            I don't have any Apple products but found an Amazon app for my Kindle and got that. This looks FANTASTIC! Great info. Thanks, bud.

                                                            1. re: scubadoo97

                                                              Got the book today and have barely scratched the surface but can tell I'm going to really like it. It appears that I should have treated that shank meat, because of its thickness, more like a steak and done it for 6-8 hours. And, thank god, they confirmed that medium rare is 130 and they do rare at 125. Looking forward to playing with this a lot. Thanks for the rec, s.

                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                Really? Shank for 6-8 hrs. Never would have guessed it would be tender in that time frame.

                                                                Would love to hear your results if you do it again.

                                                                Keeping a log is a good thing that I don't do often enough so you can record your results and learn what works for you

                                                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                  I think it's because the shank was the shape and thickness of a steak. I'm guessing here. The log is a really good ides for those of us who are all over the place cooking :)

                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                    But so was the boneless short ribs I cook and they need 48 hr to be fall apart tender

                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                      I agree with scuba that you're unlikely to find shank tender enough if cooked for only 6-8 hours at 130-140. OTOH, 52 hours may have been overkill, depending on what texture you prefer. YMMV of course.

                                                                      Thickness has little bearing on how long you should cook connective tissue laden meats like shank. See my longer post below.

                                                                      Also keep in mind that your finishing techniques are not only important for the look and taste of the meat, but also to add a little textural contrast at times. A hard, crispy seared surface can help in many situations.

                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                        Very true. Lamb chops SV are perfectly rare but the fat if not seared and rendered at least a little isn't that tasty or appealing

                                          2. re: c oliver

                                            Welllllllll, it was alright not great and I'm puzzling over what we didn't love about it. I started it at 138 but then reduced it to 130 after maybe 18 hours. Was concerned about it being overcooked. It went for about 52 hours. It was nicely pink but nowhere close to rare so I'd do 130 or under next time. The issue for both of us was the texture. It wasn't mushy and it was tender. I'm not sure of the word but am going to go with it was too "homogeneous." Looked up a definition to see if that's the word I want. " uniform, identical, unvaried, consistent, indistinguishable,...." Kinda meh actually. The fat was inedible and perhaps we like a bit of fat in/on our meat. I'm wondering if I'm only happy with that type of meat when it gets way up in the 180-200 range. Maybe I'll do a 7-bone next time since it's something that we already eat as steak. I gotta think some more on this. Maybe I'll do some eggs in the morning to have some success. Sigh.

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              ***Ready for reading now***

                                              This is an offering based on my experience and studies of the techniques and science that is important to the sous vide side of "molecular gastronomy," and that is exactly what turning a beef shank into a tender cut of medium rare meat is about.
                                              In MY opinion, your problem is that you had too much temperature variation over the course of cooking time. I earlier strongly suggested you use 140F as the cooking time. At one point I also offered Thomas Keller's cooking times. So to explain what I think the problems you had were, and why you're not thrilled with the result, these are the mechanics of the issue:
                                              It's one thing if you're going to use sous vide simply to get rid of the "bullseye" target pattern in a prime rib steak or roast so that you have "wall to wall" even doneness in the finished steak. In cases such as that, you simply seal the meat in a cooking pouch and toss it into a water bath that is at the medium rare temperature you want to serve it at, then make sure you give it enough time to be brought up to temperature ALL THE WAY THROUGH! This method also has an added advantage that in restaurant applications, the steak or roast can be cooked with this method (uncrusted!) and then IMMEDIATELY cooled in an ice bath to refrigerator temperatures (sub 40F) and stored in the walk-in refrigerator until a client orders it, and then brought to temp in the same water bath quickly, then seared and served, but the quick chill is a critical factor in keeping the food safe!)

                                              BUT.... When your intention is to use sous vide to MODIFY the flavor and texture of a TOUGH piece of beef to SIMULATE that of a very expensive cut of beef, then the process is different. To accomplish this you have to not only “cook” the beef to serving temperature, BUT you MUST hold it at that exact unwavering temperature from the time you start the cook-to-temperature sous vide procedure for a period that GREATLY surpasses the normal time it takes for the expensive cut to be cooked “sous vide.” In the case of beef shank, in order to turn it into a “faux filet mignon” that means that cut has to be held at 140F (medium rare) temperature for 72 hours MINIMUM in order to achieve the transformation.

                                              Here is a “Time and Temperature Reference borrowed from http://www.cuisinetechnology.com/blog... and used here under Geneva Convention copyright laws that allow it's use for educational purposes:

                                              (And just in case the chart doesn't cut and paste well, you can access the entire chart at the above link.


                                              ADDENDUM: The cut and paste was not successful. Please reference the above link to see the chart properly. Some of it is missing here! Sorry.

                                              Time and Temperature Reference
                                              This table is only meant to serve as a guideline. Temperatures should be adjusted to your preference of doneness. Cooking time should be adjusted to initial temperature, heat transfer characteristics, and thickness of the food being cooked. Times denoted with an * include time for tenderness.

                                              Time to Core Temperature
                                              Time (Pasteurized to Core)

                                              138°F / 59°C
                                              2 inches
                                              1 hour, 58 min
                                              5 hours, 35 min
                                              Rib Eye Steak
                                              138°F / 59°C
                                              1.5 inches
                                              1 hour, 58 min
                                              3 hours, 20 min
                                              Strip Steak
                                              138°F / 59°C
                                              1.5 inches
                                              1 hour, 58 min 
                                              3 hours, 20 min
                                              Porterhouse Steak
                                              138°F / 59°C
                                              1.5 inches
                                              1 hour, 58 min 
                                              3 hours, 20 min
                                              147°F / 64°C

                                              48 Hours*
                                              3 hours, 21 min
                                              Veal Shank
                                              167°F / 75°C

                                              12-24 Hours*
                                              9 hours, 03 min

                                              This chart shows the length of time it will take to get a specific cut of beef to it's serving temperature for normal prep and service in one column, then in the last column, it gives the time it must be held at that temperature to accomplish the pasteurization that is critical to the food industry AND to safe “at home” food preparation. As you can see, to bring a 2 inch thick filet mignon (tenderloin) up to a medium rare 138F core temperature for serving it will take 1 hour and 58 minutes to achieve that. THIS is the point to which commercial restaurants MAY choose to serve it, then IMMEDIATELY quick chill it to refrigerator temperature and store it (in the bag) for later quick heating in the sous vide chamber prior to finishing (charring) and serving. BUT, if the restaurant or home cook wants to be SAFE, they will sous vide cook it at that temperature for 5 hours and 35 minutes to make sure the meat is PASTEURIZED TO THE CORE to kill any problems that often are the result of cross contamination and other food handling problems. So SMART home cooks will follow this as well.

                                              Now, to explain why it takes so very much longer to transform a pigs ear into a silk purse, which is what extending the cooking time at medium rare temperature to a MUCH GREATER duration can do when it comes to a beef shank/filet mignon transformation.

                                              The collagens, the fat, the tissue, the tendons and the overworked over-exercised muscles that are in the legs (shank) of a cow in NO WAY are naturally as tender as the non-working, laze around pure muscle tissue that makes up the tenderloin of all cattle. But when you hold the beef shank at the tenderloin serving temperature ( I use 140F degrees simply because it bypasses pasteurization issues and it's damned hard to taste or feel the difference of a 138F steak and a 140f steak!) --- anyway, when you use 72 hours instead of 1 hour and 58 minutes, that added time allows the collagen, gristle, fats, and all of the other things that make a shank tough to break down and melt and meld to the magic tenderness of a filet.

                                              Well, EXCEPT that a properly transformed beef shank will have the tenderness and pink color of a well prepared medium rare tenderloin but it will have GREATER flavor. Much greater flavor! And the jus in the cooking pouch needs little to turn it into a marvelous very old fashioned “Careme's recipe” demi-glace. One way is to strain it well (extra fine sieve) immediately if you want to use it right away (in which case don' forget to add a few drops of Madeira) OR you can pour the jus into a container and refrigerate while still warm. The time it takes the refrigerator to chill it will allow the “sediments (coagulated blood, etc) to settle to the bottom, then when it is chilled it will be a gelatin with incredible flavor. Oh, and with either method, add the Madeira before chilling or using as a demi glace.

                                              SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO... From what I've read of your description of how you handled your first attempt, you didn't do too bad, but it is definitely the wide variances you allowed in the cooking temperature over the long haul. The REAL trick to sous vide is to have your ingredients, whether beef shank, lamb shank or fois gras, packaged raw in the sous vide bag, THEN lower the food into the proper temperature water bath and maintain it until the desired result and the time/temperatre requirement is complete. And don't feel bad. Your error is COMMON to the sous vide learning experience. Just read the references I and others have offered before spending money on beef. Even “cheap” beef is expensive these days. So good show, good luck, and give the beef shanks a fair shot next time, and make sure they have the marrow bone in place when you buy them! Do it right and the results are fannnntastic!!!!

                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                What you wrote in no way replied to what I wrote. And I dropped the temp to 130 cause your and others recommendation of higher temp would have produced even more overcooked meat. I really don't understand what you're trying to say when you write: "It's one thing if you're going to use sous vide...." If there's "one thing," seems like there needs to be at least a second thing. It was cooked perfectly evenly all the way through. The meat was medium, not medium rare - by a long shot. See these temps and pix:

                                                My problem is not the degree of doneness nor the eveness of the cooking.

                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                  What I wrote was NOT complete. There was a glitch with my computer, and the full reply is available now. If you don't want to read it, it may help others.

                                                2. re: Caroline1

                                                  I am NEVER going to cook a piece of steak to 138 or 140. It's overcooked. It's not medium rare; it's medium. And if you read the link I posted below you'll see how Keller did short ribs. You're talking about food safety and, as I've said before, that's not something I have interest in when it comes to overcooking meat.

                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                    Whatever. Maybe it will help someone else.

                                                3. re: c oliver

                                                  What you lose with SV is the deep rich flavors you develop with braising

                                                  My last boneless short I smeared with some Better than Bouillon paste after giving it a surface torching, bagged and tossed in the bath. 48hr/140f turned out some tasty meat that was as tender as pot roast not rare like tenderloin but lightly pink

                                                  Another day I did braised a chuck roast in the traditional method for a beef stew

                                                  The stew meat was fantastic but took a lot more of my time to prepare

                                                  The best part of SV, to me, is being able to walk away and not worry about over or under cooking. More margin of error time wise. I don't think it make things taste better in many cases but allows you do walk away

                                                  Now carrots and fennel SV were more intensely flavored in a simple prep than traditional methods

                                                  1. re: scubadoo97

                                                    I guess I thought I was going to turn this piece of shank into a steak. Texture-wise it just didn't make it for us. And the more I think about it the inedibility of the fat probably contributed to the lack of flavor/umami.

                                                    So what are you doing with these meats after you SV them? When you did the chuck like a stew, did it have vegetables in with the meat? When you did the short ribs, how were they served? Do you make a sauce on the side? Do you use the juice from the meat with the seasonings?

                                                    Thanks, s.

                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                      The beef stew was full of carrots onions potatoes and red wine. The meat was browned before braising. All the things that build flavor

                                                      The SV short ribs were only smeared with BTB beef stock paste

                                                      I did use the juice from the short ribs and they were served a top some tasty mashed potatoes

                                                      Don't get me wrong. The short ribs were delicious, had great texture of braised beef and were pink in color. I was very pleased. While they cooked I did nothing except make sure the temp was as it should be and the unit was running. As a side note for longer cooking I plug my Anova into a UPS power supply in case of a brief power interruption which would shut the unit down when I was away.

                                                      SV allowed me to have dinner ready when my wife got home without having to worry about exactly when she would be home. Very forgiving in that respect which is a big plus. I was able to enjoy my time more freely as well

                                                      SV allows more control of finishing temp on a steak for instance with the texture more uniform from edge to edge with out the strict timing required to achieve it the traditional way. It may lack depth of flavor but it's a give and take. It's not the end all method but it's a nice addition to our household where we both work.

                                                      I don't have time to make braised short ribs on a Tuesday night the traditional way but with SV it's doable

                                                      It's not going to make beef shank into tenderloin but it can make a very tender tasty beef shank that you don't have to baby sit while it's cooking

                                                      1. re: scubadoo97

                                                        Thanks for taking the time to elaborate. I think the main mistake I made was reading that others take these tough cuts and think they're turning them into steaks. Maybe for them, not for me. I'm going your way. AND Thomas Keller's. But yours first, of course :)

                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                          Do you have a torch? To get the fat caramelized you need to either sear on the grill, with a torch or on a hot skillet and adjust you finishing temp to allow for this finishing step

                                                          Some people sear before bagging to "sterilize" the surface of meat that's cooked for days. I've heard a few discribe a cheesy nasty smell when they opened their long awaited bags. I've not encountered it but I did lightly torch my chicken breast before seasoning

                                                          The problem with extensive torching after cooking is it gives an off "torch taste" that some pick up on

                                                          Someone on egullet has been deep frying pork loin and steaks after SV cooking. The loin was perfectly pink across with a thin brown crust. You are not going to get that with traditional methods.

                                                          Egullet has many long running threads on SV cooking. A lot of good info that will help you find what SV can do and what it can't. Have fun with it and experiment. You will have successes and failures but it's all part of learning. I'm still a newbie but having fun

                                                          1. re: scubadoo97

                                                            Thanks for the egullet rec. My only torch is for creme brulee :) But I have CI skillets and an induction cooktop which can get screaming hot. Also have a gas grill. I seared in the CI last night. It will be fun. Always about the journey not just the destination eh?

                                                    2. re: scubadoo97


                                                      "Sous vide was invented in France in the 1970s, and Keller started using the technique in the late ’90s at the French Laundry. He also used it at Ad Hoc, which I originally reviewed in 2006, in the braised short ribs. That dish is still my bench mark for how to use this technique properly; it resulted in the best braised short ribs I’ve eaten. The meat was cooked sous vide for 48 hours until evenly rare. It was then seared and roasted to medium-rare. It came out with a nicely caramelized interior but the meat was very tender, with the fat evenly distributed so that each bite offered a burst of rich juice."

                                                      Now THIS is what I can get behind. Next time.

                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                        Tonight I have a couple of BSCB coated in a mix of white miso, sambal chili, a bit of BTB chicken base, toasted sesame oil and natural smooth peanut butter.

                                                        These will cook for a min of 2 hrs at 147f

                                                        I plan to serve with braised baby bok choy. Wifey is out getting a her toes done. Was suppose to be home by now but I'm not concerned. The chicken will come out at the last moment after I've braised the bok choy. I'll sear them off to give some texture but for now I'm sipping some new bourbon acquisitions and sharing food knowledge on CH. :-D

                                                        1. re: scubadoo97

                                                          I'm glad to see your priorities are correct! It IS five o'clock somewhere. I've just made turkey tails :) for tonight's dinner.

                                                        2. re: c oliver

                                                          I think Bauer's quote isn't correct in how the meat is cooked. First it wasn't cooked 48 hours until evenly rare -- it only takes an hour or two to get to that temperature. Second, I think of rare as being between 120-125 degrees, which is an unsafe temperature range for long-term sous-vide cooking.

                                                          I think Keller uses 132 degrees for his short rib recipe. The recommendation in Modernist Cuisine is 136 degrees. Note that the best target temperature depends on the actual cut of meat -- e.g. in Modernist Cuisine the target temperature for beef brisket is 140 degrees, and for lamb shank is 144 degrees.

                                                          1. re: calumin

                                                            It's only unsafe if there's a problem to begin with. Those higher temps are for things that need them. A steak doesn't.

                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                              You're missing my point. Yes I think doing sous vide at 120 degrees for 3 days is a very bad idea, but my main point is that higher temperature isn't just for safety. The range of temperatures to cook tough cuts of meat is different than the range of temperatures to cook tender cuts.

                                                              I wouldn't use the temperature chart for rare / medium rare etc. that is used for tender beef cuts, when you are cooking a tough cut like brisket or shank. With tough cuts, you are trying to find a temperature and time interval that breaks down collagen while keeping the right moisture level and texture.

                                                              For a filet I think cooking to 122 degrees would be great, but I would only cook it for a couple hours and then take it out.

                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                "It's only unsafe if there's a problem to begin with."

                                                                c oliver - I know you're not concerned about food safety, but for anyone else who reads this, that statement isn't actually true.

                                                                The reason sous vide for very long times below 130 degrees isn't recommended is the potential to form botulinum toxins. This is an issue specific to sous vide cooking. Because the meat is cooked in an anaerobic environment, when you cook for days at a low temperature (e.g. 120 degrees) you are creating a very favorable environment for these toxins. The bacteria itself isn't that harmful but toxins created by the spores are. A moist, protein-laden, anaerobic environment provides the environment for this formation.

                                                                At a high enough temperature (e.g. over 130 degrees) or at a low enough time interval (e.g. under 4 hours), this isn't generally considered an issue.

                                                                1. re: calumin

                                                                  Actually, as I understand it, it's the longer time that allows for pasteurization.

                                                                  If you read the attached you'll see that the % from food and the # of people who actually die is incredibly small. Using their numbers, there would be one death per year. And, yes, while one is sad, I think most 'dangerous' things have a much higher mortality rate. Again, I'm not suggesting that anyone do what I do


                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                    No, calumin is right, essentially. You cannot effectively pasteurize below 130. At temperatures below that, a longer cooking time is actually more dangerous than a shorter cooking time, because it gives bacteria more time to reproduce, generate toxins, etc.

                                                                    In complete honesty, it's probably a bit more complicated than that though. Different bacteria are killed at different rates at different temperatures. A temp of 120, for example, may be lethal (albeit slowly lethal) to some strains, bacteriostatic (discouraging bacterial growth without killing said bacteria) to other strains, and favorable conditions for bacterial growth or toxin release for other strains still. And of course, all this might depend on what else you have inside the bag and whether that environment makes for more or less favorable conditions.

                                                                    Exactly how great of a risk you'd face, I'd have a hard time saying. It would depend on your ingredients, among other things.

                                                                    Take what risks you personally feel up to. But the US isn't exactly full of people cooking sous vide at 120 for 30 hours either - you're in somewhat uncharted territory, and existing statistics aren't especially applicable.

                                                                    Read all you can about botulism, while you're at it - that's the big anaerobic, endospore-forming, disturbingly lethal boogeyman of sous vide cookery.

                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                      Thank you. Good info. And I hope you and others will pay attention to just how little botulism there is. If the spores aren't there to begin with, they're not going to suddenly appear.

                                                                    2. re: c oliver

                                                                      Yes I agree with you, the odds of infection are very low.

                                                                      I think of the botulism risk a bit differently because it can be a specific by-product of the preparation process. It's a bit like home canning - something that if you do, you want to do correctly.

                                                                      The longer cooking times do allow for pasteurization at lower temperatures. However, if you go down to the 125 degree range or lower and keep for a very long time (eg days), you are creating an environment that can allow botulinum toxins to form.

                                                                      1. re: calumin

                                                                        Botulism can't "form" if it's not there to begin with. Right?

                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                          The way I understand it, the bacteria may be present to begin with but it's not harmful. When you put the bacteria in a certain environment (e.g. a warm, protein-rich anaerobic environment like the inside of a sous vide bag with moist meat inside), then you trigger the creation of toxins from either the bacteria or its spores.

                                                                          So the meat might not contain anything harmful to begin with, but putting it under a certain sous vide environment can trigger toxin creation in a way that other methods of preparation never would.

                                                                          1. re: calumin

                                                                            Sure, it "MAY" be present. But, considering the statistics, it's quite unlikely. And if it's NOT present it can't become present. I do understand that people have different opinions on food safety. Go in peace :)

                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                              Well to be clear, C. botulinum is is very widely present -- it exists in water and soil, and any food that comes in contact with it. On its own, it's not dangerous.

                                                                              The reason botulism infection rates are so low is that professional canners use proper techniques to preserve food, so that the bacteria doesn't produce toxins. If they didn't the rates would be much higher. When non-professionals don't use safe methods then the risk goes higher.

                                                                              Anyway, you get the picture. To each his own!

                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                As I said above, I doubt the statistics are very applicable. Cooking sous vide below 130 for extended periods is not something that is commonly done. I cannot give you a particularly well informed risk assessment, and I've read quite a bit about bacterial growth and sous vide cookery (two interests of mine that dovetail nicely).

                                                                                As for anecdotal evidence...
                                                                                Alanbarnes told me on another thread long ago that he occasionally cooked for extended periods below 130. No problems at the time. Of course he's not around here anymore, (yeah, that's a pretty grim joke... I liked the guy, and I'm assuming he just got bored of chowhound and stopped posting, so hopefully it's not THAT grim)

                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                  Alan's alive and well. We're in contact and see him occasionally when we're headed to SF

                                                                            2. re: c oliver

                                                                              The problem with botulism is that it is "there" far more often than you think. It is pretty common on potato skins, which is why washing and cooking properly is critical. In 1994 this country's largest botulism outbreak resulted at Tassos, my favorite El Paso Greek restaurant, when at closing time one night a prep cook decided to leave a large pan of foil wrapped baked potatoes on the counter overnight because they were too hot to put in the cooler before he went home. They were used the next day to make skordalia, a potato garlic dip. 30 people were hospitalized as a result, several of whom had to be put on ventilators to keep them alive. Later it was found that botulism was also present in an eggplant dip as well, and accountable for some of the documented botulism illnesses. Many reports since then link the baked potatoes to both the potato dip and the eggplant dip, but that simply isn't true because potatoes in any amount are not used in the eggplant preparation, but the eggplants WERE roasted in the same oven when it was reheated the next day. It is also possible it was a simple case of cross contamination. Whatever happened, botulism is not something to dismiss lightly, nor is it something you can see or detect easily.

                                                                              Botulism is simply "there" far more than people realize, and reasonable people take that into account and practice safe food handling techniques. That's just common sense.

                                                              2. re: c oliver

                                                                There's something important to remember about sous vide. There are two methods of cooking which are quite different.

                                                                The first method is where you simply bring the temperature of the meat to water temperature. In some cases you might hold it at that temperature to pasteurize, but the goal is to get the temperature of the meat uniformly to a desired temperature -- e.g. bringing a filet to 122 degrees for rare or 130 degrees for medium rare. This method works well for tender cuts of meat.

                                                                The second method is where you hold the meat at temperature for much longer time to tenderize. You might also get the benefit of pasteurization, but the goal is to trigger collagen reactions. You can trigger these reactions at temperatures as low as 122 degrees. The higher the temperature you use, the faster you can trigger the reactions, but the more you dry out the meat as well. With tough cuts of meat, this is the method you should use -- but tenderness and texture aren't determined by the final temperature (e.g. 122 = rare, 131 = medium rare, etc.) as much as they are by the extent to which the meat has been broken down by collagen reactions.

                                                                For a tough cut of meat, different target temperatures will change the final texture. I think you can only try it at different temperatures to find the results you like, or use a reference book from someone who has already tested different scenarios. I think the two main options you have are to hold at 140-145 degrees for a long time (~72 hours), or to go very high temp like 185 degrees for 4-5 hours. The lower temperatures will make the meat more tender.

                                                                The reference book I use is Modernist Cuisine at Home by Nathan Myhrvold (which is fantastic). He doesn't have a specific recommendation for beef shank, but for beef brisket he recommends 145 degrees for 72 hours for flaky meat, or 140 degrees for 72 hours for more yielding meat. For lamb shank he recommends 144 degrees for 48 hours.

                                                                My initial thought on your first test was that you might like the texture better if you held temperature higher at 140-145, instead of 130. I would suggest suspending your thoughts of "medium rare" vs "medium" for purposes of a test to see if the resulting texture is better than your initial try.

                                                                I wouldn't recommend very long cooking at lower than 130 degrees. You run the risk of contamination by being too close to the danger zone for a long period of time.

                                                                1. re: calumin

                                                                  Calumin's post is a good one.

                                                                  C Oliver, i'd suggest you play around with different temperatures and times when cooking meats sous vide. Especially connective tissue-laden 'braising meats' like shank, ribs, should, oxtail, etc. That's one of the basic joys of sous vide cooking - different temperatures and times have different effects, and there's still a good bit to explore.

                                                                  Understand the principles of pasteurization. For practical purposes, you can only pasteurize at temperatures of 130 and above. The time/temp/thickness tables posted and linked above tell you the time to pasteurize a cut of meat, but not necessarily how long you want to cook it. But they also tell you something else, just as useful. Look at the time to pasteurize a very thin cut of meat at a given temperature, and look at the time to pasteurize a much thicker cut of meat at the same temp - the difference between those times is how long it takes for the whole piece of meat to rise to the temperature of the water bath.

                                                                  You'll notice that the time for meat to heat through is at most a few hours (except for very thick cuts). So when you see a cooking time of 24, 36, 72 hours... almost all of that time is to tenderize the meat. The thickness of the cut does not matter very much when using a longer sous vide preparation for meat. Rather, cooking time is determined by how easily the meat tenderizes, the cooking temperature, and the desired effect. Thicker cuts of meat are often easier to finish by searing, grilling, smoking, etc, without overcooking the interior after a sous vide bath.

                                                                  Higher temperatures make the meat tenderize more quickly than lower temperatures, and call for shorter cooking times. They also cause meat to contract more during cooking, squeezing out juices. That said, you'll most likely find that cooking at the lowest possible temperature over the longest time does not always produce the best results. Many meats are tender enough and retain better texture in warmer baths.

                                                                  Another thing to keep in mind: you can remove meat from a bath, test it for texture, and then pack it in another vacuum bag and cook it more if you like. Just be certain that you're cooking it long enough to pasteurize it again if you're going to be storing the meat afterwards.

                                                                2. re: c oliver

                                                                  Hi, c oliver:

                                                                  I don't yet have a SV setup, but I have had the unfortunate experience once of cooking some venison backstrap and loin slow-n-low in the 140F neighborhood. "Homogenous" is one word for the result, but "grey toothpaste" better captures it.

                                                                  Color me a little cynical, but the whole SV thing strikes me as being less about the result and more about restos and caterers dependably turning out large numbers of consistent preps. I'll be interested to see how much you like it as you work with it more.


                                                                  1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                    Had you done that blackstrap at 128-130 for 3 hrs I think you would have a nice edge to edge red piece of meat that with a quick sear on a very hot griddle or on a blazing hot grill would develop a nice thin crust.
                                                                    It could also be dropped in a fryer to quickly develop a crust without further cooking the meat

                                                                    No gray pasty texture

                                                                    1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                      That was about the length of time. You think the extra 10F made a difference?

                                                                      It had a beautiful smoke ring, but you literally could have squeezed the paste out of the center. From now on, venison's fast and hot at my house.

                                                                        1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                          BTW, K, I've read and read that that mystical smoke ring means not a darn thing and, in fact, in competitions it can't even be considered.

                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                            Hi, c oliver:

                                                                            I've never pondered the "meaning" of the ring. All I know is that it happens and is in plain sight.

                                                                            My venison looked from the outside to be properly cooked, droolingly so. The outer 1/2 inch in fact was OK, but inside that...toothpaste. This was from a young, healthy alfalfa-fed animal I had shot and butchered myself, other pieces of which cooked beautifully, so I'm out of variables to blame other than slow-n-low in general.

                                                                            Happy Reading,

                                                                            1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                              Back strap and loin are actually problematic cuts of meat to subject to very long cooking times using sous vide. I explained this phenomenon in another thread in some detail with the following two posts, if you're interested:

                                                                              Of course, it depends heavily on how long you actually cooked 'low and slow.' But the same principle applies to non-sous vide low and slow cooking using some cuts of meat. You can still cook these cuts of meat well using sous vide, but you're better off not extending the cooking process longer than you have to, and often better off not even taking the time to fully pasteurize the meat.

                                                                              In short, some of the same things that make braising cuts work so well when cooking sous vide make more tender cuts trickier to cook at low and slow temperatures/times.

                                                                3. Thanks all. The good news is that the book I just got (thanks, scube) gives lengthy charts/tables for dozens and dozens of meat (other things also). And honestly I have zero concern about food safety. I respect the fact others feel differently. I'll just start working my way through. I'm quite sure now that the main reason I was disappointed in the first one is that I had the impression that I could take just about any cut of meat and turn it into a steak. That was a cut that needed to be what the cow-god intended and a steak wasn't it :)

                                                                  1. So Santa did in fact bring me one, along with Thomas Keller's book. And then I immediately bought myself a food saver as the ziplock bag thing was not really a great solution.

                                                                    I've made carrots (delicious), steak (great) and today beets (haven't tried them yet).

                                                                    But what I really want to know is, what is sealed in the bag on the cover of Keller's book? It's driving me nuts.

                                                                    1 Reply