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Old 06-30-2013, 12:35 AM   #1
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Sous Vide steak -- make it more rare?

Sous Vide steak is a definite answer to those who don't like blood in their steaks, but don't want their steak to be tough. For those people this technique should be a god send.

I've had several steaks now cooked in my sous vide and every single one of them has been juicy and tender. It's clear to me now that there is an almost total disconnect between what the steak looks like and what it tastes like and chews like (tenderness). One very basic fundamental of sous vide steak is that you have to sear it by some other method or it looks like grey beef. Sous vide is not a perfect technique, but in combination with other cooking techniques it's amazing.

I recall the best beef I've ever had: prime rib medium rare or even rare. Maybe even just a few heart beats of being revived (despite all its body parts being severed...)

So now that I have the almost perfect technique, what's in the way of it becoming perfect?

Instead of a steak that looks medium and tastes/chews medium rare, why not a steak that tastes blood rare? Can you do that with sous vide?

Current recommendation is 1-4 hours at 134F for 1" thick steaks. I'm temped to try 130F for 1 hour...

Yeah I know we have a food safety issue here, but the old rule is 145F before serving, and the 134F throws that baby out the window.

So how do we get blood rare out of sous vide?


(I've had steak tartare, where the steak never got over body temperature... Didn't kill me yet...)

(I routinely eat raw fish too and that hasn't killed me yet either. Yet... )

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Old 06-30-2013, 05:42 AM   #2
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Hi Greg, I have the Sous Vide supreme and their recipe for a rare rib-eye recommends 120F.

Sous Vide Ribeye Steak | SousVide Supreme Blog

As I seldom cook steak for more than just myself I haven't tried it. Other recipes of theirs have been good though

Love to know what it is like if you cook steaks at this temperatue. Like you I like mine almost mooing on the plate.
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Old 06-30-2013, 05:50 AM   #3
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I prefer my beef rare, as well...very rare. Never used sous vide but I hear it is a great method. I think you should give it a try.
Dag nab it .. all this talk about steak is gonna make me go to the store.
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Old 06-30-2013, 07:12 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by acerbicacid View Post
Hi Greg, I have the Sous Vide supreme and their recipe for a rare rib-eye recommends 120F.

Sous Vide Ribeye Steak | SousVide Supreme Blog
+1

I also have the SVS, and 134 is definitely med-rare. My personal preference is about 124 -125 - quite rare, but not mooing.
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Old 06-30-2013, 07:30 AM   #5
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I like my steak to have the right amount of sear on it for flavor and texture. That means when the right amount of sear is on the steak, it is done to the correct doneness for me and needs no further cooking. Even if you "kiss" the steak for color before you bag it and cook it in a water bath, it will not gain that flavor or texture. I choose my steak based on the tenderness of the cut when it has been cooked via the methods I have always used. I too also eat "raw" beef when we have carpaccio and I also eat raw fish. Sorry it just isn't for me.
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Old 06-30-2013, 09:31 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by acerbicacid View Post
Hi Greg, I have the Sous Vide supreme and their recipe for a rare rib-eye recommends 120F.

Sous Vide Ribeye Steak | SousVide Supreme Blog

...

Love to know what it is like if you cook steaks at this temperatue. Like you I like mine almost mooing on the plate.
Thanks for the info. I've had my SVS for little more than a week and hadnt heard of the blog. And also, I haven't had much time to do unessential things... like thinking. For more than 3 weeks I've been working about 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. getting my new household in order, and the more I get done the more I realize there is so much left to do. GF is coming over for dinner tonight and my dining room table (big massive ball claw oak table) is still in the garage, not sure if I can lift the table top without help, and anyway still have to clear some boxes out of the way to have a place to put it.

As things settle down in the next few months I'll have the time to explore more SV techniques. The quick start guide says 134F for 1-4 hours, I may nudge that down to perhaps 130F and see if there's a perceptible difference. Or perhaps I'll have time to read the blog today. Currently I'm trying to absorb enough coffee to allow me to switch over to active mode and get to some heavy lifting. Also gotta install the bedroom ceiling fan. The FR ceiling fan is great, last night was pretty hot even with no covers and I didn't want to run the air conditioner.
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Old 06-30-2013, 09:50 AM   #7
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Hi Greg, I had had mine for a couple of months before I found the blog and all the recipes on it - it was after I had bought a couple of books that weren't that good too.

I have subscribed to get their emails and I now always check their recipes before I cook anything sous vide.
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Old 06-30-2013, 11:18 PM   #8
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Just reporting back, GF just departed for her home and we had a great dinner! It turns out she likes her steaks medium, but she said the MR sous vide steak was one of the best steaks she ever had! I served a twice baked potato with that, and while I was cooking we had some potato chips and guacamole (we both share an affinity for Lay's wavy Hickory BBQ chips), and then a steamed artichoke with salted butter on the side.

Oh, I did get the oak table into my dining room and we enjoyed my first use of that table in over 2 years. I also got my new hand me down couch moved from driveway to living room (with neighbor's help). I got my old small oak table partially assembled after chopping it down to coffee table height and it totally works! (Somebody is going to get a real surprise if they sit on the edge, because the top is just sitting on the base, no screws or anything.

I showed GF my new 3000K LED lighting sysem, she an avowed "can't stand anything but incandescent" and she agreed, "it looks just like incandescent!"

GF is not a night person and I'm damned tired too, so I'll read a few more topics and then head up for bed, probably resume that urban fantasy novel I've been reading the last few weeks. I really like the book but I read a few pages and I'm out like a light.

So anyway it was a good dinner!
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Old 07-01-2013, 02:51 AM   #9
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So pleased the steak was well received and everything seems to be coming together
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Old 07-05-2013, 08:59 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Silversage View Post
+1

I also have the SVS, and 134 is definitely med-rare. My personal preference is about 124 -125 - quite rare, but not mooing.
I'm going for it!!! 125F... I don't really want rare or "blood rare" but the 134F was just a bit too done for me to reach steak nirvana. I decided to calibrate at 125F and then go from there.

It seems very odd to cook a steak at such a low temperature but we're not really cooking per se, we're denaturing the proteins, and if 125F will do it then it'll do it and that's a scientific fact. Then we give the outside a quick sear for appearance, and to burn a bit of that fat to give it more flavor.

So I'll report back later how my 125F MRR sous vide steak came out.
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Old 07-05-2013, 09:12 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Greg Who Cooks View Post
I'm going for it!!! 125F... I don't really want rare or "blood rare" but the 134F was just a bit too done for me to reach steak nirvana. I decided to calibrate at 125F and then go from there.

It seems very odd to cook a steak at such a low temperature but we're not really cooking per se, we're denaturing the proteins, and if 125F will do it then it'll do it and that's a scientific fact. Then we give the outside a quick sear for appearance, and to burn a bit of that fat to give it more flavor.

So I'll report back later how my 125F MRR sous vide steak came out.
Let us know how it turns out!
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Old 07-05-2013, 10:38 PM   #12
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Well at 125F for (I dunno) maybe couple hours, there were parts of the steak that were overcooked to my taste, and no part of the steak was undercooked. I'm headed for 120F next time, unless GF is over and then I'll nudge it to 130F and not tell her.

Actually I can keep nudging the steaks down and then if GF complains "it's too rare" I can just throw it on the grill pan for a minute or two more sear.

I think at some point we need to declare sous vide technology as a secret, in order to claim that we cook really great steaks and not let anybody know that the cooking method is almost as simple as "boil in bag," and in fact it IS boil in bag, except that we're not boiling of course...

I have a tri-tip roast already vacuum sealed that I'll cook some time soon. It was purchased on sale price, I sealed and froze it, and now I can cook it anytime. I haven't looked up the recipe yet but I think it will take more than an hour...

This technique works really great on products such as the Trader Joe's rib eye steaks already sealed in cryovac bags. Yeah you have no opportunity to season them, but there's no vacuum sealer bag cost and you can just go directly shelf to sous vide with absolutely no effort!

Next time I'm going 120F!!!
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Old 07-06-2013, 11:31 AM   #13
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Do you add seasoning before the sear?
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Old 07-08-2013, 10:08 PM   #14
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Do you add seasoning before the sear?
My original concept was buying cryo-vac products (like at Trader Joe's) and direct to sous vide. I've already proved to my satisfaction that this technique works, and works well.

So the question, do you mean before the vacuum sealing, or after steak done and just before sear. (Before vacuum would be ideal.)

So tonight I'm doing my steak at 120F. In fact it's already been an hour. I'll improvise some seasoning, perhaps an herbed butter, and saute that in my griller pan, and then I'll report back.
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Old 07-09-2013, 09:48 AM   #15
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(Before vacuum would be ideal.)
OK, that sort of answers my question. Then would you also pre-season something you intend to keep vacuum sealed for some length of time or would seasoning before searing (after sous vide) be ideal in this instance?
Thanks!
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Old 07-12-2013, 01:56 AM   #16
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Sous vide works great for steak! If you want to do 120 you certainly can, just keep the cook time relatively short (1 hour or so). If you do so you shouldn't have safety issues. You can make it even safer if you do a reverse sear; this means sear the steak first in a screaming hot pan or on a smoking hot grill, then sous vide it.

I bought two SVS machines, the Supreme and a Demi. This way I can cook larger batches or two different items.

Chicken is sublime when cooked sous vide! I'm a chef by trade, and I've long considered chicken breasts to be pretty bland and overall the most boring part of the bird. But if you cook them for 4 hours at 140 F, then sear, you'll have amazingly good chicken! This maximizes flavor and keeps them very moist. The dark meat tastes metallic if you don't cook it at 148 F or a little higher but at that temp it comes out great as well.
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Old 07-12-2013, 02:00 AM   #17
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OK, that sort of answers my question. Then would you also pre-season something you intend to keep vacuum sealed for some length of time or would seasoning before searing (after sous vide) be ideal in this instance?
Thanks!
If you pre-season with salt it will draw moisture out, drying out the meat. At least if you keep it sealed for long periods of time. I have a chamber vacuum sealer at home, and when I prepare stuff this way I usually season right before the final sear. It's kind of a trade off.
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