Archive for September, 2016

Sous Vide – Tuna

Tonight, I made dinner yet again.  This time, I only made one dish Sous Vide, Tuna following this recipe.  Differences this week:  I bought a Cambro 4.75 gallon container with a sliding lid to cook in and an Ikea pot organizer (which fits inside the Cambro, allowing me to keep the bags separated).

I’m not having much luck with proteins cooked Sous Vide.  Perhaps it was that the Tuna I cooked was a flash frozen Tuna from a local warehouse club.   It was Ahi Tuna, and the color didn’t look as red as I expected.  I think it was more of a brown, but perhaps that was from the freezing process?

I set my Anova to 115 degrees, as I wanted it to be a little firm, but not to the point that it’s dry.  I think my Tuna steaks were around 1 inch thick, giving me a cook time of 30-45 minutes.  I took the first piece out around the 45 minute mark and proceeded to sear it.  I probably took the last piece out between the 50 and 55 minute mark.

What I ended up with, though it was only cooked to 115 degrees, looked much closer in color to the 130 degree image from the Serious Eats article.

I thought that perhaps my issue was with the Anova itself.  Perhaps it was not accurately reading the temperature of the water, making it heat it up another 10-15 degrees above the expected temperature?  I tested that theory by firing up the Anova after dinner and placing a large mercury thermometer in the water bath.  It showed about 109, matching the Anova.  A few minutes later, when the Anova had reached 115, the mercury thermometer also showed about 115 degrees.

So, since the Anova is operating as expected, I can only conclude that I either overcooked the Tuna by going to 45-55 minutes and should have removed it at 30 minutes, or that it was a quality issue with my Tuna itself.  Another potential issue that I just thought of…  Perhaps my intake and outlets of the Anova are getting partially blocked, making the Anova overheat the water?

My choices of sides seemed to go well this evening, though they were not Sous Vide, so I am not going to go into them here, at this time.

Not sure what I’m going to make next Saturday.

September 24, 2016 at 10:24 pm Leave a comment

Sous Vide – Going both barrels

Since I had just bought my Anova, I figured I’d try to cook an entire meal using it.  A main dish, two sides, and a dessert.

Main dish:  Boneless Chicken breast
Side #1:  Garlic Cheese Risotto
Side #2:  Carrots
Dessert:  Individual Cheesecake

Yes.  All four items made Sous Vide.

I started Friday night by making the Cheesecake.  I basically adapted a recipe based on one I found on-line (linked in the Will it Sous Vide article on Skillet.  Spoiler: Yes, it will!).

My adapted recipe made 8 individual cheesecakes in mason jars, with some graham cracker crust mixture left over, I believe.

Saturday came.  My plan was to pre-cook both the Risotto and the Carrots placing them in the fridge, then cook the Chicken.  When the Chicken was ready, I’d take it out and start finishing it, dropping the Risotto and Carrots into the water bath to warm up.

Risotto – I followed this recipe pretty closely from the Sous Vide supreme website.   Everything looked pretty good when I took it out of the Sous Vide and placed it into the fridge, though I didn’t look too close.

Carrots – I followed this recipe pretty closely from ChefSteps, except I didn’t use the fancy seasonings they suggested during the finishing step.  (It too went into the fridge and was warmed back up while finishing the chicken).

Note:  Since both of these cook above 158 degrees, I double bagged them in Ziploc freezer bags.

The Chicken – Serious Eats is another great looking resource for Sous Vide, so I followed their guide on Chicken, though my chicken breast was boneless.  I chose the 150 degree temperature, as I figured that would be a good start for my family.

Results

When I pulled the chicken out at the 2 hour mark, I took the temperature with an old meat thermometer.  It measured in the low 140s, I believe.  Being new to sous vide cooking, and still be concerned about salmonella, I moved the Anova up to 155 and put it back in for about 30 minutes.  I was able to then finish it a skillet, browning both sides a little.

When we ate it though, I was surprised that it seemed dry.  I was expecting something more moist than we are used to, but I am not sure what happened.  Perhaps my old meat thermometer needs to be retired and replaced.  Perhaps the extra 30 minutes was the issue?  In any case, it was not what I expected.

The risotto, well, it did not turn out well at all.  It’s like the rice broke down.  The flavors were there, but it was just wrong.  This may have been due to the reheating I did.  Perhaps it was the ingredient – the grocery store Arborio rice?  I’ve not tried again to see if it’s better when eaten fresh, or if perhaps 45 minutes is a few minutes too long.

The carrots were a surprise hit.  Everyone who had them really seemed to like them.  The flavor seemed to be concentrated.   Though I went to the farmers market to try to find nice carrots, it looked like they just had monster carrots, so I used the normal ones my wife gets from the grocery store, and they were terrific.

The cheesecake was also well liked by everyone, which I pretty much expected.  I mean, it’s cheesecake – what’s not to like?

Final Tally:  2 winners, 2 losers

So, for cooking the protein, what Sous Vide is supposed to excel at, Sous Vide failed me, or perhaps I just failed.  Perhaps I should have trusted the technique, but it may have been a bad idea to try chicken as my first Sous Vide protein.

Risotto looked promising, but my result was disappointing.  I do want to try this again, as a method to cook risotto via Sous Vide would be great, as it is normally a labor intensive process.  Unfortunately, I think that the time-insensitivity that Sous Vide is famous for probably doesn’t hold true with rice.

 

September 24, 2016 at 9:23 pm Leave a comment

Sous Vide Cookery – Intro

My day job and the sort of things I enjoy doing in my free time seem to be technology based.  I’m not very into sports anymore, and I’ve slowed down on my woodworking, as it’s a pretty expensive hobby.  Relative to stress, it was recently suggested that I should get a hobby, so I’ve chosen one.

I’ve enjoyed cooking breakfast for my family on Sunday mornings for years.  There are also a few other meals I cook from time to time.  I don’t think I’ve ever been a great cook, but I do enjoy the satisfaction of cooking a good meal and seeing my family enjoy it.  I’ve recently read a bit about Sous Vide, and thought that sounded like my kind of cooking.  More relaxed and laid back, not the critical to the second cooking like you see on reality cooking TV shows.

My wife was on-board, as I offered to cook dinner on Saturdays.

I spent a little time reading about it.  And my wireless carrier sealed the deal for me, when they stopped allowing contract extensions to get you a subsidized iPhone.  My iPhone replacement budget category provided the seed money for my new hobby.

Enter the Anova Precision Cooker, a device that is relatively inexpensive ($199), easy to use from display of the device, and connects via Wi-Fi to you phone, allowing control and such there.  The Wi-Fi is not entirely necessary, but it’s a nice addition.  You could save $20 and get the Bluetooth only version, and you’d probably be perfectly happy with it.

Before deciding on the Anova, I read about the Joule also.  It sounded very much like the Anova, with one big difference.  From what I can tell, it’s controlled through your smart phone only, so there are no manual controls on it.  I read this good comparison article and had planned to get the Joule.  It appears as though they have only recently started shipping the Joule, and they are apparently sold out of their initial batch. Basically, both of  these units are very good, and they are right there on price too.  Since the Anova was much more readily available, that’s the one I bought.

My impression of the Anova were basically in-line with what I had read about it.  I did a quick test and spent a little time planning my first Saturday night meal.

 

September 24, 2016 at 8:37 pm Leave a comment


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