Monday, February 27, 2012

Sous-Vide New York Strip

Here at Griller Instinct, we typically discuss the finer points of, well, grilling.  My friend John, however, has been talking up the sous-vide method of cooking: what it is, why someone would do it, and the fact that it's not as hard as I'd always imagine. 

Since John was kind enough to both teach me abou sous-vide and lend me some of the equipment necessary to do the cooking, I wanted to pass my experience along in kind.

What is sous-vide?

The simplest way to define sous-vide may be to refer to its French meaning, “under vacuum.” Anything associated with a vacuum machine is sous-vide. In restaurants, the sous-vide process usually (but not always) consists of:
  • placing products into impervious plastic bags
  • putting those bags under vacuum
  • heat sealing those bags
  • releasing the vacuum
  • further manipulating, processing, or storing

For our purposes, we had Stew the butcher vacuum seal five NY Strip steaks.  I placed them in a water bath and set a water circulator to 128 degrees, then let them "cook" in the water bath for 4 hours.  If I were to make the steaks again, I would have made the bath 130 degrees, so learn from my soue-vide mistakes.

Why would someone do this?

I see two uses for doing this at home: first,  the end results have a unique texture.  In the case of the steaks, the texture is unusual because the meat sits in the water bath for four hours, they turn out very tender.

The second reason you might want to try sous-vide is its precise temperature control.  I set the water bath to 128 (rare) and no matter how long I leave it in there the steaks won't over cook.

Can I do this at home?

Only if you have a water circulator.  You also will need access to a vacuum sealer (and I was lucky enough to have Stew vacuum seal my steaks).

After the steaks were in the water bath for four hours, I removed them from the plastic wrap and seared each side for on minute, on a screaming hot cast iron skillet (600+ degrees).

I let the steaks rest for five minutes and they came out great.

I poured the remaining juices that were left in the bag into a pan, added red wine, and reduced it for a sauce.

Do you like Chemistry?  If so, here is some good info on cooking sous-vide.  I would say sous-vide is 50% Chemistry 50% cooking, but 100% delicious.

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