Category Archives: sous vide

Sous Vide Cuttlefish Tagliatelle

Another sous vide success: Cuttlefish Tagliatelle! An unusual dish that’s easy to prepare. Here’s my story.

Frozen cleaned cuttlefish at CAM

I found a package of frozen cleaned cuttlefish at my local Asian supermarket and tried to cook it as I had it in California many years ago: as an alternative to sauteed egg-coated abalone paillard. It was okay, but not really up to my abalone standards, so I looked for another way to prepare the remaining pieces. I recalled reading about Cuttlefish Tagliatelle so went on the hunt.

Thomas Keller’s book “Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide” has the recipe, available in a modified form in a blog I found, so I used it as a guide.

I thawed and cleaned the 2 pieces of cuttlefish I had remaining, mixed together some olive oil, salt & pepper, ground cumin, rosemary, thyme, minced onion, and minced red bell pepper, and spread a coat of the mixture on the cuttlefish pieces. I put each in a quart-sized Ziploc freezer bag, sucked out the air with a straw, and sealed them.

Packed cuttlefish with marinade

Packs in rack

Because the cuttlefish were so thin, they wouldn’t stand up in my SousVide rack, so I wove them through the rack, keeping the pieces from overlapping, and laid the rack horizontally in the water bath. I cooked them in my SousVide Supreme Demi at 147° for 10 hours.

Sliced cuttlefish

I drained and reserved the cooking liquid from the pouches, resealed them and chilled the cooked cuttlefish in ice water while making the dressing in the blog from lemon juice, olive oil, soy sauce, shaohsing wine (in place of the mirin in the recipe), garlic, and ground pepper. I sliced the chilled cuttlefish pieces into strips and tossed them in the dressing.

I enjoyed the look and texture of the cuttlefish – toothy yet tender – but found the dressing a little too simple. I mixed in a little mayonnaise and a bit of the cooking liquid and liked it, happily eating all of the two pieces for lunch.

I used the reserved cooking liquid, with additional chicken broth, to make quite a tasty risotto. In fact, it would make a nice accompaniment to a warm cuttlefish tagliatelle.

Alternatively, the cuttlefish “pasta” would make a tasty and interesting cold salad, served on lettuce leaves, but will need 1-2 pieces per person, depending on the serving size.

Next time, I’ll cut the cuttlefish into thinner strips – about the same width as the thickness of the cuttlefish; the cuttlefish will probably still hold together as strands without breaking apart. If serving the cuttlefish cold, I’ll take more care to whisk together a vinaigrette of the ingredients before tossing the cuttlefish strips in it. I’ll also be more diligent in sucking out more of the air (I’ll probably use my vacuum packing machine), and try folding over the packets to stand each in a single slot in the rack.

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Every St. Patrick’s Day, supermarkets run sales on their corned beef and I hunger for that old familiar taste. This year, as I did last year, I bought some corned beef and tried cooking it sous vide again. I think I perfected my recipe this year.

I tried a couple of different recipes last year (cooking at 135° for 24 to 48 hours, with the spice packet sprinkled around the beef), but the recipes didn’t quite give me the familiar texture I recalled from my youth, and the spices clung to the beef. I searched again for recipes online, combined ideas from different ones – this one, cooking at 178° for 10 hours  – and I ended up with what I had been searching for.

As with all other preparations, the cooked corned beef lost 40% of its weight by throwing off juices. Wrapping the spices in cheesecloth kept the meat clean, while still flavoring it.

The meat was perfectly cooked, fork tender yet not flaky, and retaining its luscious fat.

DSC04723SOUS VIDE CORNED BEEF

INGREDIENTS:

3 pounds corned beef (from supermarket, vacuum packed with spice packet)

4 carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces

4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and halved or quartered (depending on size)

1 head cabbage, washed and cut into six or eight wedges

PREPARATION:

Heat water in sous vide cooker to 178°.

Remove beef and spice packet from vacuum pack. Wash beef well and place in a gallon Ziploc freezer bag. Wrap the spices a piece of cheesecloth (several layers thick) and tie with string into a bag.  Place atop beef in the freezer bag. Suck air account and seal.

Place beef flat in the sous vide covered in 178° water, weight down with the rack, and cook for 10 hours.

Heat 8 cups of water in a large cooking pot and until almost boiling (best, below 178°). Turn off heat.

Drain the cooking liquid from the cooking bag into a container, with the wrapped spice ball.

Place the beef from sous vide bag into the hot water in the cooking pot, and let it sit for about 30 minutes. This will remove the excess saltiness from the beef and flavor the cooking water. Put the beef back into the Ziploc bag, suck the air out, and reheat in the sous vide cooker at 178°.

Pour cooking juices and spice ball into the cooking pot, with the vegetables. Bring to a boil and cook for about 45 minutes.

Remove the corned beef from the sous vide bag and slice across the grain into 1/2 inch slices. (Because the beef is so tender, it doesn’t need to be sliced thinner.) Serve with the boiled vegetables and ketchup, if desired (I find the ketchup adds a nice sweet and sour element to the salty beef).

The corned beef slices and vegetables reheat well in the microwave, but be sure not to overnuke the meat!

Sous Vide: Chuck Roast

I’ve cooked short ribs of beef sous vide and am pleased that the result tastes like very good roast beef. But having done it, it seems a little pointless to take days of cooking to make one expensive cut of meat taste like another expensive cut. So I decided to take an inexpensive cut of meat to see how sous vide cooking might transform it.
I read several blogs of others’ experience cooking various beef cuts sous vide. Beef round roasts and steaks appear to be too lean to cook well sous vide, but chuck has enough fat and connective tissue to benefit from the cooking method. So I bought a supermarket boneless chuck roast and looked for a recipe.
I found a recipe entitled “24-Hour Melt-in-Your-Mouth Beef with Mushroom  Sauce” by Hillary Nelson and tried it. Her recipe provides good background information, photos, and detailed instructions.
I followed the recipe fairly closely, trimming the fat and silver skin from my 2 1/2 pound chuck roast. Removing the silver skin involved cutting into the roast and I ended up with 3 thick pieces, which I sliced in half, resulting in 6 pieces each about 1 1/4 inches thick. I put 2 pieces into the bottom of each of three 1-quart Ziploc freezer bags and added 3/4 cup of marinade into each bag, saving the unused marinade for the sauce. I sucked most of the air out of the bags using a straw, but wasn’t concerned about the little bit of air remaining, since the beef was totally covered with the marinade. Cooked the chuck in my Sous Vide Supreme at 135℉ for 24 hours.
Continued with the recipe, making the mushroom sauce (the recipe says to “add onions to the pan” but didn’t say how much onion, so I sliced and cooked one medium yellow onion). It took about 20 minutes to reduce the liquids down in a large frypan to a sauce-like consistency and didn’t need any further seasoning.
Dried the beef pieces with paper towels and seared them in a hot pan with oil, as instructed, for 30 seconds on each side.
Although the pieces weren’t very pretty, given their odd shapes from cutting the silver skin, they were reasonably sized servings.
The meat came out an appealing medium-rare and the taste was terrific! Texture somewhat like a beautifully tender strip steak and the marinade gave it a delicious sweet taste. I was so happy with the results that I decided to write up this experiment to share it immediately. The sous vide preparation turned my $3/pound chuck into a $12/pound steak; quite a deal!
Thank you, Hillary Nelson, for your recipe! My next trial will be with grass-fed beef from my Amish beef purveyor, now that the farmers market season will soon be starting.

Sous Vide: Hamburger

Following the good example of Slow Food Columbus leader Bear Braumoeller, I bought some locally produced grass-fed ground beefat my local farmer’s market and made burgers sous vide. The were deliciously palate-opening!

I took 1/3 of the 1 pound of meat I bought and gently shaped a burger patty. Just a little salt and freshly ground pepper, then into a Ziploc Freezer Bag. As with my other sous vide foods, I sucked the air out of the bag with a straw and sealed it.

Cooked the burger in its sous vide water bath at 127°F (between the temperatures recommended for rare and medium rare beef) for about 90 minutes. Very little of the meat juices had been exuded; they were almost all left inside the beef.

As with my other sous vide foods, the burger came out an unappetizing color …

… but that was fixed with a quick 45 second searing on each side in a hot fry pan with a little oil. I accompanied the burger with slices of pan-grilled Vidalia onion and locally grown tomato.

The burger was uniformly and beautifully medium rare inside. The taste was remarkable: It had real flavor! The combination of grass-fed beef and sous vide preparation that kept the juices in the meat made a real difference in taste.

The best grilled burgers I’ve had are at Squire’s restaurant in my Mom’s home of Briarcliff Manor. They’re flame broiled and for 40+ years have been the juiciest, tastiest burgers I’ve ever had. (Okay, the $32 burger at db Bistro Moderne in NYC is remarkable, but it’s filled with braised short rib and black truffle.) But even the Squire’s burger lacked the flavor of my sous vide burger. Maybe it’s because its meat juices drip out of the burger onto the bun.

I thought of how I always load my burgers with Heinz ketchup. I savored my sous vide burger without that condiment, enjoying every bite. This was the first time in memory that I chose to have a burger without ketchup.

I’m looking forward to making my next sous vide burger tomorrow without the salt and pepper to see how the grain-fed beef tastes really plain.

Sous Vide: Short Ribs of Beef

Given my experience with the tenderness of sous vide steak, I recalled the incredibly tender short ribs I had 14 years ago prepared by chef Daniel Orr at NYC’s La Grenouille restaurant. To this day, I’ve searched for but not found another short rib dish as tender as Orr’s, with no sign of stringiness of the meat. Could he have cooked it sous vide?

I looked for several days for short ribs of beef and finally found some frozen at Carfagna’s Italian market. After I thawed the vacuum packed meat, I was disappointed to find the pieces weren’t the nice, thick, meaty short ribs I was accustomed to, but rather thin and fatty. Nevertheless, I cooked on.

With the 8 pieces in the 2 pounds of short ribs I had bought, I tried two different recipes: classic, with salt, pepper, minced garlic, and olive oil; and Chinese, with five spice powder, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Again, simple preparation: I rubbed the spices in, packed the meat in 1 quart Ziploc Freezer Bags, and poured in the oils; sucked the air out with a straw; but this time, the recommended cooking time was 36 to 48 hours at 133°F for medium rare.

By the second day of cooking, though, I had been invited out to dinner for that night. So I took out one packet after about 40 hours of cooking to try as an afternoon snack. It was the Chinese preparation.

The meat was medium rare and nicely tender. I thought the bag had leaked, though, as there was a lot of cooking liquid; I noticed a small hole in the bag, caused by a sharp rib bone.

While the meat was tender, it wasn’t ethereally so, and the gristle between the meat and bone was chewy, though edible. When braised in the normal way, the gristle is very tender. I left the other pieces to cook.

I took out the other pieces for lunch the next day – a total of 62 hours cooking! I opened the classic style ones. They still looked medium rare. There was less cooking liquid too; these bags hadn’t leaked.

I pan seared the ribs for about 45 seconds on each side to give them their classic browned appearance. Sliced open, the were still medium rare.

They tasted like my favorite part of a roasted prime rib: the outside layer between the fat and the rib eye. Although that part is always well done – and I like my beef very rare – it is the most flavorful and tender part, given all the fat that marbles and surrounds it.

The short rib meat was succulent and very tender – and it didn’t have the stringiness that braised short ribs always have. The gristle was still chewy, but tender enough to eat and enjoy. I savored eating every piece, though there was rather little meat, given the big bones and thick layers of fat.

I’ll have to try sous vide short ribs again with some meatier pieces. I think I may have discovered chef Daniel Orr’s secret to his short rib preparation at La Grenouille in that truly memorable meal I had so many years ago.

Sous Vide: First Trials

Inspired by rave reviews in cooking shows and by my foodie friends, I had to try cooking Sous Vide. It’s a cooking technique where food is sealed in vacuum pouches and cooked a long time submerged in water at relatively low temperatures – the temperature at which the cooked food should end up. Made popular by famed chef Thomas Keller (The French Laundry, Per Se, and the recipes for the movie Ratatouille), the cooking method is often seen on Iron Chef America. I’ve tried cooking a few things so far and they’ve all come out wonderfully tender.

Keeping food within the narrow cooking temperature range required by this technique requires special equipment. I ordered a SousVide Supreme Demi from Bed Bath & Beyond through my local store (using a 20% off coupon, saving over $20 in handling costs rather than ordering online), which cost < $280 net and arrived less than 1 week after I ordered it.

I immediately tried soft-boiled eggs, since my friend May Lee’s Facebook description of Onsen Tamago sounded so yummy. Easy to do: I just plunked a couple of raw eggs into the warm water after the machine brought the temperature up to the 146°F. I cooked them for about 1 hour. (While the cooking times are long, given the low cooking temperatures, the cooking times aren’t strict, since once the food is done, it can be kept at that temperature without harm.) The eggs came out as others have described: The yolks were custardy; the whites, somewhat runny (the yolks cook require a lower temperature to cook through).

I tried cooking salmon steaks next. This required sealing the salmon pieces in plastic bags and sucking out the air. (Air is an insulator that prevents the food from cooking properly.) Rather than spending $150 for the SousVide vacuum packing machine, I tried using 1 quart Ziploc Freezer Bags. Preparation was quick and simple. After seasoning the fish, I sucked the air out of the bags using a soda straw. I cooked it to between rare and medium rare – according to the cooking chart: 122°F for about 45 minutes. I usually eat salmon sashimi raw on the inside, just quickly grilled on the outside, to keep it from being cooked too dry. The medium rare sous vide salmon came out creamily moist and tender.

Next I experimented with chicken leg quarters. I tried a recipe for chicken with 40 cloves of garlic – reminded me of one of the first recipes I tried ages ago front the Galloping Gourmet, cooked in a Romertopf clay pot – here leaving the skin on, seasoning with salt, pepper, herbs, garlic, and olive oil. Cooked at 176°F for 6 hours, as recommended in the recipe. When it was done, the pouch had a lot of oil, making the preparation somewhat akin to a confit. Under the broiler to brown the skin after cooking. I was a little disappointed: The chicken was overcooked and I preferred the taste and texture of my various chicken curry and stew recipes. The 176° had made sense to me, since that’s the temperature I roast a whole chicken to. Now I see other recipes calling for cooking chicken legs at 140°. I’ll try that next time.

Then on to a rib eye steak. Like the salmon, I seasoned it simply with a little salt and pepper, sealed the bag, and let it cook at 127°F for 1 hour to a rare medium rare. As recommended, I quickly pan seared the steak after its sous vide treatment to provide a crusty brown outside. The uniformly cooked steak had a nice toothy texture, yet tender throughout. My leftover steak was even more impressive the next day served cold in thin slices.

Since the salmon, chicken, and ribeye were experiments, I had bought inexpensive supermarket fish and meats and didn’t bother taking pictures. My mistake! Despite their humble origin, the salmon and steak were fairly impressive in taste and appearance, worthy of showing.

Also, the Ziploc bags worked fine. With the chicken, partway through the cooking I saw a big air bubble in the bags causing them to float. I clearly hadn’t gotten all the air out. So I just unzipped the bag, used my straw, sucked out the air, resealed it, and let it go on cooking.

The experiments were fairly successful, so on to the next round. Since cooking sous vide results in food that is incredibly tender, I wanted to try it on short ribs of beef. More to come.