Sous vide steak: at home
March 02, 2018
I'm about 15 years late to the sous vide party, but if you know anything about me, you know I stay really really late at parties, so it all balances out.
The big benefit of sous vide is you can cook a piece of meat to the temp you want from crust to crust. None of that band of gray, dry meat with just a little m/r in the middle. This appeals to me, and it should appeal to everyone.
Curiosity got the best of me, and I figured I'd sous vide a steak. I didn't have one of those fancy devices, but I did have an instant read thermometer, a pot, and a stove.
I got myself a beautiful piece of beef tenderloin from Sal at Westwood Prime Meats, threw that in a vacuum sealer (these things are great and every cook should have one), and got my situation situated.
The challenge of sous vide cooking without one of those fancy devices is keep the water at a constant, and correct, temperature. After some fiddling, I found it was quite easy to dial in the temp. While you might be tempted to rely only on the knob of your stove to nail that temp, you might have an easier time using the combination of a very low flame, and moving the pot off the flame a bit. This way you can just nudge the pot back onto the flame a tad, or off, if the temp starts swinging.
Heck I had good results at a friend's house with a pretty crappy electric cooktop and an old analog thermometer.
Along with this steak I made an au poivre sauce based on Mario Batalis's recipe from The Chew of all places.
This stuff in the pic above, for me, is indispensable. The demi-glace is great for rich sauces like this, and the duck fat just adds another layer of decadence.
Also on the plate was a hassleback potato gratin recipe from seriouseats.com. I can't get enough of this dish.
To lighten it all up was a salad of arugula, dressed with oil and vinegar, with just a touch of blue cheese mixed in.
The end result was exactly what I wanted. After cooking the steak for an hour or two, you sear the outside for barely a minute. You'll get a nice crust, and the interior won't cook much at all.
While the process wasn't difficult at all, I did break down and get one of those fancy devices after this experiment. I figure I'll be staying at this party for quite some time. 90 bucks for this Chefman product. It has no stupid app or any of that other crap that some of the more expensive models have. Who needs an app? The device has exactly one thing to set, which is the temp. I can do that without an app.
If you haven't given this type of cooking a shot, you really should. Don't bother with pork chops unless you have really high quality pork. American pork overall is pretty bland, unexceptional stuff. But you can turn an equally bland piece of beef tenderloin into something special, especially if you slather it with au poivre sauce. Get on it!