Sous vide success succeeds sous vide failure

April 20, 2012

Yes, Lord. Nothing wrong with that dinner.

You and y’mama ‘n ’em may recall that, back before The Move, I was dipping my toe into the world of sous vide. I did a couple of dinners that way this week, mostly because it’s relatively easy to set the stage (season and vacuum seal the meat, get out the cooler and circulator) the night before, and then fill the thing with hot water, add the packet from the fridge, plunk in the circulator and let ‘er rip before you leave for work in the morning. Come home, finish things off, and Boom, dinner.

Monday night, I prepped a couple of steaks that I had planned to cook the night before, but you know where the the road that’s paved with good intentions leads to, right? So I got up Tuesday morning, popped ’em in the cooler, filled it with hot water, set up the circulator, and off to work I went.

Cookin' with....well, a playmate cooler.

Came home to the distinctive smell of cooked meat. Which was a little odd, because, well, sealed in that vacuum pack, you don’t generally get much of a scent. A little, but not much. This was MUCH.

And I soon saw why. The FoodSaver had not sufficiently sealed the package, and it had opened about an inch gap in the seal which admitted copious quantities of water. Which essentially meant I had boiled steak, albeit perfectly rare boiled steak.

Not wanting to ditch said steaks, we ate ’em. And they weren’t bad. Sous Vide does its usual magic in reaching a perfect balance between texture and tenderness; it’s tender, but it has a bit of bite to it. Unfortunately, the errant water had sort-of leached out the grass-fed beef flavor (though Lucy loved it over her dog food, I can tell you).

Country style ribs, SV 20 hours at 155F, doused with sauce and ready for the oven.

The next night, however, was a different story. Just to be certain, I dragged out the FoodSaver again and double-sealed the boneless country style ribs, liberally sprinkled with my proprietary barbecue-spice rub. I chunked them in the larger cooler — a Playmate 16-quart — after I’d taken the first small-cooler assembly down, and went ahead and plugged them up.

After 20 hours of 155-degree braising, I fished ’em out, stuck them on a rack in the oven, slathered them with barbecue sauce, and left them for an hour at 400 while the beans were baking.

Good stuff. I would do one thing differently next time out. I’d turn the oven up blisteringly hot, and I’d leave them for about 15 minutes, just enough to get a little crust on them. Or I’d finish them on a hot grill, which I cannot get to just this moment because there are all manner of boxes all around it.

We had it with the rather pedestrian sides of baked beans and potato salad, with mac and cheese for the children. No one left hungry.

A nekkid, raw, salted and peppered organic chicken. He looked better about two hours later.

The next night, there was the first of my organic farm-raised chickens roasting in the oven, and smelling quite marvelous. He debuted at the table with some mashed potatos and some frozen peas or limas.

There is no picture of the finished bird, because, well, the kids came over again and I got distracted. There were no leftovers for the enchilidas I had planned later, either, because they decimated it. That’s OK. You and y’mama ‘n ’em know how it is, keeping the kids fed.

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