Sous Vide Another Way? UPDATE

Bill Arnold

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I have never used the sous vide method of cooking - yet. I understand the process but am wondering about an alternative to a water bath system. I have a Masterbuilt electric smoker with a temperature range of 100F to 275F. So, I can set it to 135F, a typical sous vide temperature. At that temperature, is there any reason I couldn't season some steaks, place them in a ziplock bag wrapped in foil and go for it? Or am I missing something???

Edit: Clarification - no smoke would be used during the s-v process - just low temperature.
 
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Vaughn McMillan

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Speaking as a rookie here, but if your Masterbuilt is like mine, it actually swings 5-10 degrees up and down as it heats and cools. I believe the water bath helps to equalize things and keep the temperature swings to a minimum. That said, it seems like you could put the ziplocked meat in a pot full of water inside the smoker and get workable results. But I'll let some of the more seasoned sous viders here chime in to correct me if I'm wrong.
 

Darren Wright

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I think you would want to use a pot of water in the smoker as Vaughn suggested as I think the consistency in temp is key. The other is measuring the temp of the water and keeping it right at that temp, not so much the chamber.

I know Brent as mentioned doing sous vide just using an igloo cooler and putting the right temp of water in the cooler and dropping steaks in there for an hour or so.
 

Brent Dowell

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Yep, I started doing 'Psuedo Sous Vide' by just getting water in a cooler to a couple degrees above my desired temp in a cooler. Put a steak in a vacuum sealed bag and put it in the cooler with the lid on for an hour or more. I wasn't using one of the ginormous coolers, but I can fit a whole 16 pound turkey in it. I use it for brining turkeys too.

With the lid on it would hold a nice steady temp for an hour or more and worked just fine for some of my initial forays into sous vide.

Kind of the same principle for doing all grain single infusion mashing for brewing.
 

David Johnson

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Am I missing something? What is the purpose of all the water bathing, smoker cooking, precooking, zip bags etc.? If a good cut of meat is cooked properly that's that. I can see using this process on tough cuts but smoking does a good job of tenderizing the meat. Just can't wrap my mind around this process. Besides wife does not need another gadget till I get one in the shop.
David
 

Brent Dowell

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Even for a cut like a ribeye it really helps make the meat even more tender with the addition of being perfectly done all the way through. You want medium rare, you get perfectly medium rare all the way through. Set the sous vide for 140 and you can keep it in for hours and it won't get any more done, but it will get more tender and the juices will stay inside it. When ready, pull it out and slap it on a super heated cast iron skillet or super hot grill to char up the outsides. Called a reverse sear.

And it's fun to say. Soooo Veeeed! :rofl:
 

Ted Calver

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The big difference with SV is knowing the meat is cooked to the exact temperature for the amount of doneness you like, and it's uniformly the same color throughout, without the gradation from extremely well done on the surface to pink in the center you get from conventional ways of cooking. The 'sear' process for SV uses very high temperature to achieve the Maillard reaction on the surface of the meat quickly, so it looks and tastes the way we like it. The sear is so quick that it doesn't penetrate the meat = less grey and more pink.
 

Ryan Mooney

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Basically if the meat gets to hot the protein gets denatured and starts to contract which pushes moisture out and makes them tougher. If it's not hot enough, long enough you don't break down the collagen. How much you need to be on one side of that equation or the other depends on the type and cut of meat. The advantage of souse vide is that you can target a very specific temperature for a very long time which allows you to hit exactly what you want for that piece of meat. It's also convenient if your doing a lot or aren't sure when serving time is because you can hold it at exactly the perfect stage of cooked for hours and just quickly finish it when ready to serve.

Slow smoking can hit a lot of the same points but without some pretty good temperature control it's easy to over or under shoot the target and holding at the temperature for collagen breakdown is a bit harder.
 

Bill Arnold

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OK - bear with me. I know the rule: No pics, never happened. So, shoot me. :eek:

I filled a half hotel pan about 2/3 with water, put a remote thermometer in it and waited for the water temperature to reach 135°. It would have happened quicker if I had had sense enough to crank the Materbuilt temp up higher, but . . .

I put two ribeyes in a Ziplock bag after seasoning them with my own recipe of Montreal steak seasoning (much less salt).

When I put the bag in the water, the temperature dropped, of course, so I did crank up the smoker temp for a bit to get the water temp back up. Once it stabilized, it held perfectly.

Since I knew the steaks would only cook to the desired doneness, I didn't pull them until they had been in about 5 hours. I heated a cast iron griddle on the side burner of my gas grill until it was scorching hot, added some canola oil, let it smoke a bit, then laid the steaks on it. Got a nice sear on both sides so they looked like something we'd want to eat. They were definitely more tender than when simply grilled, although I do a pretty good job on the grill.

What the process showed me was the advantage of sous-vide cooking, so I ordered an Anova from Amazon.
 

Ted Calver

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...What the process showed me was the advantage of sous-vide cooking, so I ordered an Anova from Amazon.

I think you will get some good use out of the Anova. Mine has earned it's keep by taking the guesswork out of cooking most meats and a lot of veggies. I have ruined a lot of expensive meat on the grill (couple of glasses of wine, a good conversation, a few other distractions... suddenly the smoke escapes:D). Sous vide has drastically reduced the cooking failure rate.
 

Bill Arnold

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I think you will get some good use out of the Anova. ...

After I did more research and saw that you don't need any special kind of container, I decided to go for it. We have Dutch ovens, several sizes of stew and stock pots, etc.

I'm also looking at getting a package of the manual vacuum bags like this one. Any opinions on this?
 

Brent Dowell

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Those would probably work fine if you don't have a vac sealer. I find the vac sealer though to be very handy for storing all kinds of food around the house though and well worth the investment.
 

Bill Arnold

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Those would probably work fine if you don't have a vac sealer. I find the vac sealer though to be very handy for storing all kinds of food around the house though and well worth the investment.

After further review, I'm considering this vacuum sealer.

If I were to spend around $20 for manual bags, I can toss in a bit more and get this automatic unit. It got decent reviews, unlike the less expensive devices.
 

Brent Dowell

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I don't know anything about that model, but I'd wager it would pay for itself over time. We do tend to buy meat when its on sale and vac seal it for later use. It really keeps the meat well and you can always wash out the bags and reuse them later.
 

Bill Arnold

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I don't know anything about that model, but I'd wager it would pay for itself over time. We do tend to buy meat when its on sale and vac seal it for later use. It really keeps the meat well and you can always wash out the bags and reuse them later.

Same here on the sale stuff. A local market routinely has bone-in ribeyes for $4.98/lb. We buy a whole loin and have them slice it in 1.25" steaks.

I pulled the trigger on the sealer I linked earlier.
 
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