My first "sous vide" mistake

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by luis j, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. luis j

    luis j

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    Hi guys...

    Just to share and help a fellow cook to avoid the same mistake that I just did...Or get the feedback on what I did wrong from some of you with more knowledge on the subject than me.

    I'm a newbie on the sous vide department, I've been cooking professionally for 20+ years but I have only one year with the sous vide, I was using it just for chicken breast for my salads but I took the plunge a few weeks ago into the adventurous world of real "cooking" sous vide.

    I'm very happy but I had my first "mistake", I cooked some short ribs according to this Polyscience recipe  and I started 48 hours ago. It sounded very promissing and I seared the meat on two of the four sides on my charcoal grill and then proceeded to vaccum pack it, I did that to get the grilled taste from half of the piece with the "Maillard effect" taste, and the other two sides clean to give fresh grill marks at serving time.

    I cooked it for the first 24 hours and I couldn't resist the temptation of giving them a try even when the suggested time was 48 hours or 72 as stated in the recipe "for fall off the bone tender meat", after all, it was just 1 Lb a piece (And I had 9 more in the sous vide)

    The result at 24 hours was AMAZING, I was in shock and awe when I tried, all the juice that was in the bag really tasted and looked like the juice coming out of a freshly out of the grill beef cut, the short ribs looked awesome, I gave them a quick pass on the grill and the result was beyond divine. I tought to myself... Wow!! If this is at just 24 hours how great are they going to be when 48 hours???!!!

    Man...I was excited! Today, almost clock in hand for the final count down...I took another piece from the bag to indulge and taste (I'll never give any of my customers a dish that I haven't tasted previously...Yeah, I know, it's hard to be a chef /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif) It looked the same as 24 hours, soft but still easy to handle with with the grill tongs after those long 48 hours.

    While on the grill, I sliced a piece of sous vide sweet potato with some herbs, I placed some grilled asparagus and I strained and saved the juice in a small ramekin.

    The meat came out of the grill, I took a few pictures with my mouth watering already and two minutes later I got the fork...Hell yeah...Finally!

    It was tender and falling off the bone, and I placed that delightful piece of meat in my mouth and...OMG!!! What an horrible thing!!!/img/vbsmilies/smilies/frown.gif/img/vbsmilies/smilies/mad.gif  The texture was awful it felt like a mush, I got the feeling of having an spoonful of the raft and coagulated proteins that come as dirty foam to the top of a clarified stock on the first stage, like cheap, but fluffier canned "pate de canard ". Bad bad bad!!!!!!

    I gave some to everyone in my staff to see if I was being a chef with spoiled brat attitude but all of them disliked it, their expressions went from describing it as baby food, boiled liver, and even "an ugly mouthful of roux". They had huge expectations too because I shared with them the day before and they loved it too.

    I wasted 9 Lbs of prime beef, but the most important is that I got my share of experience and now I know that I have to cook them for a max time of 24 hours, and next time that I try something and is so good that it just can't get better, I'll trust my instinct instead of following a recipe blindly.

    The fun fact is that despite it all, it looked perfect, you could see the grain of the meat and the color was there...But not the texture.

    Too bad! :( but somehow it was a good lesson.

    Regards and I hope that it helps someone else to avoid the same mistake. Soon I'll cook them again, but of course...Just for 24 hours ;)

    Luis J.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2013
  2. laurenlulu

    laurenlulu

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    Your plating and photo clarity are beautiful, you are a talented photog as well. Thank you for sharing your experience and advice, I haven't ventured into sous vide yet but hope to. Kudos for sharing with your staff, they are the backbone that is too often overlooked.
     
  3. luis j

    luis j

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    Lauren...Give a try to sous vide, you deserve it. I'm sure that you're going to enjoy it (And your family and beloved ones too) is not difficult at all but just like with any other method, seems like you have to develop some experience and there is a learning curve, but so far I've had more good results than bad ones.

    And of course that I share with my staff... My 20 kids! :) No chef is an army of one, it all depends on your team as you know!

    Thanks for your nice comments and don't forget to try the sous vide, there are many options for home or professionals, and now there are a lot of sources of good info to put it at good use.

    Best regards.

    Luis J.
     
  4. mike9

    mike9

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    Thanks for sharing this I'm putting together a sous vide setup for occasional use.  If you can make a stew, or stock from those short ribs it won't be a total waste - just expensive stock.  And yes - nice plating. 

    I have a wild goose in the freezer that I want to break down - leg quarters and breast with the skin on for sous vide.  Then grill, or pan sear the skin to crisp.  Looks like I better do some homework first. 
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2013
  5. allanmcpherson

    allanmcpherson

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    Did you season the beef before cooking? I mean with salt? You have got to be careful with salt and long cooks at low temp. You can wind up with a cured meat rather than mearly cooked.

    Al
     
  6. luis j

    luis j

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    Hi Mike...

    Thanks for the nice words... And ideed...I made a nice beef consome, it came out very tasty and clean...Darned expensive but as you stated so accurately -it won't be a total waste- the rest of the "beef mush" we just pulled it with the fork, we gave it some love from the "Fry-o-lator" and got crispy bits of beef that we ate (I mean, me, one of my partners and my cooking staff) in tacos with fresh salsa. Quite expensive tacos but as I told them...We didn't waste money, "it was an educational investment"...We are some pesos poorer than yesterday but today we're a bit wiser and richer in knowledge.

    I know...No poetic stuff is going to be enough to justify my food cost report...But sh*t happens /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif.

    And let me tell you, some months ago, I cooked some wild turkey breasts that I just seasoned with salt, pepper and added a cube of butter, then vaccum packed it and cooked at 146 F for a couple of hours (It was a very small turkey, more like a chicken on steroids than a big bird)  and then took it out of the bag, I grilled it briefly to give some extra flavor and presentation and I served it with an easy cranberry sauce that I cooked along with the dark stock that I made with the legs and carcass on the bird and some white wine.

    I got aplausses from my customers on that one, they all were wondering how could I've cooked it that moist and tender, it's a meat that most cooks suffer when cooking and common knowledge makes us to have to brine, marinate or inject with a syringe. But this wasn't necessary with sous vide.

    The result was extraordinary for such a low effort, wild turkey has a reputation of being a dry and stringy meat, and to learn more of sous vide, I cooked it that way, and I didn't brine it or marinated the meat on purpose to see the results.

    You're gonna love it and if you want some reliable temperature/time charts go here  .

    Best regards and good luck.

    Luis J.
    Al...

    Yes, I pre seasoned it, it's something that goes against my knowledge and experience, but for a change I followed the recipe from A to Z trusting on the info from polyscience web site, but I agree with you and maybe it ended as a heat-cured meat.

    There is a lot for me to learn from my mistake and I still wonder how the meat could look perfect with all the grain "intact" to the eye, but totally broken down in the molecular structure. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/confused.gif  It felt totally oposed to how it looked. It's been two nights that I've been sleeping over it. Maybe I need to go back to "On food and cooking" from Harold Mc. Gee to see exactly what happened.

    Best regards and thanks for your valuable input.

    Luis J.
     
  7. laurenlulu

    laurenlulu

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    Luis, thank you for your words of encouragement. We are limited only by our selves, aren't we, and I'm eager to try most anything.
     
  8. michaelga

    michaelga

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    Not sure how it might have changed things but I make mine with out searing the meat first.  You might have pushed the temp up too high at the begining and after the long duration the meat 'melted'

    (I know highly technical...)

    Give it a shot without searing first - the same browning flavours associated with the Maillard Effect can be achieved with extended cooking at low-mid temps.

    You can get more from this post on Cooking Issues http://www.cookingissues.com/2009/1...s-day-one-eggs-lobsters-sorbet-and-champagne/

    the entire site is a treasure of Sous-Vide knowledge.

    Their Sous-Vide primer is superb as is the information on pasteurization of foods at low temps (FSIS curves)
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2013
  9. luis j

    luis j

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    Michael...

    THANKS A LOT! Your reply helped me big time and the link that you sent me really made my day, I'll be in "the rush" at the restaurant for the next 6 hours but seems like I have a lot to learn from the website that you sent me, it's going to be an enriching sunday evening! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/thumb.gif
     
  10. michaelga

    michaelga

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    Let us know how your next adventures turn out and always share any new information you find.

    /cheers
     
  11. luis j

    luis j

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    Count on that! ;) Best regards!
     
  12. eastshores

    eastshores

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    This is the kind of post and thread that encourages me to come back here. We need more of this.
     
  13. luis j

    luis j

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    Time to pay back for all the valuable info that you provided me guys, this document  is a good pearl of wisdom on sous vide knowledge specially from page 8 to 21.It's a Free document (Kudos to the CIA) and particulary enjoyable on an iPad.

    Take a look and enjoy... Here's an image of page 8, and the title and subtitle really caught my eye, from there it gets very interesting and technical.

    Regards.

    Luis

     
  14. luis j

    luis j

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    Thanks for the comment, looks like we're a good community trying to help each other ! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
     
  15. sbnewton

    sbnewton

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    Semipermeable membranes equalize water! In a sous vide bag: inside meat, lots of water not much salt, outside of meat lots more salt, very little water! So, the water flows out of the meat to atempt to equalize high salt outside!
     
  16. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    No, they don't. They equalize the solute, not the solvent. The solvent in this case is water. In osmosis, the solvent flows to equalize the solute, so yes, the water flows. But the water itself isn't equalized, but attempts to equalize the salt concentration. 

    And a sous vide bag shouldn't be semipermeable. 
     
  17. sbnewton

    sbnewton

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    Cell walls are semipermeable membranes and in any case I've had similar problems with pre-marinated meats! And almost all the water winds up outside the meat on long soaks!
     
  18. sbnewton

    sbnewton

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    So, if the water doesn't tag along why do you have to measure the frying oil AFTER the turkey has been brined?
     
  19. Iceman

    Iceman

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    Luis ... I stopped reading after this:
    For what reason did you think you needed to continue? It sounded to me that you had a really good thing.
     
  20. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    That just seems to be about logistics. If you measure it before brining, you have to store that measured amount of oil until its time to fry. Plus any cleanup.  If you do it after, you only measure and have no storing making for less hassle. 

    There is some weight gain in brined meat. This seems to be about interstitial spaces filling up with liquid which isn't a bad thing either.