Poaching beef

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by cookers, Jan 16, 2012.

  1. cookers

    cookers

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    I have a new dish going on the menu, however I was thinking of a different approach. I tried searching on here and couldn't find much. On the internet I found a few things but not a lot of info on the subject because the examples I have found are more like braising. Have any of you poached a steak before? How did it turn out? What was your method? 

    I have a couple days off work so I can't really try it out and I'd like to know before I go wasting steaks experimenting. 
     
  2. chef_jacob

    chef_jacob

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    Poaching a steak using traditional methods is difficult because the poaching liquid transfers heat so quickly. While it's possible to do, your steak can go from perfect to overdone in a matter of seconds. Depending on how busy your service is that night, it could become an issue.

    I've recently revisited this concept with the precise control of an Immersion Circulator. We sear our fillet, place it in a Ziploc bag with a basic red-wine demi glace and cook at 55C/131F for one hour. Fillet is chilled in bag, cooking liquid is reduced and turned into a sauce. Fillet is then re-seared, placed back into a clean Ziploc with re-enforced sauce and refrigerated for service. When I get an order, the individual serving of steak and sauce is placed in a 55C/131F bath for at least 20 minutes to bring the core back up. On pick-up, the sauce in the bag can either be reduced a la minute to make a pan sauce or saved in a separate container for your next round of steaks.

    Although the technique is fairly involved on the prep side, it leads to a quick, easy and consistent execution during service.

    If you don't have a circulator, then you'll likely be poaching the steak in liquid that is at a higher temperature then the desired internal temperature of your finished steak. Is it possible? I think so. But is it something you want to continually monitor on a busy Saturday Night? It would make me nervous, that's for sure.
     
  3. nordicfood

    nordicfood

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    Last edited: Jan 16, 2012
  4. chefbuba

    chefbuba

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    So one steak is cooked three times and chilled twice in zip lock bags before you put it on my plate? What has happened to real cooking?
     
     
  5. chef_jacob

    chef_jacob

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    @ChefBuba,

    Just trying to be helpful and answer a question. Did you actually want to add something to the conversation or just be dismissive of a technique you've never tried?
     
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  6. mrmexico25

    mrmexico25

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    @Chef Jacob:  I can see where Chef Bubba is coming from, but if the finished product is as good as it sounds, then it would definitely be worth it - at least try!  Although it seems a little crazy on the prep side (like you said), it would make for a quick-ish beef entree, which is hard to find, especially if it's cooked right. 

    I'd try it :)
     
  7. phaedrus

    phaedrus

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    Sous vide would be the way to go but personally I don't like to break the seal and re-vac the same product.  The "reheated" flavors you get in re-heated meat are mostly from oxidization.  If you cook sous vide and rapidly chill the product, and reheat it (let me just say "re-therm", I like that better) properly the results won't be noticeably different than cooking the steak sous vide and serving it immediately.
     
  8. chefedb

    chefedb

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    I was fortunate to do some experimental work for WR Grace corp in the late 60s  They were toying around with the Sou-vide concept back then ,after much testing the food chemist and others determined that sous-vide had many limitations , primary being anything deep fried and  the appliation to steaks and chops. It was determined by them that it was best when applied to products that contained higher amounts of liquid. If you cut a sou-vide steak the inner color almost appears raw. they determined this unacceptable for food service( the equipmen used then was a bit primative there were no true circulaters. First place to sell sou-vide products in New York was Bloomingdales and it was salmon developed by a french chef.
     
  9. chefross

    chefross

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    This is curious Chef_Jacob....you have to admit that cooking a steak 3 times is a bit over the top. I'm sure the finished product is well worth the prep but still......It is a bit of a stretch for some of us 

    old timers.......
     
  10. phaedrus

    phaedrus

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    I don't see sous vide as a universal panacea for all foods and applications, but I really love it for proteins.  One of my favorite uses is to cook burgers to pasteurize, then sear in a hot pan.  I like my burger on the medium rare side but I don't trust commercial burger to be safe cooked that way.  The only problem I've ever noted with sous vide and fried foods is that if you cook them unbreaded it's difficult to really dry the skin, and if you batter or bread the items the coating sometimes doesn't stick as well.  I think maybe some Xanthan gum in the batter would fix that but I haven't yet tried it.

    To the OP, I think sous vide may be ideal for your application, but there are some things to consider.  Many infomercials claim it's impossible to overcook food this way but that's not true at all.  While the internal temp will never exceed the temp in the bath, continuing to cook the food long after it's "done" will adversely affect the texture.  In an extreme case, cooking a steak too long will give you a steak that tastes and feels like a roast, not at all what you want.

    Lastly, you don't really describe what effect/result you're going for here.  Do you want the texture of a conventional braise?  What cut of meat are you planning to  use?  Flank or skirt will require different treatment than sirloin or, in the extreme case, a chunk of brisket!
     
  11. cookers

    cookers

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    I've been making this dish using a ribeye steak and have been pan searing them and finishing them off in the oven. I want the outcome to be real tender as if you were to braise it, however I don't want to cook it in any flavors and I want to cook it to order. Braising is a slow process and I can't do them ahead of time because we're in our slow season right now and I can't waste much. When we're busier, I have an idea of how much product I will sell and usually left overs can be put to good use in something else like a soup the next day. I'm just looking for different approaches to get a really tender finished product and poaching is the first thing that came to my mind. 
     
  12. chef_jacob

    chef_jacob

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    @ChefRoss,

    For me, prep is prep. In most restaurants, prep will take up the majority of the cook's day. The whole purpose for the long prep day is to ensure success during service, making sure every customer leaves happy. While some see a steak that is cooked three times (although I don't count the middle searing as cooking), I see a prep process that sets my line up for success during dinner service. Once the prep is done, all my cooks have to do when we get an order is place the baggie in the bath and take it out on the pick-up. This "prep" technique results in a superior product that's easier to execute and way more consistent.

    I have nothing against old timers, I owe my career to them. But if you ask the question "What has happened to real cooking?" in response to a post that outlines a sophisticated take on Sous Vide, then the culinary world has clearly passed you by.

    If you have a suggestion for the OP on poaching steaks then post it. If you think what I suggest is going to endanger a guest or is generally unsafe, then raise a concern. If you have a better way of doing it, then by all means, please let me know so that I may learn too. But if your only contribution to the discussion is to be dismissive of a technique that you're clearly not familiar with...just know that any real chef semi intelligent person can see past the facade, revealing nothing more then self-concious ignorance.

    @Phaedrus,

    Good point on the over cooking. I've done a lot of double blind taste tests on the fillet. I've found that after the initial cooking and chill, when the bag is dropped back into the bath for the "re-therm", it takes roughly 20 minutes for the core to come back up. At that point I have a 2 hour window until texture starts to degrade. However, anything that's in the bath for over an hour gets staffed out (I don't like to chill and re-heat after the hour mark).

    Haven't had a problem with the "re-heat" taste using this method. I think it's because most of the steps are done in rapid sequence and on the final seal in the ziploc, the bag is dropped into an ice bath which sets the demi around the steak, forming a bit of a "protective layer." This protective layer is just my best way of describing it. I have no data to back it up, but my leap of faith is that this works much like the protective fat cap placed on top of a rillette to stop oxidation during the curing process.
     
  13. chefross

    chefross

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    Chef_Jacob...you now have 2 strikes against you having condescended to not one but two professional individuals who have more knowledge and more experience between them then you will ever know. There is no need to act this way and only reinforces the stereotype that Chefs are egotistical jerks.

    I truly doubt weather Sous Vide will ever become the norm in restaurants and right now it is a fade.

    I have no doubt that this method produces some quality products and I would be very much interested in trying it sometime, but Chefbuba has a point.

    The very honorable profession of culinary technique is at the turning point where food is now relegated to machines with perfect temperature and consistency taking the human equation out of the picture.

    I remember being at a food show a few years back where a system was invented to slow cook the food that has already been plated. In this example 300 Filet Mignons were scored and cooked rare.They all went on plates with a twice baked potato and green bean almondine. All 300 plates went into this contraption earlier in the day. The machine was turned on and by service time, the steaks were perfectly medium rare, the potatoes and bean fully cooked. This system was being touted as a way around high labor and to insure consistency.

    I guess what bothers me about this whole issue is that these products are taking the place of real cooks, cooking the food properly. Instead of qualified professional culinarians, we now have anybody off the street plating food into a machine that does all the work. 

    Again....what has happened to real cooking?
     
  14. chefedb

    chefedb

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    ChefRoss .

    Robotic cooking as I call it still must be prepared initially by chefs or cooks.

    I think managements idea is to eliminate the amount of labor required for plating. The 300 could be done prior by 2 cooks instead of 4 or 5. The one good feature about it if it does work is that all 300 could be exactly the same and go out at the same time and all be hot. I believe this is the future of the profession although I have been in some Vegas kitchens where 2000 was being done for a party at once, they use assembly belts and it really goes quick. The plate is touched once just to be loaded in heating hold cabinets and when about 1000 are preplated they then start to serve, while making up the second thousand. It works pretty good. Progress being I have a machine now that dices in 4 sizes. Years ago it would take me 3 hours to do what this thing does in 20 minutes and it dices consistantly in  same sizes. I sometimes feel that do to the shortage of competent , skilled help we are forced into doing certain things as well as  managements  saving labor factor concepts
     
  15. chef_jacob

    chef_jacob

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    Really? You're one of those "I've forgotten more then you'll ever know" guys, yet I'm the one perpetuating the stereotype of an egotistical chef? This whole thing started because there are some people around here that instead of sharing their vast wealth of knowledge that I will never obtain, they choose to mock and belittle instead. We still haven't heard the Mighty ChefBuba's take on poaching steak, yet now you're defending his one line jab that was neither informative nor constructive.

    "I truly doubt weather Sous Vide will ever become the norm in restaurants and right now it is a fade...and I would be very much interested in trying it sometime."

    Wait. You've never even tried sous vide yet you have the arrogance to denounce it as a fad? There are a few chef's who would disagree with you; try every single one that has a Michelin Star or has won a James Beard Award in the last decade.

    "Again....what has happened to real cooking?"

    You know what? I'm done here. This forum deserves itself. Have fun with the in-fighting and bitching and arguing. It's been made very clear that this forum is no longer about sharing culinary knowledge; it's instead turned into a pissing match between a bunch of old, out of touch codgers.

    Let this be my third strike.
     
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  16. mrmexico25

    mrmexico25

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    @chef jacob.  Amen brother.  I've noticed the same thing from some of the "veterans" of this site.  It's a constant bitch fit, and like you said, resorting to belittling instead of adding something constructive.  It's kind of ridiculous. 
     
  17. someday

    someday

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    +1. 

    Sous Vide is a valid technique that most top restaurants in the world now utilize. For ChefRoss and Bubba to dismiss sous vide as a "fade," especially despite never having tried it shows the kind of ignorance he is trying to denounce others for. 

    Sous vide is a modern cooking technique (modern as in, invented in the 70's) that has gained popularity in the last decade and a half. It's not a be all, end all technique. It is another tool in the chef's toolbox. As with any technique, proper knowledge is required for good and safe results. I've never heard of a place doing sous vide with ziplock bags, most common (and the ones I've used at my jobs) are vacuum sealed bags from a chamber vacuum sealer. Usually we sear after we poach in the bath, not before, but searing before encourages a bit more safety because it would kill surface bacteria. 

    I mean, to denounce this great technique as somehow not being "real cooking" is as silly as a person denouncing the first gas oven because it isn't a wood burning fire that they have to tend to all day. "You mean I can just put my meat in this CONTRAPTION and then walk away? Where is the SOUL in that?" "You mean my stovetop is electric? Where has the SOUL gone? "

    "Microwave? What is that? Where has the soul gone?" blah blah ad naseum. 

    Hey, guys, it's not magic or witchcraft. It's a new(ish) technique. Maybe you should learn more about it or, god forbid, try it before you rush to judgment. 

    Don't let these codgers get you down Chef Jacob. 
     
  18. chef_jacob

    chef_jacob

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    @Someday,

    Re The Ziploc Bags: You can get a good seal in a Ziploc with the addition of moisture (in this case the demi-glace which also adds flavor), by submerging the bag in water while sealing. Obviously you don't get a strong seal like you would with a chamber vacuum sealer, but in this case it works well and Ziploc bags are cheaper then chamber bags. They're also easier to open on the fly, no knife needed. I like to sear first because like you said, it helps to kill any surface bacteria, but the browning of the meat also adds a nice flavor to the cooking liquid which later becomes the sauce.

    Like you said, a technique is a technique; it's the finished result that counts. I prefer to cook most of my red meats sous vide, pan roast or poach my fish the traditional way and bake my sourdough boules and baguettes in my wood fire oven.

    To the OP: Didn't mean to hi-jack your thread, for that I apologize. Just to bring it full circle, the use of an immersion circulator is the only way I know to consistently "poach" a steak. I understand you wanting to change up the process and try something new, but for me it's hard to beat a pan-seared rib-eye sans circulator. If you find a good method that works for you, please let us know. I know some chefs will sear a steak, mostly cook it, and then rest it in clarified butter on the line, with the butter being around the finished temperature they want the steak. Some Chinese Chefs will sear their meat and rest it in a stock based liquid, bringing that same liquid back to a boil every day, adding more stock as needed. It is said that some of these resting liquids are "decades old" with an incredibly intense flavor. I tried this with pork tenderloin before and had good results but never beef. Might be an interesting concept to play with.
     
  19. chefross

    chefross

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    I share my years of experience freely with anyone who needs help.

    I'm not going to justify anyone here on these forums who feels that what I have to offer is under scrutiny and judgement by them. 

    I don't feel I am any better nor any worse then anyone on here and I regret that some may feel this way.

    The school of hard knocks is no excuse to offend nor condescend to another peer.

    We are all here to learn and I can honestly say that I have learned quite a lot on these forums.

    To Someday and Mr.Mexico I understand what you are saying but in my defense I would have to say that Sous Vide, like any other cooking medium is subjective.

    To me..........The crispness of the surface of a steak, the mouth-feel of the seared flesh with the hard to describe tenderness of the flesh that is attained by cooking over a flame, wood, charcoal, is something that is hard to re-create by Sous-Vide.. 

    I have to take back what I said earlier about never trying a Sous-Vide product. I was at the French Laundry in 02 and I believe it was salmon. I looked back at the menu I had.

    Honestly I didn't know enough about what it was to be able to compare. It was delicious though.
     
  20. someday

    someday

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    What did you offer? Nobody is questioning your experience, but the only contribution you made to this thread was to deride another chef's answer of the OP's question. I think that was the main issue. And you were accusing chef Jacob of doing things (like condescend and be arrogant) that you yourself were doing. All Chef Jacob did was defend his point of view and method. And hey, at least he tried to help the OP. You somehow felt it was necessary to step in and do what? Use your years of experience NOT help the OP but just dismiss someone else's advice right off, without even having sufficient experience, other than a surface level understanding of the technique, to really have an opinion about it. Where is your well learned, school of hard knocks method for perfect poached beef?

    That right there flies in the face of the first paragraph of your above reply. You did everything you claim to not want others to do to you to Chef Jacob. 

    And hey, just FYI, you can absolutely get a crisp, seared steak if you do it in a pan after you sous vide it. And you lose the bull's eye effect of roasting meat, and your meat is a perfect temperature all the way through.