"Sous vide" in ovens

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by ljokjel, May 28, 2013.

  1. ljokjel


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    Sous Chef
    Just started in a new job, as sous in a hotel, and want to start sous vide inspired cooking. 

    We´re changing basically everything at the hotel, and have a couple of problems. One of them is the skills of the cooks. They are hopeless.

    Yeah, I know... They should have been fired all of them, but we cant do that, so we will just have to train them, get rid of all bad habits and start over again from scratch.

    I have to find a way to ensure a stable quality, but the cooking cant be to advanced. Have to take this step by step. They have started to learn what a washcloth is, so soon we can start on the cooking. My first idea is to teach them sous vide. I guess thats gonna be the easiest way to get the meat to be the same way every time. Its gonna do wonders as well for the fridges if I can have most things packed in bags, organized and labeled.  

    My problem is that I havent done that in ovens. Ive always been working with circulators and liquid water. 

    Im thinking its gonna work, but it wont be the exact same thing, as water transfer temperature far better than steam. Gonna start some experiments now and start looking at it. Im sure its gonna work. The temperatures will be the same (I guess), so now Im thinking about time, and the possibility of the steam lacking some of the properties of the water to some extent. 

    Does anyone have any experience with this? Any tips in general?
  2. michaelga


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    Retired Chef
    It really depends on what you want to cook, you might make do with the oven, but things are done in water baths for specific reasons.

    For long cooked things - a circulator or exactly precise temps are much less mandatory.  Pots of hot water and slow cookers or rice cookers work fine.

    For short cooked items - fish, shell-fish or delicate veggies, specific style eggs etc.... you really need an immersion circulator.

    Also don't forget the time until up to temperature rules... a CVAP or steam oven will take much longer to get foods up to temp - which can play havoc with food safety.   Water Ovens are used for a reason - they get things up to temp faster.

    You're trying to play in a 'shady' zone of the food science world - i'd not recommend it until you get much experience working with the 'standard' equipment.
    Last edited: May 28, 2013
  3. lagom


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    Professional Chef
    Definatly a circulator is the best way, however I have had nice results using a convection oven with adjustable steam. For example...

    Cod loin, buttered tray with the cod, a bit of salt and whatever herbs, if any you might want, then tightly wraped with plast film. Into the oven on 43c with partial, 30%, steam and it takes upwards of 25 mins. The fish comes out ar a perfect temp and is impossible to overcook, within reason, of course you can leave it in for too long and it can go bad but that comes back to good food handling and times. I do lax at 49c.

    Meat I have done in a simular way, t.x. Reindeer filet, whole, trim and season, tightly wrap in plast film or vacume wrap. Into the convection oven at 54c. It takes a little over an hour to come up to temp. Again partial 30% steam. To serve I cut a nice chateau, bring it to the grille( extreemly hot ) and sear it for the maliard effect.

    Another thought would be to teach them butter poaching, I do this a lot with sjötunga and the simular fish and it works nicely with fresh shell fish. All you need is clairfied butter and a decent insta read thermometer , and of course they have to care.

    Hope some of this helps, heading to Oslo in mid july, just for a couple days sight seeing while my mother is visiting, any recomendation for a good family restaurant to eat dinner in, i know it wont be cheap, lol.
  4. hpross


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    Professional Chef
    we use a rational oven set to steam to do alot of our off cuts. we normally set it to a program and let it run over night. steam is a more effective conductor of heat, so as long as you have a fully functional oven, food safety is not a problem (anymore so than traditional sous vide in a water bath). to be sure - stick in the temp probe. 

    also large enough water containers can be controlled by ice. though this process is long a tedious. Though now adays an investment of $1000 you can have a good sous vide set up - which is probably worth it. 

    Have you thought about confit? works in a similar manner and can be done easily in an oven. 
  5. chefcomesback


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    Professional Chef
    I have used combi ovens to replicate immersion circulator before . The method I have used was to cook large cuts of meat (boneless ribeye )vacuum packed with butter , thyme and sea salt. This was done on for banquets rather than a la carte restaurant. I had my combi oven set in the desired tempertaure like 128 F or to 53 c degrees. I would also put a pan full of water at a very close temperature and place the bags of meat in it. Just before mains meals were served I would cut the bags and sear the outside of the meat before portioning it. I had always perfect steaks that they were juicy and rested .

    In your case You just have to make sure the oven door stays shut as much as possible and You have to use do a couple trial runs  and use timer to find your optimum time