Using sous vide to keep food at the right temp

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by dutchness, Dec 21, 2016.

  1. dutchness

    dutchness

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    I own a takeout restaurant. Currently I am using hot water baths to warm things up. I am limited to two large commercial pots. Slowly my business is growing and I am already thinking how to manage more people and more quickly.

    I was thinking of reheating food the same way as I am doing now when I prepare for a busy lunch or dinner time and then switch the vacuum packed products into the sous vide waterbath to keep it at the right temp. This way I will be able to serve out food way quicker and will also be able to manage a higher capacity.

    What do you guys think?
     
  2. someday

    someday

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    We need more information. What are you cooking, what are you re-heating, how long will it be in the water bath. Sous vide is a great tool for consistency and organization, but since we have no idea what you are making advice will be limited. 
     
  3. dutchness

    dutchness

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    Thanks for the response.

    Smoked ribs and pulled pork mainly. I smoke everything fresh once a week, cool, vacuüm pack, freeze.

    Then when needed it goes into a waterbath for 30 min. The waterbath is around 200f most of the time. The internal temp of the ribs when they come out is between 160-170F. They go under the broiler for a couple minutes and then they are done. I get really good results this way. The temp of the pulled pork I am not sure about, I just know that it comes out hot and moist.
     
  4. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    Reheating can be done in many ways. If need be, it could be brought back up to temp in a steamer. I think you like the results because your not using a dry heat to reheat. A wet heat keeps the two products in good condition when reheating. If your getting busier you can invest in a steam that would bring back your product faster under a higher steam temp. After its brought up to temp it could be put into the holding waster bath. This way you can have two things working at the same time. Most people who deal with pulled pork have a hard time keeping it moist. You just need to think of different ways of getting the same results. Good going on understanding and looking for the best ways of keeping the quality of your product at a high level.......ChefBillyB
     
  5. someday

    someday

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    I don't see any issues with what you are proposing.
     
  6. dutchness

    dutchness

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    @ChefBillyB thanks for the response. Just to get the translations right...I'm on the other side of the pond. With a steamer you mean a steamer ove, correct? And will we still use vacuum packs in a steameroven? If nor, then do we vacuum after it comes out of the steamer? Thanks again!

    @Someday thanks for confirming. It's again relatively cheap solution. Would just need 2 or 3 sous vide circulator.
     
  7. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    The steamer could steam the ribs and pulled pork in the bags. You could cook them faster in the steamer and then hold them at 160 degrees in the water bath.........
     
  8. someday

    someday

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    Just make sure you have protocols for watching time/temp abuse and quality assurance. There may be a certain amount of time that a portion bag is good for before food quality becomes an issue. This mostly applies to tender cuts of proteins that don't generally require long cooking (think steaks, pork chops, fish, etc). But there is a certain point that, say, a steak or a chicken breast will begin to lose quality if it sits too long in the water bath, even if the temp is not making it "overcooked." This is less a concern with long cooking items, like pork shoulder, ribs, etc. But just be careful you don't just let bags sit in the bath all day. 

    You also have to be careful when you are just re-heating things sous vide but not cooking them sous vide. I'll use BBQ pork shoulder for example. If you cook pulled pork the traditional way, say you smoke it then cook it low and slow, then pull the meat, divide into bags, seal and store. Am I correct? The sous vide is just being used as a re-therming device and not for cooking? 

    The reason this is important is being VERY aware of cross contamination. This increases when you take an essentially ready to eat product and bag and store it. So, if your cutting boards, counters, bagging area, etc are dirty or cross contaminated, nasty things can happen in sous vide bags. You run the risk of contaminating the already cooked meat, bagging it, and heating it in a bath that may not be hot enough or in there long enough to kill the nasty bugs. In general, vacuum sealing product increases shelf life well and decreases spoilage of food, but there are a few really nasty bugs that thrive in a low oxygen environment. There is small risk of something bad happening, but all the same, I would seriously brush up on sous vide food safety and make sure you have protocols in place to prevent cross contamination when you portion in bags. 

    If you are clean and diligent with your sanitation, there is little to no risk of anything bad happening.

    I'm by no means trying to talk you out of it, just be cautious. 
     
    chefbillyb likes this.
  9. chrislehrer

    chrislehrer

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    Quite right, Someday -- and yes, it does happen with tougher proteins as well. Case in point: a tough beef end ideally suited to a braise can be treated like a steak if you sous vide it for 24-48 hours; you'll find lots of recipes for doing this on the web. So what happens if you go 4 days? I tried it: what happens is, it starts to dissolve into this horrible muck that's like baby food with little bits of string in it. If you wait long enough (at that point I got curious), the strings will all collapse, and you'll have beef baby food.

    So what you have to watch out for is this: your products are already  cooked low and slow, so the factors that would make them tough are already largely destroyed. If you reheat them very low and slow sous vide, you will have a certain window before your pulled pork turns into BBQ-flavored mush.

    Speaking only as a home cook, I'd say your plan is a very good one, but you will need to be very careful about these timing protocols. At some point, given how much you're doing all at once, you're going to see a fall in quality in some batch somewhere, mostly noticeable in texture. When you see that, figure out exactly  how long that one ended up cooking, and set that beyond the outside edge of your cooking window.