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Sous Vide and Grilling steaks and burger

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 

I am giving an attempt of doing a Faux Sous Vide hamburger and filet mignon.  I have prepared a water bath (without the pump, the faux part), which has a temperature controlled induction cooker.  Temperature appears to be holding plus/minus two degrees.  The Filet mignon steaks are in individual bags, as is the hamburger.  I used a foodsaver vacuum sealer to close off the bags.  In about 20 minutes (after an hour and a half in the heated water), they will be pulled out of the bags, and placed upon a grill to sear and brown (mallard reaction).  Hopefully they will be on long enough to get some good smoke flavor as well. 

It is all part of a food experiment I have been wanting to try.  My spouse is pink-meat phobic, so the bath is at 160F, to approximate well-done.  Hopefully, cooking in the bag will keep all the meat juicy.

post #2 of 2
Thread Starter 

The results of the experiment:

Conditions of test:

As stated earlier, each piece of meat was in a separate bag.  The Filets were bagged with butter, salt, pepper, a fresh rosemary sprig and a sliver of garlic on each side of the steak. The filet were about 1.5 inches thick.  The hamburger was bagged with salt, pepper and garlic salt. The patty was about 1/2 pound, 7/8 inch thick.  The foodsaver unit evacuated the air out of each bag before sealing.  The water bath was at 160 degrees (measured) with a wash cloth placed at the bottom of the pot to keep the plastic bags from touching the (potentially hotter) bottom.  Each bag had double-row seals put on them, to reduce the possibility of any leaks.

All of the meat was in the bath for 1 hour 25 minutes.  Core temperature on the meat was 157 to 160 degrees after the bath.  Appearance of the meat was a dark-tan color.  The meat was removed from the bags, and put on a grill which was at 280 degrees.  Each side of the meat was browned for about 2-3 minutes per side.  Grill marks and a darkening to chocolate brown was evident on all the meat.  Fresh raw hamburgers were also placed upon the same grill to perform a comparative measurement. 

The final analysis:

All of the Sous Vide meat was medium-well to well done in appearance.  The hamburger was brown, with no trace of pink.  The Filet Mignon steaks were medium-well, with a trace of pink throughout mid-section.   

Flavor of the bagged seasonings were clear, and tasted throughout the meat (and not just on the surface).  The meat was dryer than I expected, but not unpalatable.  The texture was far more tender than what I would normally expect for meat which was prepared to medium-well to well done; I credit the texture to the sous vide process.  When I am cooking for myself, normally a steak would only be taken to (at most) medium. 

The Hamburgers which were grilled from raw meat (without sous vide) to the same doneness were juicier, had less apparent seasoning, and had a "tougher" texture. 

Disadvantages to the process:

Longer preparation time.  Less juice for the given "doneness".

Advantages to the process:

Better seasoning flavor.  Better tenderness for the given "doneness".  Shorter time on the grill to achieve doneness and color.

For a large dinner party, where preparation time is available, it would allow a dinner to be served within a shorter window.  I.E. if guests arrive early/late, it takes only 5 minutes on the grill to bring out a piping hot steak made to a specific doneness (assuming you had multiple water baths at differing temperatures to have bagged med-rare, med, med-well steaks).  A caterer could have 3 ice chests filled with hot water to transport the steak-bags to a site, then perform the final grilling to taste.  Keep in mind, a water-bathed medium rare steak can always be grilled to well-done should the need arise.  I cannot overstate how well the seasoning works when you start with your seasonings in bag and do a sous vide slow cook.  You avoid overdone steaks every time. 

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