Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cooking Sous Vide for the "Medium to Well" Crowd

Last night I had some friend over from the midwest.  The only reason I say midwest is that I'm originally from the midwest as well (Cincinnati), so I know the stereotype!  We midwest men like our steak "medium to well" thank you very much!  It took years of California living to transform me to the "Medium Rare" man that I am today (HAHA).

Enough digression, so I was going to make steaks for everyone, but we like them medium rare and he likes his medium well.  Luckily I have two water baths so I could have cooked mine at 132-135F and his at 150F and be done.  However, we were actually having surf and turf which means I was also cooking lobster which I do at 145F.  So I was faced with the similar problem of having more food to cook sous vide than I had water baths.  Of course the simply answer would be to cook the steak first and then the lobster sequentially in one of the water baths after the steak was done.  While simple, this would have extended the overall cooking time by 1 hour.  This dilemma is equivalent to having one water bath and the two steaks to cook (at different temperatures).

So I decided on another approach that I wanted to share with everyone.  I cooked the medium rare steaks in one water bath at 135F for 1 1/2 hours.  I heated up the other water bath to 145F and dropped the medium well steak in for 1 1/2 hours.  After 45 minutes, I dropped the lobster into the same water bath for 45 minutes.

The above approach yielded a perfect medium rare steak out of the first water bath and a perfectly cooked (I don't like the mi cuit version of lobster) lobster out of the second water bath.  I felt that the medium well steak out of the second water bath was probably a little underdone.  I turned the oven broiler on and set the oven rack to its second highest level (not the typical broiler level, but one down from there).  I put the steak in and set the timer for 3 minutes.  After 3 minutes I turned the steak and set the timer for 3 more minutes.  After that I took the steak out and let it rest.  I cut into it and it was a perfect medium well yet still very tender and juicy!

The moral of this story is that there are many ways to achieve the desired level of doneness for your dinner guests using sous vide without resorting to sequential cooking which can elongate the cooking process beyond what is acceptable.  Using a combination of sous vide and standard cooking methods (broiler, oven, searing), you can achieve wonderful results!  Cheers!


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