Jan 22 2010

Cooking Beef & Pork Sous Vide

January 22nd, 2010 at 10:28 am (AST) by Jake Richter

After eggs, our next thing to try cooking sous vide was meat. We have consistently had excellent beef served to us at restaurants which use sous vide cooking to get their meats to the perfect internal temperature and thus wanted to see what if we could do the same.

The results have been great for beef, and mixed for pork.

In our family, all of us enjoy our beef medium rare (with my son leaning towards medium, but that doesn’t stop him from enjoying steak tartare either). My research found that the temperature of medium rare beef should be in the vicinity of 130°F /54.5°C, so I took a small roast beef, gave it a nice salt and pepper rub, vacuum sealed it, and cooked it in a water bath for about six hours at 54.5°C. After taking it out of the bag, I heated up a pan with a bit of sunflower oil and quickly browned the outside of the roast.

The beauty of sous vide cooking meat is that you also don’t have to rest the meat for 10-15 minutes as you do when you oven roast, since it’s already at the right temperature. You also don’t have to worry about the meat cooking more after you’re done cooking it sous vide style. In fact, quite the opposite – since it’s already at the perfect temperature internally, you should serve it quickly before it cools off.

One of the interesting things we noticed about our sous vide roast was how much redder the interior was. This gave it a bit more of a rare look, but the texture was perfectly medium-rare, and it was also very tender (a surprise considering the cheap cut we had used). The redness, as I understand it, is a result of the cooking in a vacuum. As there is virtually no oxygen in the bag, the meat does not oxidize and turn brown from oxygen exposure.

Beef roast cooked at 54.5 degrees Celsius for five hours and then seared on the outside

Beef roast cooked at 54.5 degrees Celsius for five hours and then seared on the outside

We have repeated the roast beef sous vide with an even cheaper and leaner cut of beef with similarly excellent results. Definite a thing to repeat.

Our pork sous vide experiments have been less successful, and in retrospect it’s entirely due to the cuts of meat being used being too thin and lean, and being cooked at too high a temperature (70°C for the most part), followed by too long in the pan to crisp up the meat. This will require more experimentation with other cuts of meat, such as pork loins.

Pork short ribs cooked at 70 degrees Celsius for a few hours to dissolve the collagen

Pork short ribs cooked at 70 degrees Celsius for a few hours to dissolve the collagen

However, the one cut of pork where sous vide turned out great was with pork short ribs. I created a marinade made with oranges, apples, and onions, pureed in our Vita-Mix blender, and then vacuum sealed the small racks of ribs.

A bag of the pork short ribs when done cooking Sous Vide

A bag of the pork short ribs when done cooking Sous Vide

I cooked them at 64°C for a couple of hours, and then at 70°C for three more hours, and then finished them off in the broiler to give them a nice brown crisp exterior.

The Sous Vide pork short ribs while broiling to crisp up the exterior

The Sous Vide pork short ribs while broiling to crisp up the exterior

With ribs, there’s a lot of chewy collagen in the meat, and cooking at 70°C breaks that collagen down and makes the meat very tender. The result were tasty ribs where the meat just about fell off the bone.

The final product - Sous Vide cooked pork ribs after a touch of broiling

The final product - Sous Vide cooked pork ribs after a touch of broiling