Modernist Cuisine, sous-vide bible, finally available for the home chef

Modernist Cuisine, By Nathan Myhrvold and Maxime Bilet, is without a doubt the single best resource out there for aspiring sous-vide cooks and really any geeky foodies. Now it is (finally) available in a semi-reasonble offering, at under $100 for one huge volume with great pix and one cool spiral-bound, waterproof, volume for kitchen use — that includes all the recipes. It’s too tall to fit on my cookbook bookshelf, but fortunately comes in a nice box, so it looks good even on the counter.

Nathan’s team did seemingly endless research on cooking times, methods, and equipment — much of it very suitable for home use. Not all of it will be of interest to any single person, but there is enough in there to justify the price many times over even if you only count the savings in food from not running all the experiments yourself. I particularly like the burger reinvention chapter. It’s now a relative bargain at $94 from Amazon.


November 16, 2012. Kitchen Equipment, Recipes, Technique. Leave a comment.

Short Ribs sous-vide

Along with King Salmon, Beef short ribs is one of my “go-to” recipes for my thermal bath.

I’ve experimented a bit with time and temp and seasonings, but in general what I do is:

* Get a package of beef short ribs, from Safeway if I’m there and lazy, from the butcher if I have time

* Trim some of the most dense fat, as it just plain won’t render in the cooker

* Cover with Lemon seasoning from Peak (or whatever you enjoy, I like lemon & pepper). Be careful of too much salt given the long cooking time. I use Worcestershire sauce as a binder, and sometimes add a bay leaf or other spicing

* Vacuum seal as best you can

* 133-135F for 2-3 days

* Saute mushrooms in the juice to make a sauce

* Optionally brush the ribs with a grilling sauce (we like cherry, for example) and then sear on each side on a hot grill

* Serve covered with sauce



May 10, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Recipes, Technique. Leave a comment.

Sous-vide Pork Shoulder, e.g. Pulled Pork

Building on the technique I’ve used for ribs (posted previously) I did the same thing with a pork shoulder. Rub & rest overnight, smoke (2 hours, low temp, to get a smoke ring & flavor), sous-vide (48 hours at 146 degrees in this case) and then pull & shred.

Unlike a traditional pulled pork, it didn’t fall off the bone (expected since the final temp never got anywhere close to the 200 degrees or so of typical pulled pork) but the taste was amazing and the bite a little toothy.

Then I used the result as meat I could either shred & serve with sauce, fry up in a wok, or turn into a Carnitas or just about anything that tasty pork is good for.

So this technique is a keeper but I’ll keep experimenting with variations to see how to create the best “traditional” pulled pork using it.

Please experiment and let us know your results! Since my thermal bath is only 5 quarts I can only do one experiment at a time with pork shoulders, even though I can fit 6-8 in my smoker.

October 8, 2011. Recipes, Technique. 9 comments.

Spare Ribs Sous-vide

I’ve been experimenting a lot with mixing and matching smoking and sous-vide. My most recent experiment has been with ribs. I was already doing short ribs per Thomas Keller using several days in the cooker but for some reason started with comparatively short times (24 hours ) for my spare ribs and finishing them in the oven (seem my 2006 post for my results). Then I happened to hear Nathan Myhrvold mention 48 hours on The Daily Show and gave it a try (of course given the 48-72 hour time for short ribs this makes a lot of sense!). I also smoked them a little first and finished them on the grill at the end. The results have been stunning.

My preparation is basically as follows:

* Pull the membrane off the back (same as for any smoker recipe)

* Rub the night before & wrap in plastic (I use some mustard to help hold the rub and have the vinegar break down the tissue a little)

* Smoke for 1-2 hours with whatever wood you like

* Seal & cook for 48 hours (148 seems to work pretty well for pork spare ribs, I’ve used some lower temps for beef ribs)

* Mop with BBQ sauce or Grilling Sauce

* Grill just enough to get some “bite” on the outside

* Serve “dry” or “wet” as you desire.

Enjoy and as always I’d love to hear your ideas, comments & recipes.–David

September 19, 2011. Recipes, Technique. 6 comments.

Sous-vide Tri-tip

We have a local favorite steak here in the bay area called “Fred’s Steak” which is a secret marinate on a tri-tip sold by a local family run butcher shop. Traditional preparation is either grilling or baking. But sure enough, a sous-vide treatment (45 to 60 minutes at 128-135 depending on taste) followed by searing in an iron skillet (or with a torch) worked out great and has won hands down in blind taste tests we’ve run here.

I’ve done the same thing with tri-tips prepared several different ways. Another winner for the sous-vide cooker!

January 16, 2010. Recipes, Technique. 3 comments.

Sous-vide Pork Shoulder Reprise

I made another pork shoulder roast sous-vide tonight. I started by using a rub of Bone Sucking Sauce Rib Rub and some garlic oil then vacuum sealing the pieces of the roast overnight. Then this morning I put them in the bath at about 160F for about 9 hours. I was a little nervous when they came out as the very ends of the smaller pieces were somewhat dry.

The good news is that most of the pork was very succulent and tasted excellent. So overall it was a big success and the meat was quite popular. Once again I regreted not having a commercial vacuum sealer though, as with the FoodSaver level of vacuum the juice seeps back out of the meat and extends the bag pouch. From all I have read if you have a serious commercial unit the vacuum is strong enough that the juices tend to stay in the meat more.

I did learn one important lesson on the way. My test for how much water I needed and how important a cover was was at 165F. At that temperature there wasn’t much evaporation. But I decided to make pulled pork from some of the pork and cranked my thermal bath up to 200F. At that temp (much like we all learned in high school about partial pressures!) the water evaporates much faster and my bath almost went dry. Lesson learned, hopefully.–David


March 13, 2006. Recipes, Technique. 7 comments.

Sous-vide Steak

I experimented with sous-vide market steaks. I cooked them to 126F (after vacuum sealing) in the thermal bath and then finished them with about 30 seconds on each side in a hot iron skillet. As usual the steaks were very juicy, but the lack of browning flavors was evident. The searing didn’t fix that. NOTE: I’ve made similar steaks many times since and as long as I seared them long enough they were excellent and universally well received.

Alternatives might be to sear the steaks first, change the time and temperature of the searing, or of course to give up and just do steaks the “old-fashioned” way.–David

February 22, 2006. Recipes, Technique. 18 comments.

“Osso Bucco” — Sous-vide Style

I really wanted to try an ultra-long cooking time sous-vide recipe, so I bought some veal shanks and after seasoning them (garlic, olive oil and Thyme) I seared them in a pan, vacuum sealed them and put them in 140F for 24 hours.

As with most sous-vide dishes they were incredibly tender and juicy, so the time worked out find. However, the texture was a little “greasy” and some of the fatty areas were still there and a little “gamey”–this seems to be a common side-effect of sous-vide since all the fat and other tastes are locked into the meat in the bag and not allowed to burn off. I’m not sure if a second searing at the end of cooking would have fixed this issue.

 Overall the veal shank did taste good, so I can’t complain too much, but I’ll be looking for ways to improve the finish.


February 5, 2006. Recipes, Technique. 11 comments.

Salmon — “Sous-Vide” style

So far Salmon sous-vide has been a great success. I’ve made it several times with both Coho & Chinook salmon and been pleased with the results as have my ‘tasters’.

The first step is to add whatever seasonings you want and rub them on the Salmon then vacuum seal the Salmon. For cooking, there is a variation according to taste, with some cooks using a temperature as low as 104F. I chose the somewhat “safer” temperature of 114F. In either case 20 minutes should be enough to bring a filet to temperature.

For seasonings, I use a variation of the BBQ salmon ingredients I use in my smoker:

* Minced fresh Dill

* Sweet, hot Mustard

* Olive Oil (or Garlic Olive Oil)

The result is a Salmon that stays mostly pink even though it has been cooked to temperature and is incredibly juicy.



January 22, 2006. Recipes, Technique. 2 comments.

Pork Loin — Sous Vide

Tonight I cooked a pork loin sous vide, as follows:

1) Rubbed with Bone sucking Rub + Garlic + Olive Oil

2) Vacuum packed + Refrigerated overnight

3) Placed in a 160F water bath for about 6 hours. It didn’t need this long to get to temp., but I was trying to figure out what foods can be left in a bath for extended periods without harm.

4) Seared the outsides in a hot pan

5) Let it rest for 20 minutes, slided & served with choice of BBQ sauce or Salsa.

Results: The pork was well received. It was fairly tasty. Personally, I found it a little dry, but I’m really picky about moist meat. A lot of juice had come out of the meat into the vac bag. This led me to the following conclusions:

* You can’t just leave pork at 160F with the type of sealing I have and have it stay moist

* Commercial vacuum sealers might be helpful because they would create a better vacuum seal on the meat

* Using a larger bag than necessary in the vacuum sealer might be a mistake, as it gives the juice more room to escape the meat.



January 21, 2006. Recipes, Technique. 5 comments.

Next Page »