I started my experiments with a couple of cuts of beef. The petite sirloin and a flank steak. This time of year around here you can go to most stores and they will be pushing the petite sirloin as a great steak for grilling. While it is an okay steak for grilling it can become tough and dry if over cooked. Now when you coat it with oil or bacon renderings and season well with salt, pepper and your favorite herbs etc. Put it in a vacuum seal bag and cook to your desired temperature. It retains almost all of it’s moisture. It doesn’t shrink into a hockey puck. You pull it out and give it a quick browning in a hot frypan on the grill or my favorite (because I get to use my torch)using your kitchen torch. You can have a medium steak that still has moisture, flavor and isn’t like chewing on an old boot.
For my first experiment I kept things very simple. Petite sirloin steak, sea salt, pepper and a little garlic. I then vacuum sealed them with the Food Saver.
I set up my Anova Emersion circulator and brought the water temperature up to 135 degrees F. When the water was up to temp I placed the vacuum sealed steaks in the pot and set the stop watch. I then took the kids out for a round of disk golf.
When I returned it had been about 4 hours. I threw together a quick salad with a simple vinaigrette and pulled the steaks from the hot water. Cutting open the vacuum bags the steaks looked grey and not very appetizing. I placed them on a rack over a sheet pan and broke out the torch. Applying the flame directly to the surface of the meat and creating a thin golden brown crust.
Serving the steak with the salad my family was quite pleased. The flavor was great it was tender and I was still able to spend the day with my kids.
Now we move on to the flank steak. The beginning process starts out the same. I am not one to add to many flavors to beef. I believe beef has plenty of flavor on its own. So a pinch each of sea salt, black pepper and maybe some garlic (because it’s not food without garlic). Vacuum sealed and place in the immersion circulator at 135 degrees F. I started these steaks at the same time as the petite sirloins but instead of pulling them at 4 hours I let them cook until the next morning, about 16 hours. I then cooled them in an ice bath and placed them in the refrigerator to save for dinner that evening. In the afternoon I had my teenage son Jonathan bring the immersion circulator back up to 135 degrees and place the steaks back in the hot water about for 45 minutes to bring them back up to temp before my wife and I got home from work.
I have had steaks from some very high end restaurants. While I love a good New York or fillet none of these even compared with the flavor of a good flank steak. Flank and skirt steaks can get tough if over cooked and it can be hard to get that medium rare in the middle without cremating the out side. Using the immersion circulator I can get a perfect 135 degrees F. (Without worrying about over cooking. Because the steak will never get hotter than the water.) from the outside edge all the way to the middle of the steak.
This time I finished the steaks in a smoking hot skillet, browning them well on all sides. The steak was more tender and flavorful than any steak I have ever had. Tender and juicy with just a thin layer (less than a millimeter) of caramelization on the outside giving it a great flavor. It was incredible. The family was all oohs and awes. Even the mother in law who typically does not eat a lot of meat finished her steak.
I am looking forward to more experiments in the near future. This has been the best new cooking gadget I have played with in a long time.