Sous-vide is a French method of food cooking introduced to me by my son, Andrew with some follow-up information from his wife, Lauren. The method is not likely to be adapted in America for several reasons. First, because the temperature of cooking is so low there is a risk of food poisoning, and because it is all below 145 Fahrenheit, it is illegal for restaurants to use it in most states. When I talked to my friends who cook professionally in America, none had ever heard of it. The people in bookstores had, but none had tried the method. However, the reviews to date are generally positive and refer to the tenderness and full flavor of the meat so I just had to try it.
There are three elements to sous-vide cooking, Sous-vide means cooking under vacuum, the temperatures used are low (under 130 Fahrenheit) and the time is long (24 hours or more). Naturally, I just had to try it in my coffeepot but I wanted to separate the variables of Time and Temperature. I purchased one of those hand-held vacuum pumps and a supply of bags for under $20.
The meat I selected was a tough piece of eye of the round sliced as a steak. The reason is that it is easy to cook a great piece of meat on the grill but if this method really tenderizes, I want to see what it does for a very tough slice of meat.
Coffeepot temperatures are around 165-170 which is far too hot for sous-vide so in the first try I tested cooking times of 1/2 hour (shown above) and 2 hours. I seasoned the meat with Adobo (seasoned salt), pepper and Worcester Sause and put it in the bag, sealed it and pumped out the air.
When finished, the meat was sliced on a bias because this tends to make a tough piece of meat like london broil a little more tender. This is the appearance of the meat after 2 hours.
In both cases the meat was more tender than I expected for a tough cut of meat but I wouldn’t serve it to company. In both cases, the meat alone did not have much flavor so I might try an overnight marinade for my next attempt. The half hour was the appearance of the way I like the meat to look (real sous-vide below 125 Fahrenheit) and the darker version is the way my friend Jenny likes it (145 F). Both would cook for 24 hours at these temperatures.
I am just curious enough to keep on playing with this method but I wouldn’t spend $700 on a home cooker quite yet – not until I tasted something which is better than what I can do in my coffeepot, stove or grill on a routine basis. At this point I would admit that I have not given sous-vide a fair chance which is why this was titled Faux Sou-vide but I am still playing with the coffeemaker to try to bypass the temperature controls so I can get it to cook at the temperature I want and not 170 F.