Faux Sous Vide – Coffeepot Style

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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.

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7 Responses to “Faux Sous Vide – Coffeepot Style”

  1. Coffeepot Sous Vide – not yet. « Too Young To Be Old! Says:

    […] When you are hacking, its good to document success and failure.  Now when I first heard of sous-vide, I rushed out and to purchase my hand vacuum pump and a box of vacuum bags.  This part was perfect. But the coffeepot has exceptionally poor temperature control.  You can have any temperature you want if it is 170 Farenheit. The first result was alright but I wouldn’t serve it to company. […]

  2. Bill Says:

    Here’s a link to some sous vide info done cheaply:

    Bill Nonnemacher

  3. Bill Says:

    Not sure why the link didn’t appear, here’s another try:

    http://www.metafilter.com/91727/Beer-Cooler-Sous-Vide

  4. Poppa John Says:

    Thanks for the link – Once I get a working coffeepot I intended to compare tthe articles I have found which isn’t much.

    Are you the Bill Nonnemacher of my ill spent youth from Holland Twp.

    BTW I am having troouble finding recipes for sous vide except for a $75 book which I refuse to buy until I have a guaranteed constant cooker on the cheep. All my coolers have broken insulation from too much beer and hammering ice in them so I will see how I make out with my modified coffeepot. Will try the beer cooler when I run out of ideas on how to control the temperature.

  5. Bill Says:

    Yep, I’m the Bill from Holland Twp.

    I haven’t seen too many recipes on the web. I haven’t done any real searching though. I haven’t tried sous vide. What I know was found while reading food/cooking blogs

    You might know more about this than me, but a coffee pot seems to be designed for a far different purpose than sous vide. Most DIY’ers seem to go with a rice cooker or slow cooker and a PID controller. Check out:

    http://www.popsci.com/diy/article/2010-01/cooking-sous-vide-inexpensive-diy-way

    Good luck!

  6. Sloppy Joe with Homemade BBQ Sauce « Coffee Pot Cooking Says:

    […] piece of that really tough eye of the round steak that failed to tenderize in a preliminary sous-vide experiment. Now I knew from my pirate stew recipe that Cruzan Rum would tenderize stew beef so I decided to […]

  7. The Literature of Sous Vide « Coffee Pot Cooking Says:

    […] a friend from high school solved the control problem when he posted a comment directing me to an article on sous vide […]

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