My favourite challenge for the uni assignment I did a while back was the one where I had to choose an unfamiliar cooking method. Because I couldn't think of much that I hadn't tried before, I decided to go all out, attempting sous vide.....without the machine.
For those who do a bit of light food reading, you probably have heard of the beer cooler (esky) solution in which an esky is used for the water bath (apparently it does a great job at keeping water temperature stable) and ziploc bags for sous vide bags (it doesn't quite make a vacuum, but is close enough to do the job). Unfortunately, recounts of coolers looking misshapen after such experiments as well as official statements from the Ziploc bag company clarifying that their bags were not for use in high temperature environments scared me away, despite how genius it did sound.
Instead, I formulated my own solution, using sealable oven bags (designed for high temperature environments) to place the steaks in. It worked particularly well as the thin plastic seemed to stick to itself quite well, thus making its own 'psuedo-vacuum' if I may. For the warm water bath, I had a thermal cooker on hand, which is like a giant thermos.
The method is supposed to work on all cuts of meat as it eliminates the issues of time and temperature control, but to ensure success I did get a dearer cut of meat (scotch fillet)....just incase. I heated the water a bit hotter than I wanted to allow for equilibration of temperature between pot and thermal cooker, then dropped the steaks in and let them do their thing for an hour before adding a little more hot water to bring the temperature up and letting them cook for another hour whilst I made the other components.
The colour of the steaks was pretty dull after the sous vide, however, a quick sear (a couple of seconds on each side) turned them into normal grilled steaks. I didn't do any plating as you can probably see from the pics because I was too excited to bother.
And the result? I was extremely excited to find the perfect shade of light pink throughout the whole steak, with no blood to be seen- medium, exactly as I had intended. And it did taste every bit as good as it looked- the meat was soft and tender, whilst retaining a slight chew, characteristic of red meat- probably a combination of the cut of meat and the cooking method. Definitely will be trying this again, next time with a different cut of meat!
DIY Sous Vide Steak Recipe
4 scotch fillet steaks, about 250g each
*¼ tsp salt
*1 tsp pepper
*6 tbsp. soy sauce
*2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
*2 tbsp. garlic powder
*2 tbsp. sugar
*2 tbsp cornflour
4Tbsp. vegetable oil
800g potatoes, peeled
40g butter, chopped
1/3 cup hot milk
1 packet (30g) instant gravy powder
12 asparagus (large)
Note: * indicates marinade ingredients
1. Heat water in thermal cooker pot to 80oC, place pot in thermal cooker and allow temperature to equilibrate for 30 min.
2. Mix together marinade ingredients and place steaks in marinade for 30 minutes, then transfer each steak into an oven bag, keeping air out, and seal.
3. Add hot/cold water to the water bath (i.e. thermal cooker) until temperature reaches 65oC. Place steaks in, close the lid and leave to cook for 2 hours, checking and adjusting the temperature every hour to maintain 60oC.
4. Meanwhile make the mashed potatoes: Peel potato, place in a pot of boiling water and cook until tender but still firm; drain.In a saucepan heat butter and milk over low heat until butter is melted. Using a potato masher blend milk mixture into potatoes until smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Make gravy according to packet instructions
6. Blanch asparagus by adding to pot of boiling water for around 2 minutes, until bright green. Run under cold water.
7. Just before the allotted cooking time is finished, preheat pan until it’s very hot. Remove the steak from bags and pat dry. Lightly brush the steaks with oil then place on pan and sear each side until it’s nicely browned. Serve immediately.