I'll share a few of my easy Sous Vide recipes. These are typically not a huge time investment and almost impossible to goof up.
I'm not normally a fan of New York Steak. It's one of those inbetween cuts that is not quite as tender as a Filet but not quite as favorful and juicy as a good ribeye. But, cooked Sous Vide, they come out really nice. You get the extreme fork tender melt in your mouth goodness of a filet with the extra fat breaking down into a ton of flavor like a good ribeye, almost like the best of both worlds.
Last, we'll cover one of my favorites, and something that is a little bit outside the box. Rack of lamb. Costco has rack of lamb for a very reasonable price (about $12 a lbs, as of this writing) and it's flavorful and different but really tasty and really easy. This was fun for the family because it was a little bit exotic but not too far outside. The kids liked the portability and finger food nature, plus they loved the tender texture and flavor of the lamb.
New York Steak:
I usually plan on about 12-16 oz of boneless New York Steak per person - I find some people eat more and some eat less, but this tends to be a pretty good balance. Prime cut is obviously preferred and not insanely expensive from Costco but since we're Sous Viding here, no problem to use choice grade as well. I like to season it and leave it exposed in the fridge overnight, as it helps the salt get pulled through the meat when you cook it. Smoked Salt, pepper, garlic powder (I tend to use dried garlic as fresh garlic, especially in long sous vide sessions, can develop a strange metallic taste) are all the spices I use.
Then, after leaving it in the fridge overnight, I bag them up, either using thewater displacement method with a ziploc freezer bag or with a vacuum sealer, and place them in a sous vide bath. Since I usually sear the steaks after they come out of the water bath, I usually aim a bit lower than I normally would, so about 127 is my preferred temp. They go in for 1-3 hours, not a very long cook but you can be flexible. There tends to be minimal connective tissue in a New York steak, so they don't need extended cooking times, but you can go the full length if you need time prepping other things or if your guests are late.
Once they come out, they tend to look a little gray, so I get a cast iron pan or my Baking Steel to put a nice sear on it. 1 min at 450-500 degrees on each side and it's ready to serve.
Sous Vide Chicken Breast
Chicken breast seems like a penalty box, like diet food that you only eat because it's healthy, not because it tastes good. I never order it in restaurants, but when I figured out that it comes out pretty tasty when you Sous Vide it, it's been added to our food rotations at home. Best thing to do is to look for air chilled chicken, which tends to concentrate the flavor a bit more. I prefer skin on, bone in chicken breasts as you have that nice pocket of fat between the skin and chicken that melts in.
Smoked Salt, Pepper, Garlic powder and a dash of liquid smoke. Some fresh Thyme goes great, I've had bad luck with fresh basil turning bitter. I just toss in a whole sprig or two on the skin side. Seal in a bag, and sous vide at 145 for an hour, up to 2 hrs. Beyond that, the skin starts to get really mushy and, since there is little connective tissue to break down, you really don't need to go longer than that. Be careful when you seal it that there are no sharp edges that will puncture the bag, last time I had to pull the skin over some of the cut bones. If you are really feeling gutsy, you can turn down the heat to 140, but you'll get slightly pink chicken. Because we grew up with overcooked dry chicken, we're used it to being cooked until there is no pink left. The USDA says that at 136 F, chicken is fully pasteurized at 68.4 minutes. (Thanks Food Lab!) I have tried it and it's really tasty but has enough of a slimey texture where I prefer it at 142 - 145. You lose a bit of the juiciness but it's up to you.
When it comes out, sear skin side down for 1.5 minutes at 450+ on a cast iron skillet or baking steel and serve immediately.
Salt the Prime Rib heavily, I tried to really pack it on with my hands, on all surfaces. Pepper, garlic powder and about a teaspoon of liquid smoke, and then seal it. I really like fresh rosemary with my Prime Rib, so toss in a few sprigs on top and bottom of the roast. I left it in for 24 hours at 127, and it would have been fine +/- 12 hours. Prime Rib has some connective tissue to break down, so an extended cook works well here. Going at least 24 hours breaks almost all of it down into soft chewable texture, and reduces the fat, distributing it's flavor.
Once it comes out, I used the torch to dry it out, and then stuck it in the oven at 500 degrees for 8 minutes. It's a large piece of meat so you can sear it for a decent amount of time, so it gets a uniform beautiful crust on it. You should just hear it sizzle at the 6-7 minute mark.
I really enjoyed how it came out. Notice there is almost no grey ring around the meat, that it's all uniformly medium rare, yet the fat and connective tissues are all nicely rendered. It was fork tender and had great flavor - Very successful meal. The cap was the best part - since it sits in the outside of the roast, even those it's the best part with the most tender muscle, it tends to get overcooked in traditional prime rib preparations - Sous Vide cooks it gently with the rest of the meat, so it comes out with a succulent crust but retains it's tender and flavorful goodness.
Sous Vide Rack of Lamb
The last recipe we'll discuss is Rack of Lamb. Lamb usually gets a bad name for overcooked gamey tasting lamb that many restaurants serve as an after thought. I thought I hated lamb until I had it cooked really well. When it's prepared properly, it has a really nice distinctive flavor, with the texture of really fine beef. It's some good eating when it's prepared correctly, but it's hard to do, especially bone in rack of lamb, because of the bones - they tend to make the meat close to them take longer to cook while the rest turns into a tough flavorless grey mess.
Sous Vide cooking is perfect because you can cook the entire portion to the right temperature, a really nice medium rare, without over drying it. Take your portion out of the vacuum bag it comes in, (I like to buy it at Costco again, $11.99 / lbs for enough pre-frenched lamb to easily feed 2.) and dry it, then salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a dash of liquid smoke. I really like to toss in some fresh herbs too, I like Rosemary or Thyme. When sealing the bag, make sure there are no sharp edges of bone to poke through.
I left the lamb in the 130 degree F water bath for 1.5 hrs, and it's fine to go up to 3. Any more than that and the lamb tends to be a little mushy. When done, I torched and then roasted in the oven for 5 minutes at 500, but I think a cast iron skillet might be the way to go for crusting, you just have to hold it, on the fatty side, for a minute or two to put a crust on it. The oven cooked the outside a bit too deeply. But, it was still fantastic, with a great flavor and texture. It was unique enough to make it really obvious it wasn't beef, but not so gamey as to be off putting.
Even the kids thought it was great, and enjoyed grabbing the lamb by the lollipop handle and gnawing off the meat like cavemen. You can see there is a bit of overcooked grey meat from the roasting in the oven, like I said, I think that 1 minute per side in a piping hot cast iron skillet would be the way to go next time.
Hope you enjoyed this post, as much as we did eating the results! I really like sous vide cooking, because it takes so much of the stress and timing required away from cooking, you can be much more relaxed making the other dishes to serve. If you liked this post, please share it!
Sealing a Ziploc Bag with the Water Displacement Method
If you don't have a vacuum sealer, you can use ziploc bags. I tend to use Ziploc freezer bags, because they are robust enough to hold the meat without falling apart, plus I know they don't use BPA in the bags. When you are ready to place the food in the water bath, slightly open the top of the bag and carefully lower it into the bath, (preferably with heat resistant and waterproof gloves on!) and use the water pressure to displace the air in the bag. When you have the air out, seal it at the top - I usually tape the ziploc section out of the water, so it won't accidentally come open. It doesn't work quite as well as a good vacuum sealer but is much easier and cuts down on the single use kitchen appliances for those of you short of counter real estate, like we are.
Silicon Valley Dad, who loves cars, cooking, clothes and cameras