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Sous-Vide Cooking


zoramargolis
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Ax mdt, he had a sous vide duck breast at Citronelle the other evening.  I still don't understand how they got the skin crispy.

The skin of the duck gets crisped in a frypan before serving the dish. The important point about low temperature sous vide is that the product does not loose moisture and does not shrink. Meat/fish/poultry stay naturally juicy.

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Mark,

Can you share any pointers on how to get a probe into the bag without it losing air? Someone at the Squires BB (Robertparker.com) suggested using close cell weather striping. Is this what is used at Citronelle?

Edited by Sthitch
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The finish the duck in a pan after the meat has been cooked sous vide.  I have cooked like this recently, it works very well with steak.  Once the meat is cooked, dry it and put it on a glowing pan to get a nice crust.

What do you use for your constant temperature source? Pan, circulating water bath, steam oven?

Note: This thread should probably be moved to the cooking section.

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Why is it I can only think of those drop-in-boiling water frozen dinners my mom used to buy from Swanson's or Dinty Moore?  Is there a difference?  :P

Read the article and check out the thread on eG. Pretty neat stuff that has been around for a pretty long time.

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What do you use for your constant temperature source?  Pan, circulating water bath, steam oven?

Note:  This thread should probably be moved to the cooking section.

My oven has a warming burner, well not really a burner since it is a flat top, but it allows me to keep the water at the proper temperature. When I cook a steak this way, I put the package into water and bring it to 125-130 degrees. I let it cook at least 30 minutes, but it could stay that way all day, since it will never get more than the temperature of the water. I remove it, pat it dry, season it, and then take it to my grill where I have a cast iron pan glowing. Put it on the grill for about 30 seconds per side, and it it perfect.

I have tried it once with a duck breast, and it came out better than cooking it stove top. I have found that it is important to make sure that the meat is cold when you do this. Next I am going to try and artichoke.

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The sous vide concept sounds intriguing and apparently works well in certain situations, I don't think it always works well for everything. Specifically, I've had lobster cooked sous vide at Per Se which was surprisingly rubbery. Not what I want from lobster anywhere, particularly at Per Se. I still need to be convinced that cooking this way is truly better so I think this will be a standard question asked when visiting some of the restaurants named in the NYTimes article -- 'was this prepared sous vide?"

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Why is it I can only think of those drop-in-boiling water frozen dinners my mom used to buy from Swanson's or Dinty Moore?  Is there a difference?  :P

The difference is that the water used in the immersion baths is not boiling. Boiling explodes the cell walls of the food and causes it to lose moisture, ie: shrink and lose flavor. The techniques involve searing the food first, cooling it in steps, cooking to certain temperatures for certain periods of time and then cooling again.

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Mark,

Can you share any pointers on how to get a probe into the bag without it losing air?  Someone at the Squires BB (Robertparker.com) suggested using close cell weather striping.  Is this what is used at Citronelle?

There is a rubber square about 1/4 inch thick that attaches to the bag. The probe is inserted through the rubber to the center of the food.

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It has been years since I have seen an electric fry pan, but do they hold at the low temperatures needed for sous vide?

The problem with electric fry pans is that the heating element is always cycling on and off which causes termerature variation. As I understand it, one of the central tenets of sous vide cooking is consistency of temperature.

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The problem with electric fry pans is that the heating element is always cycling on and off which causes termerature variation.  As I understand it, one of the central tenets of sous vide cooking is consistency of temperature.

That's right. Sous vide uses circulating water baths with precision heating elements.

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Regina Schrambling's take.

Did someone say sous vide, or did my pinkie just jerk up reflexively? My advanced age once again forces me to confess that I did a piece for American Airlines' magazine way, way back in the last century -- 1985? ’86? -- on how “boil-in-bag cuisine” was the coming revolution. I did it despite the fact that I was fresh out of restaurant school where we were taught by the late great Jack Ubaldi that Cryovac destroyed meat because it couldn’t age, only virtually ferment to flabbiness in its own blood. So I can only hope the letter-writer who flayed me is still around and ready to type that great American four-letter word: Hype. If not, may the ghost of Curnonsky haunt chefs who aren’t quite clear on Escoffier. Cuisine is when things taste like themselves.

Heh.

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Pretty interesting article by Paula Wolfert in the Food & Wine that just came out about making duck confit by sous vide. Basically, by sealing a leg, there's enough fat in the 'package' to confit it, so it eliminates the need for extra duck fat (and getting the fat is the toughest part about confit). And then there's essentially no cleanup either.

Edited by cjsadler
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Pretty interesting article by Paula Wolfert in the Food & Wine that just came out about making duck confit by sous vide.  Basically, by sealing a leg, there's enough fat in the 'package' to confit it, so it eliminates the need for extra duck fat (and getting the fat is the toughest part about confit).  And then there's essentially no cleanup either.

I got a vacuum food sealer for Xmas, and put it into action trying this duck confit yesterday. Man, is this easy. There's no need for duck fat, and not a single pot or utensil to clean.

I got some duck legs, cheap, from Grand Mart (I believe they are Pekin, but it doesn't say), sealed them in vacuum bags, put them in a large pot of water, and threw in some silverware to keep the bags submerged. Brought the temp to 180 on the stove and then put the pot in the oven. Periodicaly checking the temp of the water with a probe thermometer (one of those that has a wire attached and sits outside the oven), I found that 225 kept the water at a fairly constant 180 (with some fluctuations of a few degrees on either side). Wolfert says 5 hours, but I let it go for an extra 1/2 hour, since it's difficult to tell through the package if the legs are done. The beauty of sous vide is that you can't really overcook things since you're holding it at the 'final' temp in a sealed bag.

I'll post a pic of the final product.... maybe in some cassoulet this weekend.

Edited by cjsadler
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But...but.... :)   You CAN use it, right? Right?  I like the easy-to-clean aspect of it, though.

Wolfert says this won't be quite as good as real confit, but darn close. And it is kinda a downside that you won't have all that nice duck fat left over to use for other purposes (like roasting potatoes). There is a decent amount of fat that the legs shed in the bag, though. Enough to roast a batch of potatoes or to use in sauteeing for a cassoulet.

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Wolfert says this won't be quite as good as real confit, but darn close.  And it is kinda a downside that you won't have all that nice duck fat left over to use for other purposes (like roasting potatoes).  There is a decent amount of fat that the legs shed in the bag, though.  Enough to roast a batch of potatoes or to use in sauteeing for a cassoulet.

I didn't read the article, but I have read her instructions in _The Cooking of Southwest France_. You didn't say as much, but did you do the advance cure with salt and herbs? If so, how long did you cure them?

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I didn't read the article, but I have read her instructions in _The Cooking of Southwest France_. You didn't say as much, but did you do the advance cure with salt and herbs? If so, how long did you cure them?

Sorry, I forgot to mention that part. I did cure them with salt, pepper and thyme overnight.

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Could you post a picture of it in the sous vide bag also? I bought her book during the EG thing and have been dying to try it, but after reading their thread on sous vide, I am scared to death!

What kind of a stove fdo you have that you were able to keep a fairly consistant temperature? I have a Viking range.

Edited by RaisaB
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Could you post a picture of it in the sous vide bag also? I bought her book during the EG thing and have been dying to try it, but after reading their thread on sous vide, I am scared to death!

What kind of a stove fdo you have that you were able to keep a fairly consistant temperature? I have a Viking range.

Wolfert suggests the stovetop, but I think it's too hard to maintain a constant temp (at least on mine), so I went with the oven. The temp in the pot stayed surprisingly consistent, though. Is your concern with temperature and food safety? I'm assuming that 180 for that long would be pretty safe (I put the bags into a cold water bath to quickly cool them afterwards and then put them in the fridge).

I'll post some pics, both before and after.

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I am not concerned with the safety of it as much as I am afraid I will somehow cook it to death by having the temperature too high. I would like to cook an entire Foie Gras this way, but again Iam afraid it will turn into a melted mess. If anyone can give me some advice, it would be appreciated.

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I am not concerned with the safety of it as much as I am afraid I will somehow cook it to death by having the temperature too high. I would like to cook an entire Foie Gras this way, but again Iam afraid it will turn into a melted mess. If anyone can give me some advice, it would be appreciated.

If you set your oven low (around 200-225) you should be fine, unless the temperature in your oven fluctuates greatly. Since you probably paid a good deal of $$ for your Viking I would think that it would hold pretty steady. It takes a bunch of energy to raise a large amount of water in temperature. Stick a temperature probe in the water and you should be fine. I did a braise of some short ribs and was able to keep the temp of the braising liquid steady with no problems in my oven.

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I am not concerned with the safety of it as much as I am afraid I will somehow cook it to death by having the temperature too high. I would like to cook an entire Foie Gras this way, but again Iam afraid it will turn into a melted mess. If anyone can give me some advice, it would be appreciated.

It really works quite well with Foie Gras, although I tend to do it at a higher temp for foie, and it's more of poaching it than the standard idea of sous vide. Don't be surprised by the amount of fat that it renders (which is a fair amount) And keep this in mind, my favorite part of cooking foie sous vide is that you can put something in the bag w/ the foie and not only will it perfume the foie, but the fat as well, so if you include some bay leaf, thyme, mint, vanilla etc.... not only will you have some great foie but also some great tasting foie fat to use in as a sauce or in a vinaigrette. As far as not overcooking it goes at 160 degrees I would think something like 40 min. (for a whole lobe) Good luck. And let me know when you have it perfected, I'll bring the wine.

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:o Although a stove top or oven at low temp. might work your best bet is to check out the many used lab equip. websites for a precision water bath. They will maintain a temp. within .5 degrees. If you are serious about Sous Vide cooking then having the right equipement is nessasary for sucsess. Many books and articles will mention a circulating water heater but a water bath will work fine as long as you do not overcrowd it. I have 2 waterbaths which I run at different temps. for multiple items at once. Proteins are a natural for Sous Vide but veggies require higher cooking temps that can be acomplished on any stove top. The other thing that is nice about the water baths I have is the stainless steel lids to prevent the evaporation of water during long cooking periods. For all you non-believers out there if you have not tried Sous Vide than you don't know what your missing. Please do not refer to it as "BOIL A BAG". :)
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:o Although a stove top or oven at low temp. might work your best bet is to check out the many used lab equip. websites for a precision water bath. They will maintain a temp. within .5 degrees. If you are serious about Sous Vide cooking then having the right equipement is nessasary for sucsess. Many books and articles will mention a circulating water heater but a water bath will work fine as long as you do not overcrowd it. I have 2 waterbaths which I run at different temps. for multiple items at once. Proteins are a natural for Sous Vide but veggies require higher cooking temps that can be acomplished on any stove top. The other thing that is nice about the water baths I have is the stainless steel lids to prevent the evaporation of water during long cooking periods. For all you non-believers out there if you have not tried Sous Vide than you don't know what your missing. Please do not refer to it as "BOIL A BAG". :)

Used those water baths a zillion times when I used to work in a lab. I guess there are things that I still can buy for my kitchen! This could get very interesting.

Can you recommend a good source for recipes and such?

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Seriously, does anyone have any good recipes for beef cheeks. I think I am going to order the beefcheeks from the above website.

After tasing the cheeks at Corduroys, I want to make something similar. Does anyone have any idea what they use in their recipe and theier method of cooking, (besides slow)?

Thanks all.

Beef cheeks would be awesome done Sous Vide. :)

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Mark,

Can you share any pointers on how to get a probe into the bag without it losing air? Someone at the Squires BB (Robertparker.com) suggested using close cell weather striping. Is this what is used at Citronelle?

You only need to probe your food when you are establishing cooking times based on internal temperatures that are lower than higher waterbath temps. If you are cooking the food in a waterbath regulated to the exact internal temp. of the food than carefull timing is not critical. If you need to check the internal temp than you need a very fine thermal-couple used in the food processing industry for thin prepared foods such as hamburgs. They are available on the web but usually sell for around $80.00 just for the probe not including the readout equipment. The probe is fine enough to penetrate the closed cell square adhered to the bag without releasing the vacuum.

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This is a picture of the duck, post sous-vide bath, after sitting in the fridge. You can see where the fat has resolidified. Also, a very gelatinous duck 'stock' formed at the bottom of the bags (I used this 'stock' in the cassoulet). The texture and taste of the meat was great, but I probably needed to be a bit more liberal with the seasonings-- besides s&p, maybe even adding some thyme or orange inside the bag. Overall, though, this is major payoff for very little work (especially now that I know what the temp of my oven needs to be). Forgot to take a pic of the cassoulet, which I brought over to some friends' house.

ducksous0wq.jpg

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I picked up some frozen wild-caught sockeye salmon at Trader Joe's the other day ($6/lb.), and the vaccum-packed plastic container it arrived in got me thinking: Why can't I just sous vide this thing in the original packaging?

I defrosted the salmon in the fridge overnight, then brought a pot of water to a boil on my stovetop, then reduced the heat to its lowest setting. I let it sit there for about half an hour, and then put the salmon in. The water at this point wasn't hot, but a little more than tepid. (I'm getting a digital thermometer this weekend to get this part down.) I cooked the salmon for about ten minutes, removed it from the bag, and placed it on top of a bed of some pasta riso (with romano and saffron). I made a little shallot butter sauce for the salmon and added a bit of fresh dill, and it worked pretty well. The salmon, once defrosted, wasn't completely vaccum-packed and air-free, so there wasn't the concentration of juices that I'd hope for from the real thing (just got my foodsaver vac yesterday, so that's about to change). But it was very tasty, and I preffered the texture over baked, broiled or poached salmon.

I wonder if you could do this with other Trader Joe's products -- I bought some lamb shanks for this purpose, which I'll try out this weekend. The downside to this approach is the extra air in the packaging (but not enough to make it float to the surface) I already mentioned and the inability to season and flavor the meat before cooking, an admittedly giant flaw. But for those without a foodsaver, might this present a viable alternative for cooking meats sous vide?

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I picked up some frozen wild-caught sockeye salmon at Trader Joe's the other day ($6/lb.), and the vaccum-packed plastic container it arrived in got me thinking: Why can't I just sous vide this thing in the original packaging?

I defrosted the salmon in the fridge overnight, then brought a pot of water to a boil on my stovetop, then reduced the heat to its lowest setting.  I let it sit there for about half an hour, and then put the salmon in.  The water at this point wasn't hot, but a little more than tepid. (I'm getting a digital thermometer this weekend to get this part down.)  I cooked the salmon for about ten minutes, removed it from the bag, and placed it on top of a bed of some pasta riso (with romano and saffron). I made a little shallot butter sauce for the salmon and added a bit of fresh dill, and it worked pretty well.  The salmon, once defrosted, wasn't completely vaccum-packed and air-free, so there wasn't the concentration of juices that I'd hope for from the real thing (just got my foodsaver vac yesterday, so that's about to change).  But it was very tasty, and I preffered the texture over baked, broiled or poached salmon.

I wonder if you could do this with other Trader Joe's products -- I bought some lamb shanks for this purpose, which I'll try out this weekend. The downside to this approach is the extra air in the packaging (but not enough to make it float to the surface) I already mentioned and the inability to season and flavor the meat before cooking, an admittedly giant flaw.  But for those without a foodsaver, might this present a viable alternative for cooking meats sous vide?

Job well done on the salmon. When you get your foodsaver, sweat some shallots in butter, when soft add some white wine and cook off the alcohol. Chill the mixture in the freezer till it gels. That will prevent the liquid from getting sucked up into your new foodsaver :) . Add the semi frozen sauce, fish and some fresh dill to your vacuum bag and seal it. I cook salmon at 116F for around 20 minutes in my water bath. For presentation purposes you can brown the sufaces of the fish quickly in a hot pan with a little butter. :o

post-867-1137032136_thumb.jpg

Edited by ChefKevin
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I am not concerned with the safety of it as much as I am afraid I will somehow cook it to death by having the temperature too high. I would like to cook an entire Foie Gras this way, but again Iam afraid it will turn into a melted mess. If anyone can give me some advice, it would be appreciated.

The temp. of the water should be set at 148F which is why you need accurate control over temp for certain items such as a $70 Foie Gras lobe. You will be trying to achieve an internal temp of around 140F which should take between 20 to 30 minutes depending on the size. After removing from the bag brown the outside quickly in a very hot pan. :) Here is a picture of my water baths which I consider a nessasary piece of equipment for Sous Vide cooking. The average stove top cannot possibly be as accurate as this lab equipment which will maintain temp within 1/2 a degree. If cooking an item such as duck breast the difference between 131F and 136F is extremly noticable when using extended cooking times to make the duck breasts tender. I have cooked shortribs for 38 hours at 154F and they were awesome.

post-867-1137122501_thumb.jpg

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:) Here is a picture of my water baths which I consider a nessasary piece of equipment for Sous Vide cooking. The average stove top cannot possibly be as accurate as this lab equipment which will maintain temp within 1/2 a degree. If cooking an item such as duck breast the difference between 131F and 136F is extremly noticable...

So what's the optimum temperature for that box of Betty Crocker Walnut Supreme brownies? :o

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I picked up some frozen wild-caught sockeye salmon at Trader Joe's the other day ($6/lb.), and the vaccum-packed plastic container it arrived in got me thinking: Why can't I just sous vide this thing in the original packaging?

But for those without a foodsaver, might this present a viable alternative for cooking meats sous vide?

I've been waiting for the chemists or materials scientists among us to chime in, but they haven't. The reason that this is not a good idea is because there are different kinds of plastic and some that are suitable for freezing are not suitable for cooking. (Look at the numbers on certain plastics and they will tell you what can be recycled, etc.) And some packaging is perfectly fine for microwaving, but not for the extended time this method takes. You want citations? I can't provide them. Just look at the packaging on the TJ stuff and read what they tell you to do. I'll bet it says nothing at all about throwing the whole thing into water, at whatever temperature.

If you want to do sous vide cooking, you need the right equipment. What a surprise.

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So what's the optimum temperature for that box of Betty Crocker Walnut Supreme brownies?  :o

Only someone from the western "BURBS" of Maryland would try to figure out the Betty Crocker "Sous Vide" brownies. Let me know how you make out. :) I don't think that brownies in a box are going to be a hit!

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Hope this isn't steering this too far off, but I have a question about vacuum-sealing. I recently got a foodsaver and the inserts caution not to vacuum-seal fresh mushrooms. Neither the inserts or their website say why you shouldn't. I did some quick research and found one site (www.shiitakes.com) that says, "The FDA does not permit vacuum packing of fresh mushrooms in America because it creates an anaerobic environment which is favorable to the growth of toxic micro-organisms such as Clostridium botulinum which causes botulism." Oooo-kay, that makes some sense and my question is this: wouldn't that logic also apply to other fresh items such green onions, leafy greens, and herbs? For the record I do take "risks" with eating including devouring runny eggs, pork cooked medium, beef cooked as rare as possible, all types of sushi and sashimi, raw oysters, etc., etc. I'm wondering if the warning to not vacuum-seal mushrooms falls into the same risk-reward area as my above-mentioned taste-treats?

FWIW, prior to cooking, I clean my mushrooms with a damp cloth. For the particularly dirty ones, I do a dunk-n'swish in a few tablespoons of sherry or white wine, depending on how they will be prepared.

TIA for your help!

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wouldn't that logic also apply to other fresh items such green onions, leafy greens, and herbs?

Not so much, because with fresh (ie uncooked) mushrooms there's a considerably higher risk of soil/manure contamination - even if you peel and wash them you're less likely to be able to remove all the dirt than you would be with something leafy and relatively smooth-surfaced - wiping and swishing isn't the same as a good soaking wash. There are a lot of nasty soil-based microorganisms that would thrive in a vacuum-sealed environment. I'd think shiitakes would be slightly less of a risk since they grow on inoculated wood rather than horse poop, but only very slightly.

Cooked mushrooms, on the other hand, would probably be fine.

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Not so much, because with fresh (ie uncooked) mushrooms there's a considerably higher risk of soil/manure contamination - even if you peel and wash them you're less likely to be able to remove all the dirt than you would be with something leafy and relatively smooth-surfaced - wiping and swishing isn't the same as a good soaking wash.  There are a lot of nasty soil-based microorganisms that would thrive in a vacuum-sealed environment.  I'd think shiitakes would be slightly less of a risk since they grow on inoculated wood rather than horse poop, but only very slightly.

Cooked mushrooms, on the other hand, would probably be fine.

:) You got to remember that mushrooms are a form of fungus, they are grown in the dark surrounded by manure. That to me would be a good reason to use caution with vacuum packing. One word of advise to those expeirimenting with Sous Vide, your prep area must be clean, prevent cross contamination and don't leave any proteins without refrigeration for extended periods. If not approached carefully you are creating a bacteria breeding ground. The trouble with foodsavers and other open atomosphere sealing machines is they are not powefull enough to remove all the oxygen from the bag and achieve the proper vacuum. I have a vacuum chamber machine which is capable of sealing liquids and any moist items, though they are a little pricey if you are serious about Sous Vide its worth the expense. Below is a picture of my vacmaster SVP-10.

post-867-1137382729_thumb.jpg

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Kevin,

Can I go to your house and use your vacmaster?

I just bought a waterbath off Ebay. I will get it next week probably.My first experiment will probably be with some sort of braised beef shortribs. If you don't see me post after the 2nd of February,please come looking for bodies at my house! PM me for my address! :)

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Kevin,

Can I go to your house and use your vacmaster?

I just bought a waterbath off Ebay. I will get it next week probably.My first experiment will probably be with some sort of braised beef shortribs. If you don't see me post after the 2nd of February,please come looking for bodies at my house! PM me for my address! :)

Great job on the water bath. What kind is it? If is not digital then you will need a liquid filled thermometer to establish the corolation between the settings on the dial to the bath temp. The longer the thermometer the further the numbers are apart. I have a bunch of 12" long liquid filled with graduations in celcious and farenheight. A bi-metal instant read is not accurate enough for Sous Vide cooking. When buying the thermometers look for partial immersion which means it reads with only the end submerged in the bath. Don't forget you cannot crowd the water bath.

post-867-1137467834_thumb.jpg

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