Sous vide is a cooking technique that has revolutionized the way chefs and home cooks prepare steaks. Sous vide involves cooking vacuum-sealed foods in a precise, temperature-controlled water bath. This technique allows you to achieve the perfect level of doneness for steaks every time.
Here are some of the key benefits of choosing sous vide for cooking steaks:
- Precise temperature control – Sous vide allows you to set the water bath to the exact temperature needed to cook steaks to your preferred level of doneness. No more overcooked or undercooked steaks.
- Consistent results – The sous vide cooking method ensures even cooking throughout the steak. You’ll get edge-to-edge medium-rare with no gray bands.
- Retains moisture – Vacuum sealing and gentle cooking keeps steak incredibly moist and tender. Steaks cooked sous vide have a texture that is hard to achieve with other methods.
- Food safety – With proper handling, the risks of bacterial growth are very low. Steaks pasteurize in the sealed bags.
- Convenient – Once steaks go into the sous vide bath, you don’t have to watch them. It’s very hands-off cooking.
- Adds flavor – Seasoning and marinading steaks before vacuum sealing infuses the meat with lots of extra flavor.
For juicy, tender, and perfectly-cooked steaks, sous vide is the ideal technique. Follow the steps below for sous vide success.
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Preparing Your Steaks for Sous Vide Cooking
Proper preparation is key to achieving the best results when sous vide cooking steaks. Here are some tips on selecting and seasoning steaks before vacuum sealing.
1. Selecting the Right Cut of Steak
Tender, juicy cuts of steak that have good marbling work best for sous vide. Great options include:
- Ribeye – This well-marbled cut has great tenderness and beefy flavor.
- Strip steak – Also known as New York Strip, this has a supple texture and rich taste.
- Tenderloin – Extremely tender though less fat. Try beef tenderloin filets.
- Flank steak – Leaner cut that benefits from sous vide’s moisture retention.
Avoid lean cuts like sirloin tip or round steak. The lack of fat makes them prone to drying out. Stick to tender marbled cuts for the best sous vide steak recipes.
2. Seasoning Your Steaks
Season steaks just before vacuum sealing to maximize flavor infusion into the meat. Recommended seasoning techniques:
- Dry rub – Coat steaks with spices, herbs, pepper, etc.
- Marinade – Soak steaks in a marinade of oil, acid, and flavorings.
- Sauce or butter – Coat steaks with sauce, compound butter, or pesto before sealing.
Salt and pepper are classic seasonings, but get creative. Chile rubs, lemon-herb marinades, and garlic-parsley butters all work great.
3. Vacuum Sealing the Steaks
Use a vacuum sealer to remove air from around the steaks before cooking sous vide. This prevents oxidation and helps the meat retain moisture.
- Seal steaks individually or double seal for extra protection.
- Leave a little space at the top of the bag for circulation.
- Press out excess air before sealing the bag.
Once seasoned and vacuum sealed, steaks are ready for precise sous vide cooking.
Sous Vide Cooking Process for 4 Steaks
The key to perfectly cooked steaks is maintaining accurate temperature and time while sous viding. Here are tips for sous vide cooking multiple steaks.
1. Setting the Sous Vide Temperature
Use these temperature guidelines based on desired steak doneness:
- Rare: 125°F to 129°F (52°C to 54°C)
- Medium-rare: 130°F to 139°F (55°C to 59°C)
- Medium: 140°F to 144°F (60°C to 62°C)
For tender cuts like tenderloin or ribeye, opt for lower end of each range. For fattier or tougher steaks, go closer to higher end.
2. Preheating the Water Bath
- Set sous vide device or immersion circulator to desired temp.
- Fill container with hot tap water about 2-3 inches above circulator.
- Allow 30-60 minutes for the water bath to come to set temperature.
3. Placing the Steaks in the Sous Vide Bath
Once water bath is preheated, gently lower the vacuum sealed bags into the water using tongs or clips.
- Arrange bags so steaks are fully submerged but not piled on each other.
- Check that no air bubbles are trapped against the steaks.
4. Cooking Time for Different Steak Doneness
For 1-inch thick steaks, cook for:
- Rare: 1-2 hours
- Medium-rare: 2-3 hours
- Medium: 3-4 hours
For thicker steaks, increase time. For thinner steaks, decrease time.
5. Tips for Cooking Multiple Steaks at Once
- Preheat bath to minimum temp needed. Rare steaks = 125°F bath.
- Bag steaks individually and label bags by doneness.
- Remove each bag when it hits target time.
- Immediately ice bath or refrigerate steaks after removing.
Stagger cooking times so all steaks finish around the same time. Avoid overcooking.
Finishing Your Sous Vide Steaks
After sous vide cooking, steaks need a quick sear and rest for best flavor and texture.
1. Searing the Steaks for a Perfect Crust
Searing develops a beautifully caramelized crust on the steaks. Ways to sear:
- Cast iron pan – Best for indoor searing. Use high heat with oil.
- Grill – Gets great char marks. Clean grill grates thoroughly first.
- Torch – Sear with a cooking torch for precise control.
Sear 30-60 seconds per side just until browned. Don’t overcook the interior!
2. Resting the Steaks Before Serving
Let steaks rest 5-10 minutes after searing. This allows juices to redistribute evenly.
- Rest on a wire rack or plate.
- Lightly tent with foil to keep warm.
Don’t skip this step! Resting makes steaks juicier and more tender when you cut into them.
Serving Your Sous Vide Steaks
Sous vide makes it easy to cook steaks exactly as you like them. Here are serving suggestions:
1. Pairing Suggestions for Side Dishes
- Baked potatoes – Loaded or au gratin potatoes pair well.
- Roast vegetables – Carrots, asparagus, or Brussels sprouts.
- Sautéed mushrooms – Meaty complements to steaks.
- Wedge salad – Iceberg lettuce, blue cheese dressing, bacon.
2. Wine Pairing for Sous Vide Steaks
Some wines that go great with sous vide steaks:
- Cabernet Sauvignon – Robust red to match rich steaks.
- Zinfandel – Peppery and bold like a marbled ribeye.
- Malbec – Argentina’s rustic red wine has nice acidity.
- Syrah – Steak-friendly red with peppery spice notes.
Any big, fruit-forward red wine will beautifully complement your flavorful sous vide steaks.
Conclusion: Enjoying Perfectly Cooked Sous Vide Steaks
From selecting the right cut to searing the exterior, following these sous vide tips will lead to flawlessly cooked steaks every time. With precise temperature control, you can eliminate overdone meat and achieve edge-to-edge doneness just as you like it.
Vacuum sealing locks in moisture so steaks remain incredibly tender. Finishing with a hard sear gives you that perfect crust. Plus, sous vide infuses the meat with all the flavors of your favorite marinades and rubs.
For your next steak night, give sous vide a try. Serve up tender, juicy, and delicious steaks that are sure to impress.