Sous vide cooking has become an increasingly popular technique for cooking meat to perfection. This method involves cooking food sealed in airtight plastic bags submerged in a water bath at a precise, consistent temperature. Ground beef is one type of meat that can benefit greatly from sous vide cooking. Using this technique allows you to achieve the ideal doneness for burgers and other ground beef dishes, while retaining moisture and flavor.
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Preparing the Ground Beef for Sous Vide
Preparation is an important first step when cooking ground beef sous vide. Here are some tips for getting your meat ready for the water bath:
- Form the ground beef into individual portions, patties, meatballs or whatever shape desired before sealing in bags. This helps ensure even cooking.
- Season the meat before sealing the bags. Sous vide cooking allows seasonings to penetrate deeply into the meat.
- seal the ground beef in individual airtight plastic bags using a vacuum sealer or the water immersion technique. Removing excess air is crucial for proper sous vide cooking.
- Chill the bags of meat in the refrigerator before cooking to help them cook more evenly.
Setting the Sous Vide Machine
The key to sous vide is precision temperature control. Here are the target temperatures for various doneness levels of ground beef:
- Rare: 130°F (54°C)
- Medium rare: 135°F (57°C)
- Medium: 140°F (60°C)
- Medium well: 145°F (63°C)
- Well done: 155°F (68°C)
Next, set the length of time needed to pasteurize and tenderize the meat. The thicker the portions, the longer they will need:
- 1 inch thick: 1 to 4 hours
- 2 inches thick: 4 to 8 hours
For food safety, ground beef should cook for at least an hour at temperature to pasteurize. Longer cooking up to a day helps tenderize the meat.
Cooking the Ground Beef in the Sous Vide Machine
To cook, fully submerge the bags of ground beef in the preheated water bath. Ensure adequate circulation for even cooking. The meat will look progressively less pink as it cooks. Use a food thermometer to check for your target temperature when time is up.
Important safety note: Always pasteurize ground meat by cooking for the recommended time/temp to kill bacteria. Sous vide alone does not make meat safe.
Finishing and Serving the Sous Vide Ground Beef
Once cooked, the beef can go straight from the sous vide bath to being served. However, browning or searing after cooking adds nice crispy caramelized texture.
To sear, dry the cooked meat very well before placing in an extremely hot skillet with just a bit of oil. Quickly browning both sides.
The sous vide ground beef is now ready to enjoy. Use for burgers, tacos, chili, meatballs and any recipe calling for cooked ground beef.
What Are the Benefits of Using Sous Vide for Ground Beef?
Cooking ground beef with the sous vide technique offers several advantages:
- Consistent cooking results – The precise temperature control virtually eliminates over or undercooking. Achieve the ideal doneness every time.
- Enhanced flavor and texture – Ground meat is very forgiving, making it perfect for extended sous vide cooking. The long cook tenderizes, while retaining moisture and beefy flavor.
- Reduced risk of foodborne illnesses – Hands-never-touch handling and pasteurization temperatures greatly reduce the risk of bacteria. Safe handling still required.
What Are Some Popular Recipes Using Sous Vide Ground Beef?
Here are just a few of the many recipe possibilities for sous vide ground beef:
1. Sous Vide Meatballs
Tender, juicy meatballs are easy with sous vide. Cook at 170°F (77°C) for 2 to 4 hours until heated through. Briefly fry to add texture. Use in pasta, sandwiches or appetizers.
2. Sous Vide Burgers
Burgers come out perfectly medium-rare edge-to-edge when cooked at 135°F (57°C) for 1 to 2 hours. Sear the patties in a hot skillet before serving on buns.
3. Sous Vide Taco Meat
For perfect taco night meat, sous vide ground beef with taco seasoning at 140°F (60°C) for 1 to 2 hours. The meat shreds easily for serving.
Are There Any Risks or Drawbacks to Using Sous Vide for Ground Beef?
Sous vide cooking does require proper handling and pasteurization to avoid illness. Raw meat must be bagged with care to not introduce bacteria. Follow all food safety guidelines, including refrigeration limits.
The vacuum sealed bags create more plastic waste compared to other cooking methods. However, you can reduce waste by reusing bags.
Sous vide also requires an upfront investment in equipment like an immersion circulator. However, for most cooks the benefits outweigh the costs.
Properly cooked and safely handled, sous vide is an excellent way to achieve delicious and tender results with ground beef. The precise control eliminates overcooking and allows you to target the perfect doneness. Give this innovative cooking method a try for your next burger or meatball recipe!
How Long Can You Keep Cooked, Vacuum-Sealed Meat in a Refrigerator?
Sous vide cooking involves sealing meat in airtight plastic bags, then cooking low and slow in a precision-controlled water bath. The vacuum sealed bags help retain moisture and flavor. Leftover cooked meat can keep for quite a while when properly stored.
Cooked meat that has been vacuum sealed and properly refrigerated will last much longer than meat stored in standard containers or wrap. This is because the airtight vacuum seal prevents recontamination and inhibits bacteria growth. Follow these storage guidelines:
- Cooked meat can be kept refrigerated in unopened vacuum sealed bags for up to 2 weeks.
- Once opened, re-seal or place meat in a fresh airtight container. Use within 3 to 5 days.
- Freeze for even longer storage. Vacuum sealed meat keeps well frozen for 2 to 3 months.
- Always label bags with contents and date before freezing. Use freezer bags to prevent damage.
- Do not refrigerate opened meat for longer than 3-5 days, even if vacuum sealed beforehand. Cooked meat is more prone to spoilage once exposed to air.
Proper refrigeration is key – maintain a temperature of 40°F (4°C) or below. Check for signs of spoilage before eating, such as off odors, sliminess or discoloration. Reheat fully to 165°F (74°C).
Following food safety guidelines allows you to maximize storage while minimizing food waste. Vacuum sealing gives you more flexibility in enjoying delicious sous vide cooked meats for days after cooking.