Sous vide cooking is a unique modern technique that involves cooking food in precisely temperature-controlled water baths. This method allows you to achieve exceptionally tender, juicy, and flavorful results with meat and other foods. Here is a comprehensive guide to cooking meat sous vide.
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What is Sous Vide Cooking?
Sous vide is French for “under vacuum.” In this method, food is sealed in airtight plastic bags and then submerged in a temperature-controlled water bath for an extended period of time. The water bath is precisely regulated so that the food cooks slowly and evenly at the desired internal temperature.
Unlike other moist-heat cooking techniques like boiling or steaming, sous vide allows you to cook below the boiling point. The vacuum sealing retains all the natural juices and flavors within the food during cooking. The result is exceptionally tender and succulent meat that is cooked evenly from edge to edge.
Sous vide also gives you precise control over doneness. Want your steak medium rare? Set the water bath to 130°F. This level of precision is difficult to achieve through traditional high-heat searing alone.
Benefits of Sous Vide Cooking
There are many benefits to cooking meat and other foods sous vide:
- Precise temperature control for perfect doneness
- Evenly cooked food without over or underdone spots
- Incredibly tender and moist meat that stays juicy
- Retains natural flavors and nutrients
- Food cooks slowly so timing is flexible
- Safe cooking with pasteurization at lower temps
- Convenience – cook food ahead then quickly sear or grill
What Types of Meat Can Be Cooked Sous Vide?
Virtually any type of meat can be cooked using the sous vide technique. Here are some of the most popular meats to cook sous vide:
Tender beef cuts like filet mignon, ribeye, NY strip, sirloin, or tri-tip come out exceptionally juicy, tender, and evenly cooked. You can sous vide tough cuts like chuck roast or brisket to break down collagen into gelatin for fork-tender meat.
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts cooked sous vide are incredibly juicy and tender. Temperature control prevents overcooking. Chicken thighs also excel with sous vide cooking.
Pork chops, loin, and tenderloin all benefit from sous vide cooking. The low temp keeps lean pork from drying out. Ideal for cooking pork safely while retaining moisture.
Delicate fish fillets like salmon, cod, halibut, or tuna are easy to overcook using traditional methods. Sous vide fish comes out tender and succulent.
Lamb chops and leg of lamb cooked sous vide have fork-tender meat and robust lamb flavor. Sous vide tames the gaminess of lamb.
Sous vide renders the fat of duck breast beautifully. The meat comes out tender, juicy, and medium rare from edge to edge.
Brined turkey breast sous vide yields incredibly moist and tender meat. Dark meat also excels cooked below 160°F.
Venison and other game meats prepared sous vide result in tender, delicious meat without any gamey flavor.
Can Vegetables Be Cooked Sous Vide?
Yes, sous vide technique can also be used very effectively for cooking vegetables. The low temperature and gentle cooking helps vegetables retain vibrant colors, flavors, and nutrients.
Some examples of great vegetables to cook sous vide include carrots, beets, potatoes, broccoli, asparagus, parsnips, turnips, and many more. Herbs and aromatics can be added in the bag.
Steps for Cooking Meat Sous Vide
Here is an overview of the basic process for cooking meats sous vide:
- Season meat as desired – salt, pepper, herbs, spices, etc.
- Seal meat in a vacuum-sealed pouch or zip-top bag.
- Preheat water bath to precise temperature (typically 130-150°F for meat).
- Submerge sealed meat bag in water bath. Clip bag to side of pot.
- Cook meat for 1-4 hours depending on thickness and desired doneness.
- Remove bag, dry off, then sear quickly on hot skillet or grill.
- Serve immediately and enjoy exceptionally tender, delicious meat!
Key steps like vacuum sealing, water bath setup, timing, and searing after cooking are all important to get right. Follow recipes and use a sous vide guide when first starting out.
Popular Sous Vide Meat Recipes
Here are just a few delicious sous vide recipes to try out:
- Sous vide steak – 1.5-inch ribeye at 133°F for 1-3 hours.
- Chicken breast – Seasoned boneless, skinless breasts at 144°F for 2 hours.
- Pork chops – 1-inch chops at 140°F for 1 hour.
- Salmon fillets – Fresh salmon at 122°F for 20-40 minutes.
- Leg of lamb – Seasoned lamb at 133°F for 6-8 hours for ultra tender meat.
- Duck breasts – At 135°F for 2 hours renders fat beautifully.
- Chuck roast – Tough chuck roast at 155°F for 24-48 hours.
The options are endless for cooking meat sous vide. Use precise temperatures to achieve the perfect doneness, tenderness, and juiciness for any cut or type of meat.
Key Takeaways for Sous Vide Meat
- Sous vide cooking involves vacuum sealing meat and cooking slowly in a precise water bath.
- Meat comes out exceptionally tender, moist, and flavorful.
- You have exact control over doneness with sous vide.
- Use any type of meat – beef, chicken, pork, fish, lamb, etc.
- Follow key steps like vacuum sealing, water bath setup, and searing after.
- Try popular recipes or experiment with your own!
With the right technique, sous vide can help you achieve restaurant-quality results cooking meat at home. Impress yourself and any guests with meat that is cooked to delicious tender perfection.