It’s funny how some of the ideas I get for posts actually come about. Awhile ago I was craving steak! Delicious, tender, medium rare steak. I had seen a way to cook “restaurant style” steak on Pinterest several times…so I went in search of it. This is the post I found. Sounded good. And to be fair…it WAS good! A LOT better than the steaks I usually make out on my little WeberQ.
But…that being said…they weren’t as good as the steaks I made using this CRAZY idea at Serious Eats that I stumbled onto by complete accident! I honestly don’t know what I was researching…but it certainly wasn’t this!
It’s a technique for cooking food in hot water that is referred to by chefs as “sous vide” cooking. This method of cooking foods at precise low-temperatures in vacuum-sealed pouches has apparently revolutionized fine-dining kitchens around the world. But the equipment normally used to cook this way is VERY EXPENSIVE!
J. Kenji López-Alt of Serious Eats, however, figured out a way to accomplish the same “high tech” cooking as the Sous Vide Supreme machine above, just by using a cooler and some plastic ziploc storage bags!
It’s brilliantly simple!
Since “coolers” are just as efficient at keeping things HOT as they are COLD…they work perfectly for this.
Step 1: Fill up your cooler with water just a couple degrees higher than the temperature you’d like to cook your food at (this is to account for temperature loss when you add cold food to it). I used a candy thermometer and heated the water on the stove to 140 degrees before pouring it into the cooler. I was shooting for an ultimate cooking temp of 130 to 135.
Step 2: Seal your food in a plastic Ziploc bag. As you can see from the pictures below, I also added some “aromatics” to my bag…some fresh rosemary, garlic and salt and pepper. But it’s not necessary.
Step 3: Drop it in the water (remove the air in the plastic bag by slowly dipping the open bag into the water, sealing it just before the water starts to pour inside. This will keep the food submerged, and in full contact with the water).
Step 4: Close your cooler until your food is cooked. For steak it’s at least 45 minutes (I waited one hour) or up to 12 HOURS! Yep, that’s why chefs love this idea so much…you can cook steak to the perfect “doneness” ahead of time, and let it sit in the water bath until it’s the perfect time to serve.
With this method, you cook at precisely the temperature you want your food to finish at (say 130°F for a medium-rare steak). No part of the meat can possibly overcook, giving you evenly cooked meat from edge to center.
Here are the temperatures you’re shooting for:
For MEDIUM-RARE 130°F
For MEDIUM 140°F
At 130°F and above, bacteria will cease to multiply, but lower than this, and bacteria will multiply at an accelerated rate. So to be on the safe side…stick to 130 and above.
One hour later you will have PERFECTLY COOKED medium-rare to medium steak. HOWEVER, while it will be cooked to perfection inside, it won’t have that nice char on the outside. But, one minute per side in a very hot pan on the stove takes care of that to perfection as well!
One last thing I want to mention about cooking your steak this way. You can cook the “lesser cuts” of beef and this technique renders them just as tender and and even more flavorful as the much more expensive varieties.
Cheap AND delicious steak?? How much are all you meat-eaters out there loving me right now?? ;-)
I really, REALLY hope you will try this at least once. (I’ve made four steaks total now using this method…each just as delicious as the last.)
If you like inexpensive steak, prepared to perfection…I promise you won’t be sorry!
And of course, as usual, I’ll expect a full report!