St. Patricks day brisket – sous vide style

March 9, 2010 in Food Porn, Food Science, review

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[Follow this link for a recipe for Whole Wheat Cheddar Cheese Kefir Irish Soda Bread]

St. Patrick’s day is almost here and I feel like I am getting whiplash with how fast this year is passing already! The stores put out St Patrick’s day decorations right after Christmas so by now, all that Chinese import crap is in the clearance bins which makes it seem like the holiday never had a chance!

Here in New England, St. Patrick’s means something more than green beer, crappy bar food, bar crawls, and green dye dumped in midwestern rivers. Here it is actually linked in with an authentic memory and nostalgia for Ireland. The traditional meal eaten for this holiday is the New England Boiled Dinner: boiled cabbage, carrots, potatoes, and a spiced but boiled corned beef brisket. This is traditionally served with a side of strong mustard or even horseradish (I adore this meal with sour cream and horseradish, I almost like that part more than the rest, just like I am with wasabi and sushi, I prefer the wasabi! Same with oysters and red sauce – LOVE the horseradishy red sauce).

This is not to say that this meal is traditional for Ireland. Not at all. But it IS traditional for New England for this holiday. We also enjoy it with soda bread which IS traditional and authentic to Ireland. I will blog separately about the Whole Wheat Kefir Cheddar Cheese soda bread I made later.

Today’s corned beef brisket is all about method.

I had a 2 week opportunity to test out the Sous Vide Supreme, a consumer level self regulating hot water bath that is the same as that used in a huge range of food provider settings from haute cuisine restaurants to crap food high throughput food companies.

Sous Vide Supreme

Here it is opened up to show the inner chamber where the hot water and rack is.

Sous Vide Supreme

Sous Vide = under vacuum and refers to the use of food grade plastic bags into which your food goes and then most if not all the air is vacuumed out. It was “pioneered” by the French in the 1970s as a method used in the food production setting.

Sous Vide Supreme: cheap sealer - works!

The vacuum packed food is then put into a hot water bath.

Sous Vide Supreme: eggs into the onsen

As a scientist, I have used circulating hot water baths for many things including making nucleic acids, precipitating proteins, etc. This sort of water bath is common in the lab. It used to be the only way to do PCR (polymerase chain reaction) which meant a lot of futzing with little microfuge tubes floating on little styrofoam rafts on the surface of the hot water. Sometimes these baths were even behind radiation shields when the stuff being heated was radioactive. Nowadays, much less radionucleotide is used and PCR is done in cute little benchtop thermocyclers.

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Water bath manufacturers probably freaked when this change came. I am guessing that is when they started to market heavily into the restaurant and molecular gastronomy spheres.

So, my experience was that these baths were nasty contaminated in a food sense (you could not SEE any contaminants but you sure could imagine it) – it took a bit to reorient my brain to using hot water baths for cooking in.

There is no reason to think this water bath will be anything but super clean! You really should use distilled water so that you do not get water scale build up on the walls of the bath interior. You should also dump the water after each cooking session and clean the bath with non-abrasive means.

The key reasons to cook this way:

  • NO juices lost to cooking water or as steam or roasted off and are left to reabsorbed into meats
  • Very little fat needed to cook moist foods
  • your food is infused with the seasonings you added (dont add too much!)
  • you set the water temp to the desired end temperature – your food will not burn or over cook if you set it to the correct end temp!
  • you can put in collagen containing meats like short ribs and allow it to cook very slowly for DAYS so that at the end you have almost completely solubilized the collage which = tender tender TENDER meat
  • you can cook temperature sensitive things like fish and shrimp to the very minimum temperature needed and loose NO moisture (dont leave seafood in for long – doesnt help it and might lead to possible protein degradation = drying out)
  • you can par-cook foods to almost done and then put the food in the fridge to be ready to be warmed for later
  • you can cook meat to the PERFECT internal doneness – you will then need to char the outer surface to get your maillard reactants that we perceive as delicious on meat

I made quite a few different recipes (even bread!) but today I am writing about using the Sous Vide to make corned beef. I can attest that the corned beef we made in the sous vide was the very best we have ever had – so moist, so tender, just amazing.

Note that at this time of year we get corned beef with spice packets. I used those spices in this recipe.

Sous Vide Supreme: corned beef

You simply remove the corned beef and the spices to a bag, seal it, stick it in the sous vide at 175 F for 10 hours, remove, cut, enjoy!

Sous Vide Supreme: corned beef - melting!

I served it with boiled potatoes and carrots, no cabbage, and on top of some of the whole wheat kefir cheddar cheese soda bread I made. Also, horseradish sour cream and some mustard.

Sous Vide Supreme: corned beef - melting!

I made the left overs into corned beef hash the next morning. Explosively delicious. I could recommend making this corned beef JUST for corned beef hash alone!

Sous Vide Supreme: corned beef hash

We loved our experience with the Sous Vide Supreme and regretted having to return it after our loan period!

Product Details:

Specifications:

  • Model SVS-10LS
  • Water Baths 1
  • Total Volume 11.2 liters
  • Capacity 10 liters (Max Fill Line)
  • Power 120 Volt 850 Watts @ 60Hz

Dimensions (w/d/h):

  • Overall 11.5″/14.2″/11.4″ (Metric 290mm/360mm/289mm)
  • Bath 9.9″/12.6″/6.8″ (Metric: 252mm/320mm/173mm)
  • Weight (approx.) 13 lbs (5.9 kg)

Temperature:

  • Display Digital LED 0.1°F (0.1°C)
  • Range 41°–203°F (5°–95° C)
  • Sensitivity 1°F (0.5°C)
  • Over-temperature Alarm +5°F (+4°C)

Timer:

  • Display 1 minute resolution
  • Settings Variable 0—99hr:59mins
  • Cycle End Audible buzz & “end” message