Sous Vide at the White House?

As you probably know, I have been interested in Sous Vide cooking for quite some time and had pre-ordered Keller’s “Under Pressure” last November. My enthusiasm was greatly diminshed thereafter as the recipes in “Under Pressure” were designed for high-end restaurants with access to ultra-expensive equipment and ingredients. A good thermal immersion circulator runs about $1000 and a vacuum-chamber capable of “compression” runs 3-4K. Not going to happen at my house…So above you see the comprimise, a PID controller from Auber and a Black & Decker 20 cup rice cooker. The PID controller cost about $150 and the cooker $40. Below is my 1st attempt at Sous Vide.
On the way home yesterday, thought I would pick up some steaks for dinner and thought this would be the perfect 1st run. Went to the NY Butcher Shoppe and bought 2~10oz NY strip, I didn’t splurge for prime cut as I wanted to see what this cooking technique would do for an ordinary choice cut of meat.
The process could not have been any easier. I simply put hot tap water in the rice cooker, plugged it into the PID controller and set the temperature to 135 degrees F. Within 10 minutes the water was at temperature and holding steady. There was some overshoot at times, but never above 137 and never below 135. The PID controller works by regulating the current supplied to the rice cooker based on the set temperature. Next I patted the steaks dry, seasoned with salt and pepper, brushed a small amount of olive oil and sealed with my FoodSaver (purchased at Tuesday morning sometime back for < $100). I dropped the steaks into the water bath and left them there until we were ready to eat which turned out to be about 3 hours.
This is what the steaks look like in the pouch after “cooking”:

An this is the unappetizing appearance when removed from the bag…
But never fear, I’ve got a blow torch!
And this is the end result…
Meat that is succulent and wonderfully tender. Almost didn’t need a knife. The entire steak was a perfect-medium rare, but when cut exuded almost no juices, they all stay inside the meat! There are some problems with this preparation, but with some refinement has great potential. First, I definately want more char, more that I could get with the torch. The difficulty will be making char without cooking further. Will try on a high-heat egg next time… Second, you have to trim as much fat as possible. The fat doesn’t render and actully becomes extremely tough and quite disgusting. So next time, I will trim, trim, trim. I think my next attempt with be with a flat-iron steak. I will post a follow-up with the results.

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