If you have the benefit of owning a Sous Vide machine, you have access to the most incredible cooking device on earth! Well, there are a lot of fantastic options out there, but the Sous Vide is pretty awesome. As you have likely discovered, you can cook just about anything with a Sous Vide and have it turn out restaurant-style, high quality, yummy!
Sous Vide offers virtually error-free cooking. It is near impossible to ruin something in a Sous Vide. However, it can be done! You can leave a piece of steak in a Sous Vide machine for longer than recommended and end up with a dried-out piece of meat that no one wants to eat. This can be devastating when you are cooking a high-priced cut of beef like the Tenderloin discussed below.
If you are new to cooking with the Sous Vide or are looking to purchase one, a few items will come in handy, especially when cooking cuts of beef. Some of these items include:
Cast Iron Skillet
Plastic Bag/Vacuum Sealer
For the Sous Vide process to work correctly, it is essential to ensure that the bag the cut of meat is sealed correctly. If you just want a quick and easy way to seal a bag, you can use a ziplock type of bag for this. You place the cut of beef in the bag, seal it almost completely, and then place it in a large tub of water. As it sinks, let the air come out slowly and then seal it closed just as the last bit of air leaves and right before the bag enters the water entirely.
Vacuum sealers are not a necessity, but they certainly can make things a bit easier. They are essential, in my opinion, if you are purchasing a large amount of meat (or other foods) and want to separate it and freeze it for later use.
Vacuum sealing is a process used to squeeze every bit of air out of the bag as possible. You simply place one piece of meat in the bag and vacuum seal it shut. This machine makes it a bit quicker and easier when you are freezing meat (and other things). Because the vacuum sealing process is much like a factory sealing process, it minimizes the damage from the freezer to the food and helps preserve the flavor and freshness by removing all the air from the bag.
Side note – a few words about seasonings. Seasonings are essential when cooking with Sous Vide. Many types of beef have their own natural flavor and need just a bit of salt and pepper, but there are other cuts of meat that benefit from a bit of Rosemary, Garlic, or any other spices and herbs that will pair nicely with a side dish. So, while placing your cut of beef in the bag, remember to add some flavor to it as well!
The bath is another critical element of Sous Vide cooking. Sous Vide uses water to cook your food, and the water will be set for a precise cook time and temperature. To ensure you have a good bath for your item or items, you need to have a big enough container. You don’t have to purchase a particular container specifically for Sous Vide cooking. You can use a container that will allow you to fully submerge your items, such as a large stock pan or large Rubbermaid (or another brand) container. The water does not boil, so there is no danger of melting the container.
Bath containers specifically sold for Sous Vide cooking are helpful when cooking multiple bags simultaneously. These containers allow you to clip the bags in place to the container to ensure they don’t overlap each other for even cooking.
Cast Iron Skillet
Once your meat has finished cooking in the bath, it is time for the final touch. You are going to sear the steaks! Searing is the last, but not least important step of preparing a Sous Vide cut of beef. A cast-iron skillet is an excellent tool for this. To make sure you have an edge-to-edge, perfect sear, make sure that the pan is hot. You want high heat here. Have some paper towels nearby. When you remove the steak from the sealed bag, it will have some moisture on it. Dry it off with the paper towel and then let it sit for a few minutes at room temperature to allow the additional water to evaporate.
After a few minutes, throw that cut of meat into the skillet and listen to it sizzle. You can do this with or without oil. Remember, the meat is already cooked. All you are wanting is a quick sear, edge to edge, on each side and a sear on the edges.
So, knowing that the Sous Vide can produce some fantastic food, let’s talk about beef. Of course, you can cook any cut of beef you would like in the Sous Vide, but since you have this fabulous piece of machinery in your kitchen, let’s focus our attention on some of the best steak cut to cook in this incredible machine.
Who doesn’t love a good steak? In my opinion, sous vide steaks are the best. If you like yours medium-rare or well done, with a few simple steps on your part, the Sous Vide will cook it just as you prefer. There are many cuts of beef, each with its own characteristics and natural flavoring. But before you pick that cut of meat, remember! Steak cooks best when following simple guidelines.
Generally, when selecting a cut of meat, you would like it to be at least an inch thick or thicker. Thinner cuts of meat cook quickly and will not give you the juicy, flavorful taste you desire.
Let’s look at a few specific steak cuts such as:
Tenderloin Steak/Filet Mignon
Tenderloin/Mignon – the softest and priciest cuts of meat
Tenderloin and mignon are some of the most tender cuts of beef there are. Although the tenderloin and mignon are taken from the same part of the cow, they are both different cuts of meat and should be prepared with that in mind.
One of the differences between a tenderloin and a mignon is the flavor. Tenderloin tends to have more beef flavor, while mignon has less and is often used in dishes that increase its flavor. You will also commonly see mignon wrapped in bacon.
Because these two cuts are so soft, delicate even, and expensive, you will want to cook them correctly. There are many recipes available, but the common theme with these two cuts is that the time and temperature of the cook are generally lower than other cuts of meat.
Typical cooking times and temperatures for a medium-rare tenderloin are 129 degrees for about 45 minutes up to two hours.
Typical cooking times and temperatures for a medium-rare mignon are 129 degrees for about 1 to 2 hours.
New York Strip Steak
New York Strip steak offers a big beef flavor in a hearty steak. The cook time on these steaks will be a bit longer than the Tenderloin Steak or Filet Mignon. The New York is also a soft piece of meat, but not quite as soft as the other two. Typical cooking times and temperatures for a medium-rare New York are 129 degrees for about 2 hours.
Strip steaks take a bit longer to cook and should be set at 130 degrees for about 2 to 2 and a half hours. These steaks have a great meat flavor and are great simply seasoned with salt and pepper alone.
There are many different types of meat you can cook with your Sous Vide, but the cuts of beef mentioned above really shine when cooked in this way. Give them a try. Following just a few steps and being familiar with what cut of meat you are using will help you prepare an incredible meal. Enjoy!