Patterico's Pontifications


Sous Vide Supreme: The Results So Far

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:41 pm

Since I mentioned getting a new sous vide machine (the Sous Vide Supreme promo package) I thought I would report on the results so far. I have been discussing this in the comments to the first post I did about the device, but thought it might be worth discussing the results in a standalone post, for those who don’t read all the comments.

The first meal I made last night was sweet chicken italian sausages. I didn’t take any pictures, but the appearance was not terribly appetizing. Did them in the sous vide machine, then finished them on the grill, one minute each side, with the grill around 400. I think that was not enough; either the grill was not hot enough or I didn’t put them on long enough. They tasted good, and preserved more of the chicken taste of the chicken, but I was not jumping for joy. My basic feeling was: the taste is very good, and it was easier to cook them thoroughly all the way through without burning the hell out of the outside, but next time I will finish them differently to get a different texture.

When I had tonight’s tri-tip, things were quite different. This was a delicious meal that distinctly surpassed the results I have gotten from the same cut of meat on the grill. I tossed it in the Sous Vide Supreme for eight hours at 135 degrees, and at the end of the process, fired up my gas grill good and hot, to 600 degrees. Tossed it on there for one minute each side, and the results were amazing.

Here is the meat on the plate before carving. Note how one minute on a grill that hot gave it grill marks and plenty of texture:

TriTip Before Carving

Here it is carved up:

TriTip After Carving

And a close-up:

TriTip Close Up

This was very, very good. Very tender, but not mushy; juicy, and done perfectly to my taste. This is the only way to do tri-tip.

Next up: salmon with a lemon slice and citrus butter.

55 Responses to “Sous Vide Supreme: The Results So Far”

  1. Ding.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  2. Looks very tasty, and juicy.

    Tomorrow for the salmon?

    steveg (794291)

  3. Dear Patrick: I’m glad it is working out for you. I found this on the Internet (sorry if you have already seen it):

    An applied math researcher got into it.

    I do worry about food poisoning. And pathogens can be crafty. Do be careful.

    For true foodies who are OCD in their approach to cooking, this seems nearly perfect.

    Simon Jester (fd6ff4)

  4. I have seen that, Simon, but I’m still glad you linked it. It’s very useful. As you can see from the chart for beef, I had killed the pathogens after about 4 1/2 hours (judging that the tri-tip was a couple of inches thick) and the rest of the time was simply tenderizing the meat.

    It gives me a little pause on the salmon; the usual recommended times for salmon are not sufficient under this guy’s tables to kill all the pathogens. Wondering if I should freeze it first or just risk it. My immune system is not compromised and I just bought the fish.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  5. I think I’m going to freeze it for 24 hours first. No salmon post tomorrow.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  6. Looks great.

    All the tri-tip talk earlier prompted me to grill a tri-tip tonight. Lump charcoal and some cherry wood on the old Weber kettle. I seasoned my tri-tip with a dry Santa Maria style rub not marinated in a liquid thus it was a bit more charred on the outside, med-rare inside in about 20 minutes being the charcoal grill was running between 500-700 deg. Also grilled a couple of potatoes and some sweet onion sliced thick. I don’t know if my cooking adjusts to my taste or my taste to my cooking? But I seem to enjoy the more charred crusty salty outside and the med-rare inside.

    MSL (5f601f)

  7. It is funny how when we are home in the USA we think about cook times, pathogens etc and then go of to Laos and eat street food of dubious provenance and even less certain hygiene.
    I have two friends who are both health inspectors for the county… absolutely zero fun at a BBQ… they run around ruining all the food you have to distract them and run off with a rare tri tip and the deviled eggs

    steveg (794291)

  8. Laos? You mean downtown LA after a Kings or Lakers game…

    Yeah, I leave the meat out on the counter until it reaches room temp before grilling or smoking.
    And the leftovers stay out to cool before hitting the fridge. And I eat small amounts of raw hamburger and raw steak and never had any kind of food poisoning at home.

    MSL (5f601f)

  9. Looks mighty tasty.

    mg (31009b)

  10. Salmon sashimi is the only way to go.
    Trust me!!

    mg (31009b)

  11. OMG: you cooked it to death!!!


    if a vet can’t save it, you’re oooking beef too much.

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  12. Excellent job. Did you have any leftovers?

    Bruce (a889cf)

  13. Fish can be scary. Be certain of your source. The toxins that develop if the fish has sat around too much before being frozen and sold to you are heat stable. Cooking will not destroy them. And the symptoms are scary — not just the usual tummyache and such, but similar to severe allergic reactions* including paralysis and breathing difficulty. And on top of that you have the usual pathogens like salmonella (which can be killed by cooking).

    *It also seems that the “allergy” can become permanent in a previously healthy person. My cousin got fish poisoning, with the allergy-type symptoms, hives, swollen throat, etc., at age thirty or so, and cannot go near fish since.

    nk (dbc370)

  14. If you want more pink and less grey, here’s a tip:

    When you take the meat out from cooking SV, dunk the bag in ice water for a minute or two. This will keep the searing step from overcooking the meat.

    I’ve done inch and a half thick ribeyes that were pink end to end except for an eigth inch thick border at the edges. The middle does not cool off too much.

    Dr_Mike (088e1f)

  15. Looks perfect medium-rare, I’ve sorta forgotten what it tastes like tho.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  16. Dr_Mike, that is an excellent idea.

    Bruce (a889cf)

  17. Sorry Patterico,

    Santa Maria Native here. Santa Maria is the town that made Tri-tip famous.

    The *only* way to do Tri-Tip is in an open pit BBQ.

    If boiling it makes it taste better than BBQing it, you weren’t BBQing it properly. A big part of the flavor is the crust created from the Santa Maria style rub on the grill.

    Boiling a Tri-tip is sacriligious.

    SGT Ted (5764a9)

  18. A good Tri-tip doesn’t need to be tenderized by slow cooking.

    SGT Ted (5764a9)

  19. Greetings:

    Your name ends in a vowel and you cooked “chicken sausage” ???

    Wadda-u-nutza ???

    11B40 (a751dd)

  20. This was very, very good.

    Yum. That looks very good.

    Seems somehow fitting, however, that in this Age of Obama, record drought conditions throughout the West, particularly in California (the nation’s produce center) — and which likely will be negatively affecting both prices and supplies of beef, fruits and vegetable in the future — are one more falling domino.

    Mother Nature and the cabal of Obama must be in cahoots.

    and then go of to Laos and eat street food of dubious provenance and even less certain hygiene.

    Here in the LA area there are street vendors (all of them Latino) scattered about who sell sliced fruit and a few other items. I respect their gumption but I always question the basic standards of hygiene they probably follow.

    I tend to be conscientious about observing rules of proper sanitation, but even I’ll cut corners or get cavalier if I’m rushed or feeling lazy. IOW, if I can be bad on occasion, then it’s not hard to think of struggling street vendors using utensils that are cleaned with, say, used kleenex.

    Mark (49bed7)

  21. When I was in college, I had a friend who used to cook a thick piece of meat (tri tip or loin, can’t remember) by coating it with coarse salt and putting it right on the charcoal. No grill. It was terrific. I wish I could remember how he did it.

    Mike K (cd7278)

  22. Sorry Patterico,

    Santa Maria Native here. Santa Maria is the town that made Tri-tip famous.

    The *only* way to do Tri-Tip is in an open pit BBQ.

    If boiling it makes it taste better than BBQing it, you weren’t BBQing it properly. A big part of the flavor is the crust created from the Santa Maria style rub on the grill.

    Boiling a Tri-tip is sacriligious.

    First of all, it’s not technically “boiling” — the meat is well under 212 F. But I take your point: you are offended by the fact that the meat was heated in water.

    But the crust you say provides the flavor was there. You can see it in the picture. That crust is primarily created by the sear created by throwing meat on a grill that is 600 F. That’s probably what my chicken italian sausages were missing: a super hot grill to create a crusty outside.

    I remember the last time I made this same piece of meat on the grill. It may well be that I didn’t grill it correctly; I followed the instructions on the packaging. It was pink inside but drier and less flavorful.

    I may do it on the grill one more time for comparison’s sake, since it has been a while, but I can’t see getting it better than this.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  23. I have mapped out my food for the week. With all the leftovers, I won’t be using the machine again until Thursday, which looks to be pork loin slices. I hear those do really well. I’ll probably let you know about that and the salmon (which is now in the freezer) next weekend.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  24. Red,

    I may set it for somewhat closer to rare next time I do this in the machine. That hot grill does hit the outside good, even if only a minute a side.

    But honestly, this was a VERY juicy and tasty medium rare. And I don’t generally share your desire to hear the cow mooing on the plate.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  25. Not to nit pic but you cut the meat WITH the grain. Always cut against the grain for best results.

    For all things BBQ and grilling, I use Not just for ribs, it has a lot of science behind the techniques and recipes on the site. There is discussion on sous-vide cooking and a cool video on how to cook sous-vide in a beer cooler. Have not tried it yet though.

    FLBuckeye (03ccfd)

  26. Also, check out the “reverse sear” technique on AR. I use that technique for burgers, steaks, standing rib roasts and more. Somewhat similar to sous-vide. You start and low and slow and when the steak gets to 110 degrees, you blast it with 700 degrees for a few minutes, turning often. No gray band of meat (overcooked) just below the surface. A uniform med rare throughout with a nice crust

    FLBuckeye (03ccfd)

  27. Well, you could argue that you’re not only not “boiling it”, you’re not really “cooking it in water” either.
    you are heating it in a way that is like putting it inside a BBQ, but not over the heat, but also trapping 100% of the juices in it

    I saw some blurb on a cooking show once where the guy threw the steaks directly on the burning coals, not charcoal briquets, but the lump stuff made from whole pieces of wood.
    I think the limiting factor is having a budget where you can buy extra steaks so you don’t mind wasting a few while practicing.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  28. Cooking directly on coals makes for very tasty meat. Long strips, say about four inches wide, one to two inches thick, scored a little every couple of inches. The tenderloins from alongside the spine atop of the ribs are perfect. We’d start with a wood fire of branches to get a good bed of decent sized coals. If you do it right, nice bed of hot coals, there won’t be any ashes on the meat to speak of but there will be the occasional imbedded cinder.

    nk (dbc370)

  29. I looked up some articles about cooking in a beer cooler,
    also saw this as a pop-up ad,
    though I’m suspicious of buying something over the Internet called “Dorkfood”…

    I guess one could practice putting the heat on low with a gas range and see if one can balance the heat, but that would defeat the ease of just putting it on to cook part.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  30. Water is used because it’s cheap and easy to use. You could use peanut oil or olive oil or Ginger Beer or almost anything liquid over the temperature range from freezing to 180ºF. Champagne. Mercury (well maybe not, the food would probably float on it. For one-sided cooking, perhaps, with the other side cooled?) Since the food is sealed in plastic, it doesn’t matter what the hot liquid is. You could use air! (But it’s difficult to maintain that exact temperature.)

    Yes, you can cook directly on coals. Wood or charcoal coals, not compressed charcoal briquettes. Weight Watcher’s How-To ; I’ll add to flatten the cooking area of the coals with the bottom of a cast iron frying pan just before laying (not dropping) the meat on them.

    It would be extravagant and risky to attempt both techniques on the same piece of steak or fish. Trying it (which I have NOT done), the time on the coals might be best measured in seconds, the inside is already done.

    htom (412a17)

  31. Not to nit pic but you cut the meat WITH the grain. Always cut against the grain for best results.

    Yup. I was wondering when someone was going to mention this. Bruce had told me to cut against the grain and I did not know what that meant. I have since learned. Apparently the grain on a tri-tip runs one way on one part and another way on another. You cut it in half where the grain runs differently and then cut the two pieces separately. It appears that while I cut against the grain on one part, I cut with it on the other (the part that got the close-up). It’s a learning process.

    Patterico (8631b8)

  32. And even though I screwed that up, it’s still tender. Imagine how tender it would be if I had done it correctly!

    Patterico (8631b8)

  33. If your teeth are good, you can slice along the grain for neat slices and bite across the grain. If you have weak teeth, you cut across the grain letting the knife do the work. Is that the reason? 😉

    nk (dbc370)

  34. Does tri-tip have another name? I don’t recall seeing this cut of beef in the meat case here locally.

    elissa (9c4dd4)

  35. Bottom sirloin butt? I also think that it’s what Costco sells as “beef cut for stew”. My favorite wife buys that and it turns out very well braised.

    nk (dbc370)

  36. Unless SoCal beef carcasses are different from those east of the Mississippi, the same meat must be in the east, but apparently they don’t just call it something different, but butcher the cow differently.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  37. Comment by nk (dbc370) — 1/26/2014 @ 4:13 pm

    maybe, which is why I wondered about “sirloin tips”, which are generally cut up as well,
    one article I read said that this is a favorite of competitive chili cooks, as it is very lean and points are taken off for grease in chili.

    Maybe somebody ought to post that guide to being a judge at a Texas chili cooking contest.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  38. Thanks MD. Obviously I completely missed that comment. I’m still confused, tho, since I see the picture as a piece of meat (not chunks) in Patterico’s photo. I think it may in fact be called a sirloin tip roast here. Now that I think about it I recall having a conversation with a butcher sometime ago about a package of sirloin tip. He said, “the flavor is very good but do not be seduced by the word ‘sirloin’. This may look like one but it is not a thick steak and it is not very tender.” One of the fascinating things I’ve seen on this blog over the years is how geography plays a role in people’s language, ideas, even debate style. Who knew that also includes regional names for cuts of meat!

    elissa (9c4dd4)

  39. For MD

    Notes from an inexperienced Chili tester named Frank, who was visiting Texas from the East Coast: “Recently I was honored to be selected a judge at a chili cook-off. The original person called in sick at the last moment and I happened to be standing there at the judge’s table asking directions to the beer wagon, wht the call came. I was assured by the other two judges (Native Texans) that the chili wouldn’t be all that spicy, and besides, they told I could have free beer during the tasting, so I accepted.”

    Here are the scorecards from the event:

    CHILI #1: Mike’s Maniac Mobster Chili

    Judge One: A little too heavy on tomato. Amusing kick.

    Judge Two: Nice, smooth tomato flavor. Very mild.

    Frank: Holy cow, what the hell is this stuff? You could remove dried paint from your driveway. Took me two beers to put the flames out. I hope that’s the worst one. These Texans are crazy.

    CHILI #2: Arthur’s Afterburner Chili

    Judge One: Smokey, with a hint of pork. Slight Jalapeno tang.

    Judge Two: Exciting BBQ flavor, needs more peppers to be taken seriously.

    Frank: Keep this out of the reach of children. I’m not sure what I am supposed to taste besides pain. I had to wave off two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich maneuver. They had to rush in more beer when they saw the look on my face.

    CHILI #3: Fred’s Famous Burn Down the Barn Chili

    Judge One: Excellent firehouse chili. Great Kick.

    Judge Two: A beanless chili, a bit salty, good use of peppers.

    Frank: Call the EPA, I’ve located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I have been snorting drain cleaner. Everyone knows the routine by now – get me more beer before I ignite. Barmaid pounded me on the back; now my backbone is in the front part of my chest. I’m getting stupid from all the beer.

    CHILI #4: Bubba’s Black Magic

    Judge One: Black bean chili with almost no spice. Disappointing.

    Judge Two: Hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for fish or other mild foods, not much of a chili.

    Frank: I felt something scraping across my tongue, but was unable to taste it, is it possible to burnout taste buds? Sally, the barmaid, was standing behind me with fresh refills; coyote-ugly gal is starting to look HOT just like this nuclear waste I’m eating. Is chili an aphrodisiac?

    CHILI #5: Linda’s Legal Lip Remover

    Judge One: Meaty, strong chili. Cayenne peppers freshly ground, adding considerable kick. Very impressive.

    Judge Two: Chili using shredded beef, could use more tomato. Must admit the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.

    Frank: My ears are ringing, sweat is pouring off my forehead and I can no longer focus my eyes. I farted and four people behind me needed paramedics. The contestant seemed offended when I told her that her chili had given me brain damage. Sally saved my tongue from bleeding by pouring beer directly on it from a pitcher. I wonder if I’m burning my lips off? It really ticks me off that the other judges asked me to stop screaming. To heck with those rednecks!

    CHILI #6: Vera’s Very Vegetarian Variety

    Judge One: Thin yet bold vegetarian variety chili. Good balance of spice and peppers.

    Judge Two: The best yet. Aggressive use of peppers, onions, and garlic. Superb.

    Frank: My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous sulfuric flames. I messed in my pants when I farted and I’m worried it will eat through the chair. No one seems inclined to stand behind me. Can’t feel my lips anymore. I need to wipe my butt with a snow cone!

    CHILI #7: Susan’s Screaming Sensation Chili

    Judge One: A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers.

    Judge Two: Ho Hum, tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can of chili peppers at the last moment. I should take note that I am worried about Judge Number 3, he appears to be in a bit of distress as he is cursing uncontrollably.

    Frank: You could put a grenade in my mouth, pull the pin, and I wouldn’t feel a damn thing. I’ve lost sight in one eye, and the world sounds like it is made of rushing water. My shirt is covered with chili which slid unnoticed out of my mouth. My pants are full of lava-like turds to match my damn shirt. At least during the autopsy they’ll know what killed me. I’ve decided to stop breathing, it’s too painful. Screw it, I’m not getting any oxygen anyway. If I need air, I’ll just suck it in through the 4-inch hole in my stomach.

    CHILI #8: Lester’s Last of the Red-Hot Lover’s Chili

    Judge One: A perfect ending, this is a nice blend chili, safe for all. Not too bold but spicy enough to declare it’s existence.

    Judge Two: This final entry is a good, balanced chili. Neither mild or hot.
    Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge Number 3 passed out, fell over and pulled the chili pot on top of himself. Not sure if he’s going to make it.
    Poor Yank, wonder how he’d have reacted to a really hot chili?

    JD (5c1832)

  40. Yes, JD, that was it. Thanks.

    It does bring to mind an idea,
    I think Ted Cruz should get buddy-buddy with Chuck Schumer and invite him to a Texas-style barBQ and chili cook-off.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  41. Meat will far more tender if you let it sit (under foil) for at least 20-30 minutes after cooking.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  42. The same advice probably applies to politicians but I don’t recommend it.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  43. I think I found a picture from that chili cook off. NSFW

    nk (dbc370)

  44. One way to start a bon-fire.

    mg (31009b)

  45. Unless SoCal beef carcasses are different from those east of the Mississippi, the same meat must be in the east, but apparently they don’t just call it something different, but butcher the cow differently.

    Comment by MD in Philly (f9371b) — 1/26/2014 @ 4:20 pm

    The tri tip cut is sometimes just used for burger meat. It is a cut that originated in Santa Monica apparently. Good article at AR on the trip tip from AR.

    I can only find tri tips here in Florida at Publix. They are not cheap ($8.99 lb.) but it a nice cut. Patterico is correct, it has two grains that must be identified prior to carving for best results. I use the reverse sear when cooking a tri tip. Takes a bit longer but well worth it.
    I would also like to plug the Smokenator. it is an insert that fits my Weber kettle and turns my grill into a nice smoker for around $70. I also use a PartyQ from BBQ Guru to keep the temp constant. Tie and temp are the two most important variables when cooking.

    FLBuckeye (03ccfd)

  46. It may well be that I didn’t grill it correctly; I followed the instructions on the packaging.

    Most people overcook Tri-Tip using the package directions, as the directions are designed to keep people from giving themselves food borne illnesses and not the cooking technique for best results.

    There are a couple of ways to go about it. One is to use your BBQ grill or kettle with the coals piled on one side and the meat set on the other. I usually do the sear first to get the fat cap on the tri-tip to start to render, about 5 minutes per side. The n I move it off coals and let it roast about 20 minutes per side until it hits 120-130f. Pull it and tent it under foil for 20-30 minutes and you are ready. Be sure to have some garlic bread to sop up the juices.

    The link FLBuckeye posted up shows an excellent example what the finished product should look like. I have never had a tough tri-tip that wasn’t overcooked.

    SGT Ted (3cc05f)

  47. I will say this in favor of the SV method: It uses on the same method that true BBQ uses to get tenderness in meat; low heat over a long period of time. Low and slow always works.

    SGT Ted (3cc05f)

  48. Safe, and appropriate for this thread. Some might even find it funny.

    nk (dbc370)

  49. In the FWIW let’s see dept…. so you don’t have to…
    Rival crock pot, an old one
    1st, on low:
    baseline —– 123
    15′———— 126
    (this may get boring)
    30′———– 133
    45′———– 140
    60′———– 146
    90′———– 157
    120′———- 170
    150′———- 176
    180′———- 181
    turned up to high
    210′———- 189
    240′———- 195
    it does get to 212 and bubbles eventually from past experience

    Mrs. MD in Philly’s comment,
    “What is the purpose of this, again?

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  50. There are a couple of ways to go about it. One is to use your BBQ grill or kettle with the coals piled on one side and the meat set on the other.


    Patterico (9c670f)

  51. Hey: someone got the Sous Vide promo package from Amazon! Awesome! I hope they identify themselves and tell us how it worked out for them. (I have no idea who it is.)

    Patterico (9c670f)

  52. “coals” is Middle(western) English for any form of carbon that is hot, red, and burning with a glow, rather than carbon burning with a flame. When the fire is started with sticks and branches, when it gets “down” to what may also be called “embers”, it is said that one has a “bed of coals”.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  53. MD in Philly – I realize that I’m late to this thread, but here’s hoping you see it anyway.

    I own one of the Dorkfood Sous Vide controllers and I bought a 2nd one for my mother for her birthday. I’ve had mine for about five months now and it works quite well for the price.

    It will control your rice cooker/crock pot/industrial submersion heating coil quite well. It maintains temperature at exactly where you set it and will keep it up pretty much indefinitely. The longest I’ve used it at a stretch so far was a bunch of ribs that took 70 hours to cook properly.

    On the other hand… it does have some downsides. First, it’s ugly. Second, there is no timer mechanism built into it, so if you want it to turn itself on three hours before you get home, you will need to arrange something else. It only measures in Fahrenheit. Third, it clicks audibly as it the relay turns on & off (about once every ten seconds). Fourth, if you buy smarter appliances with digital timers & preprogrammed routines (my rice cooker is all kinds of awesome) you can’t use them with the Dorkfood.

    But these downsides are easily ignored or circumvented. I love my Dorkfood controller and I’ve been using it a lot. They’re available on Amazon and I am quite happy with it.

    If you’re willing to wait a few months, perhaps you’d be more interested in the Codlo. They’re scheduled to start shipping in May.

    Semper Why (c8cf70)

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