What items you need
- A pot of about 8 litres that will fit in your electric oven
- A digital thermometer with an immersion probe (1°C precision is sufficient to begin with)
- Ziploc bags large enough to accomodate your cut of meat
- A hole punch
- A metal skewer a few centimeters longer than the diameter of your pot
- paper towel
- Oven gloves
- Kitchen scales
- A heavy cast iron skillet
- Vegetable oil
What meat to buy
- Get two identical tender cuts of meat not thicker than 4 cm (e.g. lamb rack or pork neck or veal chop)
- Thickness, not weight of the meat is the factor indicating the cooking time (2cm - ½ hr., 2½cm - ¾ hr., 3cm - 1 hr., 3.5cm - 1½ hrs., 4cm - 2 hrs.)
How to prepare
- weigh the two cuts of meat at the beginning
- put one piece aside for later traditional cooking
- put the second piece of meat in a Ziploc-bag, immerse the bag in water until just below the zipper, and close the zipper, leaving as little air as possible in the bag
- punch two holes in the border of the Ziploc bag above the zipper
- thread the skewer through the two holes so you can hang the bag in the pot (or pierce the plastic directly with your skewer without previous punching)
How to cook
- preheat your electric oven to 75°C (in convection mode if available)
- hang the Ziploc bag with your meat in the pot, placing the skewer over the rim of the pot, fill the pot with hot tap water of 55°C (measure with your immersion thermometer) until just below the zipper of the bag, so that the meat is completely immersed.
- repeatedly adjust the oven temperature so that the waterbath temperature remains between 54-56°C (you better find out an oven temperature setting which will stabilize your waterbath at 55°C before you start cooking).
- cooking times indicated above are minimum times to reach core temperature, they may be prolonged by 1-2 hrs. until you are ready with the rest of your meal.
- Cook your other piece of meat the traditional way
- Heat your heavy cast iron skillet with vegetable oil until just smoking
- Take the meat out of the Ziploc bag, dab dry with paper towel, and give it a short sear (15-30 seconds per surface) to give it a nice brown crust.
Compare the two cuts of meat
- weigh the two pieces and compare the weight loss by cooking; the piece you cooked sous vide might have lost considerably less juice.
- compare the tenderness and juicyness of the two pieces; in the more fatty parts of the meat, the difference may be small, in the lean parts of the meat the one you cooked traditionally may be significantly less tender and juicy.
Refine your cooking method
- find out what core temperature suits your taste best
- if your preferred temperature is below 55°C, you should restrict your cooking time to a maximum of 4 hrs. for safety reasons (microbial contamination); above 56°C you may use longer cooking times (a 70mm thick roast requires 6 hrs. cooking time)
- if you like, marinate your meat before bagging
- if you come to like sous vide cooking, be prepared to spend some money for the appropriate equipment to use more exact temperature control and longer cooking times (maybe 24-48 hrs.) in a "shoot and forget" manner; with the oven-waterpot-method you have to check the temperature every 15 or 30 minutes to keep it constant, and with cooking times longer than 4-6 hrs. water evaporation will become an issue.
A word on temperature stability
Ovens usually are not PID-controlled, but just On/Off-controlled ("bang-bang"), resulting in temperature oscillations of 15-30°C. But a large volume of water in a pot has sufficient thermal inertia to attenuate these temperature swings to very acceptable values. An experiment with the enameled pot shown in the picture with 7 litres of water and the oven set to 60°C resulted in a water temperature of 54.5±0.2°C!
--PedroG 23:47, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
Modified PedroG 09:18, August 5, 2010 (UTC)