Sous Vide Steak
- 2 lbs sirloin steak
- 2 tsp salt more or less to taste
- 2 tsp pepper more or less to taste
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary optional
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme optional
- 4 tablespoons butter optional
Heat sous vide bath to 128 degrees for medium rare, 135 for medium
Season steak on both sides with salt and pepper
Add steak to airtight seal-able bag
Add rosemary, thyme and 2 tablespoons butter
Seal bag and place in sous vide bath
Cook for 1-4 hours
Heat grill, broiler or stovetop to high
Remove meat from water bath and bag
Cook on grill or stovetop for two minuter per side
Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes topping with remaining butter, if desired
Cooking steak at home can be a daunting task. How do you avoid ruining a beautiful piece of meat by overcooking it? This has always been a problem for the amateur home chef. In a restaurant if a piece of meat is over (or under) cooked you simply send it back. At home it has always been a balancing act of having to pull it early or waiting to avoid having to constantly put it back on until you get it just right. However, once it is overcooked you are out of luck. In this post we show you to cook a great sous vide steak meal.
Getting an instant read Thermapen has been a huge help for us getting meat to the proper temperature. However, with fast cooking steaks the margin of error between perfectly cooked and over done is still very tight. There is also the issue of steak being overdone at the edgers and raw in the middle. This is where sous vide comes in. With the, now mass market, sous vide equipment there is no longer any excuse for over cooked meat. In this blog we will give an example of how to do a very basic sirloin steak. Mastering this simple technique and you will quickly feel confident moving on to more expensive cuts.
We are starting with an expensive (on sale at $4 a pound) piece of sirloin. Overall buying meat can be complicated but we always like to look for what is on sale. Generally we go for Choice cuts, however there is a huge range of quality within this category. Basically at your generic grocery store you will get a lower end Choice cut versus a high-end butcher. Of course, you pay more at the butcher and generally we save that for a special occasion. The higher up category is Prime and that is mainly found at high-end restaurants. The lower category is Select and should usually be avoided.
Our under $10 steak is going to feed a family of 4 with enough for leftovers which we like to make into a nice ramen meal the next day. Normally it would be a challenge to properly cook this piece of meat but here is where sous vide saves the day. Our sous vide tool of choice is the Anova Precision Cooker which is highly rated and available for under $200. This device is incredibly simple to use and is basically a temperature dial and an on/of button. There is the ability to control this remotely from a smartphone but we have never tried that and frankly it is hard to imagine a scenario would that would be of much use.
Sous vide basically involves cooking in a water bath at a controlled temperature. The Anova heats up the water to whatever temperature you set. Simply put what you are cooking in a bag, drop it into the heated water and let it go for however long your recipe says. One advantage is you can walk away and let it sit in the heated bath for several hours and it will not overcook.
A large pot will work fine for most items but after we got into sous vide we invested in a plastic 12 quart container that costs about $20. Simply fill the container with water, attach the sous vide machine to the side and set the temperature. For our steak we are going for a medium rare to medium so we set it at 128 degrees Fahrenheit. More medium you would go for 135 degrees but probably not more than 140.
As a general rule we keep our steak simple with just salt and pepper and maybe some aromatic spices from the garden. Occasionally we can spice things up with a more complicated rub but really you only need the basics. Our rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper per pound of meat. We evenly coat both sides, you can add olive oil to rub the spices in but it really isn’t necessary.
After adding salt and pepper to the steak it is time to put it into a seal-able bag. Add the seasoned meat to the bag along with any additional seasonings. In our case we threw in a sprig or two of rosemary and thyme from our garden. We also added two tablespoons of butter even though we heard this doesn’t really do much.
A basic bag with a zip seal works fine but we like to vacuum seal our meat. Our current vacuum sealer is a Waring PVS 1000 pistol style sealer. We have had other more complicated and expensive food sealing systems but the Waring one is inexpensive and really easy to use. It was $65 and came with reuseable bags. Seal the bag with the included bag sealer and suck the air out. The bags have a valve which you place the pistol over and squeeze the trigger to pull the air out. As mentioned a regular seal-able bag works fine, just make sure it is sealed tightly so no water gets in. (Unfortunately it seems this item is no longer available).
At this point simply drop the bag into the water and let it go for 1 to 4 hours. You can even do frozen meat this way but go a minimum of 2 hours if you do. When you take the meat out of the water it is cooked to your desired temperature (128 in our case) and technically ready to eat. However at this point it is fairly unappetizing grey. Here is where we want to give it a finishing sear, either on a grill, under a broiler or in a stovetop skillet. In this case we are using our gas grill.
Simply heat the grill to high, throw the steak on for 2 minutes, flip and cook for another two minutes to get a nice crispy crust. Take the steak off and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes. We like to add a bunch of butter on top to create more juice. To serve we slice into thin pieces and put on a plate so everyone can pick their own. For our simple budget meal we added some in season corn and slices of watermelon.
Total cost for this full meal was $12 and we had plenty leftover for the next day. Overall a tool like the Anova sous vide machine may seem like an expensive investment but when you consider the cost of eating at a typical steakhouse it is well worth it. Stay tuned for our recipes for pork and chicken cooked sous vide including our favorite Chick-fil-a style chicken.