Grilled Sous Vide Grass Fed T-Bone Steak

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Sous viding grass fed beef used to be the bane of my existence but I think I’m finally getting the hang of it.

Here’s how I made some T-bone steaks in my water oven:

I seasoned the steaks with some salt, pepper, and Arizona Dreaming seasoning before vacuum-sealing them. I stored them in the fridge overnight because I like to salt my meat well in advance of cooking it. The next day, I filled and pre-heated my SousVide Supreme to 130 F (for medium-rare steaks). I plopped in my steak packets for about 2 hours (the minimal time Douglas Baldwin recommends to pasteurize the meat). Then, I removed them from the bath and dried the meat thoroughly with paper towels.

You can save the reserved cooking liquid in the bags as the base for gravies or to flavor sautéed vegetables. 

I asked my dear hubby to grill the steaks on our gas grill over high heat for about 1 minute 30 seconds on each side.

With a nice sear on the outside…

…they look more appetizing, huh?

When it’s sliced, the steak is perfectly pink all the way through.

Sous vide is an awesome way to cook meats…

Sous Vide Trader Joe’s Seasoned Frenched Rack of Lamb

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Trader Joe’s is one of my favorite grocery stores. I always find lots of cool, reasonably priced items such as Valrhona Le Noir Extra Amer 85% cocoa chocolate bars, Kerrygold butter, broccoli slaw, and ready-to-cook prepped produce. Once in a while, I find a dud but those are few and far between.

The other day while I was rummaging through TJ’s freezer section, I came across vacuum-sealed packets of seasoned Frenched lamb racks.

Not only were all the ingredients Paleo-approved but I bet I could dunk these packets straight from the freezer — and still in their packaging — into my SousVide Supreme. Score!

(No SousVide Supreme? No problem! Serious Eats shows you how to make perfect lamb racks with a DIY beer cooler sous vide contraption.)

Today, I finally tested my hypothesis. Before going to bed this morning, I filled up my water oven and set the temperature at 130 F (for medium rare chops). The night before, I’d transferred the lamb racks from the freezer to the fridge but they were still pretty solid. I asked my mom, who was babysitting the kids, to add the two packets of lamb racks to the SousVide Supreme at 4:00 p.m.

I let the lamb racks cook for about 2 hours and then I removed them from the bath and dried them off with paper towels.

Then, I heated a couple of tablespoons of lard in a large cast iron skillet over high heat and seared off each rack.

I sliced them up and they were uniformly pink and moist throughout.

The seasoning wasn’t bad but it was a little heavy-handed with the rosemary. Also, unlike roasting or grilling, the blobs of fat don’t render away when you sous vide so I just eat around them.

Enough bitching already! Overall, the results were great because you can get perfectly-cooked yummy lamb chops on the table with minimal work! I’ll definitely keep a rack or two in my freezer as emergency back-up protein.

Day 20 of Whole30 Eats

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Another day, another dollar, right? That’s what I keep reminding myself during my workweek.

Tonight, I didn’t get hungry until around 2:00 a.m. (since I had stuffed myself with lamb burger when I woke up). For my “lunch,” I’d packed some sous vide chicken breasts with shredded carrots and nuked frozen broccoli. Since it was kind of bland and low-fat, I ate it with liberal amounts of Primavera salsa and homemade guacamole.

For snack, I ate what I’ve eaten all week: raw veggies, Aubergine dip, coconut flakes, and macadmia nuts.

"Dinner" at work (~7:00 a.m.) was a leftover box of shredded roasted chicken thighs and sautéed kale.

When I returned home, we didn’t have to take our older rugrat to school because of the MLK holiday, but I was a busy bee nonetheless.

Before going to bed, I seasoned and vacuum sealed some Wild King Salmon fillets…

…and I also seasoned (with fajita and taco seasoning, salt, and pepper) and vacuum sealed a grass fed top sirloin steak. The plan was to pop this hunk ‘o meat in the SousVide Supreme after I finished cooking my sous vide salmon.

I stored all my vacuum packed goodies in the fridge, filled my SousVide Supreme with water, and set the temperature to 125 F. Then, I stumbled to my bedroom and got some sleep.

When I woke up at 5:00 p.m., I prepped some veggies (carrots, butternut squash, and onions) for roasting and popped them in the oven (400 F convection roast).

About 25 minutes later, I dumped the salmon fillet packets into my preheated SousVide Supreme and set the timer for 20 minutes.

Then, I washed a bunch of chard and beet greens and sautéed them with thinly sliced shallots in some melted lard.

When the salmon was finished cooking, so were the roasted veggies (~45 minutes total).

 

Here’s my dinner plate:

After I removed the salmon from the SousVide Supreme, I cranked up the heat to 130 F and I plopped in the top sirloin steak I’d vacuum sealed in the morning. I’m going to let the steak bathe in the hot water for 24 hours and then sear it off for dinner tomorrow.

While I practiced some deadlifts in the garage, Fitbomb helped pack my meals for work.

And then I set off into the night. (Sounds more exciting when I put it that way, doesn’t it?)

I was hungry a few hours later (at 10:30 p.m.) so I snacked on the macadamia nuts and a small container of sauerkraut (not the whole jar).

Sounds like a wack snack combination, but that’s what I ate.

Hacking Your Own Sous Vide Machine

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It’s no secret that I love my SousVide Supreme.

It’s perfect for daily meal planning, emergency meals, and prepping lots of protein when I’m throwing a party. As long as you know the final serving temperature and the minimum cooking time for the item your making, you’re golden. Just fill it with agua, set the temperature, dump in your vacuum-sealed food, and forget it. The machine has such a large capacity that you can cook lots of meat which you can freeze for many months or refrigerate for up to a week. It’s perfect for those of us who crave good eats but can’t afford to slave over a hot stove every night. Using a water oven has completely revolutionized the way I cook, and I’m constantly extolling its virtues to whoever will listen.

And it’s not just ‘cause I’m a windbag.

Unfortunately, sous vide machinery can cost mucho dinero: thousands for commercial-grade and hundreds for home-use models (e.g. SousVideMagic and SousVide Supreme — even the smaller SousVide Supreme Demi ain’t exactly cheap). However, if you’re a 21st century MacGyver, you can MAKE your own sous vide contraptions!

Make Magazine just posted in-depth, step-by-step instructions on how to construct your own sous vide immersion cooker. This project costs only about $75 and after 5-6 hours of tinkering, you end up with a nifty

portable device that heats and circulates water while maintaining a temperature accurate within 0.1°C. And unlike the SousVide Supreme, it mounts easily onto larger containers, up to about 15 gallons, for greater cooking capacity.

Since I’m not mechanically inclined, I’d never attempt a DIY sous vide machine. I’d rather plunk down the dough than risk electrocution (me + water + electricity = quick, horrific death and bad hair). But for all you engineers out there, game on!

Seventy-five bucks still too steep? The cheapest DIY sous vide apparatus is the beer cooler get-up described on the Serious Eats website back in April.

For about $25, you can transform a lowly plastic beer cooler into your very own reliable water bath!!! Why the three exclamation points? ‘Cause this is a very big deal: With this cheapo hack, your cooking results are INDISTINGUISHABLE from those you’d get when cooking with a SousVide Supreme or other pricey water bath gear. Yes, you’ll have to more frequently monitor your food during the cooking process, but at least you won’t run the risk of accidentally electrocuting yourself to death. 

(Lifehacker has an even better method on how to rejigger a beer cooler into a sous vide cooker. Click here for instructions.)

What? You don’t want to shell out for a vacuum sealer, either? Quit yer whining! You don’t need one if you use the Ziploc water displacement method shown in Douglas Baldwin's video.

So what are you waiting for? Get your sous vide on!

Sous Vide Crispy Chicken Thighs (Again) and Veggies for Lunch

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To show off the awesomeness of my SousVide Supreme, I made crispy sous vide chicken thighs (again) for lunch today.

Okay, deboning chicken thighs isn’t that hard (and DIY is a lot cheaper than the boneless, skin-on thighs for sale at the Japanese market). I just used a sharp pair of kitchen shears to cut out the thighbones. And, I had my chef sister help me debone half, er, two-thirds, of them with me.

I seasoned the thighs with salt and pepper (on the meat side)…

…and vacuum-sealed four thighs per bag with a pat of butter on each thigh.

I placed three packets (12 thighs total) into my SousVide Supreme set at 150 F and let them cook for 1.5 hours. I removed the packets and dunked them in an ice bath for 20 minutes. Then, I placed two packets (8 thighs) in between two baking sheets and weighed them down with my Le Creuset Dutch oven (my heaviest pot). The last packet was put in the fridge for later consumption. Yay!

For my veggie sides, I placed two packets of winter squash puree straight from the freezer into my SousVide Supreme, and I nuked leftover braised cabbage and roasted broccoli and bacon.

I removed the flattened thighs from the platic bags, dried them off, and seasoned them on both sides with Dukka and salted the skin side. I heated my cast iron skillet to medium high with 2 tablespoons of macadamia nut oil. Then, I seared the thighs, skin side down for 7 minutes undisturbed…

…and then 2 minutes on the meat side.

There’s quite a bit of splatter, especially after the chicken fat renders so where an apron! I gotta get myself a splatter guard.

While the thighs were frying, I removed the winter squash puree packets from the SousVide Supreme. I cut the packets; squeezed the contents into a bowl; added 2 tablespoons of butter, salt, and pepper; and mixed everything together.  

Here’s my lunch plate:

Crispy chicken thighs..

…and pork chops are my favorite items to cook sous vide, no doubt.

Sous Vide Tabil-Seasoned Chicken Breasts and Salad for Lunch

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My cousin and her husband came over for lunch and I was able to serve them a tasty, fancy-looking meal all thanks to my SousVide Supreme. Did I mention that I was out all morning running errands with the kids? I love my SousVide Supreme.

I prepped the chicken breasts by seasoning them with salt and pepper, vacuum sealing them, and plunking them in my SousVide Supreme (140 F) before we left the house at 9:00 a.m. When I returned at 11:30 a.m., I took the breasts out, dried them with paper towels, and sprinkled on some Tabil.

I prepared a simple salad with organic greens, sliced carrots, diced avocados, bacon (nuked in the microwave), and sliced apples. I seasoned it with salt and pepper and drizzled on some extra virgin olive oil with truffles and Banyuls wine vinegar. When I was done throwing together my salad, I heated up some ghee in my cast iron skillet on medium-high and browned my chicken (2 minutes on the skin side and an additional minute on the bone side).

Here’s my lunch plate:

Total hands-on time: 20 minutes tops. Quick and yummy.

Meal Planning Made Easy with a SousVide Supreme

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Since I’ll be returning to work Wednesday night, I prepped some meat for workday dinners in my SousVide Supreme this morning. 

(What? Don’t have a SousVide Supreme? Then make your own!)

I always want to maximize the cooking capacity of my sous vide cooker, so I knew that today I’d be simultaneously cooking a grass fed steak, a butterflied leg of lamb, and some salmon fillets because everything can be cooked together at 130°F.

First, I seasoned the grass fed steak with some kosher salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and smoked paprika. 

Sorry, no exact measurements – I just put a lot more salt and pepper than the other stuff. 

Then, I vacuum sealed it with my Foodsaver and set it aside.

The other day at Costco, I picked up a Niman Ranch mustard and herb seasoned butterflied lamb leg. 

All the ingredients are Paleo approved and gluten free (lamb, salt, Bavarian-style crushed brown mustard, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, and sage).  It’s also vacuum sealed and I was gonna pop it directly into the SousVide Supreme but there was a little piece of absorbant paper in the package so I decided to repackage it in my own bag sans paper.

I put both items in my rack…

…and lowered it into the 130 F bath.

Six hours later, I removed the tri-tip and plunged it into an ice bath. 

After an hour of soaking, I dried off the packet and put it in the fridge for consumption Wednesday or Thursday. 

The lamb is going to be bathing for at least 24 hours so I need to take it out tomorrow morning.  Tonight for dinner, I dumped in five defrosted Costco Sockeye salmon fillets in the machine, along with the lamb. I fished the salmon out (bad pun alert!) 15 minutes later and replaced the lid on the machine so the lamb could keep cooking.

I think the trick to meal planning with the SousVide Supreme is just finding and grouping things that can cook at the same temperature.  For example, if you like all your red meat cooked to 130 F (medium rare), just plan to make all of them at the same time and remove each individual item as they finish cooking.  Whenever I make pork chops, I always throw in some chicken breasts as well since they cook at the same time and temperature (140 F for ~ 2 hours).  But what’s great is I can leave the chicken breasts (or pork chops) in the machine for longer than 2 hours if I want to eat them later that day.

The beauty of the SousVide Supreme is that you can cook lots of things ahead and then you’ve got tons of ready to eat meat in your fridge (it’s good for ~4 days) or freezer (it’s good for 6 months+).  You can eat them cold (e.g. chicken breast) or just reheat them in the bath for 30 minutes set to the final serving temp, dry them off, and sear.

I’ll let you know how everything turns out when I cook them off later in the week.  I think this machine is going to stay on my counter for a long time and not end up in my appliance graveyard in the garage…

Spinach, Squash & Salmon for Breakfast

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'Member how I posted about making salmon in my SousVide Supreme for lunch last week? How I just stuck the pre-sealed bag of fish right into the hot water without any prep? I wanted to replicate it tonight to see if last week’s lunch results weren’t a fluke. 

While I slept the day away, my loyal minion filled and preheated my SousVide Supreme to 125 F. When I finally dragged my ass out of bed in the early evening, I trudged over to my freezer, grabbed the big bag of Costco salmon,

 


took out two vacuum-sealed filets, and dumped them in the water bath. I set the timer for 25 minutes, and turned to work on my nuke ‘n bake roasted acorn squash. 

When the time beeped, I fished the filets out of the bath, took them out of the plastic and patted ‘em dry with paper towels. I sprinkled both sides with salt and pepper. 

I heated my cast iron skillet on high and put in ~ 2 tablespoons of coconut oil.  Once the oil was smoking hot, I seared off both sides of the salmon filets (~1 minute on each side). 

After removing the fish, I turned the heat down to medium (because the pan is SMOKING!), and I threw in a ½ lb of pre-washed organic baby spinach. I seasoned the greens with salt and pepper and stirred until the leaves had wilted. 

I’ve discovered that sautéing veggies in the cast iron skillet right after I sear off some meat or fish is great; there’s lots of seasoned fat in the pan that infuses the greens with yumminess. (Plus, I’m too lazy to wash the skillet.)

Last step: I plated the salmon, sautéed spinach, and acorn squash and squeezed some lemon on the fish. 

How was it? Pretty good considering it only took 30 minutes and I only had one skillet to wash by hand — everything else went straight in the dishwasher. Cooking’s fun, but cleaning’s a pain in the ass. There’s a reason why people dream about becoming chefs and not dishwashers.