Ginger Marmalade

by wjw on May 30, 2017

41v3NLEfZXL._SX425_Last week’s Rio Hondo featured Maureen McHugh’s Anova sous vide precision cooker and some short ribs that had been cooked for 24 hours in a water bath until unbelievably tender.

I watch enough cooking shows to have seen TV hosts swooning over sous vide cooking, but for quite a few years a setup cost thousands of dollars.  I found an Anova online for under $150, so I got myself one.

Sous vide is particularly recommended for red meat, but I wanted to experiment on better-flavored beef than is generally available locally, so for my first experiment I opted for poultry, and I made ginger marmalade chicken, which I cooked for 4 hours in a water bath of 170 degrees.  The result was flavorful and (mostly) moist, though a bit tougher than expected.

The store was running a special on racks of ribs— three free if you buy a fourth!— so clearly the next experiment will be pork ribs, cooked for something like 20 hours and finished on the grille.  I hope this works, because I bought a lot of ribs.

Wish me luck.

Paul Duncanson May 30, 2017 at 7:05 am

I bought the first generation Anova cooker when it was new. I highly recommend checking out Serious Eats. They’ve spent a lot of time testing ingredients at different times and temperatures to see wha works best. Here is their guide to pork ribs.

Steve Halter May 30, 2017 at 11:15 am

I second the Serious Eats recommendation. Here is their chicken breast article:

170 was probably too high.

wjw May 30, 2017 at 11:18 pm

Thanks for those links. They were very helpful, and they lead to other helpful links.

170 was clearly to high, and 4 hours was too long. Probably should have done 150 for 2 hours, but I was following the recipe.

I found myself near a Trader Joe’s tonight, and since Trader Joe’s beef tends to be better than the local supermarket, I picked up a ribeye steak. It still wasn’t as flavorful as I would have liked. I cooked it medium-rare, then seared it on the grill. Most of the steak was perfectly medium-rare, but a portion of it was well done. That shouldn’t even be possible.

Steve Halter May 31, 2017 at 10:47 am

Maybe a hot spot on the grill?

Steinar Bang May 31, 2017 at 2:19 pm

What you can see here, is a comparison of tenderizing with sous vide vs. dynamite.

The dialog is in Norwegian, but here is the core conclusion: There were three alternatives, “a” which is sous vide at 58°C for 1h, “b” which is sous vide 58°C for 18h, and “c” which is tenderizing by explosive.

Alternative “c” won the blind taste test…

Apparently there’s a US patent from 1970, about using explosives to tenderize meat.

wjw May 31, 2017 at 4:54 pm

Hmm. I’ve got some old dynamite in the garage and some blasting caps I inherited from my grandfather, so maybe I’ll give that a try. Now is that fuse the quick fuse or the slow fuse? I can’t remember.

“Here! Hold my beer and watch this!”

I suppose it’s possible there was a hot spot on the grille, but the steak wasn’t on the grill for more than a couple minutes, so I dunno.

Paul Duncanson May 31, 2017 at 11:27 pm

For the well-done spot, I doubt it could be a hot spot on the grille – it shouldn’t be in contact with the grille for long enough. Unless it was a really thin steak it shouldn’t happen.

Was your bagged steak floating freely in the pot? Might it have been pressed up against the body of the cooker for a part or all of the cook? It’s the only part of the set-up I can think of that could get any hotter than the water (and then only if something – the bag of meat – was blocking the water flow around it). When I’m puddling steaks I always attach the bag to the opposite side of the pot with clothes pegs so it doesn’t wander (my setup in action looks a lot like the photo at the top). I have done quite a few rib-eyes and never seen that happen.

wjw June 1, 2017 at 10:56 pm

When I placed the ribeye in the pot I made sure there was circulation on all sides, so hot spots in the pot shouldn’t be the issue. (And I don’t know how there could be a hot spot on the pot unless I was directing a blowtorch at it.)

I’m beginning to think “flameup on grille when I wasn’t looking.”

Scott Hawkins June 4, 2017 at 8:54 am

Ah cool! Sous vide

I’ll ditto the recommendation on serious eats, but you might also check out a site called Chef Steps. They’ve branched out, but for years they were 100% focused on sous vide cooking. I think they’re a corporate front for one of the immersion circulator vendors, but it’s not too obnoxious and there’s lots of good stuff there. If you’re into cookbooks, Thomas Keller did one solely about Sous Vide cooking called Under Pressure that I liked a lot. The photography alone in that one is worth the cover price, IMO.

One minor note: the Keller book talked a lot about food safety and, to a certain extent, threw the fear of God into me. Sous vide has some non-obvious (to me, at least) food safety issues when you’re doing long cooks–e.g. a corner of the bad poking up on a long, low-heat cook can be in the bacterial danger zone even if the rest of the bag is not. And I think you’re generally encouraged to do the sear before the sous vide rather than after–it kills bacteria on the surface. It’s probably not going to matter much on a 2h ribeye, but when I’m doing the 72h short ribs I get surgical.

wjw June 5, 2017 at 10:20 pm

Thanks for the link! Many ideas to be found there.

Bryan June 14, 2017 at 12:27 pm

I cannot recommend Serious Eats enough. That site is awesome for sous vide cooking. I followed their recipe for pork ribs (the one that is 26 hours of cooking). Absolutely wonderful. The best ribs I’ve ever made.

I’m happiest with my chicken breasts at about 145.

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