When cooking sous-vide, you have perfect control over how done the meat is going to be. But it does require you to know what temperature corresponds with how you like your steak done. And so I prepared the above chart for you. You can look at what the meat will look like in the photo, or use this list:
- rare: 50C/122F
- medium-rare: 55C/131F
- medium: 60C/140F
- medium-well: 65C/149F
- well-done: 70C/158F (or even higher)
The same temperature chart also applies when cooking red meat in a pan, on a grill, or in the oven, when you use a thermometer to measure the core temperature.
There are three things that will happen when you increase the cooking temperature compared to cooking at a lower temperature:
- More juices will be squeezed out of the meat, so the lower the temperature, the more juicy
- More connective tissue will be broken down, so the higher the temperature, the more tender (but it may not seem more tender because of the loss of juices)
- From 60C/140F and above, the myoglobin will break down, and since that is what makes the meat red, it will become less red. The higher the temperature, the faster this will go. But if you cook for long enough at 60C/140F, the color will be gone by just as much as when cooked for a shorter time at 70C/158F.
How did I produce these charts? I started with 8 pieces of rump steak from the same piece of beef.
I vacuum sealed and labeled them, taking note of the initial weight.
Then I cooked each one sous-vide for 15 minutes at the indicated temperature. Since the pieces of steak were only about 1 cm (less than 1/2 inch) thick, 15 minutes was enough for the core temperature to reach the target temperature.
After cooking sous-vide, I weighed them again to measure the loss of juices. My favorite one was medium-rare, cooked at 55C/131F.
Since all red meat behaves more or less the same, this chart is not just for steak, but for any red meat: