Welcome to Stefan’s Gourmet Blog! I post sous-vide recipes on a regular basis. If you like what you see here, you can sign up on the sidebar to receive an email whenever I post a new recipe.
Many recipes on my blog use a modern cooking method called Sous-vide. Sous-vide is French for “under vacuum” and it means that you cook food sealed in an airtight plastic bag inside a water bath. The temperature in the water bath is kept constant and is lower than you would imagine, whereas cooking times are longer.
- Because the food is cooked inside a sealed bag, all the flavor and juices stay inside.
- The food is cooked evenly, it is equally cooked from the outside to the inside.
- A taste, and especially a texture and juicyness can be reached that cannot be achieved by other methods of cooking.
- Foolproof: meat and fish always come out exactly the way you like it (medium rare, medium, etc.)
- Less stress at dinner parties because there is a wide range of cooking times in which the food comes out ‘perfect’ and in many cases you can just cut open the bag and serve.
- Also less stress at dinner parties because you can cook a large number of single person portions at the same time and all of them will be cooked exactly right.
Are there any drawbacks?
- You need equipment that costs money and takes up space.
- Although cooking is less ‘work’, it does take more (waiting) time so you need to be prepared.
- You can’t cook vegetables at the same time as meat or fish in the same water bath, because different temperatures are needed (but you can keep vegetables warm in the bath while you cook meat or fish).
- If you want meat to have a brown crust, you still need to brown the meat before or after sous-vide cooking.
How does it work?
Like all matter, food consists of molecules. Cooking food (no matter what method you use) changes the molecules in the foodstuff by using heat, as the molecules will change according to the temperature. Different types of food need a different temperature to be cooked, and different temperatures can produce a different texture, flavor and juiciness for the same food.
If you have ever used a meat thermometer to cook meat, you know that beef is medium rare at 55C/131F. However if you roast a large piece of beef in the oven at say 180C/355F until the center reaches 55C/131F, then at that point in time the outside will be close to 180C/355F. When you take the meat out of the oven, you have to let it ‘rest’ until the temperature evens out throughout all of the meat (so the temperature is the same from outside to center). The temperature in the center will increase above 55C/131F, causing the meat to be overcooked. You can avoid this by taking the meat out earlier (for instance when the center is 45C/112F), but then it’s hard to arrive at exactly 55C/131F and in any case the outside layer of the meat will be overcooked. With sous-vide, you can cook a large piece of beef at exactly 55C/131F so it will be perfectly medium-rare throughout!
You can think of sous-vide cooking having two phases:
- The entire piece of food will heat up to the temperature of the water bath, from outside to center. This takes from 10 minutes to 4 hours or more, depending on the size of the piece of food and the initial temperature. Very tender foods are ready to be eaten as soon as they have the same temperature throughout.
- As soon as the temperature is reached, the food very very slowly becomes more and more ‘cooked’ and thus tender. For fish this happens very quickly, but for most other foods there is a pretty long period of time in which the texture of the food is perfect or nearly so. If you leave food cooking sous-vide too long, the texture will break down and become unpleasantly soft.
Sous-vide time & temperature
Tender meat sous-vide time and temperature
Tender meat only needs to be brought up to temperature, so cooking times are short and depend only on the thickness and shape. If the meat is not too thick, you could cook lower than 55C/131F to go more to the rare side of medium rare.
- Beef tenderloin (55C/131F for medium rare, time depends on thickness)
- Bison Ribeye (1 hour at 39C/102F, 1 hour at 49C/120F, 2 hours at 55C/131F for medium rare)
- Foie Gras (57C/135F for 2 hours)
- Hamburger (1 hour at 39C/102F, 1 hour at 49C/120F, 2.5 hours at 55C/131F for medium rare, post-sear on BBQ)
- Hanger Steak (1 hour at 39C/102F, 1 hour at 49C/120F, 3 hours at 55C/131F for medium rare)
- Pork tenderloin (1 hour at 57ºC/135ºF)
- Rack of lamb (2-4 hours at 54.5C/130F)
- Venison (53C/127F for medium rare, time depends on thickness)
Tough meat sous-vide time and temperature
Tough meat needs to be cooked longer than 4 hours to tenderize it (in many cases 2-3 days) and thus it is not safe to cook at less than 54.5C/130F. Luckily cooking at 55C/131F gives excellent results for many meats and gives the texture of steak to tough cuts. Go up to 63C/145F to get a more flaky texture.
- Beef brisket (2 days at 57C/135F)
- Beef short ribs (2 days at 57C/135F)
- Chuck roast (3 days at 63C/145F for flaky texture)
- Lamb shank (2 days at 62C/144F)
- Lamb shoulder (1-2 days at 57C/135F, depending on the age of the lamb)
- Lamb breast (1 day at 57ºC/135ºF)
- Ossobuco (veal shanks) (3 days at 62C/144F for flaky texture)
- Oxtail (100 hours/4 days at 60ºC/140ºF)
- Pork belly (3 days at 60C/140F for tender and juicy, fat will not render)
- Pork shoulder (36 hours at 65C/149F for flaky texture or 48 hours at 57ºC/135ºF for tender)
- Pulled Pork (4 hours at 84C/183F)
- Rib-eye steak (1 hour at 50C/122F, sear afterwards)
- T-bone steak (12 hours at 54.5C/130F)
- Wagyu flank steak (48 hours at 55C/131F)
Poultry sous-vide time and temperature
Tender breast meat only needs to come up to temperature, but tougher legs or wings need a few hours and a higher temperature to get tender.
- Chicken breast (45 mins at 60C/140F)
- Chicken leg (12 hours at 62C/143F or 4 hours at 64C/147F)
- Chicken thigh, boneless (90 mins at 64C/147F)
- Duck breast (2 hours at 54.5C/130F)
- Duck legs (24 hours at 64.5C/148F)
- Duck leg confit (8 hours at 82C/180F for flaky traditional confit texture)
- Eggs (60 mins at 64.5C/148F)
- Stewing hen legs (3 days at 62C/143F)
Game sous-vide time and temperature
Just like other types of meat, tender meat only needs to come up to temperature whereas tougher meat needs a longer time to become tender.
- Farmed rabbit leg (8 hours at 75C/167F, or 2 hours at 60C/140F)
- Pheasant leg (10 hours at 75C/167F)
- Pigeon breast (1-2 hours at 54.5C/130F)
- Rack of Venison (4 hours at 55ºC/131ºF)
Fish and shellfish sous-vide time and temperature
Fish only needs to come up to temperature, and since most fish fillets are not very thick this usually takes less than half an hour. The temperature for cooking fish is lower, usually 50C/121F for a tender juicy texture that is not flaky.
- Cod (30 mins at 54C/129F, flaky; or 30 mins at 45C/113F, tender)
- Halibut (20-30 mins at 45C/113F)
- Lobster claws (15 mins at 60C/140F, shelled, with butter)
- Lobster tail (15 mins at 46C/115F, shelled, with butter)
- Mackerel (15 mins at 50C/121F)
- Monk fish (45 mins at 48C/118F)
- Octopus (3 hours at 85C/185F or 4 hours at 77C/170F)
- Oysters (20 mins at 48C/118F, shucked)
- Salmon (30 mins at 43C/109F)
- Sea bass fillet or Sea bream fillet (10-15 mins at 48C/118F, post-sear on skin)
- Sole (10-20 mins at 50ºC/122ºF)
- Turbot (20 mins at 49C/120F)
Vegetables sous-vide time and temperature
A temperature of 84C/183F is needed to tenderize the fibers in most vegetables. The time depends mostly on the thickness, usually between 30 and 60 minutes. Vegetables must be pre-cooked to cook them with meat, otherwise the temperature is too high for the meat or too low for the vegetables.
- Artichokes (60 mins at 84C/183F)
- Potatoes (60 mins at 84C/183F)
- Salsify (45-60 mins at 84C/183F)
- White asparagus (30-45 mins at 84C/183F, with butter)
Dessert s0us-vide time and temperature
- Custard such as crème brûlée or bounet (45 mins at 85-90C/185-194F)
Sous-vide tips & tricks
- How to use juices from the bag after sous-vide braising
- Adding liquid to the sous-vide bag by freezing
- Adding liquid to the sous-vide bag by using a ziploc bag and the water deplacement method to evacuate most of the air
- Tenderizing meat by ‘warm ageing’ to activate the enzymes
- Using the water bath as au bain marie for custard