- What you need
- 4 12oz Steaks 3/4" inch thick
- Salt and pepper or marinade
- Ziploc Bags
- Large Pot
If you have ever visited an upscale restaurant then odds are you have eaten something that was cooked using the sous vide method. It is almost a sure fire way to get the most tender and perfectly cooked dishes as long as it is executed perfectly. To replicate this method of cooking at home and on a budget you need to be very creative.
Proper Sous Vide equipment costs hundreds and takes up a lot of precious storage space, I will show you a method to achieve the same results without all of the fancy gear. Before we get started I will explain a few things about this method of cooking.
Sous Vide is not a new method of cooking, the theory originated back in 1799, however the method of cooking did not involve submerging in liquid, instead air was used for the heat transfer. It wasn’t until the 1960’s when French and American engineers help redefine the method. Today Sous Vide can be described simply, cooked in a airtight (vaccum) bag and in a carefully temperature controlled water bath. More often than that the cooking time is much longer than traditional methods.
Modern equipment has made it easy for restaurants to perfect the method but makes it difficult for the average inspiring cook to purchase. There are vacuum sealers to neatly and efficiently seal your food and water baths that constantly circulate and monitor the desired cooking temperature. Let me show you how to accomplish the same results without the hefty price tag.
I used a very inexpensive method to seal my steaks, I will describe another method in a moment. Ziploc currently makes a line of Sous Vide bags that come with a small hand pump. I placed my steaks into their own individual bags and added a splash of marinade. You can use salt and pepper, even fresh herbs to help season, just as a word of caution… do not use butter, this fatty substance will absorb more of the flavor than your steak will.
If you do not have the sous vide bags you can simply place one steak in each bag and submerge it in water, careful not to get any water in the bag! This will help press all of the unwanted air out of the bag for a great vacuum like seal.
Find the largest pot you own and fill it with water, the larger the better as more volume means more heat retention. Use a thermometer to measure the waters temperature. As a general rule of thumb for steak you will want 125 degree water for rare, add 5 degrees for each additional level, so 130 for medium rare, 135 for medium and so on.
I brought my water to around 133 just because I knew after adding the steaks I would lose a little bit of heat from the water. This helped me ensure I was keeping a steady 130 degrees for medium rare.
Now comes the fun/boring part. Once your water has reached the desired temperature place your sealed bags into the water bath and carefully monitor the temperature for the entire cooking time. It is also important to occasionally circulate the water in the pot to ensure even heat distribution. I also used a spoon to help hold the bags slightly below the waters surface.
You will want to add cold water to lower the temperature if it ever gets above your desired level, heat slowly and and use a low burner setting once your water is at temperature to maintain. Steaks around 3/4″ thick and around 12 ounces will need about an hour to cook.
About 10 minutes before your steaks are finished you will want to heat a large skillet or your grill to help finish them off. When they come out of the water bath you will want to remove them from the bags and pat them dry. Give them a gentle rub in some olive or canola oil and place them into the hot pan or grill to give them a more appealing look. You will only need a minute or so on each side to get a good sear, remember we are not cooking them at this point, this is just for the aesthetics.
That is it! If you carefully monitor the temperature and circulate the water you will be sure to have some of the most tender and juicy steaks every time. Of course remember the dangers of eating under cooked meat, always make sure it is cooked to your specifications before serving to others.