When you go to an expensive restaurant, there is a great chance that their best-seller is a well-cooked steak. It is important to keep in mind that well-cooked doesn’t necessarily mean well-done. In fact, there aren’t many people who prefer their steak prepared in this manner because this results in a cut of meat that’s tough and not very juicy. Foodies enjoy their steaks cooked medium or medium rare, with a little bit of pink left in the middle. Some people even like to eat their steak rare. If you want to try this, make sure that you know and that you trust where the meat you’re eating is coming from.
Despite this being the preference of many people, there aren’t a lot of chefs who can cook it this way consistently using traditional methods. When we talk about traditional methods, we are referring to cooking on a cast iron skillet or on a grill. Preparing a steak this way leaves only a little window to get it right. If you cook using one of these techniques, there is an even bigger possibility that you would overcook or undercook whatever it is you’re preparing. If you wrongly prepare an expensive cut of meat, you might end up wasting it.
Advantages of Sous Vide Cooking a Steak
This is why a lot of people are turning to sous vide. This calculated method of cooking takes all of the guesswork out of cooking. Whether you cook a cheap or an expensive piece of meat, you’ll be guaranteed five-star restaurant quality results every time. Even if you leave the meat in the sous vide machine for longer than what’s recommended, it won’t get overcooked because it will be kept at a constant temperature. Another reason for this is that sous vide is a very gentle way to cook things, even more delicate meats and produce.
Cooking a steak sous vide also packs more flavor into the meat during the cooking process. A lot of sous vide steak recipes only call for a generous amount of salt and pepper as seasoning and not much else. For a number of recipes, you’ll only need a little bit of olive or vegetable oil. Despite the small amount of ingredients, your final product will still be one of the best steaks you’ve ever tasted. You can add more flavorings to your steak while cooking, but remember not to add too much. Sometimes, keeping things simple is better, especially when it comes to the culinary arts.
Take Thickness into Account
The thickness of the steak is also important. A thicker cut of meat gives you more of that exterior to interior difference. It is easier to overcook a thinner piece of meat. However, you shouldn’t get meat that’s too thick as well. If you do, there is a chance that you leave it undercooked. The middle part of the meat may also not get seasoned properly, especially if you’re marinating it instead of just putting salt and pepper. Try to keep it above an inch thick, but not above two inches. Many experts recommend getting a one and a half-inch thick steak.
Consider the Temperature
Temperature is also very important when cooking a steak sous vide. If you want your steak rare, don’t let the temperature go above 120ºF. This is recommended for more expensive cuts of meat because they don’t require a lot of cooking to become tender. Cheaper cuts like hanger steaks will still be tough and chewy at this temperature. On the other hand, set your sous vide machine to around 129ºF if you want a medium rare steak. This is the most common preference because you get a balance of tenderness and juiciness. Fattier cuts of meat benefit greatly from being cooked medium-rare.
The second most common preference is cooking steak to a medium doneness at 135º F. Like with cooking medium-rare, fatty meats would benefit more when cooked to this doneness because the marbling throughout the steak would render and give off more flavor. Up next is medium well at 145º F, which is only recommended for very rich cuts such as short rib or skirt steaks, which don’t suffer too much from high heat. Lastly, we have well done steaks, which are cooked at 156º F. There’s really no reason to go sous vide if you want your steak cooked well done.
For Those Who Are Still Uncertain About Sous Vide
Don’t get discouraged if the steak that you’re cooking sous vide looks similar to what you get in a can of dog food when it comes out of its water bath. This doesn’t have any color on it because it hasn’t been seared yet. Searing the meat – cooking it over a high heat – allows it to develop a crust via the Maillard reaction. In this chemical process, the sugars in the meat react with the amino acids in protein, which causes browning when heat is introduced – similar to caramelization. Once you’ve seared your steak, not only will it look great, but it will also have amazing taste and texture that allows you to cut through it like butter.
Some people are uncertain about cooking sous vide for a couple of reasons. For instance, they’re unsure because cooking sous vide takes a rather long time. For steaks, some recipes call for an hour in the water bath, while there are other recipes that require you to wait for a longer time. Even if you have to wait long, the results will most probably be worth it. As previously mentioned, sous vide is a much gentler cooking method compared to traditional processes. This prevents overcooking, which is a great advantage for beginner chefs.
Another reason why people may feel iffy about getting their own sous vide machine for home use is the hefty price tag it comes with. These machines have gotten cheaper over the past couple of years due to the market for them becoming more competitive. If you still find the current prices expensive, just wait a little bit and the prices of sous vide machines will surely go down even further. You should also consider your sous vide machine as an investment. Think of all the money you’ll save when you skip going to a fancy restaurant to eat some steak and cook them at home instead.
If you want restaurant quality food in the comfort of your home, get a sous vide machine. It’ll be a worthwhile investment. You can cook loads of other things in it, from the steak that we’ve been talking about to the most decadent desserts.