How to sous vide a T-bone steak
I jump right into figuring out sous vide with steak!
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I had recently received an immersion cooker as a birthday gift. The sous vide method of cooking has had my attention for a while, mostly because of the images I've seen of perfectly cooked steaks that had been prepared with an immersion cooker. After a frustrating experience preparing tinga de pollo tacos, it was time to step up and try my hand at cooking up a steak myself!
Anova Precision Cooker
I was gifted an Anova Precision Cooker, rated at 1000 watts and featuring WiFi connectivity for use with a smart phone or tablet app. From what I've seen, the Anova immersion cookers compare well to Breville Joule cookers in quality and function. The Anova Precision, while significantly more girthy than the slim and sleek Joule, features touch controls on the unit itself that allow it to be operated without the use of a a smart phone or tablet. In fact, to use the Anova Precision, all you need is your food sealed in a bag and a pot of water!
While my first cook with the Anova cooker saw me using a simple pot of water, for my second attempt I decided to modify an inexpensive cooler to use as a sous vide container. I purchased a simple 9 qt. Igloo cooler and attacked it with a power drill and a hole saw. The idea was to produce a hole in the lid of the cooler that would allow me to insert the Anova Precision through the top of the cooler while leaving the cooler closed and filled with water. This would help by drastically slowing down evaporation and increasing efficiency. After creating the hole in the lid, I filled the hollow cooler lid with expandable foam. This was a bit messy!
I had purchased a choice grade T-bone steak on the same trip to the supermarket that I bought the cooler. It was a good sized steak at 1.5 lbs, and I have to say it was a damn good looking piece of beef! To prepare my T-bone steak for cooking, I rubbed it on both sides with garlic salt, fresh ground pepper, dried rosemary from my wife's garden, and dried thyme. I then carefully slid it into a FoodSaver vacuum seal bag, making sure not to smear meat juices and seasoning all over the inside of the bag. Before I sealed up the T-bone, I slid several pats of butter down into the bag, spacing them somewhat evenly around both sides of the T-bone. Then I vacuumed the air from the bag and sealed up the steak to sit in the 'fridge until it was time to start cooking dinner.
Roughly an hour and a half before I wanted dinner to be on the table, I prepared the sous vide by filling up the modified cooler with hot tap water, inserting the Anova Precision, and setting it to 130°F using the Anova app on my phone. The Anova warmed the water bath up quickly with its 1000 watts of power! Once I heard the alert from the Anova Precision that the water was up to temperature, I placed the sealed T-bone steak into the water bath, and then pinched the top of the vacuum sealed bag in the lid of the cooler as I buttoned it up before setting the Anova app to cook the steak for an hour and a half.
Ready to cook!
Things started to get a bit sideways towards the end of the cook with a hungry and antsy wife waiting to eat. Five minutes before the timer was to shut off the Anova, I elected to stop it early so I could get dinner on the table a little quicker. I cut open the vacuum sealed pouch and pulled the steak out and into a hot frying pan with butter; at this point the steak wasn't all that attractive, yet. After a few seconds, I flipped the T-bone over, and hit the lightly seared side with a torch to give it a perfect sear. A few more seconds later, it was time for anther flip and sear with the torch. Then I removed the T-bone from the pan to a cutting board for carving.
Into a pan for searing. It's not that attractive at this point...
...but that can be fixed with fire!
So how was it? It was pretty damn good! It was very juicy and had a lot of flavor. I wish had done it at a slightly lower temperature (maybe 128°F) for a little less time (maybe one hour and fifteen minutes). At a lower temperature, I think it would have been a little closer to the perfect medium rare that I prefer my steaks and with a little less time in the water bath I'm wondering if I would have had a slightly firmer bite.
All sliced up and ready to serve!
It was very juicy and very flavorful!
While I'm pretty happy with the results, I definitely need to fool around with this method of cooking a lot more to improve on the results. I am also really excited about exploring the possibilities as far as learning how to prepare other dishes with the Anova Precision. The Anova app has a ton of recipes; covering the usual suspects like beef, poultry, and fish. But the app also has a lot of surprises like infused cocktails and deserts. I can't wait to delve into those!