Introduction: 'Sous Vide' With No Special Equipment
If you are a foodie like me, you've certainly heard of "sous vide" but the equipment can be cost prohibitive if you are on a budget (also like me).The main advantage of sous vide are that the meat (or veggies) cook completely through at the same temperature, unlike cooking with conventional methods in which the outside of your food gets too hot/cooked by the time the inside reaches ideal temp. It's also much easier to plan a whole meal and get the timing right, since you can leave the food in the water bath longer than necessary with no adverse effects while the rest of your meal cooks. I decided to try to Macgyver myself a set up to see if 'sous vide' really is the ultimate cooking method.*
*I do want to elaborate that this method doesn't circulate the water constantly like in a true sous vide cooker, but manually circulating the water occasionally seemed to do just fine. I also do not own a vacuum sealer, and I am sure some one out there will be quick to point out that sous vide is cooked in vacuum sealed bags.. I have cooked this way on several occasions and it came out perfect every time.
Step 1: Gather Your Equipment
You will need a cooler and a thermometer.
I also used some floral wire and some packing tape. If you have a fancy thermometer (it's on my christmas wish list) you can skip the floral wire.
I also used a large pot to heat water on my stove, but this could be done in any way you choose :microwave, stovetop, campfire (yes you CAN use this method while camping!)
Step 2: Set Up Your "cooker"
I wrapped the floral wire around the thermometer and hooked it over the side of the cooler to suspend the thermometer near the top of the cooler.
Pour HOT water into the cooler about half way , then add cool water until you reach the desired temp (135 degrees is a perfect medium rare steak in my mind. This temp works well on most cuts of beef but if you are preparing a traditionally tough steak cut, you will want to use a higher temp)
( I found a comprehensive guide on sous vide temperatures and cook times for most cuts of meat here )
Step 3: Prep Your Meat
I marinated my steaks first , then used water displacement to seal each steak in an individual bag.
To do this:
1.fill your sink with water
2.place the meat in a bag without sealing the top, slowly sink the bag under the water (being careful not to let water seep in the open top) until only the zipper part of bag is above the water.
3.Now seal it.
This produces something similar to a vacuum seal, if you have a vacuum sealer feel free to use it instead.
Step 4: Place Steaks Inside the 'cooker'
I used tape to secure the bags to the outside of the cooler so they would stay in place even when I checked water temp/manually circulated the water. Close the lid. Check the water temp periodically (add more hot water if necessary and give the water a stir to prevent any 'hot/cold spots'). Steaks at the size pictured take about 45 minutes to cook (but the magic of sous vide is, they wont overcook leaving them in longer)
For me I like using this method if I have things to do that leave me unsure about what time I'll get home, but I don't want to end up eating dinner at 9 pm. I can leave the meat in the "cooker" without any worries of overcooking, or leaving the oven/stove on while I'm out. I prepare side dishes before I leave, and then when I get home I can have a full dinner on the table in just a few minutes (searing the steak and reheating side dish)
Step 5: Sear and Serve.. Mmmmmm
Sear your steaks in a hot skillet or on a grill for a minute on each side on high heat. (this step is mostly just for aesthetics).Serve and bask in the glory of a perfectly cooked steak.
(shameless pandering= If you like my instructable, please vote for me in current contest!)
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