A weekend in the life of a sous vide fanatic

In the Sous Vide Recipes Forum
This is a true weekend adventure in sous vide cooking. Follow along if you dare.

A few weeks ago:
Brad (my brother) and I make plans to get together on Labor Day weekend for some football, swimming, and some backyard grilling. Cool. A classic American celebration. Time to show off my sous vide cooking/grilling skills to my new roommates and my brother.

I work for the police department. My roommate Eric is a paramedic. My other roommate Andrew is a student. My brother (Brad) is a musician (and just back in Austin, fresh from LA). Our work shifts and sleeping schedules are often way off. But I am determined to get us all together (somehow) for a good ol' Texas Labor Day BBQ party.

The week before the holiday, I have a hard time getting in touch with my brother. With the weekend approaching quickly with no solid plans, I decide that baby back ribs will be perfect.

I've cooked sous vide baby back ribs dozens of times, and for several different lengths of times. I've done 16h, 24h, 48h, and 72h, as well as several in-between times. I was never disappointed. Each cooking time produces a different texture, but they are all delicious. So I am ready to grill at a moment's notice. My favorite is 48h.

I buy a nice looking rack of baby backs, cut it into 3 servings, give em a nice healthy dose of some awesome rub (Memphis Style Baby Back Ribs from Jason's book Sous Vide Help for the Busy Cook), seal them up, and chill them in the fridge. I also start a batch of Alton Brown's Firecrackers (spicy pickled carrots) and stash them in the beer fridge.

Work flies by. Along comes Friday night, and I'm still not sure when my brother will be visiting. Saturday, Sunday, or Monday? All I know is that he's not coming over tonight, and I'm hungry. I want to grill. Now.

So I buy a few pounds of 85% Ground Chuck on my way home. I make 6 thick patties, season them with a simple rub, bag em individually, and toss them in the fridge. A few hours later, I cook one (133F/2h) and it is delicious.

Saturday afternoon, we still don't have solid plans, so I throw the baby backs in the Sous Vide Supreme at 145F. I clean house a bit, scrub the grill, and take my dog for a swim. He's nervous but I think he enjoys it.

Finally, Saturday evening, Brad (my brother) calls and says he's coming over on Monday at 2 PM. Later, I find out that Eric (the paramedic) works 6 PM Sunday to 6 AM Monday, then 6 PM Monday to 6 AM Tuesday. Brutal. Andrew (the college student) will be around all weekend but has early classes on Tuesday. Eric says forget it, he doesn't have time to party on Monday. Andrew says he'll be there.

So, it's Saturday night, and I'm hungry again! Hey, I have the burgers, ready to drop into the bath! But wait, my SVS is full of ribs at 145F. Okay, no problem. I put the burgers into the freezer and look for something else more compatible with 145F.

I find a boneless skinless chicken breast I had cooked/chilled/frozen last month (Blackened Cajun Chicken from another of Jason's books, Beginning Sous Vide). I originally cooked the chicken at 140F, but 145F is close enough. I drop the chicken and some frozen SV'd broccoli in the SVS alongside the Baby Backs, but then get distracted watching college football for a few hours (Hook 'Em Horns!).

I finish watching the game and fire up the grill. The chicken (and broccoli) is great. Juicy, spicy, healthy and EASY. I wash my plate and ponder the wonders of sous vide before going to bed.

Sunday afternoon, Eric tells me he changed his mind. He'll be ready for some ribs at 2 PM Monday. Okay. Cool. But I only have 3 portions cooking, and they are all spoken for.

I go to the butcher and buy another rack. I return home and portion it into thirds. I rub em, vac em, label em "Sunday", and drop em into the SVS. There isn't much to see on TV, so I settle for some golf, which leads to an immediate nap on the couch. I have a vivid dream about a USDA Prime sirloin strip steak. Yes, really. This happens when you are a sous vide fanatic.

I wake up with a start, run back to the butcher before they close, (only 1 block away) and grab one. I cool the SVS to 135F (the ribs will be fine; this steak is IMPORTANT!), bag the steak and cook it for 1.5h. I pat it dry, then coat it with some kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, fresh ground Bhut Jolokia, and grapeseed oil, and sear the hell out of it at about 800F on my cast iron skillet. I make a huge smoky mess in the kitchen, but man, this is one delicious steak. I then steal one of Eric's Breckenridge Brewery Small Batch 471 IPAs, and it is also delicious. Which leads to an immediate bedtime. I set the SVS back to 145F. I leave the dirty dishes in the sink. Then, I sleep hardcore for about 10 hours.

Brad picks up some more beer and arrives around 2 PM. Eric is still sleeping. So we watch some more golf on TV, but I manage to stay awake this time. Andrew comes in around 3 PM saying he's getting really hungry ("Weren't we going to eat at 2?"). Eric is still sleeping. Okay, I'll drop in a few bags of corn on the cob. That buys Eric another 45 minutes.

The beer starts flowing and eventually, the music blares, we swim a bit, and time slips away. Eric walks out at 5 PM in uniform. He's really sorry about missing the party. Well, I guess he's going to miss the ribs, too. Tough luck.

Eric goes off to work, and I have an idea. I rearrange the SVS, moving the "Sunday" ribs to the bottom rack (they've only been there 24 hours!). Andrew, Brad and I don't have to wait anymore, so we get the grill smoking hot, char the corn, and smother the 48 hour ribs (from Saturday) in homemade BBQ sauce before tossing them on the grill.

And we eat. And the ribs are delicious. A pile of 13 perfectly clean rib bones accumulates on the table. Nobody speaks for 15 minutes.

We sample the Firecrackers (weird, but not bad), then drink some more, then swim some more. Later, I send Eric a text message: "Don't worry, I'll have more ribs ready tomorrow night at about 7 PM!"

I get home from a long, tough workday at 7 PM, ready to finish off that "Sunday" batch. Eric is sleeping. I'm starving but I promised Eric I would cook some ribs for him. Fortunately, he wakes an hour later and begs for dinner. I chill/freeze one bag and we grill the last two. We don't need any sides. He goes back to sleep. I do the dishes, feed the dogs, do my laundry, pay some bills, then go to bed.

Work goes by quickly. I get home and find an empty house. It's quiet. I walk past the SVS. The poor thing. After 6 straight days of cooking, its normally bright LED display is dark, and it's finally getting the rest it deserves.

So I make a ham and cheese sandwich, grab a bag of greasy potato chips, and smile as I leave the kitchen.

I love sous vide.

5 Replies So Far

Haha, sounds like an awesome weekend Blake! I'm glad you're enjoying the recipes from the books as well!
Thanks for the diary, Blake, it helps me to figure out how I will use my Sous Vide when it comes.

So what is the deal with all of this broccoli? Is it just plain? Does it come out better SV than steamed? Or is it just the convenience of it being prepared ahead?

Got any ideas for how to win my son over to SV? He does most of the cooking in our household. When I first mentioned SV, he commented about "food poisoning"...

Yeah, that was kind of a crazy week and the SVS came in handy. Most days, I'm just cooking or reheating a portion or two.

I think the primary reason I eat so much SV broccoli is that it's just so easy. But yes, it is always very tasty. I usually add butter or olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper, and it always comes out great.

I think there are two ways to win over your son. First, cook some baby back ribs or pulled pork or a nice steak and let him experience the difference and see the convenience. But to be honest, he will probably not go for it until he learns more about it. If he's concerned about bacteria, see if he will read a little of Douglas Baldwin's food safety information. Let us know how it goes!
Thanks for the reply, Blake.

Well it turned out I didn't need to do anything to win my son over. I made my Hollandaise the afternoon my SideKIC arrived and the next day we did pork chops. He went from sneering to being a Sous Vide nut. Everything has come out great. Asparagus is fantastic!
I have been meaning to join in for some time, I love sous Vide also.
My wife was very skeptical to say the least, the cost of the unit, the possible excessive energy consumption ....
All she can say now is WOW, that was EXCELLENT !

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