I get a lot of great questions from my readers. In order to help out everyone else I'm answering some of the most popular ones here on the blog. Have something you need help with? You can
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In this episode of Ask Jason, Doug asks: "Is one better, a water bath or a stick circulator for sous vide?" That's a good question and part of it depends what you're trying to accomplish. I've used several water baths and they work really well. For most cooks and most uses a water bath (i.e. the Sous Vide Supreme) and a stick circulator (i.e. Anova, ChefSteps Joule or Gourmia) work just as well as each other.
In this episode of Ask Jason, Cody asked "Thoughts on cold smoking and sous vide?" Jason responded: I haven't done any real cold smoking with sous vide. I've used the smoking gun some but it is different. The smoking gun normally doesn't contribute as much smoke flavor as real cold smoking would do.
In this episode of Ask Jason, Paul asked:"Schnitzel and sous vide, how does this work when you pound thin, sous vide, then fry. Is it worth sous viding it? Jason answered: It definitely works. Cole Wagoner did one a few weeks ago and said it was brilliantly crispy. I've done both sous vide chicken parmesan and chicken piccata, but not schnitzel.
In a recent Live Q & A session, Chris Asked Jason "Can I have a little bit of help about cooking a whole turkey?" Jason responded: There's a good Facebook thread in the group talking about different methods of cooking a whole turkey. I personally never cook sous vide whole turkeys. Normally, I break them apart because I prefer the white meat sous vided at 140°F (60°C) and the dark meat at 148°F (64.4°C). It's also a little bit easier to handle the individual parts than an entire turkey. The same goes for chicken as well.
Christopher asked Jason: "What are your recommended times and temperatures for smoking and then sous viding a prime rib."
There's been a lot of talk lately about sous viding and smoking. Darrin Wilson runs a great Facebook group called Fire and Water Cooking which covers both smoking and sous vide. I recommend you check out his group if you're looking for some good tips about stuff like this.
Owen asked Jason: Why Does My Sous Vide Chicken Roulade Come Out Stringy?
I haven't done any chicken roulade, but I've made a decent amount of turkey roulade which is pretty similar and I've cooked a whole lot of chicken breasts. I'm not sure if you were using white meat or dark meat in the roulade or what sous vide temperature you used.
Cheryl asked Jason: "Your article talks about calculating pasteurization times for slabs, but what about ground meat? Can you go over how to read your timing ruler? I want to understand pasteurization better. Sometimes I just need to pasteurize the meat and not tenderize it, other times I want to do both. Is the pasteurization only without factoring in time for tenderizing that I don't understand?"
Mike Asked Jason: Another challenge for me has been getting creative with vegetables. I love your sweet and spicy carrots recipe, especially the convenience of dumping everything into the bag to cook and then you just put it straight on the plate and you don't do anything else with it.
There are a lot of vegetable recipes you can do that with as long as you don't mind them being a little watery.
Remember my 80% good enough mantra? When I'm cooking for a basic weeknight meal, I don't want to spend extra time and dirty more pots. I'll throw some vegetables in a sous vide bag with a little bit of olive oil or butter and a few herbs and spices. I'll cook them through until they're tender, put them on the plate and serve. I find besides being really flavorful, they're healthy to eat and the vegetables are perfectly cooked. It's a good way to kind of maximize my "golden rule".
My local stores and butchers don't carry much tri-tip meat, so I've only cooked it a few times. So I turn to sirloin steak and strip steak as a replacement meat. Unfortunately, I don't have many personal good tips for tri-tip specific, but I know a lot of people who love it. It's my understanding that you sous vide tri-tip to a steak-like temperature. You could select 131°F (55°C) if you like a medium rare steak. Some people enjoy tri-tip just heated through for 2 or 3 hours but others like to cook it a little bit longer to tenderize it.
Timm Kuster says "We need more pickled vegetables on our plates!" That's a good comment because I also think pickled vegetables are great. I didn't do much pickling until my last cookbook Amazing Food Made Easy: Healthy Sous Vide. In that one I did 2 different pickled vegetable recipes and it showed me just how easy it is to use sous vide for pickling.
This is a really great question! We get in this kind of echo chamber when discussing the use of sous vide cooking. I feel there's two opposite groups of people. There's the one side who thinks sous vide is completely overrated; it can't do anything that you can't do with traditional cooking. Then there's the camp who thinks you should sous vide everything. You've probably seen the extreme of that in the once or twice a year joke post about "my popcorn is going in the sous vide machine".
A lot of people are disappointed cooking fish with sous vide and I think that's because there's several ways to prepare fish. Two of the main ones are more gently cooked methods like poached or steamed fish, and higher heat methods like grilled or pan-fried fish. I believe sous vide works great for some but not all fish preparations.
How do you reheat sous vide food? I have some sous vide time and temperature charts that talk about heating your food or pasteurizing your food; it all applies to tender foods. If you've cooked something ahead of time, it's now considered a tender food.
Searing is one of those things that some people have no problem with it and other people really struggle with it all the time. There's a lot of things you can do to help increase your success and there's many different searing methods to choose from.
There is a lot of discussion about whether or not you should add butter, oil, or other fats to your sous vide bag. Here's a look at some of the issues so you'll know how to maximize your flavor. The butter argument depends on what type of protein you are cooking, so I'll address meat and fish separately.
Both Costco and my butcher regularly sell meat that is prepackaged in cryovac packages, is it safe to sous vide these store bought packages? Or do I need to repackaged them before cooking? It seems like it would work fine but I wasn't sure. - Jonathan
Out of all of the questions I'm asked, this is probably the most common one! It makes sense because the allure of buying some pre-sealed meat, placing it directly in the sous vide machine, and having a great meal is so enticing. Unfortunately, as with most common questions, the answer really is "It Depends".
It's definitely harder to keep sous vide food hot for as long as traditionally cooked food. This is in large part due to the temperature differences inside the meat that result from the different cooking methods.
The latest Ask Jason articles answers "How does the amount of food I add to sous vide affect the cook time?" and "How many chicken breasts can I put in one sous vide bag?". Click through to find out the answers!
There are so many different things you can do with a sous vide machine that it can be hard to figure out what you want to try first. I think there's two categories of sous vide foods, things you can use sous vide to cook better, and things you can only do with sous vide. Here's some of my favorite things to do sous vide.
While a chambered vacuum sealer is the best way to do sous vide, they are several hundred dollars and overkill for many home kitchens. Many people turn to FoodSaver-type sealers, which can be convenient but they are expensive to buy bags for and can't really be used with liquids. So what is a home cook to do?
Based on my testing while I was writing my book, I answer the following questions:
Hey Jason, which size of whipping siphon should I get? I'm looking at either the .5 liter or the 1 liter, what do you think is best? Do I need to get the iSi Thermo siphon? I'll normally be cooking for 4-10 people, if that matters.
One of the most common questions we get asked about our sous vide recipes is some variation of "the recipe says to cook it for 3 to 6 hours, but when is it actually done".
The short answer is that anytime within the given range the food is "done". As long as the food has been in the waterbath for more than the minimum time and less than the maximum time, then it is done. There isn't a specific magical moment of true doneness that can be generalized.
For those that want more information, here's the explanation why.
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