Sous vide sear perfection

About a week and a half ago, freshly recovered from my cold (not to where my chest congestion had cleared out and I’d stopped coughing at night, because that hasn’t happened yet), I decided I was craving steak. I made that decision on Friday, just before a vicious winter storm hit, when I wanted an excuse to get out of the house and grocery shopping was just the ticket. Didn’t make the steak till Sunday, though.

My plan all along was to broil the darn thing, but when it got closer I realized: I’d much rather have the perfect doneness of sous vide cooking and take my chances trying to get a nice sear on it. The sear has never really worked out well for me before, because my kitchen doesn’t have a smoke hood or a fan to draw the smoke outside.

So I partially filled a stock pot with hot water and fired up my first-gen Anova immersion circulator, then put my lovely New York strip steak (sitting out for about 15 minutes first to warm up to room temperature) into a gallon freezer bag and used the water displacement method to get the air out, because I was too lazy to use the Foodsaver. (My kitchen being small, the Foodsaver does not enjoy permanent counter residence.) I let it go a little over an hour at 133° for a good medium steak.

After cooking I blotted the steak dry with paper towels, then seasoned the steak liberally with kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and granulated garlic. But this time to sear it, I threw some ghee into the 10″ Orgreenic pan, got that up on high heat for about a minute, and then put in the steak—most recently seasoned side first, since it would be driest—for a minute to a side, covering the pan to reduce smoke. At the end I did the sides a little bit. The sear actually came out perfect. For my sous vide experience this was a first.

So one major lesson learned here: always sear in ghee. Being essentially butter it adds a much nicer flavor than other oils or fats, but unlike straight butter it can handle the heat. Although I have bacon fat I could use too, I suspect it would not do well in the heat.

Since this however, I discovered a YouTube channel called Sous Vide Everything, and I’ve learned some really interesting things. In particular, I found out that seasoning the steak first is more worthwhile than I realized; the salt in particular is important and will help keep things juicier. Seasoning beforehand with garlic powder, or better still minced garlic, will also help the flavor. (So now you know I’m doing minced garlic next time.) And putting butter into the bag is a horrendous idea because fat will absorb the beef’s flavor. Also they tend to cook their steaks longer, like two hours, and that could only improve the texture.

The only problem now is, I only think about another steak at night when I’m cruising cooking videos online. Lately my sleep has been so messed up from congestion that when I face the light of day, I think about making a steak and say: Nahhh. I went to Wegmans on Sunday and didn’t buy a new steak. And yes, I am ashamed.

About Lummox JR

Aspiring to be a beloved supervillain
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