Sous what? If you don't watch Top Chef and you're not a bigtime foodie, you might not have ever heard of sous vide before. Without going into long and boring detail, sous vide is essentially a technique where you vacuum seal the food you're cooking, then immerse it in very carefully temperature controlled water that's at the temperature you want your food to be when it's done. Until recently, it was a technique that was primarily done in very fancy kitchens, because the equipment to keep water so carefully controlled (the temperature varies less than 1 degree F) was extremely expensive. There have been some ways to do it with less expensive gear, but it usually involved several pieces of equipment or didn't quite give the right level of temperature control.
In March of this year, the first consumer-targeted sous vide machine hit the market. It's not particularly inexpensive, but we decided it would be my 10th anniversary/33rd birthday/Father's Day gift this year. I have all sorts of ideas of things I want to cook in it, but the first thing I wanted to make was filet mignon. We had a couple frozen filets from Omaha Steaks in the freezer, and since the only difference between frozen and thawed in this technique is how long you cook them, I decided to go for it.
I don't have a fancy vacuum sealer, and based on today's results, I'm pretty sure I don't need one. I bought a Ziploc pump and vacuum seal bags at the grocery store, and both the vacuum and the seal were great. The steaks stayed under water the whole time, which is extremely important to get the temperature exactly right.
When the steak came out of the sous vide cooker, it didn't have the nice crust that you'd get from grilling/broiling/pan-frying it. This is fixed with a quick sear, about 45 seconds per side, on a hot cast iron skillet. The end result: the best steak I've ever made, hands down. It was super tender and perfectly cooked all the way through. Next up: medium rare short ribs, cooked for 48 hours.
- 2 6-ounce filet mignons
- Extra-light olive oil
- Lightly coat the filets with oil, then rub salt and pepper on both sides.
- Place filets individually in vacuum bags, seal them, and suck out all the air.
- Cook at 138F for 1-2 hours.
- Just before removing from sous vide machine, heat oil in a cast iron skillet until almost smoking.
- Remove meat from sous vide machine, take it out of the bags, and sear for approximately 45 seconds on each side.
While it's basically impossible to overcook something with the sous vide technique, it's not recommended to cook tender cuts for longer than 4 hours. If you want to finish the food at a different time than you prep it, take the bags out of the sous vide machine and put them in an ice bath until chilled, then move to the refrigerator or freezer. When you're ready to serve, remove from fridge/freezer and bring back up to heat in the sous vide machine, then sear.