Skip going to some fancy steakhouse and impress your guests with restaurant-worthy steaks at home by cooking it using the sous vide method. Trust me, you’ll never want to cook steak any other way again!
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While there is a lot of hate surrounding red meat in the health-conscious world, I believe (and have been reassured by research) that red meat, especially grass-fed organic beef, can be a part of a healthy diet. Bry and I treat it like a decadent dessert by only indulging once or twice a month. And since we don’t eat red meat often, we want quality meat cooked to perfection. Unfortunately we’ve found that it’s incredibly difficult to cook perfectly medium-rare steaks at home as one steak ends up more done than another, and the steaks just overall aren’t as juicy as those you get at a steakhouse. We will never have this problem again thanks to sous vide cooking.
French for “under vacuum,” sous vide cooking involves placing food in a plastic bag and cooking it in a water bath that is held at a target temperature using a sous vide circulator. The result: a steak that is perfectly medium-rare (or any temperature of choice) all the way through. No over-cooked ends while the middle is too rare, which I find happens far to easily when grilling steak. Plus, since the food is held at a specific temperature, there is no concern for over-cooking your steak. Yup, you can keep you steak in the water for up to four hours in most cases and it will still be a perfect pink in the center.
Another bonus of sous vide cooking: humidity. Thanks to the food being cooked in a bag surrounded by warm water, it creates a humid environment that essentially braises the food. So instead of watching the juices from your steak drip down into your grill, the steak retains all of that juicy flavor!
Before we get more into the how-to’s, if you aren’t a steak person there are many more reasons to look into sous vide cooking (all of which I am very excited to try!): fish, chicken, turkey breasts (hello Thanksgiving. . .), eggs (yes, eggs), turkey burgers, carrots, and more. Keep following The Healthy Toast for many of these recipe experiments to come!
So this recipes is the first “Bry Tries” on the blog (hopefully many more to come 😉 ). When putting together our registry, Bry surprised me and said we had to put a sous vide circulator on it, and he was over the moon when we actually got one. While we had never used one before, Bry knew he wanted to try it out for his mom’s birthday dinner last Saturday. Since I was out of town, Bry took on the project completely on his own. From the “stress” of grocery shopping at Whole Foods to all the prep work (including taking pictures for The Healthy Toast) to cooking, he was the official cook for the evening. And he blew it out of the water! Not only did the steaks come out perfectly, he also made roasted vegetables and a delicious peach crisp.
Steps to making a perfect, medium-rare steak using the sous vide method:
Step One: Buy your Steaks
- Choose a lean cut such as a top loin (boneless)
- Make sure the meat is no more than 1.5 inches thick and roughly 3/4 of a pound each
Step Two: Season the steak
- Keep it simple but cover generously. I just used salt and pepper.
- Definitely feel free to add an aromatic such as rosemary or sage
Step Three: Prepare the pot
- Fill a large pot 3/4 of the way up with water; I used a crockpot but a large pasta pot would work as well.
- I placed the pot on our stove, but you could also place it on a granite countertop.
Step Four: Vacuum-Seal
- While you can get an official vacuum sealer, they can get pricy and aren’t necessary. Instead, I used a large pot of water and gallon-sized freezer bags. For freezer bags, I highly recommend the double zip Ziplock bags as America’s Test Kitchen lists them as the best freezer bags on the market.
- Make sure to get all of the air out of the bag! I did this by placing a seasoned steak into one of the freezer bags, sealing up the bag until there is about an inch left on one side, then slowly lowering the bag into the pot of water (the air escapes from the unzipped portion). Don’t be afraid to move the steak around in the bag to get rid of some the air bubbles that will form around it. Continue to lower the bag until just the opened corner is above the water line. As you lower that corner in, seal the corner being careful not to let water into the bag. You have now vacuum-sealed your steak on the cheap 😉 !
Step Five: Attach Sous Vide Circulator to the pot
- Attach the circulator to the pot according to your circulator’s directions.
- At the bottom of the circulator are ports that allow water to flow in and out. It is very important that your plastic bags aren’t blocking these ports. If your pot is large enough this won’t be an issue, but I ended up placing a spatula in-between the bags and the circulator, which worked great!
Step Six: Set Ideal Temperature and Cook Time
Bry’s Tips: For a medium-rare cook, I had success with 129.5 but you could try up to 132 for no more than 2.5 hours. For a full temperature chart, check out Serious Eat’s Sous Vide Guide.
Step Seven: Sear your Steaks
Bry’s Tips: To get that nice steakhouse crust on your steaks, once the steaks are done cooking in the sous vide, remove from bags and sear in a pre-heated and buttered (or oiled) cast-iron skillet on all four sides (yes, a steak has four sides even at just 1.5 inches 😉 ).
Step Eight: Serve and Enjoy!
It sounds complicated, but if you go slow the first time you’ll get the hang of it after one cook! We already can’t wait to make our next dinner using the sous vide method 🙂
So here’s a toast to Bry’s successful try!
Want to sous vide? I recommend getting an Anova Sous Vide Circulator, which has bluetooth capabilities so you can monitor the time and temperature from your phone. Plus, the app contains some great recipe ideas to get you going.