A “Cooler” Way to Cook a Steak

One of  the cool, hip ways to cook these days is Sous Vide – cooking vacuum packed food in a controlled waterbath for extended periods of time.  Among the advantages are that you can cook and hold food at a set temperature without fear of overcooking it.  Set your water bath to 130, the temperature for medium rare beef, drop your vacuum packed steak in, wait 45 minutes and it’s done! Among the disadvantages is, first and foremost, the price.  A Sous Vide Supreme machine will run you $450.  Add to that a vacuum sealer (not expensive, but also not a common kitchen appliance) and you have a pretty high price to get started.

Unless you can find a cheaper way, that is.  When I ran across this post from Serious Eats on how to use a cooler and a ziplock bag to mimic a sous vide machine, I knew I had to give it a try. So here’s experiment 1 of the sous vide experience.

Here’s where it all started. A standard coleman drink cooler.  Don’t worry, I washed it out.  Well, I rinsed it a little.

I seasoned the steaks and put them in ziplock bags, squeezing out as much air as I could. Then it was off to the water bath!

Nice and snug for the next hour! Note the probe to keep tabs on the water.  It dropped a bit at the start, so I removed some water and heated it in the microwave and put it back in. Once it came to temp it stayed within 1-2 degrees for well over an hour.

I kept it around 140 – medium. I like mine medium rare (130), but I was cooking for Krystal as well. How did they turn out?  Glad you asked!

They came out a lovely shade of grey!  Not very tasty looking, but a quick (and I mean quick – 1 minute a side) stop in a HOT cast iron skillet and they looked great!

The sear looked great! And it looked even better inside!

It was cooked through and even. And the taste was amazing – the flavors really penetrated deep.

In conclusion – I would say this was a great success!  I’ll do it again (already planning it) with very few changes.  I would probably start with my water a little above temp since it dropped when I added  the cool steaks. (I could just let the steaks come to room temp, too.) I also like that I could have let the steaks stay in for hours with little change and may use that to my advantage by having my meat cooked well beforehand.  Chicken and fish as well as burgers are on my radar to give a try. Who knows, maybe a sous vide pulled pork may make an appearance.

It may be unusual, but it’s worth the try.  Give it a shot an you too might discover a ‘cooler’ way to cook! (I know, bad pun, but I couldn’t resist!)

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