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Meat texture issues with Sous Vide Cooking


John Setzler
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I hear a lot of folks talking about 'mushy' texture with steaks when using the sous vide cooking technique.  I have noticed it on some steaks and not others and I think it depends largely on the quality and thickness of the meat.  I have had less issues with thicker steaks than with thinner ones.  I think I am beginning to understand the problem.

 

I like to season my steaks in the bag before the sous vide cook so those seasonings can penetrate the meat more thoroughly during the sous vide cook.  The problem here is that salt is a tenderizer and I believe the addition of salt to this process could possibly be over tenderizing some steaks during a sous vide cook.  Next time you want to cook a steak using sous vide, leave the salt out until you are ready to sear on the grill.  Go ahead and add your other seasonings that do NOT include salt in the sous vide bag and see what happens.   I think you will get a better result.

 

This only applies to beef.  Continue cooking pork and chicken with salt in the sous vide bag.

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I did a chicken recipe that came with my anova. It was ok, but the texture was very soft and kind of rubbery. I haven't had a chance to do anything else yet. I can't tell if I'm just not that excited about sous vide. I need to try it again since I actually ordered some powdered smoke flavor stuff for one of the recipes I have. As a side note, that stuff smells really good and I might incorporate that into some of my rubs.

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An interesting concept John. I've not noticed any cut of beef cooked sous vide becoming mushy.  I generally use salt, pepper and  a touch of garlic or cayenne to my beef before cooking but will try eliminating salt to see if there is a noticeable difference. For what it's worth, my steaks are generally and inch and a half in thickness only because I like a fairly thick hunk of meat.  Question though. Why do you say to not reduce salt on pork or chicken?

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I did a chicken recipe that came with my anova. It was ok, but the texture was very soft and kind of rubbery. I haven't had a chance to do anything else yet. I can't tell if I'm just not that excited about sous vide. I need to try it again since I actually ordered some powdered smoke flavor stuff for one of the recipes I have. As a side note, that stuff smells really good and I might incorporate that into some of my rubs.

You need to experiment with different cook times and temps. Those make a big difference in the texture of the meat.

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1 hour ago, aljoseph said:

An interesting concept John. I've not noticed any cut of beef cooked sous vide becoming mushy.  I generally use salt, pepper and  a touch of garlic or cayenne to my beef before cooking but will try eliminating salt to see if there is a noticeable difference. For what it's worth, my steaks are generally and inch and a half in thickness only because I like a fairly thick hunk of meat.  Question though. Why do you say to not reduce salt on pork or chicken?

 

I don't believe the salt has the same effect on chicken. It might on pork but I have cooked several pork loin roasts via sous vide and none of them have been over tenderized.  The chicken always comes out the same no matter what I put on it...

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8 hours ago, Jackerman said:

I did a chicken recipe that came with my anova. It was ok, but the texture was very soft and kind of rubbery. I haven't had a chance to do anything else yet. I can't tell if I'm just not that excited about sous vide. I need to try it again since I actually ordered some powdered smoke flavor stuff for one of the recipes I have. As a side note, that stuff smells really good and I might incorporate that into some of my rubs.

 

I cook bonleless/skinless chicken breasts at 140° for 2 to 2.5 hours.  They are perfect.  You could let them go even longer if needed without any issues.  I have let them go as long as six hours.

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1 hour ago, John Setzler said:

 

I cook bonleless/skinless chicken breasts at 140° for 2 to 2.5 hours.  They are perfect.  You could let them go even longer if needed without any issues.  I have let them go as long as six hours.

 

I agree.  

 

This week my wife asked me what I have done differently with the SV chicken because the last two dinners have been perfect. I explained that when short on time, I have sliced the chicken and added it to a hot skillet.  I wanted to brown the surface, but there is so much moisture in the breast meat that is just cold down. Her response" that explains it, SV chicken has been too moist.  This way is perfect."  

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Johns guess is right, you do not want to sous vide steaks with salt.  Add the salt before searing or torching.  You'll like the results/texture so much more.  You can add flavorings, like Garlic, rosemary etc., just skip the salt until the last step.    

 

This doesn't apply to tougher cuts, like short ribs, oxtails, shanks, etc.  I sous vide in a seasoned liquid with these cuts.

Pork shoulder and butts as well.

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  • 4 years later...

I had my first sous vide cooked steak yesterday and I must say I was disappointed. The tenderloin was 1 and 1/2’ thick. The meat was incredibly tender but definitely mushy. It lacked the texture I am used to when a good steak is grilled.

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30 minutes ago, Wally777 said:

I had my first sous vide cooked steak yesterday and I must say I was disappointed. The tenderloin was 1 and 1/2’ thick. The meat was incredibly tender but definitely mushy. It lacked the texture I am used to when a good steak is grilled.

 

This is a problem when the sous vide bath goes too long or when there is too much salt added to the meat prior to going into the bag.  I have YET to have a sous vide steak that I like better than the way I normally cook them.

 

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1 hour ago, Wally777 said:

I had my first sous vide cooked steak yesterday and I must say I was disappointed. The tenderloin was 1 and 1/2’ thick. The meat was incredibly tender but definitely mushy. It lacked the texture I am used to when a good steak is grilled.

If you watch the movie Burnt, among the other plot points you’l see a conflict of old school pan in the flame cooking matched against the modern sous vide techniques from a Resturant chef’s perspective. While I can easily understand how sous vide would be extremely useful when preparing multiple meals off a menu, I prefer old school fire and smoke myself. With sous vide I think you gain the ease and consistency of a  mostly fool proof  cooking method  that can turn out dozens of steaks at a perfect 120 degs just waiting to be seared, but in the process, loose the thoughtful zen of cooking over fire.

 

 

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1 hour ago, keeperovdeflame said:

With sous vide I think you gain the ease and consistency of a  mostly fool proof  cooking method  that can turn out dozens of steaks at a perfect 120 degs just waiting to be seared, but in the process, loose the thoughtful zen of cooking over fire.

 

 

 

yessssssssss...... perfect.

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  • 2 months later...
On 7/28/2021 at 5:21 PM, keeperovdeflame said:

If you watch the movie Burnt, among the other plot points you’l see a conflict of old school pan in the flame cooking matched against the modern sous vide techniques from a Resturant chef’s perspective. While I can easily understand how sous vide would be extremely useful when preparing multiple meals off a menu, I prefer old school fire and smoke myself. With sous vide I think you gain the ease and consistency of a  mostly fool proof  cooking method  that can turn out dozens of steaks at a perfect 120 degs just waiting to be seared, but in the process, loose the thoughtful zen of cooking over fire.

 

 

First (non introduction) post on this site... Hi everyone!

 

I've been sous viding for years and I've come to the conclusion it's 100% this.  As with all techniques, SV works really well for those dishes/situations that accentuate the benefits and don't lose anything in the mix.  Mass prep, check.  Need for precise temp control (+/- 1 degree), check.

 

Sous vide retains so much moisture (which is good, in principle) but simply doesn't fit with a steak, for me.  I want serious maillard, juiciness and nicely seasoned meat.  Tenderness is a bonus but will depend on the cut and can anyway be "cheated" by slicing on the bias before plating.  SV helps with some of this but the wetness of the product, even after patting dry, counts against maillard and John's point about pre-seasoning is spot on.

 

I'm a big SV fan for many, many things (confit legs anyone?) and I love experimentation, but it's hard to beat a well pre-seasoned, reverse sear steak to simply nail everything.

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I have also ben using Sous Vide for several years and I agree with the others and never salt meat before the bath. I don't really like steaks done sous vide, for the reasons stated but for the tougher cuts it does a great job. I can take a piece of "London Broil" , just top round and cook it at 130º for 10 hrs, then sear it, either with a torch, or on the grill and it will come out almost like prime rib. I like the way boneless chicken breast comes out and also cook them at 140° but for a little less time then John, depending on the thickness fo the breasts. Sous Vide, like any other cooking method, has it's benefits and drawbacks. When used properly, it is a great addition to your cooking arsenal.  

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