In a previous post (viewtopic.php?f=30&t=40267#p348148) I mentioned that I had been experimenting with using sous vide for cooking food for shabbos. The time has now come to summarise the score so far.
Two dishes have been extremely successful, I shall start with the one which gave most problems: The challenge being to serve medium rare steaks on shabbos afternoon. The best cut we have found so far is what they call here in Israel 'tslaot', cut from the 10th rib of local fresh beef. I think it is usually called 'chuck steak' in english speaking countries, but it was not the same a I found on a diagram which I showed to our local butcher. I cut the meat into steaks about 1/2-3/4 inch thick, so each weighs about 150-200g. After smearing with a little olive oil, I sear them all over with a blowtorch until lightly browned. Using a griddle pan would give 'classic' stripes on the steaks, but as the 'action' happens on the underside of the meat, it is more diffucult to judge how long to sear it for. We do not wish to cook the meat at this stage, just to give it a grilled flavour and look on the outside. Next I season with herbs, garlic and some mustard powder. If I am in the mood I boil up some red wine and add that as well - I think it is important to boil off the alcohol as I have read that it can give sous vide cooked meat a metallic flavour. I then put the meat into vacuum bags. If I have used wine there is a good deal of liquid, which I pour into a foil container and put in the freezer until it is frozen (it is only a very shallow depth of liquid so it freezes solid in half an hour). I then put the meat and the frozen liquid into vacuum bags, add a slice of lime to each bag and put into the sous vide bath at 130 degrees Fahrenheit for 48 hours. The steaks come out tender, with a good (not mushy) texture and perfectly medium rare! It is important not to use too tender a cut of meat, as I have found that the texture goes mushy even after 20 hours cooking.
Next, much easier to get right was beef short ribs (flanken on the bone). I have done this with a home-made barbecue sauce, and with root vegetable and celery (which I browned a bit before cooking). Both worked out well (my wife does not like meat with sweet sauces, our adult children love it ...). This takes a day longer. To be ready for shabbos afternoon (our main meal on shabbos is seudo shelishis time - at this time of the year about 6pm) I put the ribs into the sous vide bath at 10pm on Wednesday night. Once again, I first smear the ribs all over with a little oil, sear with the blowtorch, and then put into the bags with the sauce. The sauce should, ideally, be frozen to prevent it messing up the vacuum machine. The ribs are melt-in-your-mouth tender, but with a proper texture, and medium rare. They will work out well, up to 134 degrees Fahrenheit, but the steaks come out very poorly at this temperature, and really only work out well at 130.