Sous vide and other methods
- Sous vide gives you total control over temperature.
- For a tasty surface, brown after water bath.
- Smoking meat is not for amateurs, but home solutions do exist.
- Curing is easy, getting the flavors right is trickier.
- Make steak tartare from the core of the cut.
There are plenty of ways denature meat – cook – mest. Some are very, very old, some are quite recent...
Sous vide is French for “under vacuum”. The method involves cooking meat at a low and steady temperature in an airtight plastic bag submerged in water. The vacuum conserves the meat and the water bath allows for perfect control over the cooking temperature and doneness of the meat protein.
Many chefs will tell you that sous vide is an unrivaled way to preserve the flavor, juices and weight of the meat. For large scale caterers that produce hundreds or thousands of portions on a daily basis, sous vide is an excellent method for guaranteeing a consistent first-rate result. The method – and the equipment necessary – is now making its way into private kitchens.
Sous vide equipment for home use can be found in well-equipped kitchen stores. Smaller vacuum machines for private kitchens are, unfortunately, seldom as effective as professional ones. The equipment used to maintain an even temperature in a water bath is simpler and cheaper.
A common technique is to bring the meat – very slowly – to a perfect internal temperature overnight (internal temperature in this case meaning the same cooking result throughout the entire cut of meat). Then you take it out and add a tasty surface in a pan or on a grill just before serving.
With this method the entire cut is perfectly cooked just as you want it – and has the tasty surface you expect on cooked meat, too.
The art of smoking meat
Cooking meat by smoking it is not the same thing as adding smoke flavors by using a lid on your barbecue. It is a complicated process that adds flavor, cooks and conserves the meat. it requires a lot of skill.
Meat for smoking should preferably contain large amounts of tasty fat and come from older animals. The smoke must not be too hot or it will dry out the meat, making the taste too salty. Thorough preparation with salt and sugar is just as important as the actual smoking process.
Traditional smoke houses require a lot of patience (not least from your neighbours) and lots of knowhow and practice. But you can find digital smokers that simplify the process and give you better control over the result. Why not give it a try?
Curing meat is easy
Lean and tender cuts of beef work best for curing. Most important for a tasty result is a perfect balance between sugar and salt. Recipes will give you a good indication of how to do it, but expect to try a few before you get it right.
An advantage with cured meat is the easy handling when serving it.
Raw beef – steak tartare
High quality beef can be eaten raw as tartare. On an intact cut of meat any bacteria will be found only on the surface – not least if it has been hang tenderized. For this reason the outer layers of the cut should be removed before you make mince. To be on the safe side the entire cut can be dipped in boiling water, and then ice, to stop the process, before the outer layers are removed.
Tartare should contain some fat – for taste – and be eaten immediately, but it should not be cold when served. Cold fat lacks flavor and is not a pleasant experience in the mouth.
Original tartare is actually made by scraping/rasping the meat into a shredded pulp with a knife.