Sunday, April 13, 2014


I love Tri-Tip!!! Enough said. You notice the font I chose for the title? Big and bold!!!! A Tri-Tip cooked and carved properly is a poor man Prime-Rib. This is relatively easy to Sous-Vide. Choose a temp, time and sear the outside and your done. This particular blog is more about the techniques of Sous-Vide rather than a suggested recipe.  
The meat, naked as a jay bird!!! 24 hours in advance apply salt to the meat and place in zip-lock bags. This is called a dry-brine. This blog is about Sous-Vide so I am not going to talk about the advantage of Dry-Brine's however I suggest you do it and read about it HERE
Season the meat with what every you like. I chose fresh cracked pepper, granulated garlic, onion flakes and fresh thyme. 
Vacuum sealed and ready for the water bath. 
Preheat your water bath to your desired temp. 

Meat Cooked at 129 degrees for 6 hours but would have been satisfactory at 3 hours maybe. 
Take Tri-Tip out of bags and reserved liquid for a sauce if so desired. Meat cooked and ready for the next step.
I cranked up my BBQ to an intense heat and readied the Tri-Tip for the next phase. I applied extra seasonings and my favorite BBQ sauce and seared the hell out the Tri-Tip. After the flaming I let the steak rest and carved against the grain. 

My final thoughts. Came out great. I might try 131 degrees next time. 

UPDATE: 5/24/14. 
Marinated Tri-Tip with a dry rub 24 hours in advance while vacuumed sealed. OUTSTANDING RESULTS.
I cooked the Tri-Tip at 132 degrees for 6 hours and blasted it on the grill until darkened and caramelized.  This is my definitive way of making Sous-vide Tri-Tip for now on. 

UPDATE: 3/27/2015
133 at 9 hours produced phenomenal results.

How to Carve a TRIP-TIP

Duck Sous-Vide Pastrami

Muscovy Duck Pastrami

Yup, that's what I am making!! I've been criticized in the past for posting pictures of what we eat but that's not gonna stop me!! Most people don't know what their food looks like or where it comes from. So with my blogs I am hoping to share a little bit of insight and hopefully know how. I am not on a crusade or anything but I think we should respect the process. Oh by the way these Muscovy Duck Breasts were free range and organically raised. 

If you love beef pastrami you will love Duck pastrami. I chose Muscovy Duck Breasts to make my Pastrami. My reasoning for choosing this Species of Duck was the percentage of duck fat it carries. A Muscovy duck breast has about 18% fat, the Peking duck breast has about 29% and the Moulard is a cross between the Muscovy and the Pekin.

To be honest I wasn't planning on making pastrami with the duck but I had 8 duck breasts and I had to doing something with them. I decided, 4 for Pastrami, 2 for Prosciutto and 2 Smoked Salami's. These are original recipes so it's any one guess as to how they will turn out. Anyhow I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Note 1: The weight of meat plus fat is 100%. All ingredients to be added are expressed as a percentage of the weight of meat plus fat. Percentages can be used to standardize recipes regardless of batch size.  All weights are metric. 

Note 2: No weights are given because the weights of meats vary. Everything is a percentage of the meats weight after trimming. Example- Meat weight 2393 grams and we want to find out the amount of salt we need in grams- 2393 X 3.5%=83.755 or 2392/100 X 3.5 =83.755 grams. 

The first thing I did was measure out all the ingredients and put them in separate bowls. As you can see I used percentage based on meat weight. This makes replicating recipes very easy. Two of my ingredients make this Pastrami I think very unique. First I used Grains of Paradise instead of Black Pepper. Grains of Paradise has a peppery taste with hints of citrus. I also used Dark Muscovado Sugar instead of Brown sugar.  It's a molasses sugar that is very moist and gets its unique flavor from sugarcane juice. The other ingredients are pretty common. I decided to use a combination of spices that are common with both Beef and duck. Heck this is just an experiment. 

The first thing I did was combine the Salt and cure together and coat both sides of the Duck Breast rubbing it into every nook and cranny. Next I combine the rest of the ingredients and thoroughly coated both sides of Duck Breast. 

I Vacuumed sealed the breast and plan on flipping them every day for a week. At the end of the week it will be cured. 
I used equilibrium curing instead of excess salt curing. Excess salt curing is a technique where you cover the meat entirely in salt. 

Equilibrium curing is using exact amounts needed for the cure. 

"This method would be the Sous-Vide cooking of the curing world"Jason Molinari

Procedures after the curing process. Remove breast from bag and rinse under cold water removing as much as the cure as you can. Pat dry and apply Rub below.

Place the Grains of Paradise, Coriander, Juniper Berries, and Cloves (if using whole) and grind in a spice grinder. 

Apply Rub to both sides of the Duck.

Place Duck breast on smoker. I cold smoke breasts at an ambient temp outside of about 55 degrees using Apple pellets for about 2 1/2 hours.  I used a cold smoking device called A-MAZE-N-PELLET-SMOKER

After the cold smoking process I hot smoke the breast using charcoal and apple wood. Starting at a very low temp below 200 degrees and slowing bring it up to 225, I smoke the duck breasts until an internal temp of 145 degrees was reached. 

After they were done smoking I decided to Sous-Vide the breasts for 2 hours at 145 degrees to tenderize them. 

Final thoughts.  They were amazing and spot on. The only thing I would change is maybe is smoking them until an internal temp of 135 is reached instead of 145 degrees. 


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Boneless Leg of Lamb

Sous-Vide Boneless Leg of Lamb
This was my first try at Sous-Vide Lamb. I don't make Lamb very often but when I do I like the Low and Slow method.  Simply done....Sear the outside of the meat and cook in a 185-200 degree oven until an internal thermometer reads 131 degrees. Nice and pink is how I like my meat. 

Seeing how I have never cooked Lamb using the Sous-Vide method before I took to the internet for insight. Douglas Baldwin of Practical Guide to Sous-Vide Cooking  cooks his Leg of Lamb at 131 degrees for 24 hours. I have come across several blogs that have listed times from 8-12, 24, 26, 48 hours.  I have read posts that suggests 8-12 hours of cooking because of the enzymatic forces at work. Cooking too long can adversely affect texture of the meat dramatically making it too soft. I think it depends on the meat personally. Short Ribs is a good example where long cooks are necessary to dissolve connective tissue.

I never gave a lot of thought about the Lamb I bought until I started cooking Sous-Vide. You see I wanted to cook the perfect Lamb and this takes proper techniques and the right meat. My only recollections of Lamb came from childhood and my own culinary escapades. I never ate enough Lamb to consider all the particulars. I just remember that sometimes the Lamb I ate or roasted tasted gamier and sometimes not. I never thought of why until now. 

What you will find in stores are New Zealand, Australian and USA Lamb. From farm to farm, country to country they all taste just a little different from each other. There are many opinions as to what is better, American Lamb or the down-under Lamb. Hmmmm....This is what I say....Buy it , cook it and eat it and form your own opinion. I have come across several conflicting opinions online as to the gaminess of Lamb. I think there are several variables that you have to consider before you state absolutes about Lamb. Things to consider, Country of origin,  grass fed or grain fed, grain fed at the end, and breeds too. Some Aussie Lambs have been cross bred with American Lamb to make them bigger.  

Here is the general consensus. Down Under Lamb are smaller, contain less fat.  Having less fat makes them harder to cook.  They are grass fed (most of them) and are gamier. American Lamb cost a whole lot more than the Aussies Lamb and are bigger. Generally have more fat and are grass fed. Most of the time the American Lamb are sweeter too. Some Lamb are grain fed only depending on the farm in which they come from. Some rely solely on grain, some only get grain several weeks before being slaughter to fatten them up. Grain fed Lamb tend to be less gamy.  Again many things to consider before forming any absolutes. 

The Food Lab wrote a great article on Lamb and is a great read. 

I purchased my Australian Boneless Lamb from Costco for $4.99 a lb.  Down the road I am going to order several Boneless Leg of Lambs from online companies from across the country and compare them all to each-other. 
I used traditional spices for the Lamb.  I butterflied the Lamb open and created some additional pockets (making slits in the meat) in the meat to add extra paste flavor too.  Before applying the past I coated lamb with Salt and Pepper. I made a olive oil paste out of Olive oil,  Garlic, Rosemary, Thyme, Cilantro and Green onion.  My biggest mistake was not sauteing everything first. Cooking Sous-Vide at very low temperatures did not allow the sweetness of the garlic to come out which is normally done at higher temperatures. 

The tying process can be tricky because your goal is to create a perfect cylinder. 

Knowing how to tie a butcher's knot is helpful. I salted and peppered with outside and coated it with some of the paste.

All Vacuumed seal and ready for the water bath.

I set the Sous-Vide at 131 degrees and decided to cook for 26 hours. Here is a picture of it floating in the water bath.
After 26 hours it's finally done. It looks very unappealing due to the Sous-Vide's inability to produce the Maillard reaction. Easily remedied by a hot grill, Saute pan or butane torch.  

I used a Butane Torch to produce that very nice dark exterior that everyone is use to seeing.  I should mention that I foiled a pan and put a rack on top before I used the torch.  I wanted to avoid a fire. Additionally I removed the trussing string that held everything together.   

After completely browned I completed that rest of the dishes and with the reserved juices that were collect in the Vacuumed bag I made a sauce from. I simply sauteed a shallot, created a roux, de-glazed with the reserved juices and added a Veal Demi-Glace

Final thoughts. I was overall very happy with the Lamb but came away with this introspection. Everyone who makes Lamb has different temps and times for and at times are extremely different and most claim that it came out great. I think it is a matter of preference and most importantly where the Lamb came from. 

The tenderest parts of this lamb were located near the  larger fat pockets. The sections in which fat was scarce it was on the tougher side but still great. I might get entirely different results with a American Lamb or New-Zealand one. I will save that for my next blog.  

Update- 11/25/14- Retrospectively now having done this a couple of times I would say less is more. The stuffing was really overpowering and I needed to lose a lot less. Still trying to figure that out. To mellow out the stuffing cooking first (saute) is really necessary.