For this Thanksgiving, I want something different and something familiar at the same time. Something that you can remember from years past, and for years to come. To do this, I decided I would use a new technique on an old piece of meat. I decided beef tenderloin cooked sous vide was a good way to go. I never tried sous vide cooking before, but I knew a ton about preparing beef tenderloin.
Sous vide cooking is not really a new way of cooking. It is actually an old french method that has evolved into a catchy technique in the gastronome world. (For more information on sous vide cooking, go here.) In today's professional kitchens, chefs use scientific instruments called thermal immersion circulators to basically make a hot tub to cook food in. The food is first vacuum packed and then dropped in the hot water bath at a specific temperature. After a certain amount of time the food is cooked and ready to serve.
It does not stop there though. If you read my tempering post you might remember me explaining how exposing most foods to the least amount of heat possible will yield the best food possible. Sous vide is the best way to follow this guideline. When you sous vide a steak for example, you put it in a hot water bath at a temperature of around 135F. Assuming you have a good sous vide system, the water should stay at that temperature indefinitely. Meanwhile, your steak is basically sitting in that warm bath approaching and at some point, reaching that temperature of 135F or so. Once it reaches this temperature it just sits there at 135F and never goes over. Yes, this means you can never over cook your steak, or any food for that matter as long as you follow a good sous vide regimen.
To be completely candid, I did do one boo boo when making this. The water I used was at 140F and I left it in there too long. I really should have used 134F or 135F seeing as how I put it in the bath for 4 hours, but I was overly skeptical about this whole process from the beginning. (Yes I'll admit I had some reservations about cooking sous vide.) The meat was still tender and flavorful as ever, but the meat was too medium and not rare enough for me. I really wanted to see more of a red color and less of a pink color. That being said, I am going to recommend a hot bath of 135F and leaving the beef in there for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Again, you cant really ever over cook the meat during this stage, but to achieve maximum results, we want the beef to register 130-135F and then pull it out. Since there is little fat in a tenderloin, there is no point in cooking this longer because there is no fat to render from the meat.
There is a lot more to be said about sous vide and I plan to post more in the future about it. But really, this post is about the recipe. So here it is:
Sous Vide Cheatubriand with Peppercorn Oil:
First we want to make the oil which the steaks cook in, not to mention it will be our sauce after we sous vide:
1/4 to 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3-4 generous pinches black peppercorns
1. Dry roast the peppercorns in a dry skillet (no oil) on medium low heat until they begin to make popping noises.
2. Add oil and let it come to temperature. (This happens when the peppercorns give off bubbles of gas. You should be able to hear them.)
3. Remove heat and let the peppercorns cool in the oil.
4. When the oil is at room temperature remove the peppercorns and lightly grind in a mortar and pestle
5. Reconstitute the pepper into the oil and let it sit in the fridge until ready to use. (Ideally 24 hours or more.)
6. Right before using, remove peppercorns and heavily crush them in a mortar and pestle, add them back into the oil.
Sous Vide Chateaubriand:
1 beef tenderloin
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 cup beef broth
Accurate thermometer, preferably electronic with a wire probe
Ziploc heavy duty freezer bags (if you don't have a food vacuum)
Clean and cut the meat:
This part of recipe is tricky and should not be attempted unless you either:
1) Know how to clean and PSMO (peeled, silver skin removed, outer muscle on) and cut a chateaubriand from the meat.
2) You have a butcher PSMO your tenderloin and he cuts one for you.
Normally I would post a video of how to do this. I won't this time. This is something you should have been taught before, in person. If you don't know how to do this, do not attempt it on a 70 dollar cut of meat. It won't end up well.
I started off with the whole tenderloin:
|Top to bottom: Side meats:(the top two pieces), chateaubriand, 4 petit filets|
While I can't recommend that you try cleaning meat the first time for this recipe, I can recommend that you try cooking sous vide for the first time. I could explain it to you, how it works, what to do, but I think the master of the art Thomas Keller should do that:
So were going to do exactly what he said:
Vacuum package the meat:
1. Sprinkle the salt evenly on the beef.
2. Whisk peppercorn oil and use a basting brush to apply a medium coat of oil to the beef.
3. If you have a vacuum packager, package the meat and let the meat sit at room temperature to temper while you situate the water. If you don't have a vacuum packager, put the beef in the Ziploc bag and close it until there is only a small hole in the top. Using your mouth suck out as much air as possible and close it with your teeth while keeping that suction going. Give this a few goes before you move on. The less air, the better.
|Steamy picture of my ghetto sous vide setup|
1. Leave the tap on its highest temperature for a minute. Fill a large pot 3/4 full with this hot water.
2. Put the thermometer in the water and bring to 135F.
3. Attach your meat bag to a stick with tape so that when lowered into the water the meat is close to the center of the pot and the bag is held in place by the stick. (See above.)
4. Dunk the meat in and maintain the 135F temperature for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
5. Just before you pull out the meat, bring the cup of beef both to a simmer in a small pot.
6. Oil a skillet and heat until just smoking over high heat.
7. Remove the meat from the water and bag then place in skillet. Drop all the juices in the bag into the stock and put it on high heat.
8. Brown the meat on all sides in the skillet.
9. While the meat browns make sure the sauce reduces, being sure to stir frequently.
10. Remove the meat after it is browned and let it sit to rest for 10 minutes. Let the sauce finish reducing during this time until you've got a nice thin gravy.
11. Cut the filet into portions and serve with sauce.