Time saver alert!
One reason cooking sous vide is great is because of something I call batch cooking. You can cook all of your meals for the week at once, and then just reheat them (also using sous vide) when you want them. Reheating them this way takes less time on the day you want to eat, and continues to ensure that you will not overcook your meat. It’s also a great way to prep veggies for the week, not just for dinners, but also for snacking on!
There is, however, a misconception that your meat can’t dry out with sous vide cooking because all of the juices are sealed in with the meat. There’s also an idea that pre searing the meat will “lock in” the juices. All of these ideas are false.
From Serious Eats:
The amount of moisture that a piece of meat retains is pretty much only related to the temperature it is cooked to. Basically, under a microscope, a hunk of meat looks like a bunch of liquid-filled straws bound together into bundles. The straws are filled to capacity with liquid when the meat is raw. As it cooks, the walls of those straws contract, squeezing liquid out of them—whether or not they are in a moist or dry environment.
Searing “Locks In” Juices
This is the oldest one in the book, and still gets repeated—by many highly respected cookbook authors and chefs!—to this day. It’s been conclusively proven false many times, including in our own post on How to Cook a Perfect Prime Rib, where we found that when roasting a standing roast, it in fact lost 1.68% more juice if it was seared before roasting rather than after! The same is true for pork roasts, steaks, hamburgers, chicken cutlets, you name it.
On the other hand, searing does improve flavor by catalyzing the Maillard browning reactions, a series of chemical reactions that rapidly take place when proteins and sugars are heated to around 300°F or so, improving the flavor and texture of the dish. But in almost all cases, it’s better to sear the food after it’s roasted, not at the start.
But don’t let that deter you. For batch cooking, I’m usually doing smaller cuts of meats which don’t give off as much liquid.
Another thing I like to do, especially when there’s a sale at the grocery store, it buy up a lot of meat, season it with different blends, seal them up separately, and freeze until I’m ready to use. That way, I get a lot more life out of meats that were coming up on their use by dates.
Recipe ideas for Batch Cooking:
- Cut up a whole chicken, or buy a package of mixed parts.
- Season breasts with lemon pepper or pesto seasoning.
- Season thighs with grilled chicken blend or curry.
- Season legs with smoked paprika or Pica Pica blend.
- Seal separately and label packages with seasonings used.
- Set bath to 149F / 65C
- Cook legs for 1 hour before adding breasts to bath, then cook an additional hour (1 hour for light meat, 2 hours for dark meat).
- Quick chill in an ice bath and refrigerate.
- Salt & pepper pork chops at 144F/62C for 1 hour
- Steakhouse steaks at 136F/58C for 1 1/2 hours
- Green veggies at 183F/84C for 15 min., root veggies for 1 – 1/2 hours
To Reheat Using Sous Vide:
Set bath temperature to same as cooking temperature. Reheat packets for 30 minutes, until warmed throughout.
Serve chicken breasts with fresh veg cold on salads.
Add thighs to stir fries or curries with frozen or pre-cut veg and jarred curry sauces.
Toss wings with hot sauce and give a quick sauté for a healthier take on hot wings.
You’ve just created a week’s worth of meals all at once!
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