Anova Disasters

Had mine about a month…I’m very enthusiastic but food just isn’t coming out right. Wife v unhappy. Example: tonight- burgers. 200g/7oz of chuck I ground myself with a coarse grind. Formed with a burger press.
Normally, I would now get a CI skillet smoking hot, rub the burger with salt, pepper & avocado oil. Cook until nicely seared. Juicy, medium rare- excellent
Tonight, after I formed the burgers into patties, I froze them so they’d retain their shape & cooked at 135F for 70 mins using water displacement in a Ziploc. Dried & then oiled, seasoned, etc. Then into the skillet to sear.
They were awful- dense, dry, tasteless.
I’ve used the Anova maybe 6 times & only once has the food come out well.

What other types of foods are you having trouble with? I am curious… I have had fantastic success with both Anova WiFi cookers I own.

Hi @Lardness, If you could provide information about what you have cooked along with details like how thick, what temp, how long you cooked - then some information regarding whatever finishing procedure(s) you used on each cook - we can try to give you some advice that might help! (As much information as you can stomach giving us would probably be best! :slight_smile: )
You didn’t mention how long you seared those burgers or how thick the patties were. A long sear might dry them out. Not sure how they would turn out tasteless though.

If you want to try something that will almost certainly turn out good I’d say cook a New York strip steak that is over an inch thick and finish with a Quick hot sear. Always a favorite!

Haven’t tried burgers. Don’t eat them much. But we might be able to help you get the best out of other things with some information about what you have tried.

Thanks for the replies…

I’ve been a big fan of reverse searing steak for the last couple of years. I live in the back of beyond, have trouble getting supplies & we use bottled LP for cooking, so nothing ever gets particularly hot.

#1 T Bone steak 1.25” thick 130F 2 hrs 30s sear on Weber chimney 8/10- pretty good
#2 Large chicken leg 145F 2 hrs 2m sear in CI skillet 4/10- undercooked
#3 Large chicken leg 145F 5 hrs Breaded, 2m deep fry 8/10- pretty good
#4 Large chicken breast with bone 160F 2 hrs 2m sear in CI skillet 4/10- very dry
#5 NY strip 1.75” thick 130F 2 hrs 30s sear on Weber grill 7/10- sear not quite hot enough (should have used chimney)
#6 Boneless pork loin 0.75” thick 140F 1 hr 30s sear on Weber grill 5/10- too dry
#7 Burgers 0.75” thick 135F 70 min 2 mins in CI skillet 4/10- grey, very dry & dense

There seem to some inconsistencies…

Lardness, - and there are some consistencies; all of your outcome descriptors and numerical evaluations are subjective. It’s difficult to assist you without more specific details other than your observations and scoring. Most of your low scoring descriptions are consistent with overcooked products. There also appears to be a direct relationship between product thickness and high scoring results, another relative doneness indicator.

If you don’t know what’s happening, you can’t correct it. None of your cooking details include terminal internal temperatures, the only consistently reliable way to judge donees i know. If you want a happy Bride get consistently superior cooking results. I recommend you always use a digital thermometer to confirm doneness and the happiness will follow.

You also might find it useful to keep a permanent detailed record of each of your meals. That way you will learn how to achieve consistently satisfying results. Detailed means recording the following: food item, mass and thickness, cooking temperature and time, final food temperature, and comments on your results.

With regard to the chicken, and well, any of it really, I’d recommend that you read the Baldwin Bible. Sous vide chicken should be cooked to pasteurisation, which depending on the size of a ‘big’ chicken leg may take longer at temperature than you’ve given it. It is also suggested that burgers and other ground meat products be cooked to pasteurisation due to the amount of surface area available for bacteria to inhabit.

Here is Dr Baldwin’s master work. I’ve linked it at the chapter on poultry.

Looking at your rundown of other apparent ‘disasters’ I really have to say, I can’t see that the sous vide processing is necessarily what is at fault. As @chatnoir says, a little more information will help us to troubleshoot your methodology and hopefully give you better than average outcomes every time.

As for your assertion that cooking with bottled LPG means nothing gets very hot, That isn’t exactly the case. I cooked with bottled LPG for many years (and run ceramic kilns on it). Burning LPG provides better heat quality than electrical options and more efficiency than wood burning options.

Go to the chefsteps website and follow some of their excellent recipes. You wont go wrong.
I reckon you’re overcooking on the searing and drying it out there. Think temperature for doneness and time for tenderness. I findnthat helps.

I agree with the responses above - and I’m going to jump right in with a couple suggestions off the top of my head, just so you have some direct feedback on what you’ve provided. Keep a log as suggested by @chatnoir - it will make trading info with everyone a breeze in the future!
Everyone, please correct me if any comments I make seem suspect - I’m sleepy right now and should hit the sack! :slight_smile:

Item #1 - T Bone steak 1.25” thick 130F
This one I’m surprised didn’t come out amazing. Grade of meat can make a difference, and one time I didn’t get a great sear when I didn’t load the chimney full enough. (You can go lighter on amount of charcoal if you sear the steak UNDER the chimney, which I did not know at the time.)

Item #2 - Large chicken leg 145F
Item #4 - Large chicken breast with bone 160F
I’ve found that Legs and Thighs seem to turn out better at the higher temp, breasts at the lower. Doing the leg at 160F and the breast at 145F (and cooking each until pasteurized as @Ember noted) should give you something much nicer!

Item #3 - Large chicken leg 145F 5 hrs Breaded
I’m not going to comment on Item #5 (as breaded items are not something with which I have any experience using sous vide) other than to repeat that I think legs come out better at high temps, say 165F maybe.

Item #5 - NY strip 1.75” thick 130F (should have used chimney)
Been there done that and couldn’t agree with you more! You should be good using your own advice!

Item #6 - Boneless pork loin 0.75” thick 140F 1 hr 30s Seared on Weber
Seems like this should have worked, though I’d check Baldwin’s tables regarding cook length. (And I’d sear using that chimney. I really like the sear it gives!)

Item #7 - Burgers 0.75” thick 135F 70 min 2 mins in CI skillet
I’ll stand on my previous advice on this one…[quote=“Mirozen, post:3, topic:14908”]
A long sear might dry them out. Not sure how they would turn out tasteless though.

Hope some of this is useful.

Cooking ground meat sous vide is generally a bad idea. It’s a food safety issue. With whole cuts, the inside is generally sterile, or at least not populated with pathogens. When you bring it up to sous vide temperature, it’s not high enough to kill pathogens. Since the bacteria are on the outside, searing does the job. With ground meat, any bacteria which were on the outside of the cut are now mixed through the meat. Sous vide temperatures below 165 degrees F are not enough for safety.

On the quality and dryness, look to the freezing process. Have you ever heard of freeze drying? Freezer burn is a subset of this. Was there ice on the outside of the meat when you took it out of the freezer? If yes, that’s the problem.

I don’t think i’d put them into the water frozen… that may be the issue… I think if you vacuum seal them, they should retain their shape… but honestly, I haven’t done burgers with sous vide… I don’t know if I ever will… Some things are just better on the grille. Don’t get me wrong, I love the sousvide system…

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I would have to agree with lilmike about burgers. Nothing better than grilling one way or another.

I find that the guides in the app are pretty reliable and will get you where you want. I think they show shorter cooking times, too. Also, just think that not everything is improved by sous vide. Burgers are a case in point: why make it complicated (and possibly have bacteria proliferate) when just putting them on the grill is the simplest of simple ways of cooking minced meat? Otherwise, since sous vide allows you to bring the inside temperature where you want it to be, why dwell once this temp had been reached, if you are going to eat straight away? This makes the juices ooze out. Follow the app times, then just do a quick and almighty sear to finish off. Quick. And. Almighty.
Also, if you want to explore what sous vide can do, go for the long, low-temp cooks (carnitas! brisket!! pastrami!!!). These are real projects. The longer you cook, the better. And the results are mind-blowing. Ah, yes: I’m a fan. This has upped my cooking ante no end.

The problem isn’t with the device (in this case the Anova). The problem is how you’re using the device.

There is no reason why a Sous-Vide burger shouldn’t be the best burger you’ve ever had.

For a .75" thick fresh burger try 147F @ 25 minutes. Finish off by grilling to taste. If frozen try 147F @ 35 minutes. Finish off by grilling to taste. This will produce a medium well burger. I do not use an Anova Sous Vide but I have been cooking Sous Vide since they first came out on the market. As mentioned by Islay, you should go to the ChefSteps website and educate yourself regarding the Sous Vide cooking process. You will learn a lot there. If you have an iOS device then try downloading the Sous Vide Toolbox app, and/or the Joule App. Both are excellent in their own way.

There seems to be as many opinions as there are APC owners :slight_smile:
Even on their recipe website, temps vary from 120- 137 with a similar range in timing.
I think experimentation will be key.
I’d prepped 6 burgers before my ‘disaster’ post on here. 4 were SV’d & 2 eaten… it was those 2 that prompted me to post.
The following day, I ate the 2 others that had been SV’d the previous day. I seared in a mix of avocado oil & butter…big improvement: a lot more juicy.
The final two that were uncooked I reformed & instead of using a burger press pushed the meat into a ring mould, resulting in a thicker patty, maybe 1".
Those 2 are back in the freezer & maybe they’ll be SV’d next week. I’m tempted to go 130 for 45 mins from frozen…

I appreciate all the responses & let you all know.

That’s because everyone likes their meat cooked a little differently. But, as I said earlier, ground meat should be cooked to pasteurisation for food safety purposes.

I would seem by your most recent post that your searing technique is where the fault for your ‘disaster’ lies.

I can’t tell you how much the guides I’ve found on Anova, Serious Eats and similar places have helped me.

One thing I’ve not seen mentioned is the quality of meat. There are some places I can count on and others where I know the meat tends toward poor quality. There’s one store near me I can trust because I’ve had good results from their beef, pork, chicken, lamb and seafood. Their top sirloin fillets are some of the best steaks I’ve ever eaten.

Martz, it’s interesting you mention meat quality, something seldom seen here.
To me it often appears that quantity trumps quality.
Have you ever tried beef imported from Japan?

And just what is quality?
What criteria do you use? It would be helpful for others to know how you judge meat quality.