Bland and Dry

I have been using an Anova One circulator to cook a variety of foods in zip lock bags. I have used recipes from a variety of sources (including your web site). In general I have been disappointed with the results as everything I cook tends to be both bland and dry compared to conventional roasting or grilling methods. I have also noticed that most foods cook in their internal juices which seep out into the bag during sous vide cooking (probably the cause of the dryness and blandness).

I’ve tried to correct these problems by varying the cooking times, by pre-searing and/or post-searing, by adding oil to the bag before cooking and by not adding oil to the bag before cooking, by adding seasonings before and after cooking, etc. but nothing helps.

What can I do to correct these problems?

My process for perfect ribeye steaks:

  1. Vacuum Seal raw meat only, nothing else.
  2. Wet Age 2-4 additional weeks in fridge. I have not had much luck after 4 weeks.
  3. From fridge to Anova @ 130° for min 2 hours up to 5 hours. The protein in fatty meat changes after 5 hours IMO.
  4. Remove from bag (reserve juices for butter/wine reduction sauce).
  5. Coat with Garlic Powder and Salt on both sides.
  6. 60 sec per side on the grill set to max temperature. Quarter turn every 30 sec for impressive grill marks.
  7. Off grill to plate, pepper to taste.
Quality meat = quality steaks. Better meat makes a difference. This has never failed to impress. Good luck!

Great tip @midmopub‌! @JerryKaufman‌, did you try following this method from our website? https://recipes.anovaculinary.com/recipe/pre-searing-vs-not-pre-searing-steak-before-cooking-sous-vide

Also, make sure all of the air is out of the bag as well before you seal it shut.

Let us know if you’re still not seeing the results you had hoped for though.

Thanks @Anova‌ and @midmopub‌. I haven’t tried @midmopub‌ suggestion but I have tried searing steaks, adding spices, cooking in oil, etc., but nothing seems to make any difference . I cook one inch New York Strip steaks in zip locks bags (air evacuated) at 130 degrees F from 45 minutes to 2 hours. The problem is that the steaks don’t retain their juices - the juices seep out into the bag so the steaks are cooking in beef broth, which is what they come out tasting like. The steaks are medium rare but when cut no juices come out like they do in conventional grilling and roasting. I’ve run into similar problems with rack of lamb, chicken breasts, whole chickens and salmon. Any other ideas to fix my problem?

Have you tried calibrating your unit? Is it possible that, e.g., you’re actually cooking at 150F?

You may want to try a Jaccard meat tenderizer
Supposedly the reason “Jaccard allows for juicier meat is that it cuts the fibers of the meat that contract and release juices” There is a thread on eGullet where Nathan Myhrvold of Modernist Cuisine goes into more details about it.
https://forums.egullet.org/topic/144243-sous-vide-recipes-techniques-equipment-part-1/?page=9#entry1017979

Thanks @jshannon. I’ll try that again. By the way, have you experienced problems similar to mine when cooking steak?

Thanks @saluki. I’ll look into it but do you think it will solve the blandness problem? By the way, have you experienced problems similar to mine when cooking steak?

When meat is heated it will always lose moisture. In the frying pan, this is what makes the sizzling sound. The moisture from the meat evaporating against the hot surface. The reason that no moisture seeps out when you’re slicing a medium rare sous-vide’d steak is that all of the moisture it would lose at that temperature has already came out. Leaky steaks are cause by a temperature differential, which anything cooked in a stable water bath shouldn’t have.

Thanks @mspeleoto. The difference in moisture loss when I cook a steak medium-rare conventionally (grilling and or roasting) and sous vide is significant. With sous vide no juices seep out when the steak is cut. Conventional cooking they always do. Have you experienced problems similar to mine when cooking steak?

I haven’t had time to play with my anova yet, unfortunately. I can only attest to the theory from MC, etc. The only reason I can think of that a sous vide steak would lose more moisture than cooking in a pan would be if you were cooking frozen steaks in the water bath and fresh in a pan.

Jerry, I think my steaks are much moister than those cooked conventionally on the grill. I have cooked fillets (medium), and hanger steak (medium rare). They are also much more tender. I am just using sea salt and freshly ground pepper, and the vacuum bagging. I have tried searing with a torch, but I think I like finishing on the grill better.
Rob

Thanks @mspeleoto. The difference in moisture loss when I cook a steak medium-rare conventionally (grilling and or roasting) and sous vide is significant. With sous vide no juices seep out when the steak is cut. Conventional cooking they always do. Have you experienced problems similar to mine when cooking steak?

Try cooking for shorter periods of time. The loss of juice with time seems to be common knowledge in the food science community but not as much in the cooking community. Check out this post (the title is intentionally provocative): http://www.beyondsalmon.com/2011/06/why-sous-vide-sucks.html

The suggestion from Nathan Myhrvold re Jaccard tenderiser is also interesting.

Thanks @simulacrum I’ve come to agree with Helen and her article “Why sous-vide sucks”. Basically, sous-vide is good for certain things and not others, particularly steaks. Searing a good quality steak in a pan and finishing it in a low heat oven produces superior results.

Thanks @simulacrum I've come to agree with Helen and her article "Why sous-vide sucks". Basically, sous-vide is good for certain things and not others, particularly steaks. Searing a good quality steak in a pan and finishing it in a low heat oven produces superior results.

Well reading into the comments and a follow up she seems to be now of the opinion that sous vide is fine for steaks, but the cooking time needs to be much shorter. Her main purpose was to bust the myth that it’s impossible to overcook something with sous vide (ie that cooking time makes no difference). Using a shorter time than most apps reccomend you can still produce great steaks sous vide. An hour should be enough for most steaks, you don’t need to pasteurise the meat if you’re searing it afterwards.

One shortcoming to her methodology was that she should have just weighed the steak before and after cooking with both methods to compare moisture loss, and should have rested the conventionally cooked steak so they wouldn’t lose so much juice when cut

Jerry, I am on this site for the same reason. Promises of perfectly done meat drove me to buy the unit, but some great NY Striploin steaks from Costco came out beautifully pink, but all the juices remained in the bag. I am very disappointed right now. I am also disappointed to hear you had the same issue and could not resolve it.


Hey Anova people, it's been 6 months that this man has been stating he can't make a good steak with your machine, why aren't you helping? What's the point of this community if Anova is going to let people struggle.

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Plenty of us do make perfect steak with this machine, along with perfect chicken, perfect fish, and so on. Unlike any other kitchen tool, the APC can guarantee you perfect results every time, but only if you follow the guidelines. Number one rule in the kitchen, much like anywhere else, don’t blame the equipment. I don’t blame the hammer every time I hit my thumb. 

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The way you improve your steak is to stop using sous vide for steaks. It’ll come out tender, and it’ll look nice, but the process of cooking a steak for hours underwater cooks out much of the natural juices. Yes, you can compensate by adding fats in the bag in a marinade, but you’re replacing meat juices with other fats, which means you lose the flavor of the meat. It ends up soft and bland, like something served at a nursing home for people without teeth.

Cooked in a pan (be it seared and finished in the oven, blue-rare, or anything in between) or grilled over a charcoal or wood fire, every other conventional method of cooking a steak leaves them tastier, if not more tender, than sous vide.

Wow @bobtheaxolotl why revive the old thread?


Can’t disagree with you more.  If you use the sous vide as you should and sear the outside of the steak to finish it, it’s every bit as good as the steak that you can do on the grill (I think if I had a searing station, I could even do a better steak than the traditional BBQ method).

There’s lots of information here:   http://www.seriouseats.com/2015/06/food-lab-complete-guide-to-sous-vide-steak.html

The thing that people need to keep in mind is that a couple of years ago, sous vide wasn’t mainstream.  It’s becoming more and more popular.  As more information is shared, more people will have consistent results.

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@bobtheaxolotl

I disagree as well. At one time I could cook steak/roast beef better than most. I had a great stove. Perhaps you have a great talent?

Now sous vide works for me after a dozen years of bad beef experiences. They weren't awful they just were not what I was used to. And most of us do not cook a steak for that many hours underwater. Cannot imagine why you do.