Cooking Times by Thickness, slab vs cylinder

I have a question about Baldwin’s tables on cooking times by thickness. I can’t find an explanation for what is a slab vs what is a cylinder when it comes to meat. A steak looks like a slab to me, but the timing for a 2 inch slab is 3.5 hours vs 2 hours for a cylinder. Two hours is much closer to the recommended times in all the steak recipes I have seen, including those in this site.

So is a steak a cylinder? Any advice for correctly using Baldwin’s table? Thanks!

It should be pretty obvious. A steak is a slab. A sausage would be a cylinder.

Think about it in 2 dimensions. A circle is the same distance to the centre from each and every point on its circumference. Therefore the heat penetration on it is even and regular. This is not the case for a rectangle.

Yes, I said I assumed a steak was a slab. But the recommended times for a slab seemed inconsistent with all the recipes I’ve seen. Do you cook your 2 inch steaks for 3.5 hours? The Annova recipe says 1 to 2 hours for a 1.5 to 2 inch steak. What am I missing?

Heat penetration is non-linear. The closer to the water bath temperature the slower the rate of internal temperature rise.

Here’s the thing. The Anova recipes are pretty much there to give comfort to people who like following instructions. Those who want to learn and understand the process itself will very quickly come up with much better results. Baldwin’s penetration tables are more likely to be correct…

There will be little discernable difference between a 1" thick steak cooked for 90 mins than the same steak cooked at the same temperature for 3 hours. Sous vide processing is a forgiving form of cooking because changes happen very slowly due to the low temperatures.

A 2 inch thick piece of steak will not be at bath temperature at the core after 2 hours. Truthfully, it will never actually be at bath temperature, but the difference between bath temperature and core temperature will be measurable at 2 hrs. You can try it yourself with an instant read thermometer.

I tend to cook my 2 inch steaks for 3-4 hours. I’ve even had them cook for 5 hours because my partner got a fire call-out and dinner got delayed. That’s the beauty of sous vide.

Thanks. That makes sense (I’m not as dumb as I sound).

I am trying to do my research and not just follow a recipe which is why I checked Baldwin’s table and why I asked about the (apparant) discrepancy with other data. It’s hard for a novice to ask questions correctly sometimes.

I do intend on using my thermapen as part of my learning curve.

Remember to keep a journal of your experimenting. Note each cook with time, temp and finishing method as well as product cooked (meat: cut and thickness, or vegies: sort, size and prep), a review of the outcome and any suggestions you may have for next time.

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