Multiple Large Beef Tenderloins

Hello! Just need to bounce this off some of you more experienced “sous vide-er’s” before I commit to my Christmas Dinner plan. In a nutshell…Can I successfully sous vide 3 large beef tenderloins (5-7lbs each/Costco) trimmed and tied, 3 separate bags (possibly 6 to ease the post sear process), 133 degree bath, an hour per inch of the thickest part of the thickest piece…as long as I can fit them in my cooler? I’ve sous vide steaks, and pork tenderloins, and chateaubriand before all very successfully. It’ll work right? Am I missing anything? My brain is saying that it will be fine, but my wallet is scared to death to attempt something new on such a pricey dinner. Not to mention having to hear all the critiques from my 25 loving…but very fussy family members! :wink:

T, those are big pieces of meat. Will they fit your cooking vessel and allow ample water heating and circulation?

Since they are really just stretched Chateaubriands use the same cook details that you very successfully used previously to get the same outcome, only adjusting for greater thickness if necessary. Don’t skimp on the cooking time. That hour per inch is the very minimum for heat to diffuse through the meat. If you have mis-measured you will have troubles. I would cook 2 or 3 hours extra just to be safe, up to a maximum of 6 hours extra.

You likely mean post-cook sear , and have recognized that will be the greater challenge. You can cut the cooked meat into manageable searing pieces after your SV cook. Have a warm pan ready to hold the seared meat and tent with foil.

Successfully serving 25 fussy guests requires precise planning and timing. Leave nothing you can do ahead undone. Have all your side dishes cooked and kept warm, and ready for service before you sear the meat.

Food temperature and degree of doneness are the two most universal sources of unfavourable feedback to cooks. Since you aren’t a restaurant, cook all the meat at 133F, a generally acceptable medium-rare. That way you escape the horrors of the dreaded table-side auction as in, - “Who’s the medium-well?” Don’t do it. Consider buffet service in the kitchen in the order of your seating plan. Those seated furthest from the kitchen get served first.

How are you going to moderately heat the plates? Just below the threshold of pain, about 130F, is enough. 70F is considered a cold plate and will suck the heat out of your food prompting murmurs of fussiness.

If you are determined to do plate service conscript two competent family members. #1 to plate the sides and add garnish as you slice and plate the meat. Member #2 delivers the plates two at a time, - or 3 if they have a long and strong left arm, to the assembled guests placing the plates so the meat is closest to each guest. It’s an optics thing that indicates your culinary competence and predisposes your guests to be raving fans of yours.

All the success possible, and enjoy.

Thank you so much for your advice and suggestions! I have one of those big fish coolers that I’m 90% sure they will fit. I will be measuring and taking my measuring tape to Costco for sure. I am very concerned about the ample heating. I have not used this size cooler before. I’m going to try to run some type of test this weekend. I thought maybe rolling up wet towels to mimic the size, approx weight and shapes, put them in my bag and see if I can get the temperature correct, maintain it for 6 hours and the water flow correct. Is this as nuts as it sounds?

I did mean post cook sear. I agree that its the biggest challenge. I was going to utilize my gas grill. Its pretty big and I have a large cast iron griddle/plate thing (I don’t know the technical term for it) that should accommodate them fairly well. Especially if I cut them in to manageable pieces like you suggested.

Trust me…they are all getting 133F steaks and it’s absolutely buffet style. I know that warm plate is crucial for temp, so I was planning on warming the plates in my oven (right next to the buffet table) and hand them (actually this will be my husbands job) to each guest with their cloth napkin and warn them them the plate is hot. Thank you for the temperatures on this. Had no clue where I should set my oven.

I really appreciate all of your help!!!

You will have a lot of post cook searing to do. An alternative that might save time is to sear in a 500° oven for 5 to 10 minutes. There will be smoke! And of course you’d have to find another way to warm plates unless you have two ovens.

Thank you PapaBear! I do not have 2 ovens…dreams/goals ;-). I do have a warming drawer on my oven that once I get the plates up to temp, I can pop them in there to keep them hot. I really like your alternative post cook sear suggestion of using my oven. The smoke would be an issue, but I’m certainly keeping it in my back pocket in case of rain/sleet/snow. I appreciate your help!

T, glad to know my post was useful. Your idea of a trial run is an excellent one.

I skipped over considering your big fish cooler and your decision to buy 3 large pieces of meat.
90% sure isn’t certainty.
How big in quarts or gallons is your cooler?
Why 3 pieces of tenderloin?

Anova cookers have a water heating capacity of about 5 U.S. gallons, 20 quarts. Your planned meat could occupy more than half of that and maybe a little more because you can’t operate Anova above its MAX line, well below the cooler’s rim where volume is measured. That significantly concerns me.

Let’s go back to your basic planning.
25 guests at 5 oz. per edible portion with 20% shrinkage ( you won’t have that much with SV at 133F. but i like to over estimate. ) requires about 10 pounds of meat as purchased. Five-ounce portions are 2 quarter inch slices cut straight across the roasts. Don’t slice your meat on the bias as that increase portion weights. I would plate the meat as i slice it and let my guests serve the sides themselves.

If you are allowing your guests to self serve the meat you will need almost 50% more as many will over serve themselves. (The plate waste on some plates will shock you.) You want to be that generous? OK, plan on 8 oz. portions, Now you need 15 pounds of beef tenderloin. That might just fit your cooler. That would be 3 x 5 lbs. roasts.

Be certain to buy trimmed and tied roasts so you don’t have to trim the tough silverskin from the meat.

That’s a griddle on your gas grill and it will require 15 to 20 minutes to preheat with all burners on maximum. That will give you 500F to 750F depending on brand and size of your grill, Plenty hot.

If you don’t have them, get 18" broiler tongs. You’ll need them. Restaurant supply stores are the best source for heavy duty ones. Dry the meat very well before browning it. Season with about 50% more salt and pepper than you think you need.

Your oven may not go as low as desired unless it has a variable keep warm setting. The warming drawer should be just right if it will hold 25 plates. A preheated oven to 165F will hold your covered side dishes for over an hour. Potatoes and hard vegetables like a medley of roast root vegetables (Parsnit-carrot-turnip) cooked a day or two in advance will heat and hold well for several hours.

If you decide to use a 500F oven use very little to none of oil or fat to brown. That’s what bring the smoke to your party. The problem with using the oven is you have to keep opening the oven door to check progress and turn the meat. Also, keep your exhaust fan on full and temporarily disable your smoke alarms.

I would not precision temperature water-bath cook these. They’re just way too expensive and you’ll want them to be hyper-flavorful. Look to either Martha Stewart, Lidia Bastianich, or America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) for advice on this. My suspicion is that they would suggest an open-roaster sear at 550˚ for 15 minutes, followed by a COVERED slow roast at 250˚ on a rack in the roaster (with some liquid below like garlic cloves in red wine). Use precision thermometers to monitor the internal temperatures. Target is medium rare. Let stand for 20 minutes before slicing. Sprinkle with salt and McCormicks’s Roasted Garlic & Pepper before roasting.

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Let’s agree to disagree. Why would you think that they’re just way too expensive to cook them perfectly?

Obviously ‘perfection’ is in the tongue of the beholder. Do you know any self-respecting chefs that would use precison temperature-controlled water-bath cooking to cook beef tenderloins or prime rib? I don’t. Watch the videos put out by Martha Stewart, and/or Lidia Bastianich, and/or America’s Test Kitchen (ATK). I think that you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

It’s difficult to compare professional cooking with home cooking techniques as the amounts of meat being cooked are significantly different. With the widespread professional use of the low temperature Alto-sham, and the low temperature steam-assisted CVAP and Rational-combi ovens, a lot of contemporary restaurant production approximates SV cooking. Many chefs use SV for special menu items, particularly in Europe, but most kitchens don’t have sufficient space to do a lot of it.

I agree that oven roasting imparts a distinctive flavour that is difficult to match with what is essentially SV’s poached meat with a browned exterior, but you can come very close and that’s good enough for many.

Zokellib cites home-cooking gurus’ techniques that are too challenging for most home cooks, particularly those that employ extremely high temperatures which require either frequent or continuous remote monitoring in order to catch the appropriate pull point.

In my previous life (pre-sous vide) I cooked large pieces of beef, standing rib roasts mostly, in a 200° oven until reaching internal temperature of 120°, then a 30 minute rest followed by 5 or 10 minutes in a 500° oven. I could reliably predict the quality of the cook, but only guess at timing. I’ve had to make my share of phone calls that dinner will be a half hour earlier that planned. “Come quick, 'cause it’s ready now!”

With a large audience of fussy relatives on a very special occasion it would be nice to accurately predict both, and that is the beauty of sous vide. I also find it reassuring to write out a timeline, working backward from the time I expect to serve, allowing the time needed to slice, sear, pre-heat the oven, and so forth all the way back to the time to fill the sous vide cooker.

I can’t tell you what to do, but if I were preparing this meal I would cook at 130° for 1 hour per inch thickness plus an additional hour for good measure, and sear in a 500° oven. That’s me – but you are cooking this meal, so you do it your way. And in the midst of all this, don’t forget to relax and enjoy your company. They will love you for this.

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Thank you all for all of your advice and suggestions. I’m kinda crushed to let you know that my “test run” was an epic fail. While I was able to simulate the size and approximate weight of the tenderloins, I was unable to get the water to circulate properly completely around and under the pieces. I think it’s simply too much meat/too large of a container for the 5 gallon limit. All the containers/coolers I tried just weren’t appropriate. The tenderloins weren’t floating the way they should and when I tried a smaller container to raise the water level and “cut” them in half, there wasn’t enough room to have the water circulating between and around them with any level of certainty. Since I have zero experience with sous vide-ing this MUCH meat, I’ve lost all confidence and am sadly chickening out. I apologize for letting you all down.:cry:
I am, however, going to forge ahead and use my oven. I’ll just be a complete basket case until I pull it. But hey, it wouldnt be the holidays without massive amounts of stress! Besides, what’s the worse that can happen right?! (Please do not answer that!..I’ll end up ordering a ham.)
Again, thank you all for your help!! I will still be utilizing most of your tips, just not the sous vide…this year. Going to practice with larger sizes over the year and give it another try next year! Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to all!

Hey T. cool down.
By your furrowed forehead i see you certainly are a very persistent person.
Community members thought you were pushing the limit of your equipments’ capability. Now you know it. You don’t need to prove this Community right anymore.

It’s not so much a case of lost confidence, you gained experience which is the way we all learn.

Cooking for 25 is beyond most home cooks capability in terms of kitchen capacity, and personal knowledge and skills. Most of us don’t even have sufficient service ware for your family.

OK, now for Plan B.
Employ Pappa’s work plan details, but for your sides and everything. Just don’t do the 500F sear. As he indicates it can unfavourably impact your detailed production plan.

Do you have a detailed menu plan? Plans diffuse distress.
Always in writing, so you can make detailed notes and organize everything in chronological order step by step likely starting about 72 hours before service.

If your oven has convection mode, use it.
Keep your cooler chest close by.
When preheated with a few large pots of boiling water for 20 minutes, and then emptied, it will be an excellent long term hot food holding cabinet. Raise the chest so you can empty it by using the drain at the end. If you have several clean foil wrapped bricks line the bottom of the cooler with them. Put a couple cooling racks on top of the bricks to permit some air circulation in there. I’m thinking of it safely holding your cooked and double HD foil-wrapped oven roast tenderloins for about 3 hours before service. Once the meat is in it don’t open the lid.

Pull the roasts in the 125F to 130F range. They will gain 5-degrees internal or more from carry over heating in the chest. Once you get your meat cooked and in heated holding you will be a lot more relaxed. If you have a remote thermometer with a cable probe tip use it on the smallest roast in the chest so you know what’s happening in there. (How anyone can successfully BBQ without at least one is beyond my comprehension. Maverick is a favourable brand and one costs less than one of your roasts.)

Of course, advanced cooking and hot holding also frees your oven for other purposes.

And now to start next year’s work plan.
You can completely SV cook the roasts one at a time at 131F to Pasteurize them. Cook them sequentially, or one a week. Do whatever fits into your life. After at least two hour’s ice bath rapid chilling they will safely hold in your refrigerator for several weeks without you being in distress. Slowly reheat them on the morning of service and keep warm in the heated chest. Grill sear and serve.

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If your water is not circulating around the meat properly, a wire rack can help keep the sous vide bags off the bottom of the container, and separated from each other. I had success using a cookie cooling rack to keep the meat off the bottom and bent coat hangers to separate the bags.

I just did two tenderloins about 2-3 lbs each at 134 for close to three hours in my sous vide tub. Seared and salt and peppered them. They were a hit at the party. Go for it.

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You may use for packing the meat special sous-vide appliances, they are represented quite widely on the market!
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