Ribeye Fail

Very excited to be here and very happy for my latest purchase the Anova Precision Cooker.
I have made with success pork ribs, sausages, chicken legs and some veggies.

Today I went and bought 800 grams (~28 ounces?) Ribeye steak approximately 1.5 inch thick.
I have set the cooker to 55 °C (131°F) for more than 3 hours. Seared with a torch.
It came out tough, very chewy, no pink color.
My first steak was a T-bone which I did at 60°C (140°F) for 1.5 hour and it also camed chewy, no pink color almost as it was over-done, too much done… dont know.
So I figured with the ribeye that I go slower and longer but still no success.

What am I missing? Where did I go wrong? I camed to a point that I dont want to buy any steaks anymore simply because my money doesnt grow on tree.

Any advice or help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you

First suggestion would be to check the temperature of the water with another thermometer to be sure that is not the problem.

When steak is ‘over done’ although it is processed at medium rare temperatures, the first point of suspicion should always be the sear. Can explain how you went about the process to help us trouble shoot?

Also, you mention the texture of the steak. While this won’t have any play on the done-ness problem, is it possible that the steak was of a lower than expected grade? 3 hours will not provide a steak that can be cut with a spoon, but it will give a good steaky texture on a good steak.

I did not check the temperature with another thermometer since the device is new and I assume it is working as it is supposed to, but I will do that. Though I doubt this is the culprit, will do the test just to be sure.

I seared it with a torch (no searzall or anything since it is impossible to get it in europe). It took roughly 3-4 minutes to sear.

The first steak that i have made was a T-bone, bought directly from the butcher (where I live I have the commodity of having more meat from butchers and local farmers than from store, supermarkets and other bullshit) and it was done at 60°C from 1.5 hours. Seared it with the same torch and it simply wasnt good. Very tough to chew, no pinkness. So I vacuumed it again and put it back in sous vide for another 2 hours. At that time I was already exhausted and sleepy from whole circus (1:00 am) but as I remember it was more tender and generally better than before.

So with the ribeye (this one was bought in store) I went to 55°C for +3 hours and I must admit it was even worse than the first steak that i made.
At this point I kinda gave up on steaks. Now I am not even sure if i like beef. Really loved the idea of sous vide and got really hyped about it but now I dont even feel like doing anything at all (it is just a phase, I will get over it… I hope so).
I doubt that the problem is in the sear. Maybe next time I will cut the steak before the sear just to see how it looks on the inside? I am really lost, since i thought i got this thing under control and that I understand everything I need to know but clearly it is not so, and for the love of God I dont know what am I doing wrong.

I would like to post some pictures but it seems that I am incapable to do even that. Clicked on “upload”, browsed for the file and clicked “upload”. At the bottom it shows Uploading and the % and when it comes to 100% nothing happens… It seems that even here I am missing something.

Thanks for all the help and advice, appreciated.

Stivi, from the evidence you provide and the frequency of similar unfavourable experiences newcomers to SV encounter i agree with Ember about your searing technique.

Beginners should always start with pan-seared steaks, and also with just about anything else.
Why do i make that statement?
It’s mostly a matter of your familiarity and control with a hot pan, preferably a cast iron skillet.

Your description of “tough, very chewy, no pink color” are clear evidence of over cooked meat which is impossible to achieve at 55C no matter the length of time.

The correct pan sear requires about 45-seconds per side, a minute and a half in total. Your torch’s temperature probably exceeds 500C a few cm from the tip. About triple the surface temperature of a very hot pan.
And “roughly 3-4 minutes” seems particularly excessive.
Could it have been even longer?

The T-bone was SV cooked at 60C, Medium doneness. You don’t disclose its thickness, but it was probably thinner than the Ribeye and even easier to overcook with aggressive searing.

Don’t quit now.

Hi @Stivi. I’m really sorry you’re feeling so disheartened. We’ll do what we can to try and change that, but it might take us a little while to get to the bottom of the problem, so please have patience.

First to your photo upload, which might help us see where the problem lies. Unfortunately there is a limit to the size of image file that the forum can handle. Most cameras/phones, unless they are from the dawn of the digital age, take images that are much larger than the forum can deal with so I’m afraid you will need to resize your photo to upload it. Alas, I can’t remember the size restrictions at the moment.

Now, to the real problem. Much like @chatnoir, I’d suggest keeping things as simple as possible to begin with. Use familiar tools first while you’re learning the process.

Naturally tender cuts like steaks (rib eye or t-bone) really shouldn’t need longer than 2 hours in the cooking bath depending on thickness, but can go as long as 4 - 6 hours without any serious detriment to texture.

When your steak is due to come out of the bath put a clean, dry pan/skillet onto your cooktop on high setting to eat up. Take your steak from the bag and dry it off with paper towels. Blot it thoroughly. It is important to get that meat surface dry. Brush the top surface of the meat with high smoke point oil (avocado, rice bran or grape seed are all god options) and season with salt and pepper as you desire.

By this time your pan should be plenty hot. Place steak in pan oiled side down. Blot upper surface with paper towel, brush lightly with oil and season. About 30 - 45 seconds on side one then flip steak. Give side 2 similar time on heat. Final step, depending on steak, roll the edge n the hot pan surface briefly concentrating on any fat cap it may have. Done. Serve onto a warmed plate.

I know it seems silly to insist on such a simple process, but the searing is where most things go wrong.

I like very rare steak, bleu if it is not cold. The Anova recipe for “very rare to rare” is, in my experience (but I never seem to be able to find sirloin (Australia) over an inch thick), too high. I cook for an hour at 48C which is rare but I would not say very rare. Also, searing can continue the cooking if you are not too careful. If you can get the pan hot enough (I use a cheap butane camping gas ring outdoors) and find any more than a minute a side and it is becoming "medium’ done. Browning in butter is good.

If you’re having trouble finding steak over an inch thick, talk to a proper butcher. A real butcher will cut your steaks however you would like them. Support your local butcher. Real butchery is a dying trade.

“Real butchery is a dying trade”

Truly and lamentable in this worst-side-down tray-pack era of protein merchandising. I count myself fortunate to be able to shop at a store where at the rear of the refrigerated meat department there is a ceiling rail with hanging sides of beef. I am obliged to encourage everyone i know to buy from them to ensure it survives.

David, when buying your meat ask for a sirloin roast to get a sufficiently thick one to properly cook bleu. I recommend the sirloin roast that abuts the rib section for the best eating. It’s the extension of the rib-eye muscle, about nine inches long. The front half of what in NA is called the NY Strip Loin. If you see one at a reduced price you might want to buy that whole piece and cut your own nice thick steaks. I’m not aware of any one-steak-per-person law. Just slice and serve.

You also might employ two step SV cooking. I recall some discussion on the method here, likely more than a year ago. i don’t recall the exact details because i wouldn’t be comfortable doing it. It’s done by SV par cooking at roughly room temperature for about half the total time, say 2 hours, and then finishing the cook for another two hours or more at the terminal temperature. I was said to result in optimum tenderness for very rare meat.

The process that our friendly Black Cat is referring to is known as warm ageing. The idea is to cook the meat at a low enough temperature to allow some autolytic reaction from the meat’s enzymes during the first stage of the cook. This period was to emulate at speed the process that occurs during dry aging and tenderises the meat. The cooking bath is then turned up to the preferred cooking temperature for the remainder of the cook. There was need to be careful with time during this two stage processing as there is still the problem of accumulated time within the danger zone.

I’m afraid I can’t recall the temperature steps used for the process. It was a process/concept that was all the rage 18 - 24 moths ago but seems to have fallen out of favour since then. I don’t know if that’s because the idea was debunked or because it was simply replaced by the next nine days wonder miracle process.

The warm ageing is not to be confused with faux aging which uses fish sauce or other umami sources to simulate the flavour boost that dry aged meat receives.