Tough steaks

All the steaks I have cooked in the sous vide have turned out tough. I have used it primarily for boneless club (beef rib) steaks of choice grade. I initially tried cooking one for an hour. I tried cooking the next one for two hours. Finally I cooked one for four house. This turned out more tender than the others, but was not as tender as these steaks are when broiled.

Online I have heard endless testimony about how tender sousvide-cooked steaks are; so I don’t know why I’m not getting the same results.

Firstly, you can only vet out of it what you put in, quality wise.

Secondly, everyone has a different idea of what they consider tender.

Most cuts used for steaks are naturally tender, low use muscles. These are further tenderised in the cooking process by converting the collagen in the muscle into gelatin. At the high temperatures of traditional cooking methods this happens rapidly. However, in the ,ow temperatures of sous vide processing the conversion happens slowly, particularly at medium rare temperatures. Most folk tend to cook their steaks for a minimum of 2 hours and up to 6 hours before drying and searing.

Bruce, you have established your competence as a cook by being able to achieve tender results with broiled steaks. So it’s puzzling that you don’t attain superior tenderness wth SV cooked steaks, particularly when compared to broiled, by following established time and temperature guides.

Your post is economical with details other than cooking times. It would be helpful to know your preferred degree of doneness and the thickness of your club steaks. Those items can have an effect on resulting tenderness when time and temperature are considered.

Many beginners find the searing method they employ challenging. It often results in disappointing outcomes when overdone. That SV cooking step would be my best suggestion for an opportunity to improve without more useful information.

Thank you for responding to my query…

My steaks are about one inch thick. I rub them with a moderate amount of kosher salt before placing them in the soux vide bags. Following the sous vide manufacturer’s direction, I set the temperature at 129 degrees for medium rare steaks. I have tried searing with a blow torch and also with a well-heated iron skillet. With neither have I perceptibly cooked the interiors of the steaks.

At 129 ºF, if the steak is not tender after two hours and you haven’t over-cooked it during the sear (which you didn’t, by the sound of things), the problem is meat. You just got a tough steak, I suspect.

If anything, steaks come out more tender with sous vide, rather than less. I don’t think your cooker is to blame. I take it that the doneness was expected, slightly pink?

Thank you fro trying to

Unfortunately, the steaks were of good quality, bought from the butcher department where I have always bought my steaks, and they were cooked medium rare. I’ll continue to try using the sous vide for steak a few more times. If I don’t get a different result, I’ll just go back to broiling, which is very easy. I went to the trouble of using sous vide hoping for a better result but so far have gotten the opposite.

Bruce, unless you make some significant adjustments in your SV steak cooking technique you won’t get better results. Your persistence is admired, but it’s not getting you what you want.

It’s been my experience that approaching 1-inch is the minimum thickness for successful SV steak cooking. I don’t know why, but it seems to be and you are better off cooking thin steaks conventionally, - that’s hot and fast for medium-rare.

We’ve established you have a trusted source for your steaks and by broiling you enjoy tender medium-rare steaks. SV Cooking 1-inch thick USDA Choice steaks for 3 hours ought to result in equal or better tenderness. The SV steaks’ interiors appear close to the colour of your broiled steaks, right?
And you confirm that the searing isn’t overdone too.

Toughness is often an indicator of too short a cooking time, yet you pretty well eliminated that. I’d give SV steak one more try by cooking a 2-inch thick, or thereabouts, boneless club steak from your usual butcher. Don’t pre-sear or preseason it. Just vacuum pack and cook at 129F for about 4 hours. After 4 hours remove from the water and give the centre of the steak a good thumb and index finger pinch. Think about the meat’s tenderness as you pinch. If it still feels too solid for you raise the water temperature to 131F and cook for 2 more hours. It will still be medium-rare.

Then decant the test steak, thoroughly dry, season as you like, rub with a little oil or clarified butter, and sear as you have been doing.
That’s very hot and very quick.
No lingering.

Finally slice the seared steak on a slight bias as thick or thin as you like. It shouldn’t matter. Please report back with details of your experience after enjoying it or not.