In Hot Water: Second Sous Vide Dinner

The maiden voyage with the new Anova Bluetooth Sous Vide Precision Cooker was a dinner with pork chops cooked to a tender, juicy medium. Tonight, we had dinner built around a beef eye of round roast prepared with a long cooking time.

I wanted to try out the reputation sous vide cooking has for making good meals out of challenging meat cuts. The eye of round roast is noted for being easy to mess up, with gristle being a problem with various preparations and tenderness something that is often missing.

So I started with a 2.5 pound eye of round cut. For sous vide, it was recommended to remove all fat cap. An article I found online also recommended doing a sear before sous vide, so that’s what I did. I used a hot skillet with a little oil and got some browning all over the roast, then removed it from heat. I added seasoning, in this case salt, bay leaf powder, sage, Italian herbs, and a small amount of garlic powder. The roast went into a gallon Ziploc freezer bag. I used a cup of water with some more salt plus a few tablespoons of olive oil to go in the bag with the meat. I judged the pot I used last time to be too small, so I pressed an empty plastic file tote into service. I used the water displacement method to get just the meat and fluid in the bottom of the bag, without air bubbles. I used a dowel and a binder clip to hang the bag in the middle of the tote.

I did not use the smartphone application at all. The Anova can be readily controlled just with the dial and display interface on the unit. I set a temperature of 131 degrees Fahrenheit to get a medium doneness in the roast. The water bath was up to temperature by 3:30 PM on Sunday, and the roast’s cooking in earnest started then. The recommendation was a 24 to 30 hour cook time, which would fit with dinner on Monday. I did top up water a couple of times due to evaporation; covering the whole apparatus to reduce evaporation would be one way to deal with that. But given that this house gets very dry when the central heating runs, something that also serves as a humidifier is not a bad thing.

We ended up having a relatively late dinner, so the total cook time for the roast was about 29 hours. I prepped spinach salads with shredded cheese. The last bit was pulling the roast out and putting it on a server. There’s no “rest” period necessary with sous vide; the meat is already at thermal equilibrium when done. So from bag to server to dining table and slicing across the grain was a matter of moments.

The interior of the roast was an even medium throughout. The searing had affected no more than a couple of millimeters all around. Slicing was easy; there was not a hint of uneven resistance that could indicate gristle.

And it was certainly tender in actually eating it. Diane likes very little seasoning, so what I thought of as restrained and understated seasoning she thought of as being on the verge of trimming the exterior, though she didn’t take that step. I used some Kraft horseradish sauce and A-1 steak sauce with mine, but I didn’t need much of either. It proved to be a fine roast, and we have enough for a couple more meals.

The Anova sous vide device is helping make cooking even troublesome meat a simple process, without finicky timing or manipulation to get to scrumptious results. I’m pretty happy with it so far.

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Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

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