Monday, November 22, 2010

SousVide Supreme Demi: Initial Thoughts On Stability

When I first started cooking sous-vide, the holy grail was temperature accuracy and stability.  I think this is very important for certain applications such as eggs, and for professionals and sous vide geeks.  However, if you are a general home user, I don't think accuracy and stability to within 1º is of the utmost importance.  

That being said, I know this is important for most of the regular readers of this blog.  Unfortunately, I have a job and I don't own a high quality data logger (*), so I am not able to give you a super accurate reading on the temperature of the water bath.  I will tell you that I recently ran a 136ºF short rib from one to three days inside of the SousVide Supreme Demi.  I checked in to see what the readings of the SVS Demi's PID controller, and would see it vary from 135F - 137F.  I confirmed some of these readings with digital thermometer that was rated with +/- 1ºF accuracy.

That being said, I want to rerun some tests to see if I can get different results.  For example, I ran the device with the water being filled up to the fill line and not to the max line.  With more water in the device, I might have seen more stability.

Now, let's talk about my favorite cut of beef to prepare sous vide: the short rib.  The reason this is my favorite is that you can prepare a short rib medium rare, and have it be the most unctuous and tender short rib you have ever eaten.  This is because you can break down collagen at 136ºF and not over cook the meat, and while fats break down, they don't render out.

Since I wanted to test long term stability, I figured I would run another test I have been wanting to do for a long time.  One short rib, same temperature, three time periods.  How does this all work?  Easy:

  1. Set SousVide Supreme Demi's temperature to 136F.  Will convert collagen to gelatin slowly, keeping meat medium rare.
  2. Drop three slices of the same short rib at 24 hour time intervals.  Each short rib had zero additions (no fat, no salt).
  3. Remove bags at same time.  Now I have  24 hour, 48 hour and 72 hour samples.

Sous Vide Short Rib Exteriors
The exteriors of all three pieces are vastly different in color.  This doesn't typically matter much, as you will usually post cook sear the meat anyways.  I was a little surprised by the fact that the 48 and 72 had such a different color.  The 24 remained basically pink while the 72 is almost lacquered.

Sous Vide Short Rib Interiors
The interiors looked a lot more similar.  The 72H looks a little darker because of inadequate lighting.  I was secretly hoping that I would see more detail in the differences between the 48 and the 72.  There is such a difference between them when you eat them that it is a little disappointing to see that there is no visible magic.  It's like cutting up the goose that laid the golden egg and instead of finding golden eggs just seeing guts.

(*) Does anyone have any recommendations on a good temperature data logger?  Ideally, I would like something like the Voltcraft K202, but it isn't available here in the US.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Free SousVide Supreme Demi, Thermapen and Book Sample

Free stuff alert!  Santa or whatever gift bearing icon you don't believe in must have low temperature cookery on the mind this year.  Here are three opportunities to get some free stuff:

Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen (White) Instant Read Thermometer, Perfect for Barbecue, Home and Professional Cooking

Thermoworks is giving away one Thermapen a week.  The Thermapen is an accurate and fast digital thermometer, which is great for verifying the temperature of your water bath and your food.  This sweepstakes does require liking/following them on Facebook and then officially entering via their Facebook page.

SousVide Supreme Demi Water Oven - Cobalt Blue

EAT LLC is also giving away a SousVide Supreme Demi package including an SVS Demi, an SVS Vacuum Sealer (with vacuum bags) and Douglas Baldwin's Sous Vide For The Home Cook.  

Beginning Sous Vide: Low Temperature Recipes and Techniques for Getting Started at Home

Jason Logsdon is also offering up a bunch of chapters of his new book for the someone just starting to get into Sous Vide here.  

Good luck on the sweepstakes!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ask Pablo: Two Sous Vide Supreme Demi's Or One Classic

Reader Chris asked me on twitter:
bob_mcbob @pablo_escolar if you had a choice, do you think you would prefer one SousVide Supreme or two Demis?
This is a somewhat tricky question for two reasons:

  1. I haven't finished using the SousVide Supreme Demi.   We'll just pretend the device just plain works as advertised for now.
  2. On some level I refute the premise of the question as it is asking exclusively about SousVide Supreme products.  Therefore, I will give an answer, and then ask and answer a second question.

My answer is really simple.  I would rather have two SousVide Supreme Demi's (assuming that they work as advertised).  The reason for this is pretty straight forward.  To date, I have never cooked anything that wouldn't fit inside of a single Demi.  The only thing that might have come close was the four pound sous vide octopus.  Now, I live with my woman and don't have a family or a lot of guests over, so I don't end up cooking for much more than four people at a time.

The advantage of two SousVide Supreme Demi's are that you can cook multiple items at different temperatures.  For example, have vegetables cooking at 180 in one Demi and then a Sous Vide Short Rib in the other.

Of course, with the amount of counterspace I have, two Demi's might be a little too much.

Now, here is the meta-question:
pablo_escolar @pablo_escolar if you (and by you I mean me), had ~$600 to spend on sous vide gear, how would you spend it.
Well, Pablo, glad I asked!  I might go for a SousVide Supreme Demi and a Fresh Meals Magic/Sous Vide Magic combo.  I feel like I can keep the Demi out on the countertop and keep The Woman happy.  The FMM (regulated by the SVM) can handle larger bath sizes, so I can drop a turducken into my hot tub and cook away.  The SVM can also control a rice cooker, which lets me use much less water.

If I were in Europe, I'd have a totally different set of answers.  And probably an accent.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sous Vide Supreme Demi Review: Aesthetics

It's funny.  When I first saw the announcement for the Sous Vide Supreme Demi, I really wasn't impressed with the size reduction.  Twelve percent doesn't sound like a lot, and as an NYC apartment dweller, I can tell you that countertop and storage space are the most valuable commodity in my kitchen.

After unboxing the Sous Vide Supreme Demi and putting it on my counter, I can say it feels significantly smaller than the original unit.  Since I don't have a SousVide Supreme handy, lets go to the chalkboardathon 3000:

SousVide Supreme Demi To SousVide Supreme Original Comparison
The third box is an overlay of the SousVide Supreme Demi over the original.  Maybe I just haven't seen the original in awhile, but this one seems significantly smaller.  My woman had a similar reaction to seeing the Demi.  Except her reaction was followed by the slight sadness that comes from knowing that the kitchen is going to be in the constant state of disrepair that is inevitable when a new toy arrives.

My demo unit is white, but as mentioned in my previous post, they have a number of colors:

SousVide Supreme Demi Colors compared to...

At first, I was kind of turned off by the additional colors.  But I think the color schemes are much more consumer friendly than just the brushed metal.  The SVS Demi looks a lot like other kitchen appliance standards.  For example, the Kitchenaid Stand Mixer:

... KitchenAid Stand Mixer Colors

Overall, the size and aesthetics are a plus for me.  Next up:

Well, hello there my old friend...

Also, if any readers have questions they want answered about the Sous Vide Supreme Demi, let me know.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sous Vide Supreme Demi Review: Part 0

Front Panel of the SousVide Supreme Demi

Just got this in the mail today.  Will do a full review of the SousVide Supreme Demi. Speaking of things that I got in the mail, I also received an answer to a previously asked question about the Sous Vide Supreme Demi:
Also – per the question your posted on your blog, I wanted to get back to you about the size/volume of the Demi. Space-wise it is 80% the volume of the regular SousVide Supreme, but depending on what you’re cooking, actual cooking volume could be as low as 60% capacity. It would be accurate to say that depending upon on the size of food portions being cooked, the SousVide Supreme Demi has a cooking capacity of between 60% and 80% of the SousVide Supreme. The SousVide Supreme holds 20 four- to six-ounce portions of food. While  the SousVide Supreme Demi holds up to 12 four-ounce portions of food; 12/20 = 60%.
Check back soon for the part one of the review!

Update: Part one of the review is here.

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