The idea of making sous vide steak was born out of my curiosity of finding a way to make the best steak possible within the comfort of my own home. I was tired of having to go to fancy restaurants and fork up well over $40 if I wanted to get a good quality steak done to my liking.
What I didn’t know was how much technology would play in role in making my cooking so much better. As someone who enjoys cooking, it wasn’t until recently that I realized that certain products can truly elevate your food from being just OK to being downright amazing.
In this post, I will show you exactly what I’ve learned and how you, yes you, can make the perfect steak using this method. You’ll need a couple things, but after this, you’ll basically never screw up making a steak again.
What is Sous Vide?
A few years ago I discovered a cooking technique called Sous Vide, which is French for “under vacuum.” The idea was first discovered in 1799 by Sir Benjamin Thompson, and then later rediscovered over a century later by American and French engineers in the mid-1960s.
What is sous vide exactly? Well, what you’re basically doing is submerging food in a plastic bag into a water bath that is being precisely temperature controlled by a machine. This “machine” is often referred to as a “Sous Vide” circulator.
Imagine that you want your steak cooked to 135º (medium-rare), how would you do that? You could grill it and keep probing it with a thermometer, but it’s super easy to screw that up. An extra minute on one side and you could easily be into medium or medium well territory. What’s worse is that when you’re cooking on the grill or a pan there’s a such thing as carryover heat. What is that exactly? Well if you want something cooked to 135º, you don’t actually cook it to 135º. Instead, you may cook it to 128º and then pull it off. From there, the carryover heat will continue raising the temperature of your steak until it reaches about 135º.
The results will blow your mind
With sous vide, you don’t have to worry about any of that. Why? Because the temperature of your food can’t go any higher than the temperature of the water bath. If the water bath is 135º, it’s impossible for the food submerged in the water bath to get hotter than 135º. This allows for super-precise cooking of a variety of items including chicken, fish, and of course steak. The results will blow your mind.
The Perfect Sous Vide Steak
Steak has been an item I’ve always enjoyed, but it wasn’t until recently that I discovered Sous Vide as a method that helps take this product to a new level. With NY strip being one of my favorite cuts of steak, I went over to my local butcher and purchased a 16 oz. Prime NY Strip.
Setup is pretty straight forward. I got my Anova Sous Vide circulator going at 57º C. To the left I have my Cast Iron pan that I’m going to use to sear the meat after it’s been Sous Vide. To the right, I have salt, pepper, a freezer-grade zip lock back, and a butane torch (I’m over the top if you haven’t noticed). You definitely don’t need the torch, but I like controlling the fire.
- Cook no matter where you are
- Schedule a cook and come home to the best meal ever
- Get alerts on your phone. Keep an eye on the status of your food from start to finish
- No additional equipment. Adjust precision cooker to fit any pot you have
Sous Vide Steak Setup
You’ll want to season your steak with salt and pepper before you put it in your freeze-grade zip lock bag. This isn’t a necessary step, but it’s always a good idea to season your steaks before you put them in. I’ve found that they come out way more flavorful that way.
Submerge the steak in the water bath with the top of the bag open but don’t let it completely submerge. You want the water to press the air out of the bag, but not actually go in the bag. What you’re trying to do is remove as much air possible from the bag. This will ensure that the steak reaches the temperature of the water as quicker. Clip it to the side of your container or cooking pot.
Once, you’ve done that, clip the bag to the side of your container or cooking pot.
Speaking of containers, the one I’m using is Rubbermaid 8-quart square food container. You don’t need this, especially if you have a pot that’s deep enough. But if you don’t, I highly recommend getting one of these, especially if you plan on doing a lot more Sous Vide cooking.
Use the iPhone app to pick your food and set up timers.
So how long do you want to keep your steak submerged in your water bath? You want to go a minimum of 45 minutes and a maximum of about 4 hours. What’s great about Sous Vide cooking is that in most cases there is a very wide range of time that you can leave your food in the bath without running into any problems. The fact that you can leave your steak in this water bath for up to 4 hours is pretty remarkable when you think about it. No other cooking method allows you to do that. Imagine you left a steak in a hot pan for 4 hours? You’d have beef jerky.
With most Sous Vide circulators, including the Anova I used here, there are apps that let you control the temperature and the time right from your phone. What’s even better is that they also have a great database of popular foods that you can cook with the press of a button. It’s an awesome feature that really highlights just how much technology is playing a roll today, even in the kitchen. All you have to do is pick your preferred doneness of the sous vide steak and let the circulator do the rest of the work. It’ll even send you a push notification once it’s done.
Once you take your steak out, it’s not going to look very appetizing. It will be perfectly cooked on the inside, but what you really want is that beautiful mahogany-colored crust on the outside. How do we achieve that? Cast iron. If you don’t have one, that’s totally ok. But what you want to do is get your pan super hot with some oil. I would not recommend using olive oil because it has a very low smoke point. Use either vegetable oil, if you’re like me, I use clarified butter. Not only does it have a wonderful flavor, but it also has a super high smoke point.
This Sous Vide Steak is cooked, but doesn't look appetizing
Put your steak in your scorching hot pan and go about 30 seconds to a minute on each side. Remember, we want to avoid cooking this steak any more than we already did. We’re simply trying to brown it as quickly as possible. The browning is called the “Mallard Reaction” and it’s what gives so much flavor to meat and virtually anything else that browns, even toast.
Flip over and repeat. Again, just trying to get a nice crust on there. If you are unsatisfied with your crust, go a few seconds longer.
This is where I tend to go a little bit over the top. After I’ve seared both sides in my Cast Iron pan, I like to take my torch and touch up on the little details. This is definitely not required.
I like to torch my steaks sometimes
After about an hour and fifteen minutes, of which most of the time was unattended, this is the final result of my Sous Vide steak. Doesn’t it look beautiful? Don’t you want to eat it? Of course, you do.
What a beautiful Sous Vide Steak
After a couple minutes of rest, slice up and have at it. It was definitely one of the best steaks I’ve ever had. Destroys every steak I’ve had at a high-end steak house.
In fact, take a look at the difference between cooking it tranditionally vs Sous Vide. Not only is it juiciery, but it’s also way more tender.
The best part of Sous Vide technology is that it takes a lot of the guesswork out of making great food. Before, you had to spend a lot of time hovering over your grill or pan making sure to pull your steak off at the perfect time so that it wouldn’t be under or overcooked. With Sous Vide, you never have to worry about that again.
Now, you can sit back and relax and have one of the best steaks of your life right in the comfort of your own home.