What are the pros and cons to cooking a steak via sous vide vs. grilled? Find out why I think using a two step cooking process is the way to having the best tasting, perfectly cooked steak ever.
We start with a low temperature cooking method then finish with a high temperature cooking method.
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I am convinced - a sous vide steak is the best way to eat a steak.
Since I got my first immersion circulator or more often called sous vide cooker, I have fallen in love with them. From the first time I cooked one this way, I have never gone back.
But does that mean the age of grilling is over? Certainly not.
In this post we are going to talk about the two different methods - the traditional method of grilling versus the new trendy method of sous vide. How do each of these have their advantages and how combining them will make the best steak ever to go in your mouth.
🥊 Pros & Cons
Here are the pro & cons for cooking a steak by grilling it alone.
👍 Pros: Cooks quickly, great flavor from searing it
👎 Cons: A challenge to control temperature of the grill, unevenly cooked inside, easy to over or under cook
Now let's look at the pros and cons for sous vide cooking a steak.
👍 Pros: You can cook with a precise temperature, cooked perfectly all the way through the steak
👎 Cons: It takes a long time (1 hour+), outside is not seared
In order to achieve the best tasting steak ever, you need a combination of the two methods - and some patience. Sous vide to cook the steak and grilled to enhance the flavor.
There are so many variables when grilling. These are important things you must keep in mind to be successful.
- Are you using a charcoal grill or propane? Maybe you are at a campsite grilling over an open fire?
- How thick is your steak?
- What's the temperature of your heat?
In order to master the art of grilling a steak you must factor in all these variables.
However going with a sous vide method those are easily controlled.
The trouble with sous vide besides having to be patient, is that the maillard reaction does not take place. This reaction is what it is what happens when you brown your food. The food needs to be in direct contact with heat. It doesn't happen in a water bath or when you boil food. Grill, pot, or pan need to be touching the food.
Let's take you through a step by step process of using both methods.
Step 1 - Sous Vide
In order to make the perfect steak you ever had, combine both cooking methods.
The first thing you need to decide on is your internal temperature. How done do you want your steak?
Here is a simple table that explain levels of doneness. It doesn't matter what type of steak you are cooking these are your temperatures to go by. And these will be your water temperatures to set your sous vide device to. Temperatures are in degrees Fahrenheit.
|Rare||120-130 degrees F|
|Medium Rare||130-135 degrees F|
|Medium||135-145 degrees F|
|Medium Well||145-155 degrees F|
|Well Done||155+ degrees F|
I always go for a medium-rare steak that is borderline medium, so I shoot for 135 degrees.
Creating tender steaks is depended on the quality and type of steaks as well. The actual cooking time depends on what time of steak you are cooking. If I am going with a tougher, economical steak then I want to give it more time for break down any connective tissue. An example would be a chuck eye steak.
I generally cook steaks for 1 hour at the minimum. The longest I ever cooked one was 2 ½ hours for a flat iron steak. If I was doing a filet mignon, I don't see a reason to go beyond 1 hour for a steak that tender.
If you have a thick steak you may want to increase that time to a minimum, 1 ½ hours. I would say anything more than or equal to 1 ½ inches would be considered a thick steak.
I feel once you cooked it for 1 hour you are good to go and now it's more of a texture thing. I need to experiment more with different cooking times on different steaks to see if it really matters.
💡 Bonus tip - Throw some rosemary sprigs into the bag while cooking for some added flavor.
Step 2 - Grill
Now time to move onto to our second phase - grilling. This one should only take a couple mintues - as I am sure you are hungry and can't wait to eat.
Remove the steak from the plastic bag. I like to cut off the corner of the bag and drain out the juices. That's some good au jus there!
This part is all about being fast. You don't want to further cook your steak you just want to sear it. You want high heat. Only throw your steaks down once you have a hot grill.
About 60-120 seconds per side is about all you will need. All you have to look for it's grilled marks formed. If you find it's take a lot more than that you need higher heat. I also error on not browning it enough so that I keep the perfectly cooked inside. I always set a time limit and will flip or pull the steak no matter what.
💡 Bonus tip - Place a cast iron pan or any heavy pan on top of your steak while it's on the grill. This will keep your steak as flat as possible so it's getting good contact with the grill grates. This is how you get that perfect crust.
🍳 Grill Alternative
Don't have a grill? Or maybe the weather is not grill friendly? Don't worry, I more often than not, just sear my steak in a red hot cast iron skillet. I like cast iron as it gets hot, stays hot, and distributes the heat more evenly than other pans.
Do a quick sear, by heating the pan up over high heat. You know it's good when you put a few drops of water in the pan and it immediately evaporates.
A stainless steel pan will work as well. What you don't want to use is non-stick as the nature of the pan prevents sticking and we want sticking at first. When something is fully browned it should naturally release from the pan.
💾 Save for Later
If you want you can store the steak in the fridge until you are ready to grill. I have done this before. I was going to a park with some friends, so I fully cooked the steaks in a water bath and then brought them to the park later on. Once the frustrating of getting the park grill going, we just need a couple of minutes to throw the steaks on to grill.
No quality was lost in my opinion from waiting.
I have waited for 24 hours before searing. I wouldn't really wait more than 2-3 days. I have not tried freezing a sous vide steak, defrosting it, and grilling it. The texture of the steak might be thrown off by doing that.
💡 Bonus tip - Take your sous vide device with you next time you go camping. Then we you got your camp fire going you can quickly sear your meat. You could even cook your steaks the day before the trip or the morning of and bring them still sealed in their bags.
🧰 Sous Vide Device
I have used two different sous vide cookers in my life - an Anova Precision cooker Nano and a Vesta Imersa Elite Sous Vide Immersion Circulator. The Anova is a great, affordable started one. I prefer the Vesta model as it needs less water to use so your water gets hot faster. Plus it's much easier to clean.
The Vesta also came with a vacuum sealer. Before I had been doing plastic bags from the store or then I had reusable bags that came up with hand pump. While the reusable bags were nice, they aren't easy to clean out. Plus I feel like I get a better seal with a vacuum sealer. But you those vacuum sealed bags are only good for a single time, so if you are trying to reduce waste in your home, then go with the reusable bags or find some silicone ones meant for sous vide.
I have never really used the phone apps that come with these. I prefer to just use the controls on the devices. The apps have either not worked all that well, plus it's just more space taken up on my phone that is in need for all the space it can get.
🥩 Steak Posts
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