January – Sous Vide Frozen Turkey Breast

January – Sous Vide Frozen Turkey Breast

One of the wonderful things about sous vide is that you can cook your food while it is still frozen…yes, frozen solid. You only need to increase the cooking time by half. For example, if something takes 4 hours normally, cook it for 6 if frozen. Even better, the maximum timing is flexible. Need to be out of the house for 8 hours? No problem.

Cooking things frozen allows you to take advantage of periodic sales, like the one recently for post holiday season boneless turkey breasts. After all it would still take at least overnight to thaw in your fridge, no waiting for that thaw time. And it comes out as if it had been cooked fresh.

I purchased an organic boneless turkey breast just after New Year’s and popped it in my freezer. Before putting it in a bag for vacuum sealing (you can also use a heavy duty ziplock bag), I browned it…yes still frozen, and after browning rubbed it well with salt and herbs de Provence. Then I vacuum sealed it in the bag and placed it in my sous vide water bath which had been preheated to 134 degrees F. Normal cooking times for a turkey breast are 8 to 24 hours. The frozen breast will take longer of course. It could be done in 12 hours but can go much longer. It will become even more tender with longer cooking time, but don’t go overboard as it will turn to mush. I cooked mine for about 28 hours.

Browned Turkey Breast

Turkey Breast Vacuum Sealed and Ready to Cook

We Are Cooking

Be sure the water covers the top of your bag and cover your container with a lid or plastic wrap. 24 hours is a long time and the water will evaporate otherwise. You don’t want to have to get up in the middle of the night to check the water level.

It turned out tender and delicious. If you are serving it warm, I would brown it again. But because this was intended for sandwiches and cold meals I didn’t bother.

Overnight Sous Vide Turkey Breast

Sous Vide Turkey Breast – Fresh or Frozen

  1. Preheat the sous vide water bath to 134 degrees F
  2. Brown the fresh or frozen turkey breast in olive oil, concentrating on the skin side
  3. When cool, rub with salt and your herb of choice (I used herb de Provence)
  4. Seal in a vacuum bag or place in a heavy duty ziplock bag.
  5. Immerse in the water bath, using the water displacement method to force out any air in a ziplock bag. Make sure the turkey breast is covered by the water.
  6. Cover your water bath with plastic wrap or a lid.
  7. Cook for 8 to 24 hours if fresh, 12 to 30 if frozen.
  8. If serving warm you may want to brown it again.
January – Overnight Oatmeal – Sous Vide or Slow Cooker

January – Overnight Oatmeal – Sous Vide or Slow Cooker

Have you ever cooked your oatmeal in your slow cooker? If so, you know what a cleanup mess it is. Ta da! Here is the solution…cook it in individual serving jars or larger jars for 2 servings or cook it sous vide overnight. Why didn’t I think of that? This helpful tip came from a neighbor and friend. Thank you Josh and Juliette.

There is a backstory to this recipe. We locked ourselves out of the house a few mornings ago, seriously we had just installed a fancy new front door lock and not gotten around to hiding a key. Dumb eh? Thank goodness our neighbor was up, had coffee ready as well as good conversation which turned to sous vide oatmeal. We had an hour to wait until someone with a key showed up. I can talk about food anytime and the two of them are definitely foodies. You might ask, what were we doing out in the yard in our pajamas (without our cell phones) in the early morning? Well, if you are a regular reader of this blog you will know that we are getting ready to sell our Oakland house. This has been difficult for us all but even harder on Casey and Quinn, or dogs. Quinn is a bit of a nervous nelly anyway and she started drinking huge amounts of water. We feared the worst and spent many hundreds of dollars in tests at the vet, which were all negative. But, the last test for diabetes required a first morning urine sample. Yep, that is what we were doing out in the yard while it was still dark, collecting pee. What we do for our furry friends! The lock out seemed symbolic in a way, the house saying “You want to leave me? Then I will kick you out!”.

Warm and friendly neighbors with coffee and cell phones are priceless.

I digress, back to food. This recipe will work on a slow cooker set on low, or with your sous vide machine. You will need to add water to the slow cooker – just up to an inch below the rim of the jars. Then set it on low for overnight.

My sous vide maker decided to give up the ghost and I had to order a new one from Amazon. Sorry that this has delayed the posting of the recipe. I will make these in single (1 cup) serving sizes, each in a pint canning jar. That way there is room for you to stir in milk, butter, or some other flavorings after it is cooked. I found all that was needed was a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Steel Cut Oatmeal

This is a life changer as far as oatmeal is concerned. The oats come out creamy but with a tiny bite of texture in the middle, much as you would want in a great risotto. The freeze dried fruit melted in and gave a slight hint of sweetness and flavor, the oats were the star however.

The directions below are written for steel cut oats. You can certainly use rolled oats (I will try them next and let you know) or another type, check the package directions for the oatmeal to liquid ratio before beginning, it could be different from those given below.

Sous Vide Overnight Oatmeal with Strawberries

Overnight Sous Vide or Slow Cooker Oatmeal

For each 1 cup serving:

  • 1/4 cup steel cut oats
  • 1/2 cup water, oat milk or rice milk or regular milk or even half and half
  • 1/2 cup water
  • pinch of salt
  • optional – freeze dried fruit (I used strawberries and blueberries)
  1. Set up the sous vide machine, fill a pan with water to what will be an inch below the rim of the canning jars. Make sure that the water is above the minimum of your sous vide machine.
  2. Or, add water to your slow cooker to the same line. You want the water to be higher than the oatmeal but about an inch below the rim of the jars.
  3. Preheat your sous vide machine to 155 degrees F.
  4. Set you slow cooker to low.
  5. Add 1/4 cup of steel cut oats to each jar (add any optional freeze dried fruit)
  6. Add 1/2 cup water, oat milk or rice milk to the jar.
  7. Add another 1/2 cup of water on top.
  8. Add the pinch of salt and stir. Screw on the jar lids and settle the jars in the water.
  9. Cook for at least 8 hours or overnight (mine cooked for about 10).

Note: You can make a larger portion in a gallon freezer bag if you have a lot of mouths to feed, it will work in both the slow cooker and sous vide. Make sure the bag’s top stays above the water level.

Sous vide water bath set up with 2 canning jars

Sous Vide Overnight Oatmeal

I am telling you, I am not a huge oatmeal fan but these were a game changer. Just the right consistency, creamy but not heavy.

2 phase 1 breakfasts already cooked. I will reheat the other tomorrow morning.

Update: I did an experiment last night with cooking other types of oatmeal sous vide, and varying amounts of liquid. I found that the overnight cooking did not require a change in the package recommended oats to liquid ratio. And, I much prefer the steel cup oats to regular rolled oats (even the more expensive organic type). Another recommendation is to try and find unsweetened oat milk and replace half the recommended liquid with oat milk. Of course you could also use regular milk or half and half (rice milk didn’t do much) or coconut milk…oh my the possibilities. But in phase 1 stick to oat milk. This time I didn’t add any fruit. The freeze dried fruit is definitely the best choice. If using any other type (including raisins) add them after the oatmeal is cooked. The possible exception would be apples which will dissolve into an apply saucy oatmeal mix.

May – Sous vide asparagus

May – Sous vide asparagus

Yes, you can use your sous vide machine for vegetables. It isn’t the answer for all vegetables though, you do need to be selective. So far I have cooked carrots and asparagus with wonderful success. We usually grill or roast asparagus, and it is delicious that way. Asparagus cooked by sous vide is similar to steamed but with a wonderful crunch and intense asparagus flavor. All the vitamins are intact and that green grassy taste jumps into your mouth with every bite. And sous vide timing is very forgiving, you don’t have to worry if you are distracted for a few minutes. Roasted or steamed asparagus will overcook in 30 seconds; turning drab, mushy and unappealing. Limp asparagus is not attractive. Sous vide asparagus stays bright green and crisp, the stem just as tender at the tips.

Sous Vide Asparagus

Method:

  • Preheat the water with your sous vide machine to 185 degrees F (85 degrees C)
  • Encase the asparagus in a vacuum bag or large zip lock bag (you may want to put a teaspoon in the bottom of the bag first). Try to get the asparagus in one layer. If you need to use two bags, separate the asparagus by size.
  • Season as desired. For example lemon salt, butter, coconut oil, mint, slices of lemon, etc.

    Cyprus Citron Lemon Flake Sea Salt

  • If using vacuum, seal on the moist setting.

    Asparagus in Vacuum Bag

    • Once your water bath has heated to the appropriate temperature, add the asparagus to the hot water and set your timer for 10 minutes. Thicker spears may need to cook for longer, maybe 12 minutes. That is the reason for two bags if the spears in your bunch are different sizes. Squeeze the bottom of a spear to see if they are done to your liking.
    • Cut open the bag and slide the asparagus onto a plate. Or, cool in an ice bag for using cold or reheating later.

You may note that this bag does not have a teaspoon, big error. As the contents of the bag heat, the air expands, causing it to float. I had to put a weight on top to keep the asparagus under water. Next time I will add that teaspoon. Don’t make my mistake.

Sous Vide Asparagus

The photo is fuzzy because of the steam rising. We couldn’t wait for it to cool before eating. Yum!

May – Sous vide pork tenderloin

May – Sous vide pork tenderloin

Pork, like chicken breasts, is not something I cook very frequently. In my opinion, commercial pork has had the flavor bred out out of it with the fat. The campaign “the other white meat” did not make it popular in my kitchen.

From Wikipedia I found the following history and thought it was interesting.

“Pork. The Other White Meat.” was an advertising slogan developed by advertising agency Bozell, Jacobs, Kenyon & Eckhardt in 1987 for the National Pork Board. The campaign was paid for using a checkoff fee (tax) collected from the initial sale of all pigs and pork products, including imports. In traditional culinary terminology, pork is considered a white meat, but the nutritional studies comparing white and red meat treat pork as red, as does the United States Department of Agriculture.

With a program promoting pork using the slogan as a lean meat to health-conscious consumers, pork sales in the United States rose 20%, reaching $30 billion annually by 1991.

Well, it didn’t work for our household. In fact, we mostly swore off pork as tasteless and dry. Until I discovered sous vide pork tenderloin and chops. Something magical happens in that water bath, a whole new world of cooking opened up. The pork was tender and juicy all the way through.

This chart came from the site Serious Eats, you can click here to see the original recipe.

Recommended Sous Vide Pork Tenderloin Temperatures

Temp and Time Doneness Result
130°F/54°C for 1 to 4 hours Medium-rare Buttery-tender; very juicy
140°F/60°C for 1 to 4 hours Medium Firm but still tender; moderately juicy
150°F/66°C for 1 to 4 hours Medium-well Fully firm; moderately juicy
160°F/71°C for 1 to 4 hours Well-done Dry, with a firm, tacky texture

I used 140 degrees F and cooked the tenderloins for 2 hours. To finish I have both browned them in a cast iron skillet on high heat, and used a hot BBQ. Both were delicious.

Pork Tenderloin finished in a cast iron skillet

And done the browning on a very hot BBG grill.

Pork Tenderloin finished on the BBQ

In all cases the pork was tender and juicy.

Sous Vide Pork Tenderloin

I served the pork with a fruit salsa on the side. You could also brush it with your favorite BBQ sauce while on the BBQ to further caramelize the outside.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 -2  pork tenderloins
  • Favorite rub

EQUIPMENT

  • Vacuum sealer or good quality ziplock freezer bags
  • Sous Vide machine
  • Cast iron skillet or BBQ

METHOD

  1. Preheat the water in your pot (I use a large stockpot) to the desired temperature with the sour vide machine
  2. Rub the pork with your desired seasoning. I used my home made fennel spice rub once and a purchased rub the second time.

    Mustard Mistress Rub

  3. Seal in a vacuum bag on the moist setting. Or place in a large freezer zip log bag.

    Pork Tenderloin

    Pork Tenderloin with Rub

  4. Once your water has heated to the desired temperature, place the pork in the water. If using a freezer bag, slowly lower the bag into the water, as you go you will displace the air in the top of the bag (be careful not to let any water get into the bag), once the air has been displaced, seal the bag.
  5. When cooked for the desired length of time, remove the bag from the water bath. If not using immediately, cool the sealed bag with the pork tenderloin in a cold water bath for an hour before refrigerating.
  6. If cooking immediately, heat your BBQ or a cast iron skillet on high heat. Add a little oil (grape seed recommended) to the pan and brown the pork before serving. Don’t worry, it will brown up nicely, it doesn’t look very appetizing when you first remove it from the bag.

    Sous Vide Pork Tenderloin

May – Sous Vide Chicken Breasts

May – Sous Vide Chicken Breasts

Who doesn’t love chicken breasts? Me, that is who. Until I tried them sous vide. Oh my! They are an entirely different experience. If you have ever had a chicken breast in a good restaurant and were shocked at the perfect texture and delicious flavor (did you ask yourself “How did they do that?”), chances are that it was prepared sous vide. Sous Vide has been a standard technique in restaurant kitchens for years but the machines were far too expensive for most home cooks, costing in the thousands of dollars. Not any more. You can pick one up on sale for under $200 and even closer to $100 if you keep a sharp eye out. You will find my first post describing the sous vide wand here. I notice that Amazon carries a well respected brand, the Anova.

If you are watching your weight or health, here is the good part. You don’t need to add any additional fat or oil to take advantage of that wonderful flavor. Plus you can cook the breasts ahead of time (a couple of days), then finish them just before dinner. That makes them almost easier than a rotisserie chicken and better for you as they don’t have all those “additives” the grocery store or deli uses to keep their chickens moist. You will save money because you purchase the bone in, skin on breasts. Buy them when on sale, season as described below, put in individual vacuum sealed or freezer bags, and pop in the freezer. No need to defrost, cook them frozen, adding an additional 30 minutes to the time.

Once they are cooked, it is easy to strip the breast off the bone. Chicken cooked on the bone will have far more flavor than those you buy already boned and skinned. And they are much less expensive.

We just returned from two amazing holidays, two weeks in France and a cruise in the Caribbean. I had to celebrate my retirement, right? The result is that I haven’t spent much time in my kitchen, and am anxious to concentrate on healthy food before summer gets going in full swing. Too much delicious food and wine has added a few pounds and my clothes are tight…uncomfortably tight. Sigh. It sure was fun.

But, with this kind of food you don’t need to feel deprived.

I pre-seasoned the breasts (curry powder, 5-spice, fennel spice, chili, BBQ, slice of lemon, sprig of fresh herbs, etc.), vacuum sealed them in labeled bags (a good quality freezer zip lock bag also works), and cooked them while I was busy doing something else in the kitchen. They don’t need any attention. It only takes an hour but is forgiving enough to be left for two if something distracts you.

A few minutes before you want to serve dinner, preheat a skillet on high (cast iron works well). Cut open the bag with the chicken and peel the breast off the bone, it should come off easily. You may want to add a teaspoon of oil to the pan, use something that can tolerate high heat (such as grape seed) without burning. Add the chicken to the hot skillet, skin side down to brown. I press it gently with the side of a spatula. A good trick is to place the thicker edge against the side of the skillet so it will brown as well. Leave it for a few minutes to caramelize. Turn it over to briefly to brown and heat the other (bone, but now boneless) side. That’s all. Serve with a fresh vegetable and starch of your choice. Mashed potatoes would be excellent; double sigh, not for me.Sous vide chicken

This recipe is for 4 breasts, serving 4 – 6 (easily multiplied)

Sous vide chicken breast – basic method

  • 4 bone in, skin on chicken breasts
  • seasoning of choice. For example BBQ rub, fresh herbs, lemon slices, curry powder, etc.
  • Kosher salt

Method

  1. Preheat your sous vide water to 150 degrees F for moist chicken, still slightly soft. You will finish them in a hot pan.
  2. Season and seal each chicken breast in either a vacuum bag (seal on moist setting) or in a heavy duty plastic zip lock bag (you will use the water displacement method to remove most of the air).

    Fennel Spice Rub

  3. Once hot, place the bags in the heated water. The vacuum bags should sink below the water level. For zip lock bags, gently push the bottom of the bag into the water displacing the air (without getting any water into the opening). Once near the top, seal the bag. Trick: if the bags don’t sink to the bottom, you can put a teaspoon into the bag with the food.
  4. Cook the chicken for at least an hour, as long as two is fine. My chicken breasts were quite large so I cooked them for 1 hour and 15 minutes. If frozen add another 30 or 40 minutes to the time.
  5. If you are not going to finish and eat them immediately, cool the bags in an ice water bath for an hour, then refrigerate. You want them to cool quickly to avoid food poisoning. If properly refrigerated the chicken will be fine for 2 or 3 days. I cooked mine the night before.
  6. When ready to eat, remove the chicken from the bag and gently pull off the breast bone. If they are cold this might take a bit more elbow grease but the bone should release from the meat.
  7. Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat. Once very hot, add a slick of high temperature oil like grape seed and brown the chicken on all sides.

    Sous vide chicken breasts in cast iron pan.

  8. Let rest for a few minutes before slicing.

    sous vide chicken breasts

    Tender and delicious, juicy and moist without a bit of dryness, plus a crisp skin from the hot frying pan. It was a wonderful contrast of textures. Use the best quality chicken breasts you can find as the flavor really comes through. 

I am taking this to Fiesta Friday #170 hosted by Angie.  The co-hosts this week are Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes and Sue @ Birgerbird. Click on the Fiesta Friday link to see all the yummy food other bloggers are bringing to the party.