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I just got a sous vide supreme for christmas and I am super excited to use it. Many of the recipes I have seen online suggest to sear the meat after cooking to provide a crust. No problem.

My question is about doneness - If I want a medium rare steak, I would cook it to 125-130. With a sous vide and an after bath sear - should I still cook it to 125, or should I cook it to 115 and let the pan finish cooking it?

Thoughts?

Thanks

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The searing applied after sous-viding should not be enough to alter the temperature of the meat notably. All you're trying to do with the sear is create the flavorful crust on the outside of a piece of meat via the Maillard reaction, not accomplish any cooking of the interior of the meat itself. This is best done by applying very high heat for a very short amount time, usually just a few seconds. Some like doing this via pan-searing or on a very hot grill, but I usually use a high-powered blowtorch. The important thing is that you not sear for so long that interior of the meat has a chance to notice. A perfectly sous-vided piece of meat should be a uniform color throughout, except for a heavily seared crust. There shouldn't be any gray band of over-cooked meat under the crust. Avoiding that is why you're sous-viding in the first place.

Also, I find 125-130°F to be a touch on the rare side. For a good medium rare, 133-135°F gives me better results.

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Thanks for that. Follow up question on the blowtorch then - Oil or no oil on the meat? –  mikebmassey Dec 28 '11 at 16:08
    
I've tried it both ways, doesn't appear to matter. Propane burns much hotter than any cooking oil, so I have to imagine any oil you put on would quickly be burned off, to little effect. Oh, yeah, when I mentioned "high-powered blowtorch", I should have specified propane, acquirable from any good hardware store. The lttle butane torches that cooking stores sell for creme brule' are just not up to the task. –  Dave Griffith Dec 28 '11 at 16:28
    
I would add that, if using a pan, make sure to use a paper towel to blot excess moisture off of the steak prior to searing. It doesn't seem like a lot, but I've had it cause my steak to need to stay on the cooking surface too long and start cooking it more than I wanted while developing the crust. –  AaronN Dec 28 '11 at 20:12
    
When blowtorching meat, try to pat dry the surface with a paper towel just before applying the flame. This will help the surface of the meat to more quickly come up to the temperature required for the Maillard reaction to occur (~180°C). –  sufw Feb 6 at 19:28
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