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I want to cook a sirloin steak cut (2cm thick?) sous vide. Based on my preference for medium-rare and some prior experiences with beef at 60 C, I will put it at 55 C.

How long would it need to break down collagen? Will it ever break down? The reason I am asking is that I see higher temperatures referred when collagen breakdown is discussed.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Sirloin steak doesn't have a huge amount of collegen, which is why it's traditionally cooked over high heat for as short a period of time as possible. If I were you I'd be more worried about the meat become unpleasantly mushy if left in the bath for too long. I would just use the Douglas Baldwin tables for bringing the meat up to the required temperature:

Heating Time from 41°F (5°C) to 1°F (0.5°C) Less Than the Water Bath’s Temperature

Thickness   Slab-like   Cylinder-like   Sphere-like
  15 mm       35 min       18 min          13 min
  20 mm       50 min       30 min          20 min
  25 mm       1¼ hr        40 min          25 min
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.. or, if you want it quicker, heat the bath warmer than you'd like the final product, then pull it when the core is still several degrees away. (This also gives a done-ness gradient, more similar to traditional methods.) –  derobert Oct 25 '13 at 15:03
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