I recently purchased an Anova Precision Cooker circulator and have been unsuccessful in both attempts to cook meat using the sous vide technique, and I'd like to figure out why.
Attempt #1 - Ribeye Steaks
2 1.75" thick ribeye steaks, salted, vacuum-sealed and in the bath for about 2 hours at 115 F - the meat was quite gray when it came out. I then finished with a sear on screaming hot cast iron, flipping once a minute and basting with a mixture of animal fats. After 5 minutes on the grill, I started using a Thermapen to probe the internal temperature
There was quite a bit of banding and the center of the meat turned out to be closer to medium than medium rare. I've since learned salting before is a bad idea when using sous vide, and these particular ribeye cuts were relatively poor quality.
Attempt 2 - Pub-Style burgers
2 3/4" thick burger patties made from 1 lb of food-processed sirloin steak. The patties contained melted butter and pepper (not salt), were ziploc bag-sealed, and left in a 133 F water bath for 50 minutes. They were then finished in a very hot stainless steel pan and bacon fat, about 1 minute (perhaps a bit more) on each side.
Awful - completely dry and lacking flavor. One of the patties happened to break up slightly when removing it from the ziploc bags and I noticed it was completely gray throughout. The burger that remained intact also turned out entirely gray.
I tend to favor the reverse-sear method for cooking meat, and have successfully cooked both of the above recipes many times by starting the meat in a 225 F oven, raising its internal temperature to 115 F, and finishing with a sear and frequent flipping until medium rare is achieved. So far, sous vide has failed to replace my favored approach, and I don't understand why.
What I've tested
- The Anova is working correctly, verified the same temperature as measured by my Thermapen in an empty pot of water.
- The burgers were not salted, so no more moisture was pulled out than necessary.
- The bags tend to move around quite a bit and one of them usually winds up wedged against the Anova. Could this inadvertently cause the circulator to have a false reading? I didn't test the water temperature during the cook, but I was able to put my hand in the water for a few seconds before it started to hurt.
- What's the recommended size for a pot of water? I'm using what I thought was a good-sized stock pot (at least 2 gallons).