Sous-vide brisket for 48 hours
When cooking sous vide, it’s easy to get enchanted by improbably long cooking times, despite the energy expense. Tough cuts of meat cooked for 48, or even up to 72, hours at moderate temperatures have all the textural benefits of a traditional braise, but are supposed to be moist enough to serve as steaks.
For this dish, I stuck close to the Keller approach to beef brisket: seared first, then chilled, bagged, and cooked at 147°F for 48 hours. To finish, Keller calls for it to be sliced into thick steaks, floured and browned, then sauced with a reduction of the juices from the bag. I just made the sauce, then sliced the brisket thinly and served it with squash puree and broccoli.
In the process, one thing I learned is that it’s important to check your water bath daily for evaporation; after two days, my water level nearly fell below the minimum fill line, even though it was covered. I was also pretty amazed by the amount of liquid the brisket gave off over the long cooking time. There was plenty of sauce to go around, and it was really tasty, with all the flavour benefits of the Maillard reactions from searing the meat before bagging it. A combined before-and-after sear is the way to go, I think. The only real drawback was that the meat still felt a little less juicy than I wanted, so future experiments might be done at even lower temperatures, with the time adjusted accordingly. Though it can be awfully hard to plan dinner three days in advance…