Sous Vide Experiment: Brisket

Sous vide brisket

I’ve been conducting some sous vide experiments lately.  My sister bought me a deep fryer a while back, and I decided to convert it into a sous vide machine.  I guess it can still function as a deep fryer, but I’ve been cooking food in water instead of oil..

I’m pretty new to this, so I expect to have some not-very-good food.  This was my brisket experiment, inspired by some delicious smoked brisket at a recent birthday BBQ.

Here’s the raw cut of meat, about 1.6 pounds.  The other side of the brisket did not have much of a fat cap, I guess it had been trimmed away?  I seasoned it with a bit of salt and pepper and sugar.  I think next time, I will skip the salt.

Sous vide brisket

I put the brisket in the sous vide cooker at 62.2C for 46 hours.  Douglas Baldwin has a couple of suggestions for brisket, and I chose a temperature close to the French Laundry’s.   I elected not to brine, because, well, I didn’t feel like it.  I added 1.5 tablespoons of butter to the bag and put it in the machine.


Here’s the beef after 46 hours.  It shrank to about 60% of its original size.

Sous vide brisket

I saved the liquid left over for gravy: I browned an onion and then mixed the liquid in and let it reduce for a while.  I dried off the meat with paper towels and then seared with a blowtorch.

Sous vide brisket Sous vide brisket

The blowtorch method is new to me, but I think worked pretty well.

Sous vide brisket

The beef was a little grey; I think it was cooked about medium to medium-well.  Some of it was starting to become flaky.

Sous vide brisket

It tasted great, but was a bit dry.  But not too dry.  It was probably comparable in texture to the brisket that I had from the smoker.  Paired with the gravy, it was delicious.


My brisket recipe:

  • Season with salt, pepper, and a bit of sugar before sous vide
  • Sous vide for 46 hours at 62.2C
  • Use the liquid for gravy
  • Dry, then sear with blowtorch

Changes for next time:

  • Try to salt after sous vide – maybe it will be moister?
  • Lower temperature (57C) or higher temperature (80C)
  • Omit the butter next time?

Eat Real Fest 2011 Part 4 – The Flying Knives Steer Butchery Competition, continued

This is Part 4 of a series of photo posts from Oakland’s Eat Real Festival, September 23-25, 2011 at Jack London Square.  (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 5, Part 6)

This post is a continuation of the Flying Knives Steer Butchery Competition – perhaps the most exciting part of Eat Real Festival.



Dave the Butcher gets the crowd involved.





Some cuts of meat start to make their way onto the display





Jose ‘Pepe’ Penaloza cuts thin slices









Dave goes hands-free





















Anya and Dave hold up a cut for the excited crowd.









A Tomahawk cut from the Yedra brothers and Rian Rinn





Damn.  That’s a good looking spread from the Yedra brothers and Rian Rinn.





The judges (4505, in this case) were swilled with beer to help take away their judging inhibitions.





Zach’s (from Shopper’s Corner)  “Santa Cruz – Beware of Locals” sticker.





Jose ‘Pepe’ Penaloza, rocking the Butcher’s Guild t-shirt.





Anya wows the crowd with a bit of her mastery of butcher’s cuts





Zach Gero and Josh Kleinsmith work together with the bone saw.









Dave the Butcher gets in on the bone saw action too.





Cuts of beef.





More cuts of beef from the eventual winners by a large margin Rian Rinn and the Yedra brothers.  They were judged on efficiency, accuracy of cuts, technique and teamwork.  These guys had hardly any waste.





Bone saw, needing cleaning.





Gerrit Van den Noord, Jose ‘Pepe’ Penaloza, and Adam Tibero of the Butcher’s guild still had a very impressive spread, topped with rosemary sprigs.





Adam Tiberio’s apron





Meat hook





Kidney, with basil





Another look at the Butcher’s guild team spread.





Cuts of meat, being hauled away for the lucky staff members to distribute.






Eat Real Fest 2011 Part 3 – The Flying Knives Steer Butchery Competition

This is Part 3 of a series of photo posts from Oakland’s Eat Real Festival, September 23-25, 2011 at Jack London Square.  (Part 1, Part 2, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6)

The butchery competitions are probably the most exciting parts of Eat Real Festival (Photos from last year can be found here).  Teams of butchers compete live and on stage in front of hundreds of onlookers to break meat into retail cuts in a 45-minute window.  Then, a winner is chosen by a team of judges from local restaurants (This year’s judges included 4505 meats, Brown Sugar Kitchen, among others) for a bottle of fancy St. Georges gin and a trophy.

This year, three teams competed:

As the audience filled in, the butchers unpacked their knives, hooks, and sharpeners.





The audience awaits..









The 3 hindquarters arrived on a cart, each aged for 21 days to a month.





They were loaded onto three hanging hooks, spread across the stage









Trophies and gin.





Dave the Butcher, a crowd favorite, sharpens his knife before the start of competition.









Zach and Josh talk strategy prior to the start of competition.





Anya Fernald, MC and founder of Eat Real and The Next Iron Chef judge, introduces the butchers to the eager crowd.


Rian gets underway

























A few minutes into the competition – knives, hooks, and pieces of meat are flying and the crowd is loving it.


More images to come in Part 4.