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22 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sous Vide for the Home Mathematician, January 19, 2011
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This review is from: Sous Vide for the Home Cook cookbook (Misc.)
I must admit the book did not live up to my expectations. While I expected this to be more of a book about cooking Sous Vide with some recipes than a cookbook with some information about cooking Sous Vide, the great majority of the book is recipes. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and I do look forward to trying many of the recipes in this book, but there are bits of information that seems to be missing from this book which makes the book unusable to me without outside information.

To cook meat Sous Vide, you need to know how thick the meat is, what temperature you want to cook to, how long it takes to get to that temperature, how long it takes to pasteurize once at that temperature, and occasionally how long to keep cooking after pasteurization for touch cuts so that they become more tender. I expected this book to cover all of these topics sufficiently, but it does not.

The initial Time and Temperature section covers a great many meats, but the times given are absolutely useless since the time will depend not just on meat and target temperature, but also thickness of cut, and no thickness is given. I also would have loved a larger treatment of why different temperatures are best for certain items. Why is the only option given for a chicken breast Medium? Is there some reason not to cook a chicken breast medium-rare?

The food safety charts do take into consideration thickness of the meat, but only give 140F for fish and poultry, and 130F and 140F for meat. You also have to brave parsing very difficult mathematical formula to realize these figures are assuming initial temperature of 40F, and additional charts for frozen meat would've been appreciated. As well, the times given are a lumping together of initial time to temperature and time to pasteurization while I would've liked the book to separate the two. Some meats don't really need to be pasteurized presuming they haven't been tenderized and the external surface is seared. So how long do I cook my two inch thick Porterhouse if I don't care about pasteurization? Unless you are an advanced enough mathematician to be able to understand the very dense calculus given, and I presume most home cooks aren't, this book doesn't tell you.

The book continually points you back to the author's website for more information, but the reason I bought this book was because I wanted more information than is on that website. The website is very good, and while it is disappointing that the book has less information than the website on some topics, the book is still overall very good and a must-own of you are a home cook interested in Sous Vide.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 2, 2011 8:47:35 PM PDT
deb walkup says:
The reason you don't cook a chicken breast medium rare is called salmonella, and unless you have raised the chicken yourself just assume it has that.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 3, 2011 11:07:18 AM PDT
Derek Henry says:
It is possible to pasteurize a chicken breast at 130F just the same as it's possible to pasteurize a steak, so far as I understand, and this is based upon reading the same author's website on Sous Vide.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 15, 2011 11:54:03 AM PDT
Derek is certainly correct, as far as pasteurizing chicken goes. However, there is a "what I'm used to" factor, and chicken cooked medium rare with a red tinge around some of the bones would turn some people off. The same is true of pork, unfortunately.

Posted on Jun 13, 2012 11:21:52 AM PDT
BobZoom says:
We cook our chicken breasts sous vide to 143 degrees. Why not 135 or 140 or 150? We don't like the texture, and 150 is already dry.
Ditto for pork. Pork cooked to less than 140 doesn't have an appealing texture to us. We've cooked pork tenderloin on the grill to 140 and loved it, but if we get the thin end to 140 the thick end is still at 135 and has an unpleasant chew. Sous vide fixes that by making the entire tenderloin 140 degrees. A quick sear on the grill (actually using a propane torch on the up-facing side) and you have a luscious piece of meat.
After doing boneless-skinless chicken breast at 143 for one hour we don't want any searing to ruin that marvelous texture. We sauce it like it is. Again, we've tried 140 but simply didn't like the chew.
As for safety, if you leave it in long enough at 140 it is perfectly safe to eat. How long to leave it in at any given temperature is the trick.

Posted on Mar 9, 2014 10:37:36 AM PDT
J. Varekamp says:
Is there a book you would recommend over this one?
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