So, my cooking is improving, and swapping the cheap-o meat with some decent one was a good thing. Imagine that 😛 But let’s face it, I didn’t get into sous vide to make decent steaks, I want to make PERFECT steaks! A little googling tells me what I’ve been suspecting all along, that some sort of tenderizing is the way to go, even with sous vide. I found there’s quite a few techniques to choose from when tenderizing meat, like dry ageing, marinading, and mechanical tenderizing (bashing 🙂 ). I’ve tried marinading a few times in the past, but I didn’t really know what I was doing (many would claim I still don’t..), and the result was mediocre. I googled the subject a bit, and found that one of the most potent tenderizing marinade ingredients are acids from fruits like pineapple and lime. Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain, which breaks down muscle fibers and makes meat tender. I browsed a few marinade recipes, and made my own based on blended pineapple, some balsamic vinegar, and some ordinary vinegar. I poured it into a small plastic bag, added the steak, and made sure the was no air left in the bag before I sealed it. Then I left it in the refrigerator for about 24 hours before I sous vide’ed it.
When I took it out of the marinade, it was instantly clear that something had happened. The meat had clearly been tenderized, and it was barely holding together. I had to handle it with utmost care just not to have it fall into pieces. Hmm, could 24 hours have been too much? After a couple of hours in the sous vide at 136 deg fahrenheit (58 degrees celsius), it was tasting time. And the result? Very tender meat, but a little dry, and with a funny texture and taste. It had a distinctive taste of pineapple (imagine that), and to be honest, I don’t really care for pineapple, especially not mixed with meat (or pizza!). The texture was also a bit “grainy” in a funny way. Ok, so did I overdo it? Some more googling discovered some blog posts saying pineapple-based tenderizing shouldn’t last for more than a couple of hours (oops). Ok, so I redid the experiment, the same marinade but only for two hours. And the result was much better, the meat was tender, the texture was good, but the taste was still pineapple. Yuck.
With gravy it actually tasted very nice, but I don’t want to camouflage anything with gravy. I want the perfect steak. Luckily, my next experiment was an eye opener. So read on! 🙂