I love steak.

If I am known among friends and family for having a culinary specialty, it is my steak.

Usually, I cook up my steaks on a grill after sprinkling them with garlic salt and keeping the outside moist with Lea and Perrins worcestershire sauce as I flip the steak during cooking. Doing this imparts some additional flavor, keeps things moist, and develops a beautifully caramelized crust on the steak. If I have my choice, I generally choose a New York Strip for the balance between flavor and tenderness that it provides.

Last Friday I got a brand new Anova immersion circulator in the mail and I was determined to put it to a delicious test. If you are not familiar with an immersion circulator, it is a device that allows you to heat a volume of water to a very precise temperature and to maintain that temperature for an extended period of time. This is very useful if you want to use the sous vide method of cooking. In sous vide ("under vacuum" in French) you seal what you want to cook in a plastic bag and then submerge it in water that is at the target temperature you would like to achieve for that food. In the case of steaks, I like the medium rare, which comes out to around 131°F.

In traditional cooking, say on a grill, the goal is to get the center of your piece of meat at exactly 131°F. Since the heat has to flow from the outside of the meat into the core, you end up with a bullseye effect where the core is cooked properly, and the rest of the meat is overcooked. Sous vide gets around this limitation by cooking at the target temperature. It takes longer to cook, but the result is that the steak is perfectly medium rare, edge to juicy edge, as below.

Done right, it is impossible to overcook something in using the sous vide method in a temperature sense. This gives you a fair amount of flexibility of timing, within certain limits, as you can keep it at temperature for longer than necessary to simply cook the food. I say within certain limits because the connective tissue in the meat will eventually gelatinize which will change the texture of the end product. In the case of tougher meats this can be great, and is essentially what is happening when someone cooks tough cuts "low and slow" by other methods. The gelatinized connective tissue compensates for the fact that the tough meat was tough, and was made tougher by cooking for a long time at a temperature that denatured the actin. The gelatinzed connective tissue essentially lubricates the meat, but that takes time. In tender cuts, this gelatinization can actually be undesirable, as it will make the meat lose its structure and become mushy.

For this particular steak, I seasoned it much like I would season my grilled steaks. I put garlic salt on the exterior and rubbed the meat with worcestershire sauce, leaving a little extra in the bag before sealing it with my foodsaver. I then put it in for 2 hours at 131°F and let the Anova do its magic. When the steak is finished cooking, the exterior does not look terribly appetizing as it lacks the browning from high temperature cooking. To counteract this I took my cast iron skillet and put it on a high flame with a small amount of canola oil. I patted the steak dry and once the oil began to smoke I put it on the skillet for around 25 seconds a side, and then removed it from the heat. The result can be seen above.

How did it taste? Absolutely delicious. The meat was rich and almost buttery with just enough of the worcestershire and garlic flavor to keep things interesting. It melted in the mouth and was incredibly juicy.

The grill has met its match.