Kitchen hacks: What would you cook if you had a Sous-Vide this large?

We’ve seen no shortage of temperature controlled immersion cooking devices, called Sous-Vide, around here. But this one probably has the capacity of all of them combined! Flickr user [RogueGormet] isn’t writing about the build, but his Large Form Water Oven build photo set speaks for itself.

We’d wager that the donor vessel is a 16-gallon chest cooler. He cut the lid into two sections, sealing off the insulated cavity with High Density Polyethylene (the stuff those white cutting boards are made out of). This gives him a place to mount the heating element, with a box for the PID controller riding on top. A submersible pump keeps the liquid moving to help regulate the cooking temperature throughout.

What do you put in one of these? Right off the top of our heads we’d think he had something like a pig roast planned. But it could just as easily be a Turkey, or other large hunk of meat. What would you use it for?

If you don’t need quite as much capacity you might make some alterations to your slow cooker for your own immersion cooking.

Comments

  1. sqkybeaver says:

    that’s party size, would work well with the 5gal margarita machine!

  2. Sheldon says:

    I like the nice edging he’s given the lid (the HDPE), very tidy.
    If drinks are the order of the day (as @sqkybeaver suggested) and as it’s Christmas time, why not go for a load of mulled wine?

  3. Echosolace says:

    That would make an excellent mash tun if he hooked it up to a plumbing filter. Sounds like this guy should step into the brewing hobby as well.

  4. Eddie says:

    If your planning on cooking meat in there, google botulism for fun.

    • RogueGourmet says:

      When done properly the risk of botulism can effectively be eliminated, for a couple of reasons:
      For most home users of sous vide cooking botulism isn’t considered to be a serious threat because the vacuum isn’t strong enough to provide the anaerobic environment needed for the spores to germinate (See Douglas Baldwin’s chapter on Pathogens of Interest:http://www.douglasbaldwin.com/sous-vide.html#Safety_Pathogens_of_Interest)
      The other reason is that Sous Vide cook times aren’t long enough for the spores to germinate.

      Douglas Baldwin a scientist from the University of Colorado (link above) quite literally wrote “the book” on the subject.

  5. asdf says:

    The lifeless body of Nathan Myhrvold.

  6. John says:

    Turducken for sure. A normal turducken needs to be cooked at a low temp for many hours so you don’t over cook the outsides before the insides are done. A perfect fit for a sous vide this large.

  7. hospadar says:

    While I’m not personally wild about the terducken (also cooking whole birds sous-vide is a challenge), I do really want to do a (cut up) sous-vide turkey this year.

  8. Rdnck says:

    I’ve used my hot tub to quickly defrost a roast. Just double bag to enuse no leaks and sit on first step. Had not thought about cooking, but if I crank it up I don’t see any limitations..not like any food gets into the hot tub and the temp is controlled. Talk about thinking outside the box..

  9. pod says:

    it looks like a coffin :O

  10. To anyone thinking of sous-viding a turkey, here’s a howto/cautionary talk:

    http://www.cookingissues.com/2009/11/25/turkey-time-part-3-how-to-cook-it/

    The best use I can think of for a low-temp water bath cooker that big is to do continuous cooking of a lot of steaks. Would be good for a restaurant…

  11. aztraph says:

    Now THIS is a kitchen hack, but I would be concerned about the ability of the plastic to handle the 140 degrees F that the Sous-Vide is supposed to maintain? and even though it DOES have a large reservoir of water, I would be interested into knowing how much recovery time is involved if you throw in a lot of pouches to cook, can the element keep up and whats the upper end of its capacity like?

    • RogueGourmet says:

      I will let you know! :)

      I think it will work out fine.
      The heating element is a 1650 watt (120v) water heater element. The cooler is well enough insulated that the element should be able to introduce more heat than the cooler will allow to escape – heat up time may be considerable, but once we get it humming it should be able to hold it indefinitely.

      I have a strategy to compensate for temperature drop when I add my food items. I set the controller to overshoot the final cooking temperature by several degrees and then reset the controller to the final cooking temperature when I add my food items. This can help largely eliminate the unit having to work to recover.

  12. rasz says:

    NOTHING – cooking in plastics is asking for DNA/enzyme trouble.

    Read about BPA/ECH. Quick google returns
    Higher levels of testosterone in men and women (2 studies);
    Polycystic ovary syndrome (1 study);
    Recurrent miscarriage (1 study);
    Chromosomal defects in fetuses (1 study).
    Carcinogenic

    Every time you heat up plastic small polymer strands break off. Bon appetit.

  13. DeKay says:

    asdf: A fitting finale for that patent troll.

    aztraph: 140F isn’t hot. You can put hour hand into it without burning. I would think any plastic solid enough to make a cooler out of would hold up to this heat easily. As for recovery, just start out with a lot of water to give you heat capacity if you don’t have a lot of watts to play with. Once you are up to temp, it takes very little power to hold it there given the insulation of the cooler.

    rasz: Most SV folks use something like FoodSaver bags, and these are BPA free (http://www.foodsaver.com/savefood.aspx). And SV bison roast at 58.5C for 24h is unbelievably good, even without tasty little polymer strands.

    Jeremiah / Hospadar: Don’t believe somebody saying 65C turkey breasts taste raw. My turkey breast was around 59C last year and everyone said it was the best they had tasted. Like this:

    http://blog.sousvidesupreme.com/2009/11/sous-vide-turkey-once-youve-gone-sack-youll-never-go-back/

    I would be leery of a big turducken vacuum sealed though. The thicker it is, the longer it takes too cook, and Baldwin (essential reading: http://www.douglasbaldwin.com/sous-vide.html) says somewhere that meat that thick would take too long to get to temperature and you would risk getting sick from it.

  14. macegr says:

    Seems like an extremely large piece of meat would rot before cooking all the way through at such low temperature.

  15. Bill says:

    People who are into sous vide cooking say it works fine for meat – gets hot enough inside for the inside to be cooked just right, for people who for some reason don’t want the outsides of the meat to get cooked. Think of it as really slow barbecue without the smoky flavor.

    As somebody who’s been a vegetarian for decades, I don’t see any use for a cooker this big, except for cooking lots of veggies at once for a party or something. Eggs or carrots or whatever just don’t need that kind of volume :-)

    As a novel way to cook turkey, it has the advantage that it won’t explode in a tower of flame and set the neighborhood on fire, the way unsuccessful deep-fried turkey experiments do.

  16. heartsurgeon says:

    the largest sous vide setup I am aware of was a hot tub that was hacked by Heston Blumenthal (The Fat Duck, UK), such that the upper temp limit of the hot tub was eliminate. He sous vide cooked an entire pig . Video included in the link below!

    http://www.eatmedaily.com/2009/03/the-trojan-hog-on-hestons-roman-feast-video/

  17. heartsurgeon says:

    I have made a deconstructed turducken confit sous vide. It was spectacular. Brine turkey, duck and chicken legs/thigh according to Thomas Keller’s recommendations, then vac seal the assorted legs together with an ample amount of duck fat, and cook for 12 hours at 180 degrees. When done, sear the meat at high heat briefly for color, and serve. Delicious!

  18. zrzzz says:

    I’d never heard of sous vide in my life and this is at least the third such build I’ve seen in recent memory. Is sous vide some kind of up and coming delicacy I’m missing out on? I’m a little turned off by the notion of waiting three days for a meal. It must taste really fantastic to be worth all the trouble.

    • Drew says:

      It’s a cooking method, actually.

      Sous-vide is french for ‘in water'; basically it’s cooking things by sticking them in vacuum-sealed bags, and immerse them in water.

      Sicne you can heat and keep the water at nearly any temperature you want, you can cook the food and keep it hot almost indefinitely., and since the food’s vacuum-sealed, it can’t get tough via drying out.

      The only problem is that, if you’re cooking meat, sous-vide produces no Char, so you have to put it under a broiler or something first.

  19. DDevine says:

    I’m not sure about how well that submersed pump would deal with the heat. What sort of temps are in this thing?

  20. Dekay, I am aware that non-overcooked poultry is delicious, but most people have a conditioned disgust response. (Not sure how duck gets to be medium-rare for those same folks, though.)

  21. Eureka says:

    Hi All,
    Just a few random items.

    @rasz
    When you cook you are putting the stuff you cook into sealed containers, They do not have to be plastic.

    Also, I have no idea how this is going to be when it is done but I will talk to the person building it to see if we can write a follow up for everyone. I am assisting in the construction ;)

    -E

  22. DeKay says:

    zrzzz: Yes, you are missing out. You also have to understand cooking to done-ness vs cooking to tenderness. SV food is usually cooked to temperature in a few hours (charts in the baldwin site I linked). The longer you cook, the more tender. 72 hour beef ribs are unreal, but I prefer cooking a decent cut of steak for 6-8 hours for the texture. More than that and they come out mushier than I like.

    Jeremiah: A good pan sear or blowtorch after cooking suppresses that disgust response pretty effectively. Nothing like the flavor and smell of the Maillard reaction to whet people’s appetite.

  23. iCopter says:

    Id do suckling pig.

    any health concerns their?

  24. RogueGourmet says:

    Hi All,
    I am going to write this build up when it is complete and will post to my food blog (theroguegourmet.com) and probably instructables.
    I am building the machine for capacity but it is very unlikely that I will end up doing whole animals except fish. Mostly it is for cooking and holding multiple servings.

    I will explain more in the write up (with photos of the rest of the build and the units first use.

    Am happy to answer questions. I have state certification for the use of this equipment for serving to the public – So I have some insight on the facts and myths associated with Sous Vide cooking(Botulism Risk, Slow Plastic Poisoning Etc…)

    RogueGourmet

  25. This is a great large-scale sous vide hack! If you’re interested in building your own DIY sous vide machine, I’ve got step by step instructions and parts lists on my blog. seattlefoodgeek (dot) (com).

    • RogueGourmet says:

      SeattleFoodGeek: I actually started with your plans as a guideline on this project. We had to make some changes to ramp up the system amperage, which we will post when we do the final article. But I wanted to let everyone know that your project planw were indispensable in helping us plan this whole project out.

  26. RogueGourmet says:

    The build on the oven is complete for anyone still interested:

    11-15-11 Cooking Test #1

    We are working on the write up, and should have it completed in a week or so.

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