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Redneck Sous Vide part deux

I've read various blogs (Serious Eats being one of them) where a cooler filled with water at whatever temperature you need will provide the same results as an expensive Sous Vide system. I'm tempted to try it before I plunk down serious change on such a device.

Obviously, there are downsides to this approach but for 1-2hr "cooks", I'm thinking it's worth a try.

Anyone done this? How were the results?

Bonus question: If my budget allows for only a sous vide system or a BBQ Guru (but not both), what would you choose? I would probably use both the same amount.

In the  Hinterlands between Cumming and Gainesville, GA
Med BGE, Weber Kettle, Weber Smokey Joe, Brinkman Dual Zone, Weber Genesis Gas Grill and portable gasser for boating
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Comments

  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 26,177
    Go with the sous vide. You need a controller to cook sous vide, you don't need a pit control to smoke.

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • I still think I'm going to give it a rip with my family was the guinea pigs. This is the unit I was considering:

    http://www.sousvides.com/

    So LS, do you have a sous vide?

    In the  Hinterlands between Cumming and Gainesville, GA
    Med BGE, Weber Kettle, Weber Smokey Joe, Brinkman Dual Zone, Weber Genesis Gas Grill and portable gasser for boating
  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 26,177
    Yes, I have the Polyscience based on Nola's recommendation. He seems like a very studious guy so I'll just do what he says more often than not. :D

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • paqmanpaqman Posts: 1,050

    Go with the sous vide. You need a controller to cook sous vide, you don't need a pit control to smoke.

    +1

    Sous vide is a game changer. It allows you to achieve textures that you cannot achieve otherwise. A pit controller IMHO does not expand possibilities, it simply makes your life easier...

    ____________________
    Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage. •Niccolo Machiavelli
  • TackmanTackman Posts: 164
    I bought a dork food controller from amazon, and use an old crockpot. Works for me. I think it was $100.
    Cleveland, Ohio
  • dweebs0rdweebs0r Posts: 497
    edited October 2013
    I tried it with a cooler and steaks.  Had the water at 120 degrees.  Left the steaks in for a couple hours until my wife got home.  It was great having the sides all prepared and pulling the steaks when I was ready to sear them and eat.  In hindsight, I should have used maybe 110 degree water because the steaks cooked to medium when I seared them.  It was a cool experiment and didnt cost me a thing to try.
    -Jody Newell (LBGE & finally a mini BGE!)
    Location:  Munford, TN  Homepage:  Shadow photo shadow.gif
  • Thanks for the input, everyone. I'm with you Dweebs0r, it won't cost me anything to give it a try. I may give it a rip this weekend. I'll keep you posted.
    In the  Hinterlands between Cumming and Gainesville, GA
    Med BGE, Weber Kettle, Weber Smokey Joe, Brinkman Dual Zone, Weber Genesis Gas Grill and portable gasser for boating
  • RaymontRaymont Posts: 204
    I did the cooler method numerous times before first getting a DIY crock pot controller, and then upgrading to a water circulator. Cooler method works great on steaks, Highly recommend it on Filet's. (thick cuts will work better than thin). I did a filet this weekend, 130 degrees for 2 hours followed by in/on the coals direct sear for 30 seconds a side. Came out great. When I finally decided to buy, I didn't want to pay $400-$700 for a poly-sci, so I bought similar to this and works fantastic. http://www.ebay.com/itm/MGW-Lauda-Type-MT-Immersion-Circulator-Heating-unit-only-No-water-bath-A24-/321231040315?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4acadcaf3b

    Small & Large BGE

    Nashville, TN

  • That's a price point I can live with, Raymont. I'm sure the Poly Sci is the best, just a bit too rich for my blood. Now, if I used it numerous times a week, then maybe...
    In the  Hinterlands between Cumming and Gainesville, GA
    Med BGE, Weber Kettle, Weber Smokey Joe, Brinkman Dual Zone, Weber Genesis Gas Grill and portable gasser for boating
  • SkiddymarkerSkiddymarker Posts: 5,780
    Noticed that since Nola bought, Polyscience has a $300 Discovery series - I don't recall that series being available. If I read it right, it is also 750W.
    The $200 Anova you are looking at has great specs, including 1KW heater. I have no experience with them. This is also a new price on the Anova, I think it has been reduced from $300. 
    Only issue I've read with the Anova has been its size, requires a tall tub. 
    Delta B.C. - Vee-Gan: old Indian word for poor hunter. 
  • I was on BBQ Guru site and noticed a FAQ about making yogurt by hooking the DigiQ II to their Power Raptor and a Crock Pot.  I am quite sure this would also work to do Red Neck Sous Vide.  If you already own the DigiQ, the entrance fee would not be too bad, but no circulation.
    Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  • I did notice the rather tall tub requirements, figured that's just the price you pay, so to speak. I like its simplicity.

    Bettysnephew: I'm not sure I follow on the whole yogurt thing. Unless it's a joke that went completely over my head...

    :D
    In the  Hinterlands between Cumming and Gainesville, GA
    Med BGE, Weber Kettle, Weber Smokey Joe, Brinkman Dual Zone, Weber Genesis Gas Grill and portable gasser for boating
  • bettysnephewbettysnephew Posts: 777
    edited October 2013
    @Cymbaline65   No joke,  I was just showing that for $110 you can get a device from BBQ Guru that plugs into the DigiQII (which many here already own) and can control a crock pot at low temps.  The DigiQ will control from 32° to 475°.  This should work as most sous vide "cooks" are in the low 100's.  It would be a pretty neat/ relatively inexpensive way to try s. v. if you already own a crock pot and a DigiQ.  You plug the DigiQ into the Power Raptor and the crock pot into the outlet on the Power Raptor device, then put the food probe from the DigiQ in the water  in the crock pot and S. V. away.  As stated in their FAQ, you could also make yogurt with the same setup.  I think you can purchase the DigiQII, the required fan/adapter and the Power Raptor for about the same as the cheaper S.V. units and have all the capabilities of both.  It will take a little red neck engineering to set up the temperature probe holder in the crock pot but not all that much.
    Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  • Well, I looked at some of the links in the above posts and stand corrected about being able to buy the whole BBQ Guru package for the same $$$ as the less expensive sv units.  It would be a savings if you already had the crock pot and DigiQ.  Personally I just hate to buy things that only do one task.  I guess I watched Alton Brown for too long with his demand that kitchen tools multitask. 
    Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  • Well, I looked at some of the links in the above posts and stand corrected about being able to buy the whole BBQ Guru package for the same $$$ as the less expensive sv units.  It would be a savings if you already had the crock pot and DigiQ.  Personally I just hate to buy things that only do one task.  I guess I watched Alton Brown for too long with his demand that kitchen tools multitask. 
     
    I'm the same way. The DigiQ is $300 give or take. Rather steep in my book unless I'm doing low and slow a LOT. The SV is still of interest and I plan to try it out, possibly this weekend. That said, my Thermapen was the best $90 I've spent on a device lately.
    In the  Hinterlands between Cumming and Gainesville, GA
    Med BGE, Weber Kettle, Weber Smokey Joe, Brinkman Dual Zone, Weber Genesis Gas Grill and portable gasser for boating
  • bettysnephewbettysnephew Posts: 777
    edited October 2013
    When I am at work (off on med. leave for knee replacement) I am an industrial maintenance mechanic.  My personal  Egg temp controller is built from parts I salvaged from a scrapped machine.  It has 2 Allen Bradley controllers, Thermoworks probes and a BBQ Guru fan.  I'm sure I can adapt it to SV use if I add a relay to control a crock pot.  Hmmm, new project while I am recovering.  SV for less than $50.
    Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  • CanuggheadCanugghead Posts: 3,787
    @bettysnephew, that's how I roll and I'm no engineer or mechanic!  I've since found an old submersible aquarium pump which works better than air pump...

    SV egg @146* for an hour ...
    image
    Vaughan, ON, Canada

  • HDmstngHDmstng Posts: 148
    Could you also use a small aquarium pump to get water circulation in the crock pot?
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 4,237
    HDmstng said:
    Could you also use a small aquarium pump to get water circulation in the crock pot?
    Yes. A couple of years ago, when the commercial models were $$$, there were clever people cobbing together SV systems and using aquarium pumps for circulation. My recollection is that there is a rather low max temp that the pumps can handle.

    I use a slow cooker w.  a controller. I find I need to add a little extra time to recipes that are designed for a unit w. circulation. I don't know how quickly commercial models return to temperature after the food is placed in the bath, but my larger pot takes more time than I like. I add an extra hour to preheat the ceramics as well as the water.
  • SmokeyPittSmokeyPitt Posts: 4,905
    I found this article from serious eats that you were likely referring to.


    It does seem like a good way to get your feet wet to see if sous vide might be for you. If you already have a food saver (and a cooler) it is a no-cost.  I guess it is really just like "hot tubbing" a steak.  The temperature won't be precise and it will slowly drop, but for bringing a steak up to 110-120 for an hour or two I think it would be fine. 



    Which came first the chicken or the egg?  I egged the chicken and then I ate his leg wing. 
    2014 Wing King's Apprentice
  • CanuggheadCanugghead Posts: 3,787
    edited October 2013
    HDmstng said:
    Could you also use a small aquarium pump to get water circulation in the crock pot?
    Yes, I use a Penguin 550 submersible powerhead pump...the strong circulation is probably an overkill but it's what I found in my parts bin. Not a concern for SV protein since it's done in the 135-150(?) range. However, I've also done carrots at 183* couple of times and have worried about the pump quitting prematurely due to the much higher heat! I should remember to switch to air pump for vege cook.
    Vaughan, ON, Canada

  • bo_mullbo_mull Posts: 246
    Here is what i'm thinking about getting after the holidays. http://www.auberins.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=13&products_id=44

    Cleveland, TN.

    LG BGE, PSWOO2, Stoker WIFI.

  • SkiddymarkerSkiddymarker Posts: 5,780
    @Cymbaline65 I think the Anova is a good decision to enter the sous vide world. unit is small, compact and, if I understand the manual, easy to take apart and program. 
    I've been procrastinating for some time, will take the leap! Thanks for the link. 
    Delta B.C. - Vee-Gan: old Indian word for poor hunter. 
  • RaymontRaymont Posts: 204
    For those considering DIY crockpot/rice cooker Sous Vide: In my opinion it's not worth the trouble. The problem is not with the electronics (power on/off based on temp setting), it is with the device you are trying to control: A crockpot or rice cooker has a relatively small heating element and in the case of a crock pot heats up a relatively large stone bowl (which is really not large enough if you are cooking more than 2 steaks or chx breasts). Your contoller will not be able to stabalize a crockpot very well. The small element just can't  control the heat very accurately. It works (barely), but it is really not a good choice. The controller I had required some pretty technical expertise to even get running properly. I had mine for a while but upgraded after becoming frustrated. Recommend you use the cooler method (steaks) until you know your ready to jump in for a dedicated unit. At which point I'd caution you that you could buy a small egg for what these things can cost.. you would use a 2nd egg more often. The SV compliments some of my cooks but is far from necissary. The egg cooks pretty darn good on it's own!   Just my 2 cents-

    Small & Large BGE

    Nashville, TN

  • All good info folks. Appreciate the opinions. I'd like to get a 2nd Egg Raymont. Actually, I'd prefer to get a large, and keep my medium and I'd be set. One thing at a time, though. :-w
    In the  Hinterlands between Cumming and Gainesville, GA
    Med BGE, Weber Kettle, Weber Smokey Joe, Brinkman Dual Zone, Weber Genesis Gas Grill and portable gasser for boating
  • I guess I should add that I have two teenage girls and a wife to attend to. They are damn expensive!

     

    In the  Hinterlands between Cumming and Gainesville, GA
    Med BGE, Weber Kettle, Weber Smokey Joe, Brinkman Dual Zone, Weber Genesis Gas Grill and portable gasser for boating
  • njlnjl Posts: 768
    Would it be foolish to try sous vide'ing 2 1.5lb bone-in rib-eye steaks in a 6-pack cooler (Coleman Personal 8)?  i.e. not enough water to hold the temperature while transferring heat to the steaks?

    My next size up is not very well insulated (soft side cooler bag with a 5 sided plastic insert) probably about 2x the volume of the 6-pack cooler.  Next up from the Coleman Polylite 40 (40 quart).  I'm guessing this is the one to use...both for water capacity and insulation.
  • CookinbobCookinbob Posts: 1,227
    njl said:
    My next size up is not very well insulated (soft side cooler bag with a 5 sided plastic insert) probably about 2x the volume of the 6-pack cooler.  Next up from the Coleman Polylite 40 (40 quart).  I'm guessing this is the one to use...both for water capacity and insulation.
    Keep your eyes open.  I picked up a 16 qt thermos cooler at a garage sale for a buck.  Cleaned it up with Fantastik, Looks good and works great.  Should be fine for a couple of steaks - I plan to attempt a redneck S V in the near future.  

    By the way, if you have some styrofoam peanuts and float them on the water in the cooler, it will stay more stable.  Bubble wrap works great too.
    XLBGE, Small BGE, Homebrew and Guitars
    Rochester, NY
  • beteezbeteez Posts: 284
    A butterball electric turkey fryer from lowes is a great budget unit. Love mine
  • njlnjl Posts: 768
    I decided to use the Coleman 40qt, roughly half filled with water.  It was a lot more work than I'd expected to get the temp up from the hot tap to 135F.  Two bone-in rib-eyes just went in.  I'm planning to let them soak for 2 hours.  I didn't bother calibrating the cooler's heat loss...so I'll check on them in an hour and see what the temp's dropped to.  I thought about using the ET-732, but was worried the humidity might ruin the probe.
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