Sous vide and cooling back: that’s why they are a golden duo

Sous vide is a cooking technique that can help every (home) chef to always achieve the perfect end result. By means of sous vide you can ensure that the core of that beautiful piece of meat can reach the correct core temperature, without the outside being able to cook too far. The result of sous vide: always a perfectly cooked, tender piece of meat.

Did you know that by cooling the meat back in the sous after cooking, you can often get an even better result? It may sound illogical to cool down your dish immediately after the sous vide cooking. In this blog we explain why cooling your sous vide preparation back is a good idea and we also explain the best way to cool the dish back.

Cooling down your sous vide dish

Why would you first cook meat sous vide, cool the product down and then reheat it again. You may know that in professional kitchens it is very common to prepare all dishes as much as possible. There’s even a term for it: mise-en-place. There are also several good reasons why it can also be useful for you as a home cook to cool down your sous vide cooked products.

Some types of meat have to cook longer in the sous vide than is strictly necessary to reach the correct core temperature. Oxtail, bavette, candied peel. Each and every one of them beautiful, but “difficult” meat. Cooking too quickly does not exactly benefit the taste and that is where sous vide comes into play and can offer the solution. Because with the right time in the sous vide, even this difficult meat will eventually become tender.

You can read, for example, how long the meat should cook sous vide in our other blog about making the perfect steak, but certain pieces of meat, such as lamb shoulder or pulled pork, only achieve the best results after a few days in the sous vide bath. . Only then will the meat have the structure and tenderness that you want to achieve with sous vide.

Although sous vide is very easy, because you don’t have to do much as a cook, it is of course not really practical and economical to use the sous vide for only one or two portions for a long time.

If you cool the meat immediately after cooking – and possibly freeze it afterwards – you only need to warm it up sous vide before use. So if you cook several portions at the same time, you will save a lot of time and energy the next time.

There is another important reason to immediately refrigerate your dish. Thin meat, about two centimeters thick, that has not been cooked sous vide, normally reaches the required core temperature after a few minutes of frying in the pan. If you put the meat directly from the sous vide into the pan, meat whose core is already at the right temperature, the outside will be much overcooked when the meat is finished baking, but the inside can also blow through quickly. It’s a waste of your efforts to get your steak perfect on the inside.

By first cooling the thinner meat before baking, you can provide the outside of the meat with a nice crust in the pan, while the inside can also slowly reach serving temperature during baking.

The benefits of cooling back with sous vide

Cooling down your sous vide dishes also has several advantages for you as a home chef, we will briefly summarize them:

  • Time-saving : You save yourself time because you can make several portions ahead. You can store these portions in the fridge or freeze them whenever you want.
  • Cheaper: You ultimately use less energy, because the portions that have already been prepared only need to be heated sous vide and not fully cooked. The dishes therefore need less time in the sous-vide, you use less energy and so this way of working saves you money.
  • Better result: With thin meat you have better control over the core temperature of the meat by cooling back, so you have control over the end result. After cooling, you can put the meat in the pan for the Maillard reaction or use the kitchen burner for a nice crispy crust on your meat. You also bring the core of the meat back to serving temperature.

How do you cool down?

Good cooling is very important. By properly cooling the product, you prevent harmful bacteria from developing. You can therefore keep the product longer, but more importantly; you prevent a nasty food poisoning by cooling back properly.

The most important thing is that the cooling back must be done quickly. Reduce the core temperature to 5 degrees Celsius or even lower in less than two hours.

In the professional kitchen, a special blast cooler is used to reduce the temperature of a preparation as quickly as possible. As a home chef, such a device will generally not be part of the kitchen equipment. We will therefore have to cool down your dish quickly in a different way. Because your sous-vide dish is of course already vacuum-packed, you can use cold water to cool it down.

  • Cooling back thin meat: You can perfectly cool down thinner pieces of meat in cold tap water. Immediately place the vacuum bag from the sous vide in a sink filled with cold water until the product has cooled down sufficiently.
  • Cooling thicker meat back: for thicker pieces of meat, you also need a considerable amount of ice cubes in addition to the cold water to keep the temperature of the water low. The large piece of meat cooked sous-vide is still warm and the water will heat up very quickly. The ice water helps to reduce the (core) temperature of the product as quickly as possible.

Cooling back in the fridge: don’t do it

Cooling a dish or preparation back in the refrigerator is certainly not recommended. By placing the warm dish in the refrigerator, the refrigerator heats up and that certainly does not benefit the shelf life of the other products in the refrigerator. So always cool the dish in the above manner and as soon as possible back to 5 degrees Celsius.

The added value

Although it may go against your nature, cooling your dish back certainly has added value in many cases. By cooling back quickly, you can eat or freeze the dishes later, which saves preparation time in the kitchen, but also sous vide time. The energy savings that this results in is of course a plus.

By cooling back, you can also prevent thinner meats from breaking through too quickly when baking. Overcooked meat is of course a waste of your efforts and is not why you have opted for sous vide preparation.

Cooling back is therefore not something that you should only find in the professional kitchen. By cooling back in the right way, you as a home chef can also benefit even more from all the advantages that sous vide cooking has to offer.