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The Perfect (Sous-Vide) Steak and the Perfect Pairing?
What do you pair with Malbec? I personally think there’s always a good reason when there’s an obvious and popular choice. Pairing South American Malbec with steak is one of those choices you or I would almost certainly make in a restaurant. And would almost certainly enjoy. So, as a new owner of a sous-vide, I was keen to try making ‘restaurant-quality steak’ by using the Anova Nano. A sous-vide allows you to cook steak and other food to perfection using fine temperature settings so that nothing is ever overcooked. You can cook a steak at the correct temperature for anything from 45 minutes to 4 hours and it won’t spoil. That makes preparing a meal like this Sous-Vide Fillet Steak very easy – you avoid that last-minute rush where everything is finished at the same time and needs to be plated.
Caliterra, a Chilean winery was established in 1996 as a joint venture between the families of Robert Mondavi and Viña Errazuriz. In January 2004 Viña Errazuriz became the sole owners of Caliterra. Tributo Malbec is a single vineyard Malbec made from grapes grown on the western slopes of the Andes. The wine is carefully produced, using aerial photography to make sure the grapes are harvested at exactly the right time. Oaked to add complexity, the range of four Tributo wines are intended to pair well with food.
I’m not disappointed with the pairing and I’d happily order a bottle of Tributo Malbec to enjoy again with a steak dinner. It’s a beautifully fruity wine with subtle oaking and smooth tannins. And it’s robust enough to match with a well-flavoured steak.
There are a number of things to consider if you are planning to make a sous-vide steak.
Firstly, how do you like your steak cooked? With a sous-vide, you can control that very precisely. And, a sous-vide steak can be cooked to the same degree throughout. So now, if you like your steak rare, the centre will be cooked as perfectly as the edges.
Secondly, cooking sous-vide means that you don’t need to time your meal in the same way – the whole process does take longer – but your steak won’t spoil if it’s cooked for an extra half hour or so.
Thirdly, the process of cooking a steak sous-vide breaks down the fat and fibres of the meat making even the cheapest cut beautifully tender and buttery. For fattier cuts, the slow cooking process helps create a buttery texture.
Depending on the type of steak you are cooking and the thickness of your portions, you’ll need to allow around an hour or so. Using the recipe guide from Anova for Tenderloin, which is known as Fillet Steak in the UK, it’s easy to get the perfect result. As my steak was a good thickness (about one and a half inches) I didn’t need to adjust the timings. But, I’d be curious to see what the result is cooking thinner cut steaks – where Anova recommends reducing the cooking time by up to 30 minutes.
I like a rare steak, so cooked mine for 45 minutes at 53C. But it’s very easy to adjust the temperature and timings for a different end result.
- Very Rare to Rare: 120°F / 49°C to 128°F / 53°C;45 minutes to 2 1/2 hours
- Medium-rare: 129°F / 54°C to 134°F / 57°C; 45 minutes to 4 hours*
- Medium: 135°F / 57°C to 144°F / 62°C;45 minutes to 4 hours
- Medium-well: 145°F / 63°C to 155°F / 68°C;45 minutes to 3 1/2 hours
- Well done: 156°F / 69°C and up; 1 to 3 hours
Once the steak is in the sous-vide you can get on with preparing the rest of your meal. Allow a couple of minutes at the end to sear your steak and, if you want to make a quick jus, to use a little wine to deglaze the pan you’ve just seared your steak in. It somehow makes cooking the perfect steak a lot less frantic and I can see exactly why a sous-vide is so popular in restaurants.
There’s some debate about whether you should add butter or oil into your sous-vide steak. The general consensus is that doing that is not helpful with meat because it will draw out the juices. By comparison, if you are making a sous-vide fish recipe the opposite can be true. I chose not to add any additional fat or oil, although fillet steak is a low fat cut – and the result was perfect.
Here’s the recipe I used to make my sous-vide fillet steak.
How to cook the perfect sous-vide fillet steak (or tenderloin)
- 1 150g Fillet Steak
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 2 sprigs Thymne
- 1 tsp Butter
- 1 tsp Olive Oil
- 50 ml Red Wine
- Salt and Pepper
Season your steak carefully with salt and pepper
Put the fillet steak in a sous-vide bag along with the herbs. If you are using a zip lock bag remove the air using water displacement. If not, use your vacuum sealer to close the bag
If you are cooking more than one steak, put each one in a separate bag.
Preheat the sous-vide to the temperature of your choice (53C in my case)
Immerse your steak and cook for a minimum of 45 minutes
Heat oil and butter in a heavy pan till sizzling nicely
Remove the steak from the sous-vide and carefully open the bag, reserving any juices and the herbs
Sear the steak on each side for 30 seconds to one minute
Put to one side to rest
Add the red wine to the pan and deglaze quickly. Add in the juices and herbs
Reduce down a little
Serve the jus with the steak
This recipe can be scaled up as required to easily provide steak for 2 or more people
Of course, you can always cook a steak the classic way, without a sous-vide. But the advantage of the sous-vide is that it allows you to get an even cook throughout the meat without overcooking any part of the meat. All that remains is to give this sous-vide fillet steak a try. And do open that bottle of Caliterra Tributo Malbec to go with it!
Looking for something different? Do try my Sous-Vide Pork Tenderloin recipe with Dijon mustard
The wine I paired with this meal was Caliterra Tributo Malbec 2017 which retails for £14.15 and is available from the gloriously named Tannin & Oak