A few weekends ago I was at a daddy-daughter campout, with 20 girls between the age of 4 and 11 and about ten dads. A big part of these campouts is the "Golden Spatula" prize, where the dads from each cabin compete to create the best campfire meals - a competition our cabin is famed for losing every year. Despite the fact that I am a notoriously terrible cook, I was determined to change that.
This spring I decided it was time to break out my Anova sous vide and try something new. This would be exactly the third time I've ever cooked with it, so I'm no expert by any means - I knew I'd need some help. Fortunately, between the recipes on the Anova website and the helpful folks at the r/sousvide subreddit, I had lots of advice and encouragement to draw from. Ultimately, I decided to go big: mayonnaise-seared ribeyes!
I grabbed my old cast-iron skillet and picked up a big stock pot from Goodwill on the way up, along with some avocado mayo and some nice Costco ribeyes. A few hours before dinner I set the Anova to 133 degrees, sprinkled the ribeyes with salt and pepper and used the water-displacement method to lower them in. That's when I learned one of the other dads had made the same recipe - I'll admit I was relieved to have someone experienced on-hand.
A bit over 2 hours later, while the girls were running around playing games, we pulled the ribeyes out, patted them dry and hit them with more salt and pepper. While some of the dads pulled some coals to the side of the fire and got my skillet screaming hot, I spread a thin layer of mayo on the first ribeye - that got more than a few raised eyebrows.
All doubts disappeared the second the first steak hit the skillet. The sizzling sound drew immediate oohs and ahhs from the crowd. It crusted up in less than a minute, while I bravely sacrificed some arm-hair to spread mayo on the exposed side. I flipped it, gave it a quick sear and we gathered around to see what we had created.
It was beautiful. The Anova had cooked the steak just a shade south of medium rare, while the mayo gave it a perfect sear, with amazing color and crunchiness in all the right places. It tasted as good as it looked. This was far and away the best food I've ever made. We devoured the rest of the steaks immediately, saving one to make when the judges came by (mainly to see the looks on their faces when that mayo went on).
The result: the next morning, I had dads from other cabins coming up to me all through breakfast asking about sous-vide cooking, and wondering if the rumors were true that we'd put mayonnaise on ribeyes. Oh, and together with another dad's excellent slow-cooked Italian beef, our cabin won the coveted Golden Spatula.