As our community continues to grow, we want to share some of the incredible things people are doing with their Anova devices. We constantly get stories, pictures, and videos of how sous vide has changed the way they cook, and even brew (as you're about to learn).
To share some of these stories with our community, we'll be doing a Q&A with people who have sent in some of the amazing feats they've accomplished in their kitchens, and posting it on our blog for everyone to enjoy.
First up in this series is Jordan. A Chiropractor from Dallas, TX and proud owner of an Anova One.
How did you get into cooking/brewing?
As for getting into cooking, I didn't really until I was 25 years old and it was more a point of shame when I came to the realization that I was a quarter century old and couldn't cook much beyond an egg. The rest of the learning just naturally followed based on the food style that I was largely exploring dining out at the time. As for brewing beer, I am coming up on my 3 year brewversary. I started out doing liquid malt extract while steeping specialty grains. This is known as a partial mash brew. By the third brew I had already crafted a mashtun (the vessel you soak crushed malt in that makes the pre-beer liquid known as wort) and started brewing all grain. The equivalent in the cooking world would be akin to going from using a ready made sauce packet/jar for a plate of pasta to making the sauce yourself from scratch.
How did you learn about sous vide?
I had some chicken and waffles at a locally famous brunchery with a friend of mine. Prior to ordering he told me about how the chicken was ridiculously juicy due to their using this relatively new method of cooking called sous vide. The chicken was transcendent, so I read up on the technique. My research just so happened to coincide with the release of the Anova One. Being the sole provider of my household, the Anova one was my Christmas present to myself that year :)
Who is your favorite chef/brewer?
Here in Dallas I would have to cay Chef Oliver Sitrin of The Blind Butcher. His tripe and tail dish makes my eyes roll into the back of my head. He has a special place in my heart for introducing me to the wonderful world of offal. As for the brewer, I would have to say Michael Peticolas of Peticolas Brewing Company. All of his beer are to subtle but so complex. He apparently only uses one house yeast strain to achieve many styles. This impresses me greatly.
How long have you been cooking sous vide?
Since December of 2013
What recipe did you brew?
I brewed a recipe from a popular homebrew blog Brulosophy
called "Hop Test Bitter". It is an English Bitter Style beer. I had a new batch of low alpha acid (low bittering capability) Sonnet Golding hops that I had bought that I needed to test the characteristics of for use in other styles later.
What was the occasion for this recipe?
Who needs an occasion for good beer? ;)
Who were you brewing for?
Mainly myself and my brew partner for the purpose of testing the new hops, but we usually share with many friends over the course of the keg to get their feedback.
Tell us about the brewing experience.
It was flawless. I had used the Anova one for a couple of smaller batches with less grain before. This was the first 5 gallon batch I had done with it. One of the things people need to understand with respect to home-brewing is that one of the single most important aspects of it is maintaining the temperature of the mash (the mixture of crushed malted grains and water.) This point in the process determines the activity of enzymes contained in the malted grain that govern the way in which the starches contained in it are converted into to different types of very fermentable, semi-fermentable, or hardly fermentable sugars. These sugars later on will be eaten by yeast to produce alcohol and co2 or will not be eaten and will contribute to the body and mouthfeel of the resulting beer. Repeatable results rely heavily on consistency with regard to this step.
Maintaining proper mash temp with a metal vessel is notoriously difficult given the loss of heat, often requiring the brewer to continuously kick on there electric or gas burner to try and compensate. This can be a ramshackle dance that is not for the faint of heart. This is especially true when using the most accessible form of all grain homebrewing, known as brew-in-a-bag(BIAB), whereby one traditionally mashes their crushed malted grain in a fine mesh bag inside their boil kettle and simply pulls the bag out of the kettle and drains it before starting the boil and adding hops to the wort.
What did people think of the dish?
Those who have tried it have described it as being very bready and malty with earthy bitter notes. It's pretty good for a bitter, although if I brew this recipe again I will probably use a non-hybrid traditional noble hop.
What will you cook/brew next?
I plan on trying my hand at some beef fajita meat (mexican seasoned skirt steak) as it is traditionally a rather tough and stringy cut of meat. When making fajitas I usually use costillas (rib meat) over skirt steak because it is more tender and flavorful. I'm hoping the Anova will bring the skirt steak up to the standard I have come to expect from the costillas.
As for brewing my next test batch (which is what I use the Anova and this system for rather than my traditional larger volume 3-vessel system. less mess and time), I want to try making a full bodied Saison with hibiscus flower added at flameout during the boil. It's supposed to give amazing color and flavor.
A very special thank you to Jordan for sharing his story with us. If you have a recipe, story, or something crazy you sous vide and want to share it with our community, send us an email to email@example.com
Looking forward to sharing another story next Monday. Cheers!
Below are the full steps for Brulosopher's "Hop Test Bitter"
- Raise the temperature of the 7.5 gallons of water in the pot to the desired mash temp. In this particular case it was 155F in order to achieve a mash temp of 152F from the temperature drop after adding the crushed grains. 7.5 gallons is what is roughly necessary to account for the water that will be left in the spent grain at the end and the gallon or so you will lose to evaporation during the boil. This will yield 5 gallons in the end.
- Pour the crushed grains into the bag that is wrapped around the lip of the kettle and stir until their are no perceivable clumps left.
- Place the Anova on the edge of the kettle but outside of the mesh bag. In this case I had an extra bag that I placed around the base of the Anova as well to prevent any seepage from the grain bag clogging the impellar. Small clips help to keep the part of the mesh bag that is pulled away from the kettle to make way for the Anova in place.
- Set the anova for 152 for 45 mins. To make sure you are able to get all of the available sugars possible for your end product, stir the mash every 20 mins until the next step. In this case we stirred it twice before the next step. You don't need to stir too hard, but do rouse the grain bed. A smooth wooden or plastic spoon is fine. You just want to avoid damaging the bag.
- At 45 mins set the Anova for 170F and monitor until temp is reached. This step is known as the "mash out." At 170 all enzymatic activity is halted and the wort thins out allowing easier drainage when removing the mesh bag. You can accelerate this by turning on your burner on low to help the Anova out. I did not do this and just allowed the Anova to do it on it's own. It took roughly 15 mins to go from 152-170.
- Remove the re-circulator and then lift the mesh grain bag out with gloves(safety first) and give the bag a bit of a squeeze to get all of the wort you can. I usually accomplish this by holding the top of the bag with my left hand and spinning it slowly to force the liquid out without having to squeeze it with both hands and potentially spill spent grain matter into the kettle
- Kick on your burner to full blast until you reach full boil and then bring it back down to a low rolling boil for the remainder of the boil for your hop additions listed in the aforementioned recipe above.
- Transfer to fermentation vessel after cooling and allow to ferment for roughly 2 weeks until kegging to force carbonate and serve.
Total time required with clean up, 3 hours 25 minutes