Quick-Chilling Sous Vide Cooked Foods


The technique of quick-chilling foods cooked in a water bath, such as the SousVide Supreme, really helps to leverage the time of the busy restaurant chef or home cook.  The cook-chill-reheat technique has been a secret of commercial kitchens and caterers for decades, allowing them to prepare batches of food for large crowds of diners ahead of time.  It’ actually quite easy to do, though you do want to be careful, as with all cooking methods, not to allow food to sit for more than an hour or two at temperatures above 40F/4C and below 130F/54C.

Step 1 – Cook multiple pouches for later use.

Fill the SousVide Supreme with vacuum-sealed pouches of foods that will all cook at the same temperature—for instance, if you are planning to cook a batch of Brussels’ sprouts at 182F/83C, throw in a pouch of carrots, a pouch of beets, and a pouch of butternut squash at the same time, since they can all cook at the same temperature nicely.   If you are cooking two chicken breasts at 140F/60C, cook four or even six.   If you are cooking steaks, medium rare at 134F/56C, drop in a pouch of lamb chops and a pouch of pork chops as well.

Step 2 – Quick Chill the extra pouches

When the pouches have finished cooking, pull them from the water bath and submerge them—fully covered—in an ice water bath that is at least one-half ice.  Leave them in the ice water to chill for about an hour.

Step 3 – Store the extra pouches

Once chilled to refrigerator temperature, you can remove the pouches from the ice water, dry them well, label them with the food contained and the date you put them into storage, and either refrigerate the sealed pouches of cooked food for as long as 4 days or freeze the sealed pouches for up to a year.  Note:  If any air has accumulated in the pouch (which can occur with vegetables) you should repackage the food in a new, vacuum-sealable pouch, removing as much air as possible, before storing in the refrigerator or freezer.

Step 4 – Reheat the food

When ready to use the foods, put the sealed pouches (frozen or refrigerated) into a water bath at desired serving temperature for at least 30 minutes (from thawed) or up to one hour (from frozen.)  If reheating multiple foods together in the water bath that were originally cooked at different temperatures, set the SousVide Supreme at the lowest of these various cooking temperatures.  (For instance, if reheating steak cooked at 134F/56C with beets cooked at 182F/83C, set the water bath to 134F/56C so that you will not overcook the meat.) Conversely you can set the SousVideSupreme to 180 to reheat the vegetables, let the meat come to room temperature on the countertop, and reheat the meat with just a sear in the skillet, on the grill or grill pan, or with a kitchen torch.

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  1. This is a really great idea and something I intend to do. I really hadn’t figured out how to cook both vegs and meat for the same meal. This answers that question.

    I am loving my SVS but am having to completely rethink how I cook. I consider it good exercise for this old brain.

    I still haven’t quite got the hang of the amount of time I need for thinking ahead as to what to thaw and then cook although haven’t gone without dinner yet so I am doing pretty good.

    Cooking in batches should be useful in this household. I can also see cooking a batch of cauliflower for example if it was on sale or out of one’s garden or one got a good deal at a farmer’s market. Then stashing it all in the freezer.

    I have been experimenting, with some success, cooking in my SVS in canning jars rather than plastic. I have tried puddings, scrambled eggs and carrot rounds so far. Haven’t quite perfected it yet but think I am close. Getting the times and temps right is taking some tinkering. Anyone else perfected this yet?

  2. I’ve done this a few times, it works magnificently. I had short ribs that had been in the fridge 3 days that tasted every bit as good as the batch I ate on day 1.

    Just wondering, I saw someone on a blog somewhere say that they just toss the bag straight into the freezer (from the SVS),is there any reason I couldnt do that? Our freezer is quite cold, -5 degrees.

    Or maybe some combination, say, put the steak into a bag of ice, and toss that into the freezer?

    (trying to save my precious ice cubes for my Glenlivet!)

  3. I saw the infomercial today for the SVS. It left me wanting to know how to bake in the SVS.

    Dr. Mary Dan, are you going to post directions here? Please, Please?

  4. Thanks for the post. I have a question: can you cook things like steak direct from the freezer? I understand you would need to extend cooking time but I wonder if there is any danger from bacteria in this method, since it might stay in the danger zone longer than if thawing in the fridge.

  5. I was wondering when you will release more receipes. I found the recipes in the manual to be a little bit limited. Would it be possible to get Heston Blumenthal’s recipes that were used when he was doing the demo? Is there a reason why these cant be published?

  6. The word from Dr. Mary Dan is that: we are working on a book with over 200 recipes (Sous Vide for the Home Cook) with Douglas Baldwin (The Mathematical Chef) that is in the printing process now and should be ready in about two or three weeks. By end of March latest.

  7. David Moor says:

    I see “label with the food contained” but don’t say how! I’ve been using Sharpies since I tend to bend the pouches in order to squeeze them into the freezer but I don’t know if they are food safe. I see there are a couple of vendors of “water resistant” food labels, but adhesive on plastic just doesn’t seem to be to have much longevity in a freezer where things are continually being reshuffled (i.e., lots of friction against the labels).

    SousVide Supreme responds: Sure, Sharpie’s are fine. That’s what we use ourselves.

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