Beef Shin Sous Vide – The Nerd Needs To ‘fess Up.

Sous vide beef shins (1 of 3)“57º for 48 Hours. They will be delicious.” Or, so came the casual (too casual as it turned out), throw-away remark. I gave a good bit of thought to what would go nicely with the Beef Shins Sous Vide, over the two days and nights the dinner was cooking. They were going to be epic. I would serve them with a parsnip purée. Beef and parsnip is a match made in heaven. I would make a delicious thick gravy from the bag juices. This would tie everything together perfectly. 

I cooked the shins for the Wife and myself. There is enough meat there to feed our extended family (and yours too by all accounts). That’s not the point of the story. In fact, for most sous vide posts, one could just take a ‘before’ and ‘after’ photo and mention the temperature and time. The sous viders amongst ye would have all they need to know. Hot debate would ensue. “I would have gone 56º for 52 hours” would come a reply. “Madness. 61º for 42 is the only way.” etc, etc…. The rest of you would still think we are insane to cook dinner over two to three days, wrapped in a plastic bag, simmering in a basin of tepid water.

However, I digress. The point of this little tale is to confess to my slipping into the realms of the trainspotter. Not the drug addled, foul-mouthed Scottish kind. Rather the anorak, notebook and excitement, as the 4:15 from Dun Laoghaire whistles through the station, bang on time. More of that later. As you can see in the pictures, the first thing I did was to brown the beef shins on both sides.

Sous vide beef shins (2 of 3)

A very quick browning on each side is all that’s needed. We don’t want to overcook them!

I then seasoned and vacuum sealed them.

Sous vide beef shins (3 of 3)

The least dramatic looking vacuum sealing shot possible. I must be off my game.

Then as I said above, into the water bath at 57ºC for 48 hours.

Sous vide beef shins (1 of 7)

Some parts of the cooking are best left unseen by the wider world.

When I took them out, I poured the bag juices into a pan.

Sous vide beef shins (2 of 7)

You would be forgiven for turning vegetarian at this stage. It doesn’t look too appetising.

I then added a half tablespoon of corn flour diluted in 2 tablespoons of water. This is a real nerdlinger of a trick given to me by Stefan over at – a sous vide nerd, if ever there was one.

Sous vide beef shins (3 of 7)

The cornflour thickens the mix and prevents the collagens going lumpy.

Sous Vide Nerd Interlude: The cornflour is a neat trick that makes getting a punchy sous vide gravy very easy. The collagens would otherwise turn int a thick bloom that would have to be sieved off. I think it works because they bind with the cornflour rather than with themselves. That’s the science bit over. 

Once the gravy is heated and thickened, serve the shins with some parsnip purée and a nice dollop of the delicious sauce.

Sous vide beef shins (7 of 7)

Pretty perfect looking shin beef sous-vide. What was the problem?

So, that all looks very straightforward. The beef was as beefy as the opening credits of Rawhide. It was delicious.The parsnip purée was perfect. It was just that the beef might have been just a little bit on the chewy side. Once I let that little niggle creep in, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. The Wife disagreed. She said it was perfect. She said I was getting obsessive. She might even be right. I now believe that I think it could have been better if I had given it 60 hours rather than 48. Or perhaps 54? What if I had done it for less time at a slightly higher temperature? What about a little longer and lower temperature? What would Stefan think? Am turning into a total sous vide nerd?

Time to buy an anorak to wear in the kitchen….

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  • I must get one of them little device, nice one!

  • I’m beginning to think sous vide machines are like Minecraft for grown-ups. I am sending you a nice yellow cagoule in the post. The sort that folds up and you can put in your pocket.

      • A friend of mine bought one in Lidl! About £40, I believe.

  • Nice! I’m with you there. So many numbers and ways to make a sous vide dish shine as there are opinions amongst the opinionated. I too follow Stefan’s suggestions pretty much most of the time because he has a pretty solid understanding of what the final result needs to be to achieve a perfect compromise between doneness and texture. That aside, I wish I had the ability to write as eloquently as you do on every post but english isn’t my first language and even if it were, your style is far more snappy than my posts would ever be written in Spanish. Happy new year. Your dish sounds amazing!

  • Nothing wrong with being a perfectionist. Your beef looks delicious but I have to admit that it is your parsnip puree that really caught my eye. It looks like silk.
    And I seriously doubt if you would forgive anyone turning vegetarian! 🙂

  • Perhaps a trifle nerdy, but so much better that than being of the mad-scientist, “mwahahaha!” variety. And this way, after all, we benefit from the fruits of your experimentation and obsession with perfection. I’m with Stefan on the cornflour into the meat juice bit when I make gravy, but I use half milk, half water for a slightly smoother effect.

  • Sounds delicious. My pragmatic Latvian partner asked “but what about all the electricity you would use over 60 hours”. 😄😄😄

  • This looks incredible delicious. I`ve never tried to prepare anything sous vide and when I see those pictures I honestly think that I should … I read so much about it everywhere! Thanks, as always!

  • Looks good. I like that cut.

  • Heart warming to see this ‘full cut’ Conor ie bone in (plus marrow)and not diced and boned binned! Lovely looking dish!

  • With 48 hours at 57, I’m surprised it wasn’t downright tough! I do veal shins for 72 hours at 62! I tried beef shins once that way, and they were still tough. Nerd doesn’t sound all that grand. How about sous-vide wizard? 😉

  • Please forgive me as I’m not knocking your post or all the hard work, but this is what I don’t get about sous vide. I cook osso buco (beef and veal) all the time and achieve wonderful tender results in my Le Creuset after 5 or 6 hours in the oven at 120 – 150º C. With the added mire poix, a little stock and red wine it makes its own sauce.

      • IMHO sous vide has gone beyond its original intention or use. In a restaurant it allows the chef the ability to have perfectly cooked fish or meat, ready for the duration of service, which can be finished off at the drop of a hat when customers order a specific dish. At home one can prepare the same thing in a few hours with excellent results instead of a few days. Both are great, but I struggle to see the advantage at home.

  • I don’t see why thinking of oneself as an anorak is a problem, Conor. After all, this is Ireland. If you don’t think you’re doing it wrong, you’re not doing it right.

      • I don’t believe in hoods, as you know, Conor. But if you’re that way inclined, I hope you have the footwear to match.

  • I’m with you, I think parsnip mash or puree is fabulous with red meat. It’s a great balance. I haven’t tried anything cooked sous vide but obviously I need to add it to my list!

  • The dish looks fantastic, Conor, and I’m sure your wife is correct. You’re being too critical of your efforts. As for me, I haven’t the patience for a 56 or 72 hour process. I’ve a hard enough time waiting 8 hours when the shanks are in a slow cooker.

  • The only thing I noticed is that you seared the beef BEFORE putting it into the sous vide bag instead of AFTER. At least that is what I think Stefan usually does. However, those are really thick cuts of meat, so perhaps try longer next time? Anyways, don’t give yourself such a hard knock. Hey, if the wifey likes it, all is good, right? 🙂

  • Beef and parsnip is a match made specifically for my face – especially with a good pan gravy!!!
    Nice work Conor. Great pics as always. Top notch!

      • Stop it. You’re making me hungry… Although, I guess I can just make myself something to eat to solve that problem… OK, carry on 😁

  • You have a very lucky family! Your process is pretty amazing. Delicious.

  • I’d probably side with your wife but encourage you to try again and again really, really soon 😉

      • I don’t like to complain about the weather but I’ll be honest, it has been terribly cold and wet. The wind is howling outside right now and it has a bitter bite to it. The upside, the sun is shining, for what that’s worth….just trying to find a ‘bright side’, ha, ha.
        Are you able to get out and cycle this time of year? My daughter and I have begun training for a cycle trip we are planning but have only managed three days out of the nine we’ve wanted. Looking forward to spring and, please God, a lovely warm summer. Cheers Connor! Melissa Xx

  • I’m sure I would enjoy your meal…especially if your wife said it was good. Since I’ll probably never have a sous vide machine, I think I’d cook the beef like Mad Dog suggested. But who knows, perhaps I’ll be gifted one in the future and then I will be comparing your and Stefan notes on technique. 😀

  • I just made some beef shank at 61 degrees for 48 hours. I will slap on some crushed black pepper, sear it in a cast iron pan, and probably flambe it with some brandy, and will report back. I made my own sous vide cooker using a $20 Chinese temperature sensor and $3 slow cooker from a thrift store. There are articles on the Internet, just Google sous vide cooker for under $35. I look forward to sharing ideas with you.
    Chris from Vancouver Island.

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