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 Stefangourmet.com – 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!

    • You will never look back. It’s great fun and is very easy to do.

  • 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.

    • Ha! There is a bit of that about it for sure. Three of my cycling buddies got SV machines for Christmas. We might take over a basement room somewhere.

      • 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!

    • Paul, you are far too kind to me. Yours is one of the blogs that I admire and treat as a real ‘go to’ place. The standard of the photography as well as the dry humour and expertise bring me around again and again. Keep at it. Stefan is the master, for sure.

  • 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.

    • Thanks Rosemary. Most often, one sees it cubed without the bone here. It’s great to get it this way, even if it leads to total overeating.

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

    • Thanks Big Man. The marrow is lovely eaten with a small spoon. Such a waste to see it throw.

  • 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? 😉

    • Wizard will do it. Though I have you described differently in an upcoming post. I plan to do them again hotter and for longer. I will report it. I would like to try it with a Guinness sauce to allow me tell a tale of the pubs of Dublin while I’m at it. More anon…

  • 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.

    • I find it very hard to argue with you on this MD. The oven approach delivers a fantastic result anyway. It is different in the end result texture and the flavours are subtly (if I ever do subtle) different. Both are good. In fact, I would go so far as to say both are great.

      • 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.

        • It must be the the nerd in me. Mind you the best fillet steak I have ever prepared was SV. I have some lamb shanks coming here soon. They were divine SV and not possible,or as easy perhaps, in the oven.

  • 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 have been trying to think of a witty response to this for a few days. I have failed. I think I look pretty good in this. What do you think? Hood up or down?

      • 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!

    • Virginia, please do. Any of the tougher (more flavoursome) cuts of meat can be made to shine via SV. I look forward to some sous vide magic!

  • 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 thing I love about this is that one can put the dinner on on Thursday and serve ti any time from four to eight o’clock on Sunday. No need for any involvement over the bulk of the weekend. The Wife is always correct!

  • 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? 🙂

    • Hi Kathryn,
      In nerdlinger land, there are two schools of thought on the before / after debate. I haven’t decided which is the way to go just yet. I am posting some pheasant tomorrow that are in the after camp. They were pretty good too!
      Best,
      C

  • 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!
    😁

    • Thanks,
      The parsnip purée really was pretty excellent. I should do a post on that on it’s own. It deserves it with all that creamy, earthy rib sticking flavour.

      • 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.

    • Thanks Shanna,
      You are far too kind to me.
      I am the lucky one to have them around me.
      Best as always,
      Conor

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

    • I think I’m on board.
      How goes the New Year down there? It has been a rough winter so far.

      • 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

        • Thanks for that Melissa. Sadly, I haven’t been on the bike since before Christmas. I am in the US at present and might get out on the bike on Sunday if jet lag and the Irish weather don’t conspire to rob me of another cycling week.

  • 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. 😀

    • Thanks Karen. All I can say is that when it comes to technique, follow Stefan every time. I am but an amateur sharing his mistakes with the world.
      Best,
      Conor

  • 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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