Drying Your Meat After Sous Vide Is Key To A Good Sear: Here’s Why
As soon as you remove your meat from the sous vide bath, you probably want to sear it immediately and dig in.
And while waiting a few extra minutes to enjoy a perfect cut of steak requires endless willpower, it can enhance the flavor.
Below, I’ll talk about why drying your meat after sous vide is essential while answering some commonly asked questions.
Why Is Drying Your Meat Important?
After sous vide cooking, the inside of your meat is already perfectly cooked, so you don’t want to raise this internal temperature any higher. However, you still need to sear the outside until golden brown.
The key to doing this is to have your meat as dry as possible. This is because the moisture on your food has to boil off first, and during this boiling phase, you aren’t browning your food; you’re cooking the inside.
This overcooks the inside of your steak while the sear doesn’t develop.
By drying it off, you accomplish two things:
- You get rid of all moisture
- You let your meat cool
This first benefit is that there’s little to no moisture on your meat, so it doesn’t boil and cook the inside, leading to a better crust.
Drying your meat also takes a few minutes, which cools your steak down. This lower internal temperature allows you to use high heat, ensuring a better sear without overcooking the inside of your meat.
This results in a steak that has a golden crust on the outside and the perfect doneness on the inside.
How Do You Dry Meat After Sous Vide
If you’re wondering how to dry your meat after sous viding it, consider these methods:
- Use paper towels
- Buy a sous vide dishcloth
- Let it rest overnight
- Air dry your meat in the oven
- Only salt your meat before searing
Use Paper Towels
The easiest and most common way of drying your meat is to use a paper towel. Simply place two to three paper towels on your cutting board and put your steak on these paper towels. Next, pop another stack on top and gently pat down.
Make sure to also pat down the sides because they can hold a lot of moisture, causing the inside of your meat to boil and overcook.
Buy A Sous Vide Dishcloth
But after a few weeks of drying meat, you’ll notice it requires a lot of paper towels, which is expensive and bad for the environment. So buy a dishcloth specifically for sous vide meat drying.
You’ll be able to get two or three uses from it, so you aren’t burning through paper towels.
Let It Rest Overnight
Upon drying your meat with a paper towel or designated dishcloth, consider placing it on a wire rack and popping it in the fridge overnight. This gets the last little bit of moisture out of your food.
Although this isn’t necessary when sous viding pork or steaks, it’s a handy technique when preparing chicken wings or anything with skin on it. By drying it overnight, I noticed that the skin was crispier.
Air Dry Your Meat In The Oven
But if you’re short on time and can’t afford to let your chicken wings sit overnight, use the oven to speed up the process.
Place your meat on a wire rack and toss it in the oven. Turn the oven to 120 degrees Fahrenheit and let it rest for 20 minutes.
This low temperature gets rid of most moisture without cooking the inside too much, allowing you to dry your meat in less time.
Only Salt Your Meat Before Searing
If you’re using all the techniques listed above and you still want to remove that last little bit of moisture, avoid salting your meals before putting them on the cast iron skillet. This is because salt retains moisture. So if you season your steak before resting it, it’ll absorb more water.
When marinating your steak before sous vide cooking, only use pepper, garlic, thyme, dry mustard, and other saltless spices.
Once you’ve placed your meat on the skillet, feel free to season with some salt.
However, if you don’t care about having a piece of steak as dry as possible, salt it beforehand since it won’t make a massive difference. You’re already removing most of the water by patting your steak dry and leaving it in the refrigerator overnight.
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What Happens If You Don’t Pat Steaks Dry?
If you don’t pat your steaks dry, you’ll find that it’s almost impossible to cook the perfect steak. You’ll overcook the inside because the water is boiling while searing. The internal temperature of your steak is also higher, limiting the heat you can use and negatively affecting the crust.
Final Thoughts On Drying Your Meat After Sous Vide
Here’s a fun little experiment: Pat one piece of sous vide steak dry while popping the other onto a skillet right away. Once both are finished searing, taste each piece and you’ll notice a stark difference.
This is the power of drying and resting your meat. It removes all moisture and lowers the core temperature, which takes your sear to the next level.
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