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How to Survive in Egg and Steak Heaven without a Circulator

Bob Hurt


                     Copyright © By Bob Hu rt,

Yesterday, I decided to test the slow-cook egg theory (sous vide) without a thermal immersion circulator.  Pressure cooker 2/3 full of reverse osmosis water, upside down bowl on bottom, small dish on top of that, digital thermometer probe lying on the dish between the eggs.

I set the pot on the medium electric range burner and turned the heat to high until the thermometer showed 120°F, then I turned the heat down to 2.   I swirled the water around with my tongs.  The temperature went up to 130°F. A few minutes later the heat had risen to 152°F.  I turned the heat down to 1.5, the temp came down to 146°F, my target temperature.  I turned it up to slightly less than 2.  The temperature stabilized.

I lowered 3 eggs onto the dish using tongs, leaving them submerged a couple of inches.  I swirled the water again, and set the lid firmly onto the pot, as though I planned to twist-lock it, but I did not twist-lock it.

I let the eggs cook for about an hour.  I removed them from the water.  I used my kitchen knife to chop off the pointy end of each
shell about 1/4 down from the point so as not to pierce the yolk. I up-ended each shell and the contents slid out onto a softened dollop of butter.  The whites and yoke seemed a little loose, but not runny.  With a little salt and pepper on top, I had a perfect dish of 3 eggs.

For an eating comparison, I point out that I normally feel still hungry after eating 2 pan-cooked eggs, but sort of sickly, bored, or over-worked when not quite finished eating 3 pan-cooked eggs.  That explains why I normally eat only 2 pan-cooked eggs at a sitting.

Now when I compare the slow-cooked egg eating experience to that of 3 scrambled eggs, or the 3-egg Chef Pepi-style French omelet, or 3 eggs over-easy, or soft-boiled eggs, I honestly prefer my slow-cooked-in-the-shell eggs to any of the other pan-cooked eggs.  The slow-cooked eggs have a perfect, creamy texture in the mouth and a sumptuous, non-raw flavor.  Plus, I didn't feel bored, or hurry-up-and-get-done, or sickly feeling as I do when working my way through three pan-cooked eggs.

I know what you think:  "That fool drug out a huge pot, dishes, and thermometer, and spent at least an hour and a half cooking 3 eggs the sous vide way without a fancy expensive circulator that keeps the water at a constant temperature surrounding the food. He had to watch that temperature like a hawk the whole time, and had no clue about what burner temperature would keep the water at 151°F.  He went to all that trouble for 3 eggs!??.  He must have a lot of time on his hands.  What a waste of life!"

Really, I do see your point.  But we’re talking Egg Heaven here, not just garden-variety boiled, scrambled, fried, or omelet eggs.  I
imagine that the inventor of the cooking circulator (a standard chemistry laboratory item) for cooking purposes went through the same ordeal as I before deciding to make that circulator.  And you guessed correctly.  I do have a little time on my hands.

Maybe someday I will buy a circulator when the retail price drops to 50 bucks. 

Meanwhile, I shall use the above technique to cook a couple of 2-inch thick strip, rib eye, or tenderloin steaks at 130ºF (medium rare, the perfect doneness) for 5 hours.  I shall put each steak in its own Ziploc bag and use a drinking straw to suck all the air out before sealing, the cheap-man's vacuum sealing method.  I shall finish them by grilling them at medium-high temperature for 30 seconds per side.

Right, we’re talking Steak Heaven.