I love cooking gadgets, but hate the one-hit-wonder types: the kind you buy and use only use once or twice a year. This year, the hubby got me a much wanted Anova sous vide, that I can say, without a doubt, is definitely not one of those one-hit-wonders.
I use my sous vide numerous times a week and have found that it makes cooking so much easier. There’s no babysitting or worrying about overcooking (or under-cooking); it makes for a perfect cook, every time.
At first, I was hesitant to changing up my steak recipe. I have my stove-to-oven steak recipe down to a perfect restaurant style steak flavor, and it’s pretty hard to veer away from that, but after much coaxing (from myself, of course), I gave in and tried an elk steak – elk backstrap, actually – in the new sous vide machine.
When I first pulled it out after the 1 hour of cook time, I almost cried, because it was still reddish-pink… it wasn’t cooked at all! But, I followed through with the sear, and tada-da – a perfect medium-rare. That reddish-pink didn’t mean it wasn’t cooked, it was at the right temperature of 130°F, which is what I set the sous vide to, and the sear helped to bring it up to 135°F, while also giving the elk steaks their color.
It was divine, and made for an almost impossible way to under or overcook the steaks.
When I cook my wild game steaks, I like to the flavors of balsamic vinegar reduction, rosemary, and garlic. With sous vide, I put the rosemary and garlic in the sous vide bag while it cooks, and toss it in the hot pan as I sear them. I feel it gives the steaks a great flavor.
For the balsamic vinegar reduction, I try to come up with a dipping sauce that is unique – in the recipe below, I used blueberries.
I learned of sous vide cooking when I worked for a restaurant supply company. We sold plenty of sous vide – among thousands of other restaurant supply items – to chefs and restaurants, because it helped them get the perfect temperature levels for the food they were serving.
At that time, sous vide wasn’t in household kitchens and had a price tag of well over $500. They weren’t for home cooks, but for those that knew about them, we dreamed about being able to one day use one. Someone finally brought that dream to reality, and here we are cooking with a sous vide in our lovely kitchens.
Everything from meats to vegetables – and even desserts – can be cooked using a sous vide machine. It’s one of my favorite ways to cook asparagus and carrots, but me being new to sous vide, I’m sure I’ll find plenty of other recipe favorites.
For any type of steaks, you can cook them from 1-4 hours in a sous vide, which allows for you to get other things done without worrying about the steaks being overcooked.
The blueberry balsamic sauce takes about 30 minutes to cook, but you can turn the heat up and get it to cook down faster. If you don’t have a special sous vide machine, look into sous vide cooler cooking – I did it for the first couple of years that I didn’t have access to a sous vide machine and it worked perfectly fine (although, you have to babysit it a bit more).
For this recipe, I cooked my cauliflower mashed potato recipe to go with it.
Update: After cooking this recipe enough times, I found that cooking it at 125°F made the elk steak come out a bit too rare for our taste.
I jumped the temp up to 130°F and with a backstrap, I’m getting a more medium on the ends and medium-rare in the middle when I add cooking time on the stovetop for 4 minutes per side. To cut the medium, you could cut the stovetop cooking time down to 2 minutes per side.
I made this sauce again recently and really felt that I should add a beginner note for how to make the sauce. If you’ve never made balsamic reduction, you should definitely start out with making that simple sauce for a delicious caprese salad to see how the sauce is made. It is easy to under cook and easy to over cook. It took me a few times to learn that what the “back of the spoon” trick looked like (where the sauce clings to the spoon and slowly drips away). I also learned that if you make the sauce in advance and let sit at room temperature or refrigerate for later use that the sauce continues to thicken.
For this blueberry balsamic reduction sauce, it becomes jelly in no time if the heat is up too high. Jelly is still good to eat, but isn’t the smoother texture you’re looking for in a good meat sauce.
Take your time with the sauce (and stir often) to find the right texture, and if you’re going to make it ahead of time know that it’ll continue to thicken. To thin out, add more liquid – that could be balsamic, but it will take away from the sweetness of the sauce. It could also be more lemon, but you’re adding more tart. Water would probably be the best option.
The flavor of the sauce is what my kids call “blueberry lemonade.”
I wanted to make the blueberry balsamic reduction sauce and had everything on hand, but the cognac. Living 15 minutes from the closest liquor store, I was left with leaving the cognac out of the recipe or finding a substitution. I did have brandy that I used in another recent recipe so I did a search for the difference between cognac and brandy.
Turns out, all brandy is cognac, but not all cognac is brandy. See, cognac is made only in the Cognac region of France, but brandy can be made anywhere in the world – including your local area. I looked at it this way, cognac is like choosing Grey Goose vodka over Svedka. I’m cool with Svedka for most drinks, but when it comes to really needing a good vodka, you definitely go for the Grey Goose.
Sous Vide Elk Steak
Sous Vide Elk Steak
- 2 lbs Elk Steak
- 1 sprig Rosemary
- Salt + Pepper
- 1 clove Garlic Sliced
- 2 pats Butter
Balsamic Blueberry Sauce
- 1 tbls Butter
- 1 clove Garlic Minced
- 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
- 3 oz Blueberries
- 1/4 tbls Rosemary Fresh, Chopped
- 1 tbls Honey
- 1 tbls Brown Sugar
- 1 tbls Cognac or Brandy
- 1 Lemon
Sous Vide Elk Steak
- Set sous vide to 130°F for medium-rare and let it heat-up as you prep your steaks.
- Trim elk steaks of any silverskin.
- Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the elk steaks and add to your sous vide bag. Make sure to not overlap the steaks - if you have to use multiple bags to ensure none of the steaks overlap, do it.
- Add a rosemary sprig and sliced garlic clove to the bag. The amount you use depends on how much you would use with cooking normal steaks. If I’m putting 2 pounds of elk steak in the bag, I’ll slice one medium clove of garlic and add half a sprig of rosemary.
- If you’re using a vacuum seal bag, vacuum seal the bag, and put it in the sous vide heated pot for 1 hour (add 30 minutes to the time if you’re cooking from frozen). If you’re using a ziploc bag and doing the water displacement method (where you slowly lower the bag into the water to get the air out of the bag before completely sealing it), so ahead an slowly start to lower the bag in the water, seal it up, and let it cook in the sous vide pot for 1 hour (again, adding 30 minutes to the time if you’re cooking from frozen).
- After the 1 hour of cooking, you’ll pull the elk steaks out of the sous vide pot, and will notice that they’re still reddish-pink. That’s fine, you’re going to get the color in the next step.
- Get a cast iron skillet smoking hot - often times, I achieve this by sticking the pan in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes. The point is to get the pan as hot as you possible can so you get a really good sear on the elk steaks. The next step is going to be fast, so make sure you have your elk steaks near by, ready to go, as well as, a couple pats of butter and a cutting board they can rest on after they’re seared.
- Add a little olive oil to the pan to help prevent the elk steaks from sticking. Add the elk steaks, leftover rosemary sprig, garlic, and a pat of butter to the top of each elk steak. Cook the elk steaks on one side for 2 minutes, flip, and cook on the other side for 1 minute.
- Remove the seared elk steaks to cutting board and tent with foil for 5 minutes.
Balsamic Blueberry Sauce
- Mise en place! French for "putting in place;" in other words, prep work. Mince the garlic, set aside. Get a bowl or cup out that will hold about 2 cups of ingredients. Put the balsamic vinegar, blueberries, rosemary, honey, brown sugar, and cognac in the container to make it easier to add to the hot pan later.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan.
- Add the minced garlic and saute until you start to smell that nutty, garlic smell (about 2 minutes).
- Pour in your balsamic vinegar blueberries mix.
- Zest the lemon into the pot. Slice the lemon open, and squeeze 1 lemon half of juice into the pan. If you don’t have a lemon juicer, juice the lemon over a bowl to prevent the seeds from going in the pan.
- Low simmer sauce for 30 minutes to reduce down and make balsamic reduction. Stir often. If you want to speed this up, just turn the heat up to medium and cook at a hotter temperature, but remember to check on the sauce more often to make sure it doesn’t get overcooked and continuously stir.
- When the blueberries get soft, use a spoon to squish the berries against the saucepan. If you have an immersion blender, use that to help speed things up, but remember to keep it in the sauce or balsamic blueberries sauce will go everywhere (I'm speaking from experience and a newly, stained Under Armour shirt).
- The sauce is done when it’s thick enough to stick to the back of a spoon. Serve over steaks or alongside steaks as a dipping sauce.