Sous Vide Beef Burger – I’ve Seen The Light

Sous vide beef burger (9 of 9)

After a winter of being cooped up in the kitchen, I checked the weather forecast and saw that it would be dry and bright. Having spent the dark winter days trying to time my cooking to coincide with the available light, I decided that I would prepare the food and cook outdoors. My plan was to do some beef burgers. I wanted to take advantage of the warm afternoon. So, I donned a t-shirt and headed outdoors.

Cooking outdoors is not something that happens too often in Ireland. We aspire to the outdoor life, taking our cue from TV programmes showing the perfect lives of the Australians and Californians. We buy fancy, multi-burner barbecues and overstuffed outdoor furniture. The reality of our outdoor life is a little different to the aspiration. Each year, we tend to get a total of a week or two of warm weather, rarely running in more than two successive days. So, when the sun comes out, so do we.

I had my mind set on cooking some sous vide beef burgers. So, I brought everything I would need out to the garden. Included in my recipe mix were two trial ingredients. Here’s what I used.

Sous vide beef burger (1 of 9)

Simple ingredients. The beginnings of spring can be seen in the purple flowers.

Sous Vide Beef Burger Ingredients

  • 1.5 kilos of good quality beef mince (66% round, 33% rib)
  • A couple of generous handfuls of breadcrumbs
  • One egg
  • A tablespoon or so of tomato flakes (Unusual ingredient 1)
  • A tablespoon or so of leek flakes (Unusual ingredient 2)
  • Salt and pepper to season

Chuck the whole lot into a mixer and let it do the mixing. The Irish summer is too short for hard work, if it can be avoided.

Sous vide beef burger (2 of 9)

This is an unusual looking mixture. The green and red flakes make it interesting.

Once mixed, divide into a dozen burgers and form by hand. Make less (bigger) ones or more (smaller) ones, if you choose.

Sous vide beef burger (4 of 9)

I made a less (bigger) ones.

Vacuum seal the burgers into bags, with a little butter, to ensure they don’t stick, and pop them into the sous vide for an hour or so at 55ºC.

Sous vide beef burger (5 of 9)

The burgers are not looking too summery at this stage.

Confessions of an amateur summer cook: I have to admit, at this stage, that the burgers looked a little odd. The vacuum sealer squashes them into a sort of elliptical shape. However, we sous vide enthusiasts won’t let this put us off. Any odd shapes and weird colours can usually be disguised after cooking when we are browning the meat. Not this time…

When the burgers come out of the sous vide, they will look slightly odd but are cooked to perfection.

Sous vide beef burger (6 of 9)

It’s a good thing that my diners were hiding from the low temperatures, in the kitchen.

Brown the outside of the burgers on a barbecue, in a frying pan or with a blow torch. My own barbecue, getting it’s first outing of the season, refused to come up to temperature so I had to supplement the dismal heat with a going over from the blowtorch.

Sous vide beef burger (7 of 9)

Bizarre looking burgers getting a quick crisping.

I served the burgers, indoors, to a grateful family. They tasted pretty wonderful. The flavours were top class and they went down very well with some mixed salad and chutneys, served in pitta bread, with a cold beer.

Sous vide beef burger (8 of 9)

I went outside into the cooling air to take the photos. Far too cold out there to eat….

I was lucky on a couple of fronts. Firstly, my unusual ingredients worked very well. secondly, the lovely light let me take a couple of half decent outdoor shots. Thirdly, it wasn’t warm enough for the diners to come outside to see the strange looking burgers coming out of the bags. They tasted great all the same. If you have a sous vide, give them a go.

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Latest comments
  • Hope you enjoyed your summer. We are heading over to Co Donegal next week. Will we need snow shoes? Burgers look fantastic👍🏻

    • There might be a little bit of summer left for you. Though, Donegal is the wettest place on the planet. Enjoy that fantastic scenery and the lovely Donegal people.

  • They do look a little strange; texture too smooth and shaped rather like something you’d pried out of an abalone shell, but knowing you, they tasted fabulous. I learned a valuable lesson in the kitchen today. Do not attempt to assemble moussaka unless you have a smallish, deepish dish, or it will all be for naught. Mine was too large and everything amalgamated instead of being in luscious layers. That said, it did taste pretty wonderful. Rather like your burgers, I suspect.

    • Yes, the burgers were a very strange shape. Good for throwing, mind you. However I was delighted with the flavours and texture. The flakes worked really well.

  • Was your mother there saying things like: “Why are you cooking them for an hour in the sous vide machine when they only take minutes on the barbecue?” I’m sure they were worth the wait, though. 😉

    • You are very intuitive Linda. She was not in great form as she was not feeling 100% and was making those remarks, albeit under her breath. She changed her tune when she tasted them.

      • She is an Irish mother. When push comes to shove, her son can do no wrong. 🙂

  • I’m sure they were delicious – and the picture of them in pitta bread with tomatoes and rocket made my mouth water – BUT to my mind that is not BBQ burger. Mind you I am something of a purist when it comes to cooking outdoors. NO gas, NO multi-burner state of the art grills etc. wood or charcoal is the only way for me. I grew up in central Africa, and went to school/uni etc in South Africa where the Braai (short for Braaivleis/BBQ) reigns supreme. Every body cooks on a fire or a braai at least once a week. When I moved to the UK in my twenties I used to cook the Christmas turkey on the braai – even if it were snowing (freed up the oven for all the other dishes) and it worked a treat.

    • I completely approve. The idea of outdoor cooking in winter is not new to me. I have barbecued during a hurricane (tail end of a hurricane in truth). I would love the real outdoor flavours of the wood fired BBQ but am fundamentally lazy on that front.
      Thanks for the comment. I appreciate it.

  • You are the King of the Sous Vide, as long as they tasted good, it’s all good in my opinion! Glad you are experiencing a few rays of sunshine. (Got a suntan yet?)

    • Thanks Lisa,
      I lost last week to a trip to the US and am only catching up on my comments now. Very lazy of me. The suntan has to wait. Being as bald as I am, I go red from the top down. Not pretty.

  • My mouth is watering. I doubt anyone cared what they looked like. But given what the sous vide does to mincemeat perhaps it’d be perfect for the ultimate meatloaf? The food. Not the singer. No amount of sous videing would tenderise that.

    • You have me thinking. A SV meatloaf would be a thing of beauty and a joy to behold. I will put it on the list. I promise to not invite you over when we are slicing it. I know you have higher culinary standards than that.

      • I do, Conor. For instance, last night, I used a grape scissors by mistake to snip a piece of bacon fat to prevent it from curling. Thereafter I was forced to beat myself soundly for an hour.

  • What kind of sous vide kit do you have Conor, and how much should you be paying a basic domestic model? Recommends welcomed as have a birthday coming up!!

    • Hi Nick,
      Thanks for the visiting and for commenting. I have an Anova immersion model. They have fancied it up since I got it and it now comes with bluetooth. Though how bluetooth will help cook the burgers, don’t know. If you want to get into it, you will need the machine itself (See http://anovaculinary.com/), a vacuum sealer (€40 or so) and some vacuum pouches, sold on a roll on Amazon for not much money. I got my sous vide as a Christmas present a couple of years ago and I love cooking with it. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
      Best,
      Conor

      • Thanks for the Sous Vide info. Will at least give me some valuable ammo with which to combat my wife’s comment of ‘its like cooking in a saucepan with warm water, isn’t it?”And this is coming from someone who has watched almost every episode of Masterchef, where a meal without something cooked in a water bath is almost unthinkable these days. Here’s hoping she sees the light!

        • There are two stand out dishes for me. One is in a post called Monkfish in a Pool of Pea. The other is sous vide beef fillet. If you can get to serve either or both to her, she will love you forever. Not that she was thinking of not doing that anyway…..

          Sorry for not putting in the links but I am away and using my clumsy fingers on the phone.

  • This looks incredible! I love it and would eat it right away!

    • If one ignores the strange shape of the burgers and concentrates on the pitta full of nice stuff, all is well in the world.

  • Although good beef doesn’t require any additions, how did you like the tomato and leek flakes? I am usual partly successful in avoiding some of the weird shape by manipulating the beef with my fingers after it has been vacuum sealed. I like this way of cooking burgers, as they are always perfectly cooked. An hour is on the short side if you didn’t grind the beef yourself (too short to pasteurize at that temp). Great stuff!

    • Thanks Stefan. I got the meat from a very trusted source, who ground it for me while I waited. They were really very tasty indeed. The flakes had time to absorb moisture and disperse flavour too. I was very happy with this experiment. Massaging the meat sounds like fun, btw!

  • I think I’ll stick to charred burgers off the barbie, mainly ‘cos I’m not a sous vide convert. We spent a couple of weeks in Ireland one summer, it felt like the winter we’d escaped

    • That’s our summer for you. If you do get a chance to have some SV do give it a go. You will be converted.

  • Another *smile* from the Antipodes! No sous-vide, usually no barbie even and definitely no need for blowtorch: jeez, you people in Europe make it complicated!! Somehow manage to make most acceptable three-meat burgers after a quick tasty mix and a hot grillpan on top of the stove!! Shall we say 15 minutes max and a bowl + small grillpan to clean!! Must be simple-minded, well – that’s me 😀 !!

    • Eha, there is a lot to be said for your approach. I like the idea of a three meat burger. Just as long as I know what the meat is and where it has come from. The 15 minutes is attractive but the SV is so much fun for a gadget nerd like me.

  • Well what an unusual-looking burger, but heck, if the fam loved it what’s the worry, right? Even though I don’t own a sous-vide machine, I think I would just stick to grilled burgers on the barbie. No muss no fuss. Glad you got a little outdoor time, Conor. xo

    • Kathryn,
      You are a soulmate of Eha above. Getting out in the air does us good. I promise I’ll grill next time.
      Best,
      C

  • Hmm interesting!

  • Isn’t it fabulous that the days are getting longer? Bring on the natural light!

    • Yes, I really appreciate it when we get to shoot every part of the process without having to turn the kitchen into a photography studio. I hope all is well with you Virginia.

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