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sous-vid-que flank steak for fajitas

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  • PhotoJoseph
    Club Member
    • Aug 2015
    • 61
    • Ashland, OR

    sous-vid-que flank steak for fajitas

    Last weekend I did a sous-vid-que that came out great (second time doing this technique), but has room for improvement. I wanted to share and see if anyone else had different ideas, suggestions, and results with this.

    To start, I used this Alton Brown recipe for marinade which I’ve been using for years. It’s awesome:


    The recipe/technique is for skirt steak, which is much more expensive, so we usually do it with flank. Incidentally I did actually try his “put it directly on the coals (dirty)” technique once with skirt steak too… turned out nice, but not worth the effort IMHO (and such a waste to fire up coals just for that few seconds of cooking!).

    For the sous vide time and temp, I followed the advice in this article here…


    …to cook at 131F, because below that is risky. Now, I’ve regularly done steaks (like a thick ribeye) at 120 or 125 for several hours in SV to then finish in the pan, but maybe that’s a bad idea? Cooking in the water at 131 then finishing on the grill made the meat more cooked than I’d like. I want it red and rare; this was pink and cooked more than I want. Mine were in the bath for just a few hours. I know the article above says your can do like 8 hours which will make it really tender; I’m sure it will, but even at 3 it was more tender than not doing the SVQ method. And yes, I did let the meet cool for probably half an hour before throwing it on the grill.

    So, comments and questions…

    1. Not to question the almighty Meathead and his crack science team, but is doing SV at, say, 120F for a few hours on flank steak really a bad idea? Is there a limit to how long you can cook at that lower temp before things get dangerous?
    2. I love my marinade recipe but if anyone has another one they swear by, I’m all ears! Always happy to try something new.
    3. Any other suggestions for doing flank steak and making it awesome? I’ve done flank steak just on the stovetop (no sous vide even) many times and it’s great, but doing the SVQ method definitely takes it to a new level.

    Thanks, and happy grilling! I believe we’re doing this again tomorrow for a bunch of people. Homemade tortillas and homemade salsa really ties it all together, too ;-)

    Attached Files
  • klflowers
    Club Member
    • Sep 2015
    • 3481
    • Tennessee

    Don't know about the 120 vs 131, but that piece of meat looks pretty darn good to me.


    • PhotoJoseph
      PhotoJoseph commented
      Editing a comment
      It was good… but you know… I want perfection ;-)

    • klflowers
      klflowers commented
      Editing a comment
      Keep chasing. If you find it, let me know. I been chasing it for years lol.
  • RonB
    Club Member
    • Apr 2016
    • 13128
    • Near Richmond VA
    • Weber Performer Deluxe
      Pizza insert
      Smokenator 1000
      Cookshack Smokette Elite
      2 Thermapens
      lots of probes.

    I have not tried that recipe, but we love Rachel Ray's recipe. Make sure you fix the onions per her directions - they take the fajitas over the top:



    • PhotoJoseph
      PhotoJoseph commented
      Editing a comment
      Nice, thanks!
  • Potkettleblack
    Club Member
    • Jun 2016
    • 1979
    • Beautiful Downtown Berwyn
    • Grill: Grilla Original / Weber Genesis EP-330 / OK Joe Bronco Drum
      Thermometers: Thermapen / iGrill 2 / Fireboard
      For Smoke: Chunks / Pellet Tube / Mo Pouch
      Sous Vide: Joule / Nomiku WiFi (RIP Nomiku)
      Disqus: Le Chef - (something something something) - it changes

    "And yes, I did let the meet cool for probably half an hour before throwing it on the grill. "
    Cool or did you shock cold?

    If it's more done that you want, you should shock in ice water until it is fridge temp.

    You could use the freezer trick to dry the surface to give the sear faster.

    The problem with flank and skirt for SV then on the grill is that they aren't that thick, so you're going to have a hard time building a nice sear without cooking the interior.

    Any rate, my flank method is to salt, bag, cook at 131, shock and fridge. Then, on cook day, remove from bag, unfold, dry with paper towels, season, and sear 1 minute per side, then 30 seconds per side. Produces a nice enough sear. Cut against the grain on the bias, it's great stuff.

    As to <129 sous vide. If you are going to cook and then throw on the grill, go for it... 3 hours at 125, dry and sear... it's not pasteurized, but in the carryover it will get food safe.

    I don't have a marinade for you. Sorry. I'd just build a sauce for it and call it a day.


    • PhotoJoseph
      PhotoJoseph commented
      Editing a comment
      Cooled, not shocked. I like the freezer idea. Double whammy.

      I am curious about the sub-131 SV. You’re saying go for it, others say it’s not safe. Do you know how long it can be at, say, 125 and still be safe? Because no matter what temp (over 125) you cook anything at, it’ll spend time at 125, so it’s not like that’s a magically unsafe temp.

    • Potkettleblack
      Potkettleblack commented
      Editing a comment
      129 is generally safe to whatever length. 127 might be as well. Below that, sub four hour, no storage, for immediate use.

    • PhotoJoseph
      PhotoJoseph commented
      Editing a comment
      OK, I’m definitely only talking about a few hours, not the full 12, so that’s good to know. Thanks!
  • MBMorgan
    Club Member
    • Sep 2015
    • 6365
    • Colorado
    • > Weber Genesis EP-330
      > Grilla Grills Original Grilla (OG) pellet smoker
      > Pit Barrel Cooker (gone to a new home)
      > WeberQ 2000 (on "loan" to a relative)
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      to fiddle with a more capable cooker)
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      > 3 Thermoworks Chef Alarms
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      > Anova sous vide circulator
      > Searzall torch
      > BBQ Guru Rib Ring

    SV below 131 deg. F is indeed dangerous. Like you, I've had issues with overdone steak cooked at 131 then seared on my gasser (a Weber EP-330 with sear burner) because, even with the sear station at "warp 10" it takes a little too long to get a nice crust to develop. To combat that, I've been using a Searzall torch attachment that is much hotter than the gasser and am very happy with the results:

    Click image for larger version  Name:	MD Steak Sliced.JPG Views:	3 Size:	820.2 KB ID:	708057

    Others report similarly successful results by searing in a cast iron skillet or on a griddle.

    Shocking prior to searing (as recommended by Potkettleblack ) works well, too.


    • PhotoJoseph
      PhotoJoseph commented
      Editing a comment
      That’s a beautiful hunk of meat. Is that SV’d at 131?? That seems so rare (the way I like it) for 131.

      I’ll try the shock. I usually do sear on cast iron, but it’s summer and the grill is going for veggies and I do love the final hit you get from the charcoal grill vs the pan, so I want to do that while I can. I very much understand that the cast iron gets hotter and obviously is a flat surface vs the Weber grill… but damn if I don’t love that charcoal!! Maybe I’ll just go “dirty” again!

    • MBMorgan
      MBMorgan commented
      Editing a comment
      PhotoJoseph - Yep. SV at 131 for about three hours then immediately seared with the Searzall torch (didn’t shock). The steak was a USDA prime tenderloin ... used here just to illustrate the result.

    • PhotoJoseph
      PhotoJoseph commented
      Editing a comment
      MBMorgan — gorgeous. Thanks!
  • CaptainMike
    Club Member
    • Nov 2015
    • 2540
    • The Great State of Jefferson
    • Weber Summit Charcoal Grill w/SnS and DnG (Spartacus)
      Old school big'ol Traeger w/Pro controller (Big Tex)
      2 W22's w/SnS, DnG (1 black, 1 copper) (Minions 1 and 2)
      20+ y/o many times rebuilt Weber Genesis w/GrillGrates (Gas Passer)
      20 x 30 Santa Maria grill (Maria, duh)
      Bradley cabinet smoker (Pepper Gomez)
      36" Blackstone griddle (The Black Beauty)
      Thermoworks Smoke and Thermapen.

    Great advice above. One thing I do when searing anything directly after SV is to unbag, pat dry with paper towels then air dry on a wire rack while the gasser is getting the flat GrillGrates ripping hot. Rub down with avocado oil, season, then sear until it gets the crust I want (60-90 seconds per side). Works well for me.


    • PhotoJoseph
      PhotoJoseph commented
      Editing a comment
      I did all that except the oil… good call.
  • PhotoJoseph
    Club Member
    • Aug 2015
    • 61
    • Ashland, OR

    OK, it has begun! Using the Rachel Ray recipe (modified for missing ingredients) and the veg will be done on the grill, so no deglazing. Meat will SV at a lower temp for a couple to few hours, depending on everything else. Here’s some photos; more posting as we go on my instagram @ photojoseph ;-)
    Attached Files


    • Old Glory
      Club Member
      • Feb 2018
      • 1111
      • Northshore MA
      • Weber Summit Charcoal Grill
        XL BGE
        DCS Gasser
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        Weber Performer

        Slow & Sear
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        Woo Rig;
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        Pit Bull Fan
        Griddle Store Griddle

      My Joule recommends 129 degrees for about an hour then a fast sear for steaks. I use my gasser or a blazing hot cast iron pan. I dry off the steak and let it rest as grill/pan heats up. rests.

      It's my understanding that it's the combination of time and temp that kills all the bad stuff. USDA Cooking temps are food safe for meat at the stated temp instantly. If you cook at a lower temp you pasteurize your meat and it is safe.


      • Potkettleblack
        Potkettleblack commented
        Editing a comment
        Joule has a different recommendation for Flank and Skirt. Fine print is that the basic steak and ultimate steak recipes are for tender cuts.

        Correction: the flank green beans and whatnot goes short time. The carne Asada goes 8.

      • Old Glory
        Old Glory commented
        Editing a comment
        Potkettleblack I was commenting more on the temp question cooking below 130. I was trying to say that the Joule recipes routinely call for temps under 130. I do know other cuts require longer cooking time to tenderize them.

        I am still confused by the inconsistencies in times for the same cuts of meat though.

      • Potkettleblack
        Potkettleblack commented
        Editing a comment
        Temp is doneness, time is tenderness. Different people have different preferences. Also, different end goals require different preps. If you want more chew to flank, less time, or if thin slicing is part of the program. For tacos, longer run, because you want some tender bites.
    • PhotoJoseph
      Club Member
      • Aug 2015
      • 61
      • Ashland, OR

      Batch two…
      Attached Files


      • Dadof3Illinois
        Club Member
        • Jul 2017
        • 912
        • Southeast Illinois

        OK, I’m being serious and don’t take this the wrong way but why would you SV a flank steak?? It cooks so fast to perfection on a hot grill anyway, just seems like a lot of trouble for such a thin piece of meat?


        • PhotoJoseph
          PhotoJoseph commented
          Editing a comment
          NO worries, fair question. Two reasons. First because I wanted the long slow SV to tenderize it a bit. I’m not sure that I’m getting that at only a few hours (the recipe here on amazingribs that I linked above SVs for 13 hours!), but I figured any long slow heat would help. And also because in the pan, by the time it gets to temp in the middle, even though it’s fast, I found the outer edges to be way too done. Honestly I don’t think I’ve ever done it JUST on the grill. I evolved from pan to here
      • PhotoJoseph
        Club Member
        • Aug 2015
        • 61
        • Ashland, OR

        OK, last batch. The marinate was good (thank you @RonB) but I prefer my original. The picked onions were a total win though! And doing the SV at 127 for about 3 hours worked great. I iced it to cool fast, and finished when the time was right. As you can see, it came out great!! Thanks everyone for the help!
        Attached Files


        • Red Man
          Club Member
          • May 2018
          • 1166
          • Western Washington

          Looks great! I’ve read that it’s safe to SV below 131 if you do a front sear to kill off anything on the surface.


          • Troutman
            Club Member
            • Aug 2017
            • 7465
            • aka Troutman Taco - Hanging Free in Tejas

            • OUTDOOR COOKERS

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            Great looking pictures and excellent write up. I get that you SV the flank for tenderness but I'm in the non-SV camp on this, grilling after a long marinade always works well for me. I tried doing skirt via SV about a year or so ago and over did it. The meat came out of the bath with the consistency of mush, hadn't tried thin cuts after that disaster. It looks like yours came out good however.

            I like the Alton Brown marinade, it's very close to mine. I use a lot more citrus because of the acid content. Try using a variety of like lime, lemon and even orange. Also, the soy is a real winner. I had a Mexican chef tell me to use Dale's, he swears by it. I really like it, it's got MSG to give that umami note as well as heavy on the soy content. There is a reduced sodium version if you have a problem with too much salt.

            Again, good post, I like the direction you headed in.


            • Spinaker
              • Nov 2014
              • 10759
              • Land of Tonka
              • John "J R"
                Instagram: JRBowlsby
                Smokin' Hound Que
                Minnesota/ United States of America

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              Thanks for the great write up.




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