In CityBeat's recent Food Issue, I wrote about Brandt Beef, an Imperial Valley operation that offers high-end, restaurant-quality beef at a number of San Diego-area farmers markets. "I have tasted none better," I wrote.

But what do you do with beef as good as Brandt's prime steaks?  In my book there's no better way to feature a high-quality steak than to cook it sous-vide. French for "under vacuum," sous-vide is a method of cooking in which food is sealed in airtight plastic bags and placed in a water bath at an accurately regulated temperature, lower than normally used (temperatures for beef would be between 131° and 140° Fahrenheit).  

The idea is to cook the item evenly, not overcook the outside and keep the inside at the same level of "doneness," thus keeping the food juicier.  For steaks, caramelization (the Maillard reaction) is achieved by a quick sear or grill after the meat comes out of the water bath. Steak cooked sous-vide and seared appears more rare inside than it actually is. It ends up all being the good stuff.

Here, I sous-vide and grill Brandt Beef's Bavette Steaks (sirloin tip) with pink pickled onions and a mustardy version of a classic green peppercorn sauce.


For the steak

4 (8-ounce) strip steaks, trimmed

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

For the pink pickled onions

2 red onions, sliced thin into half moons

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1 cup water

1/2 cup granulated sugar

4 garlic cloves, minced

6 allspice berries

20 black (or mixed) peppercorns

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried tarragon

For the green peppercorn sauce

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

1/2 cup minced shallots

1 tablespoon green peppercorns, preferably in brine, lightly crushed

1/4 cup brandy

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons lemon zest

2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce

1/2 cup veal or beef stock

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

1. Make the pickled onions. Place the onion slices in a metal bowl and cover with boiling water for one minute before draining. Place the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the sliced onions to the saucepan and let stand for one to two hours. Store in a refrigerator.

2. Cook the steaks in the sous-vide. Meanwhile, season each steak liberally with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Place two steaks in each food-grade plastic bag and vacuum seal (if you don't have a vacuum sealer, try this method using Ziploc bags). Using a sous-vide machine, waterbath or a pot of water and a thermometer, bring the waterbath to 132° Fahrenheit. Cook the steaks for one hour at that temperature.

3. Make the green peppercorn sauce. Add 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil and the shallots to a medium saucepan and sweat over low flame until they are translucent, three to five minutes. Add the green peppercorns and brandy and cook until the liquid reduces almost completely. Stir in the mustard, lemon juice, lemon zest and Worcestershire sauce. Swirl the pan so all of the flavors start to meld together. Add the beef stock and reduce to a desirable consistency, then stir in the thyme.

4. "Grill" the steaks. Remove the steaks from the sous-vide and from the bags. Heat a heavy grill pan over high flame and sear the steaks on both sides until they are nicely caramelized, about two minutes per side. Remove the steaks from the pan and allow them to rest.

5. Plate the dish. Pour a pool of the green peppercorn sauce in the middle of each plate. Top each pool of sauce with a steak. Crown each steak with some pink pickled onions.

Brandt Beef steak, cooked sous-vide, with pickled onions and green peppercorn sauce


Write to Michael blogs at You can follow him on twitter at @MAGARDINER


  • The renowned Mexican black and white photographer presents an exhibition exploring the principal themes within three groups: "Bestiarium"," Fantastic Women" and "Silent Natures."
  • Presented by Pacific Arts Movement, the sixth annual mini film fest features 14 film programs from 10 countries that includes everything from docs to romantic tearjerkers. See website for full lineup and...
  • Debunk some of the stereotypes surrounding cannibalism at this new exhibition that takes a hands-on approach to the subject. Includes video games and interactive activities where patrons will have to decide...
  • The former local boy and creator of the highly influential blog, Advanced Style, will be signing and discussing his third book, Advanced Style: Older and Wiser, which features inspiring pictures and stories...
  • C.J. Chenier and Bonsoir Catin headline this annual Cajun inspired festival. Also enjoy 10,000 pounds of crawfish, dancing and cooking demonstrations. Held at Spanish Landing Park, across from the...
  • A Cinco de Mayo party featuring $2 tacos, cocktails and live music from Bostich+Fussible, Javiera Mena and Gepe
  • A spoken word showcase hosted by English instructor Karla Cordero and her City College students. There will also be a special reading from poet Mercedez Holtry, as well as an art and photography show....
  • Widely known as host of "Weekend Update" on Saturday Night Live and for his role in the Showtime dramedy Weeds, Kevin Nealon brings his unique humor back to the stand-up stage
  • New works from over a dozen UCSD undergraduate students. Participating artists include Charity Algarme, Richard Lin, Joseph Maas, Ignatius Nguyen, and more
  • This video art exhibition from UCSD MFA candidate Stefani Byrd features two installations that explore the themes of breath, mediation, and the nature of time. Takes place in the VAF Performance Space,...
See all events on Thursday, May 5