Most of my low temp gear arrived last Tuesday, and I used Tuesday night to calibrate it. Yesterday I did some steaks using the gear. One calibration run, and 4 steaks later, these are the notes that I have. I’m using an Auberge controller, and a Hamilton Beach 8 quart slow cooker as the base. Since the vacuum sealer hasn’t arrived, I’m bagging food in freezer Ziploc bags for now.

Auberge controller, 8 quart slow cooker. Socket has a circuit breaker.

Calibration with this setup takes about 5.5 hours. Yes, it is worth it to calibrate your device. By calibration, there are a couple steps you’ll want to do.

1) Take ice (plenty of it) and let it melt halfway into a large container. Place the probe in the ice water bath. Best to use meltoff water instead of adding your own, as ice-water baths with tap water won’t be temperature equilibrated.

2) Follow the instructions to calibrate PID parameters with a pot full of the amount of water you’ll use for cooking. In my case, it took perhaps 5.5 hours for the system to figure out what the correct PID parameters were.

With this setup, and in using a PID controller, as opposed to PD controller, there will be overshoot for a couple hours. In my experience, the overshoot is about 2 degrees, with it settling in to accuracy around the 3 hour mark.

In terms of safety, this is a pleasing setup. The water could probably hurt you if you immersed your hands in it for a length of time, but brief fingertip exposure to 131 degree water doesn’t hurt. You can easily handle the lid of the slow cooker without harm. The Auberge defaults to a timed setup. Once the time is met, the device shuts off power to the slow cooker. I made sure to plug into a wall socket with its own circuit breaker, so any electrical short would flip the socket breaker.

Steaks? One thing I have found out is that with a thin steak (circa 0.5-0.75″ thick), one minute of sear on both sides can easily turn that medium rare steak into a medium well steak. 30 seconds of sear per side after the fact preserves the cooking much better. Since steaks can go anywhere from 2-6 hours (I do not recommend cooking steaks for less than 2 hours), adjusting your controller to compensate for the overshoot seems reasonable.

2.5 hours with Auberge controller at 131. Mostly cooked at 133 for that period. 30 second sear each side.

Beer Advocate: I don’t know much about these guys, other than second hand exposure to the collateral damage they’ve done to people they’ve kicked off their forums (oh yes, and delete years of info these beer hounds have collected forum wide). Now, after decades of exposure to every forum “wizard” there is, many with serious delusions of grandeur, I have no tolerance for the self appointed dictator types. But as it’s their forums, and not mine, why am I mentioning this?

It’s because the Beer Advocate folks don’t stop at tossing people out of their forums. They then proceed to taunt the people they’ve tossed off their forums on Twitter. And in that lies the crux of the tale, the reason the generic food blogger needs to be informed.

Don’t go. Don’t get involved. Start a beer blog instead. You might get 1/100th the comments on your pages, but you will be read, and you will be much happier about your treatment. And if you have to do the forum routine, strongly consider Rate Beer instead.

One final beer note: The early months of the year, winter, tend to feature stronger beers, such as barleywines. Sierra Nevada comes out with Bigfoot, and Sam Adams comes out with Griffin’s Bow. I’m not a fan of extreme beers, but Bigfoot is worth some trouble, and I suspect Griffin’s Bow will be as well.