Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Intro to Sous Vide

About a year ago, I saw an article about an interesting Kickstarter project for a sous vide circulator by Sansaire.  At that point, I had never heard of sous vide and it's possible I had not heard of Kickstarter, either.  The only thing I understood is that cooking sous vide would allow me to cook a steak that was perfectly medium rare from end to end.  This was the sales image that made me want to explore sous vide circulators:

So, sure, this isn't exactly a fair comparison, since we can all agree the steak on the right wasn't cooked by a particularly masterful chef, but the point remains that it's hard for me to get a totally even texture and temperature in my steaks.  They're often more well-done on the outside or on the ends.  The more reviews I read about how easy sous vide circulators were to use and how amazing meat tastes when cooked sous vide, the more I wanted to give this thing a shot.

(Plus, if you know me at all by now, you know I'm a sucker for interesting kitchen gadgets.  My pressure cooker is still the MVP of my kitchen, years later.)

The other week, I decided to take the plunge.  I had decided on the Anova sous vide circulator (it seems like the choice is either Anova or Sansaire) and was about to use my Amazon.com points to buy this one, when I did a bit more googling and realized that Anova has a new sous vide circulator model with bluetooth connectivity, and it's about $25 less than Amazon if you purchase directly from Anova's page.  I found a coupon for another $25 off at Anova so that sealed the deal.

(I liked the idea of getting a circulator instead of a fixed sous vide oven, since a circulator allows you to turn any basin into a sous vide oven.  So if you have thirty pounds of beef to cook, stick it in a huge rubbermaid bin, stick the sous vide circulator in there, and you're all set.  When will I ever cook that much beef?  Probably never.  But I COULD.)

My initial experience with the Anova was mixed.  I was excited to try the bluetooth connectivity features, which allow you to control the temperature of the water from your phone, make your circulator follow recipes from Anova's app, and alerts you when the water is ready:

But, what I learned the hard way while trying to cook a corned beef brisket for ten hours:  if you walk away from your Anova such that the bluetooth is disconnected, the device TURNS OFF.  And STOPS COOKING your food.  (As in, you arrive home after being gone five hours only to realize that your corned beef has been NOT cooking for all that time and you're having people over for dinner in two hours.  Luckily, I dumped it in the pressure cooker with some sauteed onions and water for an hour and a half and it came out GREAT.  Best corned beef I've ever had, in fact.  Not sure if the pressure cooker or the sous vide is to thank for that one.)

So, basically, the bluetooth feature is useless as far as I can tell.

(No pictures of the corned beef because it was immediately devoured.)

Last night, I gave the sous vide a try with steak.  I had a big win at work and decided to treat myself to a fancy ribeye (my favorite cut of steak).  I had a community meeting to attend around dinnertime, so I rubbed the steak with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, thyme, and a little butter. 

 Then I sealed it in a ziploc bag, dropped it in a 130 degree water bath, and went on my way.

It's only supposed to cook for an hour at that temperature, but I didn't get back to my house for almost three hours.  I'd read that keeping a steak in the water bath for longer than an hour wouldn't hurt it, since it would not exceed the 130 degree temperature of the water...so I figured I'd test that feature?

Once I got home, I seared the steak for a few seconds on each side:

And you guys, it came out perfectly:


So, overall, I'm pretty pleased with the sous vide so far.  The bluetooth technology is just for show, but the implement itself seems to do a GREAT job with meat.  I'm going to try fish and eggs in the next week or so...I'll let you know how that goes.

Have any of you tried cooking sous vide before?  What did you think?

1 comment:

Blogger said...

You could be qualified to get a $1,000 Amazon Gift Card.

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