Take Home Cooking to the Next Level With Sous Vide

In ancient times, you’d have to carry barrels or buckets to a body of water, lug it a quarter mile or more, build a fire and wait for someone to bring back meat they had hunted down in a field somewhere just to cook supper. Times of changed.

Whether you consider yourself a novice who barely knows how to boil a pot of water or a budding foodie guru, there are some excellent products on the market that can help you take your meal game to a whole new level! Sous vide machines are trending, and once you learn more about them, you might add one to your culinary bucket list.

A device that makes food taste like a master chef prepared it

If you’re used to opening a frozen dinner and zapping it in a microwave, you might have never heard of sous vide cooking. Sous vide is a French term that’s pronounced “sue veed,” which uses an immersion circulator device to enable temperature control and precision cooking.

Traditional methods of cooking often lead to uneven heat or foods that turn out under-cooked or overcooked. Nothing’s worse than working up an appetite for a delicious meal, only to be disappointed when meat is dried out or the food hasn’t cooked all the way through.

A small amount of research and learning about precise temperature, what cuts of meat work best, such as chicken breasts or steak, as well as basic instructions for operating a water oven, will have you cooking like a professional before your next dinner party!

It’s easy to use a sous vide cooking device

Whether you simply want to cook chicken for your family or host a social gathering featuring sous vide salmon or sous vide steak, you’ll find that sous vide cooking is easier than you think. The French word “sous vide” means “under vacuum.”

To use one of these devices, you simply attach your precision cooker device to the pot of water and set the time and temperature you prefer. When your water bath is ready, you place food in freezer bags or vacuum seal bags and clip it to the side of the pot.

Home cooks have been using water ovens and vacuum sealing for decades, especially to preserve vegetables in mason jars after harvesting a summer garden.

The sous vide process of cooking is similar to the way the canning process acts like a vacuum sealer. In fact, many people use their immersion circulators to cook vegetables. Root vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots or beets, are popular choices for precision cooking. You can also cook asparagus, broccoli, eggplant, cauliflower and more but will want to experiment with temperatures and cooking times.

The amount of food you can cook at once using this method will be determined by the size of your water bath. Each piece of meat needs room for the water to circulate all around it. You can find guidelines for preparing multiple cuts of meat simultaneously in a precision cooker.

However, a general rule of thumb is to keep meat to one inch thick or less and to add one piece of meat per one gallon capacity of water in the pot. This basically means that if you have pot that holds three gallons of water, you can prepare three cuts of meat at a time. You might want to place each piece in a separate bag, though, to ensure even cooking.

How does food cooked with a sous vide device compare to traditional cooking?

Cooking with a sous vide devices is all about precision. Chefs and home cooks say that consistency is one of the greatest benefits of this method of cooking. When you know the exact temperature and length of time for a specific cut of meat, you can expect consistent results every time you use the same method for the same type of food.

Many people like the fact that a cut of meat cooked with the sous vide method will retain its volume. This means that this method of cooking is less wasteful than oven roasting or microwaving food.

Another benefit to sous vide cooking is that your steak or fish or chicken will cook in its own juices, so you’ll never be left with meat that has dried out. A juicy cut of meat will no doubt be more flavorful than something that has cooked unevenly or lost all of its juices in the oven. You also don’t have to worry about standing over your stove to keep an eye on your food as it cooks with a sous vide device. You can step away knowing that the exact temperature and time has been set, so your food won’t overcook.

Adding a finishing touch to your sous vide meal

Photo of outback

If you want your food to be top notch delicious, you’ll want to add a final step after using a sous vide water bath. It only takes a few moments to sear your cut of beef or chicken or fish. This adds the perfect crispness to the outside. There are various searing methods available, such as cast-iron pan seared, stainless steel, grilling or by using a hand-held torch.

While this isn’t a required step to food preparation via sous vide methods, most people’s palates are used to tasting meat, particularly steak, that is crisp on the outer layer and softer and juicier on the inside. If you choose not to sear your meat after pressure cooking, it won’t have the crispy outer layer. This is why most people take the time to add this finishing touch to produce a steak or other main dish that is cooked to perfection!

The culinary arts are all about experimentation. Your kitchen is your domain, and you can try different ways of cooking the same food until you find the combination of ingredients, timing, temperature and style that satisfies your tastes!

Eggs are a popular sous vide food

If you’ve ever cracked open an egg into a frying pan, you may have noticed that there are three distinct components, including the yellow yolk, the tight whites that surround the yolk and the looser whites that flow out into the pan. If you cook eggs by the sous vide method, you get an egg that is cooked evenly to your desired texture and consistency.

Eggs are already in a shell, which acts like the vacuum sealed bag, so you can just leave them “as is” without placing them in a bag before cooking. Various temperatures and cook times will give you different textures and consistency in your eggs. You can experiment for poached eggs, hard-boiled, soft-boiled or for use in sauces.

Explore your options and have fun trying sous vide

There are numerous types of sous vide products on the market. Features that might vary by device include power wattage, minimum and maximum water level capacity and specialty features, such as Bluetooth, WiFi and timers. If you have friends or family members who are into sous vide cooking, you can ask them about their favorite products.

The devices that come with Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity work through an app that you install on your cell phone. Some of these devices do not have control settings on the physical unit.

However, you might enjoy the convenience of being able to set temperature and timing from your phone! When sous vide products used to only be available in restaurants, they were big, bulky and expensive. There are now many sizes and styles at affordable prices on the market for the average home cook.

Once you try preparing your meals with this trending home-cooking method, you may never want to use your oven again!

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