10 Best Sous Vide Cookers | March 2017
- slim profile design
- heats up to 30 liters of water
- water temp can be off a few degrees
- one-tenth of a degree temp variance
- used by many professional chefs
- actively circulates water
- easy push-button convenience
- lid can be used as a drip tray
- can hold water temperature for days
- intuitive control panel
- carafe is removable for cleaning
- quiet circulation
- 7-8 liter-per-minute pump
- dishwasher safe steel skirt
- 99-hour cook timer
- magnetically attaches to pots
- heats up to 10 gallons of liquid
- sleek attractive housing
- can be used as a crockpot
- heats up extremely quickly
- accurate to within half a degree
Invention Of Sous Vide Cooking
The theory of sous vide was first proposed by physicist and inventor, Sir Benjamin Thompson in 1799. He described a system that used hot air to precisely control temperature over a long period of time to cook meat. Unfortunately for the culinary enthusiasts of the 19th century, he never created a device to accomplish this feat and the theory was forgotten for the next 150 years.
Much later in the 1960s, American and French engineers re-discovered the concept and created industrial sous vide machines for food preservation. This method of food preparation is what inspired French Chef Georges Pralus to look at sous vide as a way of cooking food. In 1974, while working at Troisgros, a three-Michelin star restaurant, he noticed that when he cooked a piece of foie gras, it shrunk by 40 to 50% and would lose its shape. He began to experiment with vacuum-packing it and cooking it in warm water baths in an attempt to preserve its size and shape. It worked and not only saved the restaurant a small fortune on foie gras costs, but also gave rise to a unique culinary technique.
He wasn't alone in his quest for a better way to cook meats. Around roughly the same time, Bruno Goussault was using the sous vide preservation technique in his home to increase the shelf life of frozen meat. He is credited with much of the understanding of the science behind the sous vide method. He researched the effect of temperature on a variety of foods in sous vide baths and is known to have trained many of the best chefs in the technique.
Both men claim to have invented sous vide, but are probably both equally deserving of the credit. Without one or the other, sous vide would not be in the repertoire of chefs today. In 1980 they collaborated to bring the process under French food safety standards so it could be used in professional restaurants.
Benefits Of Sous Vide Cooking
Sous vide allows anyone to achieve 100% consistent results that would be nearly impossible with traditional cooking techniques. The sous vide method is the only way to get a perfectly even cook on a piece of meat. In order to reach the ideal core temperature with a traditional cooking method, the outer edges must be subjected to a high temperature long enough for the heat to reach the core and properly cook it. This results in meat that has slightly overcooked edges, with a perfectly cooked interior. With a sous vide machine, every layer of meat from the edge to the center will be cooked to the exact same temperature.
Sous vide is also a healthier way to cook foods for two reasons: higher vitamin levels and less fatty oils. When cooking meats or vegetables on a pan or in the oven, one must coat them with enough oil to prevent them from sticking to the pan. With sous vide, there is no need to add any unhealthy oils to your food. It also allows you to preserve more of the vitamins naturally found in your food. High heat is known to break down vitamins, but sous vide doesn't expose your food to the extreme temperatures experienced in oven roasting and pan frying.
It can also help you save time and money. Instead of having to constantly watch the food in a pan or check its temperature in the oven, you can set the sous vide machine to a specific temperature and walk away. There is no chance of accidentally overcooking or burning your food. The sous vide technique also allows you to purchase cheaper cuts of meat and make them just as tender as the more expensive cuts you normally work with.
How To Sous Vide Properly
Sous vide is a simple cooking method that anyone can master after a few attempts. The first step is to start your warm water bath. This will allow it heat up while you prepare your food. Follow your particular device's instruction manual, which should give a detailed step-by-step guide on setting it up, turning it on, and adjusting the temperature. If you are unsure of the ideal temperature setting, consult a meat and poultry temperature guide.
The next step is to season your food and seal it in a bag. When first starting out, consider using less seasoning than you normally use when pan frying or oven roasting. Unlike these methods which drain a food's natural juices and burns them up, sous vide keeps these juices locked in allowing the food to retain its natural flavor. Seasoning your food can be as simple as adding some salt and pepper, or you can get more creative and add some herbs and aromatic spices. Once seasoned, use a vacuum sealer to suck out the air and seal the sous vide bag.
Your food is seasoned and sealed, and your sous vide machine has reached the ideal temperature; now it is time to start cooking. Slowly drop the sealed bag into the warm water bath, making sure it fully submerges in the water, then set the timer and wait. After your food has finished cooking remove it from the water, cut the bag and remove the contents. If you are cooking meat, fish, or poultry, it is advisable to sear it in a very hot pan or with a culinary torch to caramelize the exterior before serving.