Why the Sous Vide Technique is Like the Slow Cooker of the 21st Century
Posted by : Alex Mills /
You just walked in the door. Time to make dinner. Again. There's a lot on your mind, that email, that traffic jam, that bill. Oh wait... don't forget dinner.
You dig through the fridge. Week-old lettuce, yesterday's leftovers. You do have some frozen chicken breasts, though...
Back in business. Your sous vide immersion circulator to the rescue! This thing can cook frozen chicken breasts in like 90 minutes with almost no active cooking time. You can get caught up with some stuff in that time, or relax, or hang with your family... you get to decide. Oh, and it's going to taste really good.
WHY SOUS VIDE?
The sous vide technique is a special method. And while the technicalities of it are interesting for food-nerd types, what it buys you in the quality of your dinner and your life can't be ignored.
You know how some recipes have that little “active cooking time” measurement? It's because active cooking time requires your undivided attention. Doesn't it seem like all the really good recipes require a lot of it?
No one has time for that when they've had a long day at work, or their kids are climbing the walls, or they have a thousand other little tasks to attend to. It's no wonder that meal-making has taken a back.
There are some other go-to methods that require less time – set it and forget it stuff – but they don't always yield the tastiest results. Overcooked meat, one-pot meals gone soggy. You've been there.
Sous vide, though... it's different.
Through the power of precise temperature, you can bring a cut of meat up to the exact temperature you want to eat it at. No overcooking, very little active cooking time.
It's hard to accurately describe, so you will really get it, just how good sous vide cooked meat is if you haven't tried it. Picture that meal you had at that fancy Michelin-starred restaurant you spent $100 a head to eat at. Maybe it was a fall-apart-tender piece of fish or trendy, succulent pork belly. There's a pretty good chance that the chef used the sous vide method to prepare that meal.
Chefs in France discovered the sous vide technique in the '70s. Since then, it has been pretty much reserved to fancy restaurants. It used to be that sous vide appliances were super expensive and basically just not accessible to the home cook. But modern advances have made the main piece of technology that it takes to cook using this method – the sous vide immersion circulator – pretty cheap and available to anyone who wants one.
And, while gourmet cooking usually requires tons of time and a bachelors degree in culinary arts, the relatively easy sous vide technique yields predictable, awesome results.
Easy enough for a week night meal. With gourmet results. On a Tuesday night.
Back to those frozen chicken breasts.
You set up your pot, clamp on your sous vide immersion circulator. Fill it with water and start your unit so it will start heating the water. Bag the chicken breasts in some food-safe plastic bags with some seasonings or marinade. A handy little beep goes off when the water is up to temperature – about 140-145 F in this case. You add the chicken to the water bath and set it to 90-120 minutes. You can also throw in a couple extras to cook and save in the fridge for a salad or wrap later on.
If you get this little set up going when you get home, dinner will basically be cooked for you. Or you can cook a big roast, put it on in the morning, and it will be ready for you at dinner time.
Just a little sear in a super hot saute pan with some oil at the at the end for the chicken breasts. Two minutes on both sides. Chop up some veggies for a green salad or broil some garlic bread in the oven for 3ish minutes. Dinner's done!
And then when you cut into that chicken breast? Oh my... Tender, juicy, flavorful. Seriously some of the best chicken you've eaten.
And you just spent the last 90 minutes helping your kids with their homework. Or catching up on some stuff at work, or cleaning up the house. Or just relaxing! All while that gourmet-quality meal was being cooked for you.
Welcome to the slow cooker of the 21st century.