Welcome to SousVide Living, where a few sous-vide aficionados hope to bring information and inspiration to your kitchen.
You’re here for a reason- either because you already enjoy cooking using the sous-vide method and you want to learn more, or because you’ve been introduced to sous-vide and you want to know and understand more! Perhaps someone on Facebook or Instagram was saying what an amazing meal they prepared using sous-vide. Or maybe someone got you an immersion cooker/circulator for Christmas or your birthday and you want to get started on the right foot.
Whether you cook for yourself, your family or a group of friends sous-vide is for you. Whether you cook once a week or every night of the week sous-vide is for you too! As a ‘relatively new’ addition to the kitchen, we hope to help inform both the uninitiated as well as the veteran sous-vide user with new tech, recipes, and insights into everything sous-vide.
Sous-vide removes many of the variables that ruin meals. Avoid over-cooking, or under-cooking, avoid drying out food, and avoid having to scramble as two or three parts of the meal require your attention all at once. Start cooking with sous-vide now.
Sous Vide Basics
First lets hit a couple of introductory points. Sous-vide (pronounced “sue veed”) is a French term translating to “under vacuum”. It’s a method of cooking that uses a hot water bath constantly maintaining at a precise and specific temperature to cook food evenly and thoroughly. Cooking sous-vide will give you something very hard to obtain in the kitchen- it is going to give you consistent precision. Check out the layman’s science behind it here.
Food preparation begins by the seasoning the food you want to cook and placing it into a bag then removing the air. Accomplish this either through vacuum sealing with the appropriate bag, or by displacing the air in a Ziplock type bag by slowly lowering the bag into water before sealing (water displacement method example video). Alternatively, you let the food marinate in the bag before placing in the water bath. Once bagged and ready to be cooked, you simply drop the food into the container of water (which is at a set temperature) while the immersion cooker is running.
Speaking of containers- sous-vide home chefs usually use a large stock pot with the water up past the minimum mark on whichever immersion cooker/circulator you use. Aside from a stock pot some folks use plastic containers, five-gallon buckets, or coolers. Remove food from bath after the appropriate amount of time has passed. If it is a meat, finish it with your searing method of choice.
We can use sous-vide to cook a wide range of things. Most popularly it’s used to cook meat products but is also a great method for preparing many other food types- including but not limited to: vegetables, eggs, desserts and coffee to name a few. We’ll go into detail on some of these topics in other posts.
Get your meat wet with sous-vide
With meats, a cooking period of one hour per one inch at the thickest part is a good place to start. Doing so raises the innermost part of the meat to the set/desired cook temp. With tougher meats or for poultry, cooking times will often last a little longer. The immersion cooker/circulator constantly maintains the temperature of the water bath by controlling the heating element while simultaneously circulating the water in the bath container.
Why sous-vide over traditional kitchen methods?
Most home chefs are used to cooking with direct heat such as a grill, the oven, a smoker or on stovetop. The issue with direct heat is that you’ve got a very short window of time to remove the food from the heat and still end up with the internal target temperature. Even when the internal temperature is on target, the outer most parts of the meat will be cooked beyond it. Not to mention that when you remove food from direct heat it continues to cook for another 5-10 minutes. A great tip for removing proteins from cooking surfaces is to wrap in tin foil. Wrapping in foil keeps moisture in the meat and prevents uneven drying or cooling.
One of the biggest advantages to cooking with sous-vide is how once the food is in the water, you can forget about it until the desired time has passed. Even then you aren’t in danger of anything going wrong, as the temperature of the food will not surpass that of the water bath. With sous-vide the window for removing your food once it’s reached the correct ‘doneness’ is extraordinarily wide. Not having to manage (turn, baste etc..) your foods while they cook will allow you to be productive elsewhere as your food cooks. With sous-vide we can pull the food out of the bath the minute the cooking time ends, or a couple hours later- the food will remain perfectly cooked regardless.
After the water bath, the food is perfectly cooked to the specified temperature. For meat products however, we want to hit the outside with some sort of direct heat to form a crust. Red meats like beef, lamb, pork or venison all need a sear to finish. From a visual, texture and taste perspective it is a necessity. Chicken and fish also are tied together by a post-bath sear. The Maillard Reaction is a result of searing of meat. It enhances a meat dish to the point that an unseared steak is incomprehensible. Meats are like hardcover books. The pages inside are what tells the story, but the front and back covers provide structure and add to the experience as a whole. Using one of the (many) methods of searing with direct heat is how we finish meats.
To begin, we start the bath with our sous-vide immersion cooker/circulator set to a specific temperature. We then prep the food, remove the air from the bag and place it in the heated water bath. After a predetermined cooking time we removed the bag from the bath. and the food from the bag. If it’s meat we’ve cooked, we pat it dry then hit it with a sear (via grill, skillet, or torch) and let it rest. Now the food is on the plate with a side or two and we’ve reached the finish line. At this point, if you’re cooking for other people, they will be complementing you on a job done very well.
Go! Its time for you to sous-vide something!
We all want to be better in the kitchen. Using the tools that culture and science gives us is an easy way to do so. Sous-vide is a perfect example of that. If you haven’t yet picked up a sous-vide immersion cooker/circulator, don’t waste any more time (or meals)! No more worrying as it’s cooking, no more over-cooked and dry meat, and no more excuses!
We’ve all got to eat, and most of us cook at home quite a bit. Why not make it easier and tastier?
Now that you’ve had a primer on Sous-vide cooking, check out some Tips and Tricks to make the time in the water bath even easier.