IF you’re a typical harried professional, your options for making a homemade meal during the week are pretty limited. But nerdy home cooks and pro chefs have long known a key to preparing flawlessly cooked meat and vegetables with reduced work: sous vide, a method in which elements, sealed in plastic material, are cooked unattended in a low-temperature drinking water bath, often all night. Steak prepared sous vide while you’re in the office will be exactly medium-rare when you go back home, prepared to sear and serve when it’s convenient. By heating system food sluggish and low, sous vide can also draw out more complex tastes from basic elements like carrots and fingerling potatoes. Cooking food sous vide is easy. All you have to be a huge container, some Ziploc handbags and a device named an immersion circulator, which rests inside the container (off range) and keeps water at a reliable temperature. The problem is, the technique has traditionally required you to consult daunting tables of ideal temperatures and cooking times—which makes whipping up supper feel like studying for a chemistry exam.
The top sous vide cooking machines, As handy as it might be to have your smartphone play sous chef, you needn’t have culinary ambitions to reap the benefits of an immersion circulator. The latest immersion circulators aimed at home cooks, however, are getting a smart upgrade that at last makes sous vide as practical as a slow cooker or microwave: Wi-Fi connectivity, which allows a companion app to walk newbies through the once-esoteric process. Thinking what to do with those beautiful farm-market carrots you bought? Just search the app for “carrots,” and, with a tap, the immersion circulator will start heating up your pot of water to the right heat. Then just follow the simple recipe on your screen: Peel the carrots and seal them in a Ziploc bag (easier and just as effective as using a vacuum sealer) with butter, brown sugar and salt. Drop the bag in the pot and walk away. When your phone buzzes 45 minutes later, your nice yet earthy, buttery yet snappy roots will be ready to enjoy. The apps don’t just make sous-vide cooking more accessible; they’re also designed to ensure food security. Unlike traditional high-temperature techniques such as roasting and boiling, sous-vide cooking happens closer to the heat “danger zone,” 40 to 140 degrees, which food-safety experts advise you steer clear of if you want to avoid food-borne bacteria. If you were to invent your own recipe-say, cooking cod for six hours at 110 degrees-the apps would warn you of the potential danger so you could change the settings. They’ll also alert you when your circulator loses connectivity—which is helpful since you don’t want your food to linger at too low a temperature.
Sous Vide cooking has a number of key advantages:
- Taste: Juices and flavors are “locked in,” greatly enhancing the taste of the food.
- Consistency: The consistency of the food is enhanced. Meat, in particular, becomes very tender and succulent.
- Advance preparation and storage life: Food portions can be prepared in advance, then vacuum sealed and stored in a refrigerator for comparatively long periods of time. This is ideal for coping with the peaks and troughs in activity and for master kitchens supplying “satellite” kitchens.
- Space saving: Sous Videcooking takes up relatively little space, which is ideal for kitchens where space is at a premium.