Last night, I ate a steak at a perfect temperature: 135 degrees — and I couldn’t have done it without using a sous vide precision cooker, an absolute must for anyone who wants to actually control the temperature of the food they cook.
Otherwise known as an immersion circulator or a precision cooker, the sous vide (under vacuum in French) you’ve been meaning to buy forever lets you choose the desired temperature and cook food to that exact temperature — it can also keep it at that temperature for some time. For my steak, I set the Chef Series sous vide that Dash had sent me to 130 degrees over 90 minutes — intuitive buttons at the top of the device let you change the temperature and time to whatever you want.
The circulator rests in a large pot of water, set up straight by a clip that you attach to the pot’s wall. While it began spinning the water and warming it, I finished getting my steak ready: After generously salting and peppering the inch-thick slabs of ribeye, we threw some cracked garlic cloves onto the filets and a few sprigs of rosemary. Dash’s sous vide comes with bags of various sizes and a manual pump to vacuum seal them. Both of our steaks fit into one of the larger bags and vacuum-sealing it took about a minute.
When the sous vide alerted us it had reached 130 degrees, we placed the sealed steaks into the pot of water and attended sides dishes, salad, and of course a much needed Sunday couch nap. Once the 90 minutes were up and we were ready to eat, we simply got our cast iron skillet nice and piping hot — on the verge of smoking — and then threw both steaks on top of it, cooking each side for about two minutes. A perfect sear is nothing new to me, but a perfect pink is. Not only is it hard for me to reach perfect temperatures, but that’s after putting a lot of time and concentration into the attempt.
When most salmon and steak nights involve guesswork that usually only mostly get us there, last night was easy and accurate — an unlikely combo. Not only that, but the sous vide can also regulate cold temperatures, keeping your springtime wine at a perfect chill. And when it comes to sous vides, competition is rising, as are your choices.
I found some of the highest-rated sous vide precision cookers you can buy today.
Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker, $160 at Amazon: With more than 2,000 reviews, it’s no wonder Anova’s sous vide is Amazon’s best selling one. You can control this sous vide using your phone — or smart assistant — meaning you’re released from the kitchen shackle while preparing dinner.
Automatic Vacuum Air Sealing System, $50 on Amazon: Don’t forget to grab a vacuum sealer for your food, like this no. 1 best-selling NutriChef model for $50. Jillian Lucas, one of Scouted's editors, uses a different, more DIY method of vacuum sealing. With a freezer Ziplock bag, she advised, keep it slightly open and lower it slowly into the water. Water pressure will push the air out of the opening in the top of the bag and seal your food.
ChefSteps Joule Sous Vide, $176 at Amazon: For aesthetic value, it’s hard to beat this small, sleek sous vide, designed with minimal white covering its body and able to connect to your phone through Bluetooth or WiFi. You lose the top interface with this model, but a small sous vide that can fit into a silverware drawer is nothing to sneer at. In order to seal your food, you’ll want appropriate supply, like FoodSaver’s vacuum seal rolls in two different sizes.
Anova Precision Cooker Nano, $98 at Amazon: If design and size are important and you’re on a tighter budget, you can still reach precision cooking with Anova’s smaller version of its best-seller: The Nano is small, sleek, and all black. While it maintains the top interface, its power output is 750 watts as opposed to its bigger sibling’s 900. And it can only connect to your device through Bluetooth, not WiFi.
Whichever model you choose, some dishes are simply better when you can reach specific temperatures with a precision cooker. Now that I know this kind of control is within my reach, I doubt I’ll ever cook something that matters without it.
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