Sous Vide Technique
Sous vide cooking used to be only available to restaurants, because the equipment was far too expensive for home cooks. Recently, several companies have produced affordable, high-quality methods to cook sous vide in your home. Here’s an introduction on how to master the sous vide technique using our five-step method: Season, Seal, Sous Vide, Sear, Serve.
With sous vide, your seasonings give your food maximum flavor, because they are sealed inside a plastic bag with the food for the entire cooking time. Just a little marinade or some spices will fully flavor any meal.
You can use nearly any kind of seasoning you like. When making a steak, it might just be a simple sprinkle of salt to bring out the meaty flavor of your beef. Or you could make an elaborate sauce to infuse the meat with flavor. For some examples, take a look at our blog.
Next, you seal the food inside a plastic bag. There are two ways to best do this: a vacuum sealer or the dunk method. Vacuum sealers remove the air from a freezer vacuum bag by, you guessed it, sucking it out like a vacuum cleaner. There are two kinds of vacuum sealers on the market for home cooks.
Clamp sealers like the Food Saver Vacuum Sealer, or external vacuum sealers, take up less space, and they are the least expensive option. They do, however, have a hard time handling marinades. Chamber vacuum sealers like this one, have a self-contained chamber in which you place your bagged food. The machine removes the air from the chamber and then seals the bag. These sealers, while expensive, are the best for preparing sous vide recipes with marinades.
The dunk method is the least expensive option. Take a plain, household sealable freezer bag. Place your seasoned food in the bag, and then zip the bag mostly closed. Slowly dip the bag into water, and the water pressure will push out all the air. Dunk your food as far as you can without getting any water in the bag, and then seal. While a vacuum seal will taste a little better, this water bath cooking technique is great for cooks without a big budget or lots of counter space.
Once your food is sealed inside the plastic bag, it’s time to do some sous vide cooking. The most important part is getting your sous vide temperature just right. This is what makes sous vide cooking so delicious, because you can cook your meat to exactly the right temperature from edge to edge. Consult time and temperature chart to find the right sous vide cooking times for your food.
There are two kinds of sous vide devices, immersion circulators and stand-alone models, which use the water immersion technique. Immersion circulators, like the Anova Precious Cooker or Joule ChefSteps, clamp to the side of a container and circulate water to hold it at the right temperature. Stand-alone models maintain a constant temperature in a built-in reservoir.
Once your food has been cooked, you don’t want to serve it right away. While sous vide cooking temps makes your food perfect from edge to edge, the low heat and the liquid cooking method do not brown the food like conventional cooking.
Take the meat out of the plastic bag, and dry it off completely. The more liquid you leave on your meat, the more likely it will steam instead of brown. Use a hot cast-iron skillet or a butane torch to brown all the surfaces of your meat. You want to use high temperatures and short times to sear the edges while leaving the rest of the meat at the perfect temperature.
Once you have sear your food, the only thing left do is eat. Serve it the same way you would serve conventionally cooked food, and enjoy it with your friends. Serve on a warm plate for best results. You will be amazed at the result.
Ready to try sous vide? Check out our starter kit for everything you need!