I like a nice steak but cooking one can be a little intimidating and the results hit and miss especially when it comes to getting the right temperature so getting it wrong can be an expensive mistake. Can anyone do that "finger and thumb together to check the doneness" thing? I can't ...
So I came across this cooking technique called "Sous Vide" which cooks food (in a sealed vacuum bag) in a warm water bath, even steak. Apparently, something that's been used in high-end restaurants and is now becoming more 'consumer'. The results looked impressive but it seemed a bit 'gimmicky' and I was debating whether to get one and then they just released a new cheaper model on offer for just $99 CAD so I decided to try it out.
Here's the advertised results, the theory is that getting the perfect temperature is very hard with a grill or oven as the outside temperature is always way hotter (rising in an oven) than you want the middle to be which is where the timing comes in - stopping the cooking just as the middle is getting to the temp you want (at which point all the outer parts are coked more than is ideal). The Sous Vide method cooks the meat to the perfect temperature all the way through and there's no timing required - if you leave it cooking an hour extra, it won't become any more overdone.
So (drum-roll) I cooked dinner with it for the first time yesterday - some steak, chicken breast and carrots.
Preparation was pretty simple - just seasoned things with salt and pepper (and a little olive oil for the carrots) and put them into bags. Because I'm just starting, I didn't want to invest in any vacuum sealing device so I just used ZipLock bags which worked well. You just have to lower them into water to expel all the air (so it doesn't insulate the cooking or make the bag float) before sealing them. Easy peasy. I could see preparing a lot of meals all at once making sense - just have the bags in the fridge or freezer and use as needed.
The cooking part was a doddle. Just put the device in the pan (it looks like a giant dildo, LOL) and sync it with your phone then control it from that. All the temperatures and timing came from the app they provide. I just put the bags in the pan and left it.
Once everything was cooked and everyone was home (another plus to the flexible cooking timing) I just heated my cast-iron pan to add a quick sear to the meat and bam, dinner is served!
Holy crap, it's possibly the best steak I've ever had and I cooked it myself!
I didn't think to take pictures while I was doing it all and had eaten most of it but here is how the last bit of the steak looked, cooked "medium":
It was strip-loin from Costco and came out incredibly tender, even the fat. The kids usually leave pieces but there were clean plates all round. The carrots were lovely - soft, but not mushy and very tasty. As you're not boiling them in water that is then thrown away, none of the flavours are lots.
I also cooked some chicken and that came out deliciously juicy - unlike traditional cooking, you can use a lower temperature while having it safely cooked (pasteurized with all the dangerous bacteria killed) and the fats in the meat are not being lost so it doesn't become dry.
I'm definitely impressed with how everything came out and how easy it was to do so will be using it regularly. I'm planning to get some tender-loin to try with asparagus next and apparently bacon is supposed to come out really nice - crispy and soft at the same time (and you can cook it straight in the package that you buy it in).
Many examples show people using a clear rubbermaid food container to cook in so I might splash out on one of those which also frees up space on the stove top.
Anyone else tried this? I'd definitely recommend it if you like to experiment with your cooking techniques.