With new cooking terms and techniques constantly popping up, this is an exciting time to be a cook. But sometimes they can seem so challenging or mysterious, one can’t help wondering if some of them are things home cooks shouldn’t attempt. Sous vide is one such example. It’s actually not a new technique at all — it was first seen in France around the 1970s. These days more and more restaurants from fast-food to fine dining are turning to sous vide to ensure that food is perfectly cooked every time— Shake Shack is the lastest chain to announce it is actually cooking its chicken nuggets sous vide (not from frozen) in an effort to ensure their nuggets are consistently delicous!
Much like roasting or braising, sous vide is just another slow-cooking method. To sous vide successfully, one puts an ingredient (commonly meat) into a vacuum-sealed bag with some herbs and spices. Then, this little package is submerged into water at a low and precisely controlled temperature. Here, it will cook for hours or days until it has reached the perfect doneness.
So why go through all the trouble of cooking meat in its own hot tub? Well, the results are worth it. After 36 hours of cooking, the flavor is more intense, since it’s been cooked with its own juices; the texture is silky and delicate, and because it’s been cooking in a moist environment, the meat itself hasn’t shrunk and is still the same size. Once it’s cooked to perfection, you can remove it from the bag and sear either side to create crispness for the final result. With the slow and low, controlled temperatures of sous vide, the final product is cooked consistently every time, tender and delicious and with no overcooked spots.
One would think that a “set it and forget it" method like sous vide would take off among home cooks worldwide. But the fact is that it’s commonly thought to be expensive to obtain the equipment needed (which has caused some to even try cooking meals sous vide in their washing machiens). Though unbelievablly expensive sous vide equipment certainly was the case one upon a time, these days there are more options that ever for the home cook to consider. These days the top sous vide machines, like the Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker will set you back $199 though there are many other more affordably priced options, like the Wancle Thermal immersion Circulator to be found for less than $100.
But if you’re not the do-it-yourself type, and you don’t want to waste money by purchasing equipment just to make meat more tender, it may be best to leave this method to the professionals. There are many other ways to quell tender meat cravings that aren’t as expensive or complicated but are just as satisfying. After all, there’s nothing wrong with dusting off the ol' Crock-Pot for any of these 50 essential slow cooker recipes.