What is Sous-vide Cooking?
Sous-vide cooking a method of preparing food that helps you achieve better texture, even cooking, and better flavor. It involves cooking food inside a vacuum-sealed plastic pouch which is placed in either a water bath or a temperature-controlled steam environment. Meals can be prepared anywhere from one to 48 hours at a controlled temperature that is far lower normal cooking temperatures. This low and slow method usually involves temperatures around 140 °F for meat and a bit higher for vegetables.
The intent of sous-vide cooking is to cook the food evenly and make sure that the inside of the food is properly and evenly cooked without overcooking the outer portion of the meat or vegetable while also retaining its moisture.
There are many misconceptions about sous-vide cooking, especially that it is expensive and difficult to do correctly. This is far from the truth, as anyone can successfully cook sous-vide meals at home.
This is a great option for people who want to set it and forget it while still knowing that they will end up with a perfectly cooked product. One of the best parts of sous-vide is that you do not need special equipment to get started at home. Here are six steps to trying sous-vide cooking at home.
1. Gather Your Tools
You will need a good thermometer and high-quality plastic bags. An accurate digital thermometer is an essential tool to have in the kitchen. It helps to cook meats to the core at a safe temperature without having to do any guesswork.
If you do not have access to water-tight vacuum sealer bags, you can try regular ziplock-style bags. Regular plastic ziplock bags can be used in temperatures up to 158 °F. Make sure to get high-quality freezer Ziplock bags, or better.
2. Prepare a Water Bath.
Fill a large pot with water and heat it to the desired temperature. Make sure to leave enough room at the top of the pot, so the water will not overflow after you add your food.
Put your burner on the medium-low setting, and heat the water until it gets to your desired temperature. Adjust the burner as needed to maintain the steady cooking temperature.
3. Put Your Food in a Plastic Bag.
Place your meat or vegetables in a high-quality Ziploc bag. If you want to, you can also add some olive oil, various herbs, or butter to the bag as well.
Slowly lower the bag into the water bath with the top unsealed, so the air escapes the bag. Use a binder clip to hold the bag into place after setting the top of the bag over the side of the pot.
4. Cook The Food
Once the food is in the pot, make sure to bring the water back up to your desired temperature. While this may take some time because your ingredients are likely cold, it is ok because there is no risk of the food overcooking.
Set a timer once the water temperature is back up. For example, if you want a medium rare pork chop, you can set your timer anywhere from one to three hours. This also gives you the flexibility of starting and ending your cooking at times that are convenient for you.
5. Sear Your Food
This is an optional step, but one that adds a lot of flavor and texture to your finished product. Sear the outside of your cooked steaks, chicken, pork, or fish just before serving it. To do this, heat up a pan and remove the meat from the bag with tongs. Sear it for a few seconds once your pan is very hot on each side.
6. Season and Serve Your Meal
Once your food is cooked and seared, you can season it however you wish and serve it. Some people opt to make a sauce for their meats, however, with sous-vide cooking the meat comes out very moist, so there is no need for a lot of sauce. Use a little bit of sauce if you want to add a specific flavor, but let the flavor of the meat speaks for itself.
Sous-vide cooking is a lot easier than it likely sounds. It is an inexpensive method of cooking because you do not need to buy any fancy equipment to do it correctly. You almost can't go wrong with sous-vide cooking, so it is a great method to learn and keep in mind, especially when cooking for a crowd.
About the Author
Chef Stephen Claussell is the Executive Chef and Partner of 7T8 European Fusion, a unique and intimate fine dining experience savoring a fusion of European cuisine with an American twist. Located in Northport NY 11768, learn more and see their current menu by visiting their website.
Additional Links of Interest
- SousVide Supreme - A company that makes home sous-vide cookers.