By: Brent Carter, SSC
If you have ever bitten into a chicken breast and could easily mistake it for a mouthful of cardboard you might want to pay attention to what I am about to tell you.
Never overcook your meat again
Traditional methods of cooking typically rely on precise use of time and fairly imprecise amounts of heat or energy. This means that if you get trapped into watching another shirtless Insta live story and leave that chicken breast in the broiler for just an extra 5min you might end up with something that is more suitable for kindling rather than serving with the expectation of human consumption.
ENTER sous vide cooking. With sous vide cooking your food is placed in a bag (technically under vacuum but that is usually not necessary) and submerged in water that is precisely controlled with a device that heats and circulates the water. With this kind of set up your food DOES NOT OVERCOOK. Because the cooking methodology uses VERY precise levels of heat (I can dial my machine in to within 0.5 degrees F), the precision with timing is not so critical. I have had steaks held at a perfect rare temperature (125-127ºF) for well over an hour while I waited for my baked potato to finish in the oven.
Now maybe the advantage of not having to babysit your food with a kitchen timer doesn’t appeal to you because, hey, you are an iron chef and can operate your kitchen like a seasoned air traffic controller. Well, let me offer another benefit: UNIFORM cooking. Because the food submerged will reach equilibrium with the temperature surrounding it there are no hot spots in the food that are left more cooked than others. In other words when you sear an odd piece of meat or cook it in the oven, the skinnier portion with more surface area will be cooked more than the fatter area which has less surface area to mass ratio. With sous vide cooking that is a thing of the past. Because everything cooks perfectly evenly you can also poach a couple dozen eggs all at once INSIDE THE SHELL. That’s right you don’t even have to crack em open!
Now here is what you need to know: food cooked sous vide will have the most unappetizing appearance of being steamed or poached (perfectly fine for fish and chicken but not so much with steak) so you will need to quick-sear it afterwards to give it those wonderful Golden Brown and Delicious™ (GBD) flavors. You can do this in a super hot cast iron skillet (10-30sec each side), quickly over hot coals on a grill, or with a blow torch as I do because fire.
Steps to Getting Started with Sous Vide
- Get an immersion circulator
- Look up your foods temperature and time guidelines
- Put it in a bag in the heated water
- Take it out and quick-sear it
- Enjoy the gains
Some of my most used temp/time guides:
- Steak 125ºF – 30min up to a couple hours
- Chicken thighs 148.5ºF – at least one hour
- Pork chops 137ºF – at least one hour
- Eggs 146.5ºF – 75min