|Anova Precision Cooker|
Ok - so let me start with the excitement about getting a precision cooker! I have seen them used on a couple of different cooking shows and was interested in them. Then a friend started posting some interesting stuff that she was making using sous vide so this had me start researching and looking some more.
Basically sous vide means literally to cook something under vacuum. Basically you cook what ever the item is in a sealed container that has not air (so a bag that is vacuumed sealed or a ziplock back that has all of the tire pressed out of it or in canning jars) and the container is then placed in water and the water is kept circulating and at a constant temperature. The food cooks slowly in some cases more slowly than a slow cooker - but what you can cook is way more versatile than a slow cooker.
|Steak, Fries and Chimichurri|
So you may be asking why would you want to use this if you can just use a slow cooker? The precision nature of the cooking method - I have overcooked lots of things in my day (I'm guessing I am not the only one). In the oven, slow cooker, stove, or BBQ it is easy to over cook something especially if you are distracted by other things or when you are trying to prepare multiple things. The nice thing is that basically you cannot overcook the food because the the food item can never get hotter than the water bath it is placed in. The process also retains the juices and flavours that would otherwise be lost in the cooking process.
So steak sous vide vs. BBQ - on the BBQ you heat the grill up often reaching temperatures of 400 to 500 F on the grill - then you put the steak on - this means that if you are not perfect in your timing and pull the steak off at the right time the steak can go over the desired temperature for doneness (for me medium rare - which means pulling it off around 135F and then letting it rest to continue cooking up to 145 F (residual heat right?!) Well - the steak I did in the sous vide was suppose to cook for 1 hour at 129F but I got distracted and it was in the water bath for 90 minutes and still came out perfectly medium rare!
I ended up getting the Anova Precision Cooker (Bluetooth and Wifi version) (click here to visit the store) for my birthday and ended up taking it to the lake to try out a few different things. After the steak one of the first things I made was the Creme Brûlée and I have to say it was by far the easiest and best version I have made and it was so much easier than making a regular version. It was a little tricky getting to learn about how to stack and place jars properly in the water but the results were amazing!
The only downside - I could not get the bluetooth to work while at the lake and this version is only compatible with a 2.4 GHz internet connection so I had to manually set and adjust the machine at the lake (I mean good because you don't have to rely on the app but on the other hand just very annoying). I have to figure out the Bluetooth connection.
The other downside - I only have one lol! I was also a good learning experience. Despite what I knew about the method of cooking it was suggested I try potatoes (requires a high temperature) at the same time as chicken (low temperature) and it didn't work - which is fine because the potatoes were amazing on the BBQ. Now you do not need any special equipment when you get started aside from the precision cooker you can just use a pot. However, I either have a really huge stock pot (22L+ or a smaller size soup pot) barely enough room to have put my steaks in never mind trying to cover them with water. So I did end up picking up containers from a kitchen supply store. I also did this because I learned one other thing from the vast amount of resources available online - it is a great idea to cover the water in some fashion (ping pong balls, foils, lid) to prevent heat loss and evaporation. The other reason for getting the camber (plastic) container was for insulation. The plastic will help retain heat in the water where metal is meant to distribute water.
Other nice part - we learned that you can cook from frozen! Which means I can prep chicken breast, throw them in the freezer and then when ready just throw them in for the sous vide and have them turn out perfectly!
At the end of the day - if you are going to invest in something else for the kitchen and want something you can use to impress guests and make easy meals I highly recommend the Anova! It was also great because we did eggs for a big group at the lake and they cooked and held at perfection while I made Ham and Cheese Egg Crepes with Mustard Sauce (I'll post that recipe later but it was a great savoury rendition of a classically sweet dish!). I just now have to figure out how to get a second one or their new Nano version. (Note: we managed to get ours on a sweet deal for Father's Day!!)
Some great resources:
I am still looking for a good "cookbook" that deals more with this method of cooking so if you have a recommendation!