As you can see, that model is now going for nearly 500 dollars. It was 169.00 when I bought it mid-2014.
They have a new version. Near as I can tell, the difference is that the older version has slightly higher wattage, which will allow you to heat larger amounts of water. However, with the proper insulation, the new version should be more than sufficient for the home cook.
SO…what is Sous vide? Sounds *very* fancy right?
Well…think of it as your new crock-pot. Particularly if you’re not a “well-done all the time” kind of person.
There’s a ton of information out there on the internet about Sous Vide cooking, and a lot of it very good. So I may not be adding anything but I will try to make this thing less intimidating.
So what is it?
It’s essentially slow-cooking in a vacuum bag. If you’ve eaten in a very fancy restaurant in the last several years, you’ve probably had something that was cooked sous-vide style (but may not have known it).
The *HUGE* advantage to cooking with a sous vide is that it allows you to hold meat at a particular temperature/doneness for long periods of time. That can be very convenient for when everyone doesn’t come home at the same time, or preparing for parties. And it can be very fun if you’re trying to experiment with different meat textures because over time, even at lower temperatures (rarer), collagen breaks down making meat more tender.
You will also need a vacuum packer to use this equipment, as well as a pot of water deep enough,
What makes this thing so great…my Amazon review
I had it out of the box, read the instructions, and hooked up and ready to turn on within about 5 minutes.
My tap water is apparently around 136, and it took 4 minutes to get about 8 quarts of water up to temp (142). Less time than it took me to vacuum pack the chicken breast.
I cooked the chicken breast for about 2 hours.
It’s clearly very well made, quickly heating the water and amazingly quiet. The controls are easy to use and intuitive. The only thing I would maybe wish for is to be able to change the time/temp on the fly without completely resetting it, and that it would start the countdown at the time the water comes up to the proper temperature but now that I know that it doesn’t, it’s easily accounted for.
I LOVE the fact that the space investment is minimal. I need another mini-full-sized appliance like I need a hole in the head. The setup also makes it very very versatile for different kinds of meat.
So a comment on the chicken. It was amazingly tender. But I figured out that it’s possibly a bit *too* tender for my tastes as far as chicken goes. After I cooked it I realized that I actually *like* my chicken overcooked (having been served a chicken sandwich that was raw and gotten grossed out by it, I’ve been that way). I probably should have started on something I like to eat pretty rare like beef. I imagine I will have a great experience with my fish because I HATE overcooked fish.
Regardless that’s no reflection on the unit, just my personal bad taste in chicken. I guess if I didn’t like my chicken overcooked I’d say that it gives chicken a much nicer texture (similar to rabbit or frog legs). Regardless I’m very excited to try new things with this unit. It kind of feels like when I first fell in love with my pressure cooker.
Additional info Feb 2015
I have been using this for about 4 months now pretty steadily and here are my comments.
I still think it’s a 5 star and bought one for my MIL for Christmas. If it broke, I’d buy another one.
Still easy to use, I have cooked in it so far:
Pork: chops and loin roast, the very best is to cook a pork roast with the bones (if you can find it) at 135-140 (that’s going to give you a medium rare to medium texture). The time would be dependent on how thick the cut of meat is but I’ve found that 12 hours is great if the bones are in it because the fat and bone give the meat some exceptionally good flavor. Somewhat like pork prime rib.
Lamb: Leg of lamb is excellent cooked at a medium rare. I have not tried chops yet but I’d think that with the bones in cooking for 8 hours or more would give excellent flavor.
Beef: tenderloin is excellent when cooked with butter and seasonings for an extended period of time. I have done T bones and the bone gives good flavor but cooking for a long period of time gives a different texture than just putting on the grill. Because the meat does continue to lose some liquid it get kind of dry (not really dry but not as juicy) however the breakdown of collagen and proteins makes it not tough. It’s just a completely different texture. I have shortribs in there right now, cooking for 36 hours. That’s supposed to be wonderful.
Pheasant: the best pheasant I’ve had in my entire life. A friend gave me a couple of birds with the bones but no skin (this is pretty typical because from what I can tell most hunters aren’t keen to pluck birds when they’re out in the field lol). Even given having incredibly lean bird and no skin, adding a bit of butter and some thinly sliced onions, and cooking to medium (around 145ish) for about 8 hours gave the most flavorful pheasant I’ve ever had (and that includes in fancy pants restaurants).
Eggs: I pasteurized eggs in it. Easier on the stove or buying them but it’s an option.
Maillard reaction: There isn’t any. At all. You can expect your meat to come out looking anemic. If you want browning (and most people do) a quick turn on the grill, under the broiler, or hitting with a torch is in order. We have pan seared as well. In my opinion the best time to do this is after so that you have a nice crust. Before seems to be a waste of time. Adding some brown sugar (to the pork particularly) can make a really nice brown crust.
Juices after cooking: when you remove the juice from the bag, it will have some proteins in it that form a funky scum when you cook them in a pan. However, if do pan sear the meat, then deglaze, and add the juices from the bag (or just some wine and the juices) cook for a minute in a small sauce pan (or for the lamb I added some mint jelly), then use a immersion blender or something with high shear (food processor) to emulsify the thickened proteins and it makes an incredible sauce, exceptionally flavorful. You can also make a bechamel and add it, then stick-blend. The possibilities are endless.
Spices: raw garlic is not something I recommend it gets a very sharp flavor. I’d roast or pan-cook it (or use garlic powder which is what I normally do). Using dried powdered spices is the best way to go because you don’t want too much liquid in the bag or vacuum is going to be difficult. I have heard of people making ice cubes of seasoning liquid and adding to the vacuum bag. That would work well. I have also used powdered wine, that works nicely. I noticed that using fleur de sel and pepper only gives a very very nice flavor to beef (there’s something about the fleur de sel that really gets into the meat…maybe like a subtle iron or copper flavor? It’s delicious).
I’ve found that if I do have something juicy or add a sauce, I freeze without vacuum packing, then vacuum pack after frozen. This prevents from ruining the seal on the bag, and you get the flavor from the sauce or liquid that’s in the bag.
These bags are like 100 times better than the food saver bags. I had one food saver bag split on me…these don’t. One thing to note when you seal the bag…make sure the entire seal is made (with no liquid to interrupt the seal) or the bag will split. With very expensive cuts I have double-bagged.