Tech in the kitchen has come a long way since the inventions of the electric can opener and microwave. While there are fancy Alexa-controlled coffee makers and microwaves, one of the greatest inventions for home cooks is the sous vide cooker.
Sous vide is the technique of cooking by using water heated to the precise temperature of the food you’re cooking. I’ve been using sous vide for over a year with the Instant-Pot Duo-Crisp. That works fine, but recently I decided to upgrade my sous vide game by getting the Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker that has WiFi and Bluetooth. More on that later.
Many sous vide cookers are shaped like a stick or hand mixer with a heating element at one end that goes into the water. True sous vide cookers circulate the water to make maintain the temperature.
You can use any container to cook the food as long as it’s big enough to submerge the entire steak, pork, chicken, or fish. When I sous vide something small like a salmon filet, I use a kitchen pot. For large steaks, like a cowboy cut or tomahawk, I picked up a plastic storage tub from a hardware store.
The Anova app contains many recipes for all sorts of foods you can cook using its sous vide cooker. Choosing a recipe for a salmon filet, the app shows the precise temperatures to attain the texture I prefer. To get a slightly flaky but moist salmon, the app suggests 120 degrees for 45 minutes. I’ve found it’s best to add some time if the meat is frozen.
Since the Anova Precision Cooker maintains the temperature at 120, you cannot overcook whatever it is you have in the pot. When I cook a steak for 3 hours, it’s the same temperature as if I had left it in the pot for 7 hours. The texture might be slightly different due to the rendering of the fat, but it’s a subtle difference.
Before placing the meat in the pot you must put it in a bag and remove any air. Anova makes a vacuum sealer which I recommend but you can easily use any ziplock plastic lunch or storage bag if you remove the air using a water displacement technique. For this, just place the meat inside the bag and Zip it closed except for a small edge. Submerge the bag in the water slowly allowing the air to escape through the small opening. (It works well).
The Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker should heat up to the right temperature before adding the meat although it isn’t going to hurt anything if you place it in before. That’s because the Anova heats the water quickly. You never want to leave the meat of any kind out at unsafe temperatures for very long.
Once the Anova reaches the set temperature, it will maintain that temperature for the length of time you’ve selected. After the cook is over, the meat is ready to eat safely but it won’t look very appetizing. Sous vide cooks typically sear the meat once the cook is over by putting it into a cast iron pan or griddle or on a very hot grill. Since the meat is already cooked, the sear should take only a couple of minutes.
Cooking sous vide is practically fail-proof and as long as you set the temperature for “how you like your steaks”, you and everyone else around the table will be very happy.
The Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker comes in several options ranging in price from around $100-$300.