Blame sous vide's less-than-glowing reputation on its technical name meaning "thermal immersion circulation;" it’s way tougher to swallow than the simple "bake" or "roast." But there’s nothing to be afraid of: If you swear by your slow cooker, you have no reason not to love a sous-vide machine.
Both fall under the same principle of hands-off cooking, but sous vide lets you be the control freak you know you are in the kitchen and manually monitor the temperature, ensuring no overcooking. Plus, you can put it anywhere. All you need is an outlet—and Sous Vide at Home, a new book that sets up even novices for guaranteed success.
The author, Lisa Fetterman, is the founder of Nomiku, the first affordable at-home sous-vide machine. With her recipes and tips, you can use this popular restaurant technique in your own kitchen, but she doesn’t want you to be limited by any constraints. "Just because it sounds like something Jacques Pépin would say, sous vide isn't only about French cuisine," Fetterman writes in the introduction. You'll find out how to make cocktails and homemade yogurt, and even how to cook a Thanksgiving turkey using a sous-vide circulator.
Sous vide is not just for white-tablecloth restaurants and modernist chefs either. Fast-food restaurants—and even airlines like United and JetBlue—often cook sous vide, because of the control it allows in an otherwise-hectic situation. And as long as you have an inexpensive, commercially available immersion circulator, you can bring these techniques home. Here are four reasons why it's time to sous the pants off your dinner.
① Eggs will never be the same.
Beyond teaching you how to make eggs at specific temperatures—whether it's a 63 or 75 degree Celsius poach—Fetterman shows you how to turn them into a breakfast sandwich with serrano ham, Manchego and salsa verde, or how to make a no-whisking-required hollandaise. Also try her deep-fried egg yolk, which Fetterman calls "a glorious hybrid of a poached egg and a crouton.
② You can make ice cream.
Cooking sous vide is more diverse than, say, making the perfect steak or salmon. There's a whole world of desserts just begging to be immersion circulated, like Fetterman's cinnamon-apple ice cream. The main ingredients are the usual suspects, eggs, sugar, cream and milk—no tongue-twisting molecular ingredients necessary—but using this method means you won't curdle your ice cream base.
③ Keep your hands free.
Using an immersion circulator lets you be more hands-off in the kitchen, so you can spend more time chatting with friends at your dinner party, rather than staring nervously at your turkey meatballs while they cook. It's also a cool party trick: Think mesmerizing fish tank, except instead of spying on boring goldfish, your friends can watch your coffee-spiced pork tenderloin get seared in the few minutes right before it's time to eat.
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④ Make vegetables you'll want to eat.
The texture of anything you cook sous vide will be superior (and more consistent) than many other cooking methods, especially where vegetables are concerned. Forget sad, mushy, overcooked tubers, and instead cook small potatoes just until they’re tender. Fetterman then smashes them in a skillet with green onions and red pepper flakes for a side dish that's "like home fries that have studied abroad."
Reprinted with permission from Sous Vide at Home, by Lisa Q. Fetterman, copyright © 2016, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photographs copyright © 2016 by Monica Lo
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