Sous vide: it's not just a mysterious method of cooking reserved for fancy Top Chef contestants. Intimidating as it might seem at first (what language is that, anyway?), I'm here to tell you that you do not need a culinary degree to sous vide at home. But let's back it up for a second and dig into what sous vide actually is.
Sous vide known for its precision in cooking everything from the perfect piece of protein to veggies and beyond. And the best part, it’s actually quite simple and easy to do, especially when using your Stasher bags. Let's dive deeper into what sous vide is all about.
What is sous vide?
Sous vide is a cooking method that uses a vacuum-sealed bag submerged in water and cooked over a longer period of time (longer than you're probably used to) in low temperatures.
Since the protein, along with sauce or marinades, is sealed in a bag, it is slowly and gently heated to the temperature of the water. This process helps to break down your food and make it more tender, and it is also a very precise way of cooking that creates consistent results. For example, you can cook a steak to medium rare every time, or ensure your chicken is fully cooked through without needing to hack it open with a knife. It also ensures that your proteins are never overdone.
You can also use sous vide for perfectly cooked veggies, grains, and beans, so vegetarians and vegans, rejoice!
What kind of equipment do I need to sous vide?
In order to sous vide, you need a sous vide machine. You can buy an entire contraption that fills with water or you can just buy a circulator that you add to your own pot that will heat the water and maintain the proper temperature (see below for my recommendations). You will also need plastic bags, jars, or, of course, Stasher bags which are made of silicone (and therefore completely plastic free and reusable!).
The process involves filling your pot with water, set the sous vide machine, add in the bag with the protein, and let it do its thing. You can choose to sear the protein after removing it from the sous vide, if desired (particularly for meat).
What does sous vide mean?
Sous vide is french for “under vacuum,” since the protein is sealed in a container like a jar or sealable bag. The method was invented by French chef George Pralus in 1974 after discovering it was a fantastic way to cook foie gras. The process was mostly used in restaurant settings due to the expensive and bulky equipment needed, until recent years when at-home machines were made accessible on the market.
How do you even pronounce sous vide?
Repeat after me: "sue-veed." For added emphasis, wear a beret and hold a baguette while you practice saying it.
What are the benefits of sous vide?
There are many benefits to using the sous vide method. Here are a few standouts:
- It's easy. One of the most enjoyed benefits of sous vide is that it’s a low key, easy, and safe way to cook something slowly and perfectly. You don’t need to monitor the stove or a skillet, and you can even sous vide the meat ahead of time, and then sear the meat before serving it for dinner.
- It's consistent. Another benefit is the precision and predictability of using the method. You can set it and be sure what you are going to get every time.
- You can set it and forget it. It’s great for every day meals or for hosting parties where you need one less thing to worry about (like having overdone chicken).
- It yields delicious results. Using the sous vide method also allows for juicier, more delicious proteins since they are being cooked in their own juices, and less clean up with splatters and a mess in the kitchen from cooking on the stovetop.
What are the best bags to use for sous vide?
You can sous vide in a vacuum sealed bag, a reusable silicone bag, or a jar. Most sous vide bags sold are plastic, but I’m partial to Stasher bags because they are both reusable and safer than plastic — I’m not the biggest fan of putting my food in plastic, especially when it’s heated. The process of heating plastic can leech harmful chemicals, and I just don't have an appetite for that at dinner. Stasher bags are BPA free and won’t leech anything unwanted into your food.
Stasher bags also have the added benefit of being dishwasher safe, so they are easy to clean up once you are done cooking in them, and they're endlessly reusable, so you don't need to worry about your impact on the planet by buying single-use sous vide bags.
What's the best water cooker for sous vide?
There are two main varieties of sous vide machines: a water oven and a circulator. Water ovens, such as the SousVide Supreme Demi, control the whole process but can be quite bulky.
For the home chef, I recommend a circulator. They are much smaller (similar in size to an immersion blender) and more manageable to store, and you can just clip it on to a pot you already have. The Anova Precision Cooker nano is under $100 and compact, so it’s an easy gadget to keep in the kitchen, and probably worth it to never have to stress about if your chicken is fully cooked. It is also bluetooth enabled so you can keep an eye on it and control it it from any room in your house. The Joule is also popular circulator option.
What about sous vide recipes?
There are an endless number of recipes you can make using the sous vide method. Here are some of my favorites using Stasher bags:
Quick Pickling with Stasher Bags
Fun fact: you can use sous vide to make pickles! This easy pickling recipe uses only 6 ingredients and takes 2.5 hours to create the perfect pickles.
Sous Vide Mustard Chicken with Sautéed Kale
An easy weeknight recipe or for a dinner party, with none of the stress of overcooking your chicken (literally, what could be better), this sous vide chicken and kale recipe will quickly become your go-to.
Quick-Infused Cranberry Cosmopolitan
Bet you didn't know you could make craft cocktails using sous vide! Using the sous vide for this cocktail recipe allows you to infuse your booze in a few hours instead of a few days or a week! Add this festive cranberry cocktail to your holiday menu, or opt for the sweeter Vanilla Butternut Flip Cocktail which also uses sous vide.
Sous Vide Salmon
Salmon is perfect for sous vide and this recipe is one the easiest out there because you can sous vide your salmon and your veggies, using three separate bags, all at once! Literally set it and forget it. And there’s an easy to follow video!
Rosemary Rubbed Steak with Shallot Sauce and Roasted Mushrooms
If you’re looking for a perfectly cooked steak, this recipe has you covered. With just four ingredients to cook the steak, it is as simple as it is delicious and perfectly cooked. Add on the mushrooms and shallot sauce and the dinner will be an instant hit.