By Lucas Witman
Few culinary techniques are as trendy right now as sous vide cookery. Peruse the menu at almost any fine dining restaurant in the country, and you are almost certain to find meats, vegetables and even eggs that have been prepared using this method. Celebrated chefs such as Joël Robuchon, Thomas Keller and Ferran Adrià have endowed sous vide cooking with an almost mythic air of haute cuisine through their impassioned support of the technique. However, since its inception, this technique has been reserved primarily for professionals, as the equipment used to conduct it (often repurposed laboratory thermal immersion circulators) is expensive and difficult to obtain. This is changing today, however, as kitchenwares company SousVide Supreme is finally bringing sous vide cooking to the masses.
Sous vide cooking is a particular method of slowly poaching foods at a steady, relatively low temperature. Foods are sealed in airtight plastic bags (often vacuum-sealed), where they are submerged in a water bath. Sous vide meats in particular retain a succulence that is often lost through conventional cooking methods. In addition, cooking tougher cuts of meat at a low temperature for a long time tenderizes them.
As an admitted connoisseur of kitchen gadgets and appliances, learning about the existence of SousVide Supreme’s home kitchen sous vide cooking equipment immediately piqued my interest. I was curious to find out if I could in fact use this appliance to recreate sous vide dishes from some of my favorite restaurants.
Upon receiving the equipment, I immediately knew what item I wanted to cook first in my SousVide Supreme. At a favorite local Italian restaurant, the chef has re-imagined the traditional bacon-and-eggs pasta dish, spaghetti carbonara, by putting something he calls a “perfect egg” on top. When the dish hits the table, one mixes the delicately poached egg into the pasta, and it forms the sauce for the dish. It did not take much coaxing from the chef to get his recipe for the perfect egg: He sous vides an egg in its shell for 45 minutes at exactly 145°.
The SousVide Supreme could not be easier to use. One simply fills the large metal water oven (there are fill level markings inscribed on it) and inputs the desired temperature and, if desired, cooking time. The machine quickly heats the water to the specific cooking temperature, where it is kept perfectly steady. An alarm sounds when the desired cooking time has been reached. Simply remove the cooked food from the water bath and enjoy.
My first attempt at creating a “perfect egg” was an immediate success. The low and slow cooking method creates a smooth, luxurious, delicately poached egg that practically disappeared into my pasta dish. One could also use the SousVide Supreme to create delicious poached eggs for eggs benedict or for use as a topper in a hearty soup. I doubt I will ever again poach an egg in the traditional manner.
In addition to the water oven itself, SousVide Supreme offers an extensive line of cooking equipment that completes the sous vide cooking experience. A zip sealer enables one to carefully seal plastic bags for submersion, while a vacuum sealer does the same thing, simultaneously removing all air from the bag. SousVide Supreme also offers an array of cooking pouches, sous vide seasonings, cookbooks and other accessories.
Already satisfied with my perfect egg, I then decided to use the equipment to cook some vacuum packed vegetables. Using the SousVide Supreme Vacuum Sealer and Vacuum Seal Pouches is practically foolproof. I filled a bag with chopped carrots and winter squash, added a couple pats of butter and some seasoned salt and positioned the top of the bag in the Vacuum Sealer. One simply clicks down on a latch, holding the bag in place, and presses a button. The machine then removes all the air from the bag and seals it tight. In a matter of seconds, my bag was ready to be placed in the SousVide Supreme water oven.
When doing sous vide cooking, one needs to be patient. Cooking my vegetables in the SousVide Supreme took two hours. I know that I could have boiled the vegetables in less than a quarter of the time. However, the results were worth the wait. The vegetables came out perfectly tender and cooked completely evenly. And by cooking them in a vacuum-sealed pouch, they were infused with the flavors of the butter and spices with which they were cooked. It was truly a home run.
The SousVide Supreme is destined to become a staple in my kitchen. And with the holidays coming up, I am excited to have a new gift to present to the many foodies in my life who, like me, think they already have everything they could need in their kitchens. Chance are, they don’t have this.