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Sous Vide: Feed's All You Need Guide

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French cooking is renowned worldwide, especially because of the chef’s ability to prepare food precisely. Relying on various food preparation techniques, French chefs prepare food that contains flavor and richness with an artisan’s touch. Many of these preparation techniques have become used internationally in cuisines, including the Sous Vide technique. According to -, the Sous Vide method of cooking (in French - Sous Vide translates directly to “under a vacuum”) is a method of cooking in which food is vacuum-sealed in a bag and cooked to an exact temperature while immersed in a water bath. The results of this cooking method are truly delightful - food is cooked consistently, maintains its tenderness, and allows you to prepare your favorite meats and vegetables without having to worry about overcooking the food. If you’ve never tried this method of cooking but are interested in how to get started, this guide is for you. For today’s Pop All You Need guide, we will dive into the world of Sous Vide, providing tips, tools, and techniques that will get you to cook delicious foods in no time. 

History of the Sous Vide Cooking Method:

As we mentioned earlier, the Sous Vide method of food preparation is that of the French, but back in the day, it was not used to help cook food more evenly or even help the food taste better. Rather, Sous Vide was used as a safety measure during the late 1960s after food-grade plastic films and vacuum packaging for food were developed; according to Cook, the ability to keep packaged foods submerged in water at a certain temperature helped to make sterilizing and pasteurizing food much easier for labs, hospitals, and large food companies. 1974, though, brought the Sous Vide method to restaurants in France after a chef wanted to cook foie gras without losing much fat within the cooking process. So, after much experimentation, the chef Pierre Troisgros found that sealing foie gras in plastic and cooking it at a precise temperature, submerged in water, provided the best results, and Sous Vide was then born.

Slowly the technique made its way to other parts of the world, including the United States, thanks to the onslaught of the World Wide Web! Chefs began to take up the new way of cooking, investing in circulators (one of the main components needed to cook effectively in this method) and experimenting with Sous Vide, sharing their techniques over the internet. Slowly but surely, by 2005, the method became much more widespread, with professionals teaching classes on Sous Vide and many more cookbooks, including recipes using the technique. Additionally, with time, the price of at-home immersion circulators has also begun to drop, making Sous Vide a much more viable option for those who wanted to partake but didn’t have a commercial kitchen or tools. So, here we are today, where thousands of immersion tools have been created (all at different price points), making this cooking method viable for all!

Tools You’ll Need

Now that we’ve discussed the history of the Sous Vide cooking method, you may wonder what you need to have in your kitchen to try this for yourself. Not to worry, here is a list of a few things you will need to be able to Sous Vide in your kitchen:

An Immersion Circulator - this device is key to the Sous Vide process! Immersion circulators are devices you insert into a tub or pot of water. It circulates the water as it heats the temperature precisely and continuously for the desired cooking time. While immersion circulators used to be quite pricey and hard to attain for the at-home chef, nowadays, you can find a good quality one for less than $250!

Sous Vide Bags - You can’t sous vide without the second main component of the cooking method, the plastic sous vide bag, to place what you are cooking into. These bags are typically vacuum sealed to take all of the air out and then submerged into the hot bath to cook the items to a perfect texture. Thankfully, several different Sous vide plastic bags are available on the market today, and you can even use Ziplock freezer bags if you’re in a pinch! 

A Large Pot or Tub for the Bath - The third main component to successfully cook using the sous vide method is to place the meat, water, and immersion circulator! There are a number of different containers or pots you can use for this cooking method, ranging from a Cambro 8-quart storage container to a normal large cooking pot. It is noted, though, that plastic is a better heat insulator than the metal of pots, but you can use whatever you have handy.

Bag Clips - This one is self-explanatory, but bag clips are needed to ensure the food remains submerged in the bath for its entire cooking process.

Ping Pong Balls - You may wonder, why would I ever need ping pong balls to cook? While it may seem odd, ping pong balls provide quite a service during the sous vide cooking process. While the water in the bath circulates thanks to the immersion circulator, you want the temperature to be constant during the cooking process. Thanks to the laws of chemistry, heat constantly leaves the water as it moves, so the likelihood that the temperature will ebb and flow too much and leave the food uncooked despite the cooking time you allocate. This is where the ping pong balls come in handy - they work to become a good insulator for the water, helping to maintain a constant temperature and therefore allowing the food to be cooked each and every time evenly!

What Can I Make Sous Vide?

Now that you know what tools you will need to prepare your food, you may think, “What foods can be prepared using the Sous Vide cooking method?” Well, there’s quite a lot that can be made this way, including but not limited to:


Steaks and other meats and poultry

Seafood

Vegetables

And even eggs!

Most commonly, steaks or chicken are prepared in the sous vide method, given its ability to cook the meat thoroughly while maintaining the tenderness and moisture of the meat during the cooking process. According to Serious Eats, sous vide cooking offers unparalleled control over anything you try to cook and provides perfect results each time. If you’re interested in a delicious chicken with flavor and juiciness, try cooking it sous vide! Make sure to season your meat before you place it in the plastic resealable bag (either a sous vide bag or a Ziplock freezer bag) to give your desired flavor during cooking. Then, place the bag in the water bath and make sure the bag sinks (it should if properly sealed) and follow this timing chart to cook the chicken well! Finally, it’s recommended to finish searing the chicken in a skillet or cast iron pan to give it that nice golden color and finishing flavor, and you’re good to go! The same goes for meats like steak, pork chops, and all other food items you wish to cook using the sous vide method.

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