Weeknight Cooking Made Easier With the Sous Vide

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Sous what?
Sous vide.
Most people fall into one of two camps: Either they've never heard of sous vide cooking or they're already diehard fans. If you're one of the former, hopefully we can inspire you to give this trendy technique a try. And if you've recently received or purchased a sous vide precision cooker and haven't yet taken the plunge, this is a great place to start.
Sous vide, which is French for "under vacuum," refers to the process of placing food in a vacuum-sealed bag and then cooking it in hot water using an appliance called a precision cooker. (Technically, the precision cooker isn't required, as you can improvise with a resealable bag and a large stock pot or a cooler—but it does make the process easier and more foolproof.)
Sous vide cooks food at a very precise temperature, so the results are more consistent than conventional methods. While oven cooking can sometimes leave your meals on the dry side, cooking in water helps food retain its juices and flavors. You also won't have to worry about hovering over the cooker and triple-checking to make sure your meal isn't getting overcooked, as the precision cooker will never go over the optimal temperature.
Chances are you've eaten food prepared using the sous vide method at some point, as many upscale restaurants have been using this technique for years. Now that precision cookers are available for affordable home use, anyone can enjoy the delicious results.

Tips for Successful Sous Vide Cooking

While sous vide cooking does eliminate a lot of room for error, there are a few strategies for ensuring that the result of your recipe tastes (and looks) its best.   
Make sure the temperature and cooking time match what you're cooking.
Depending on what type of food you're preparing, it may require a different time and temperature. A thick steak will cook longer than a thin piece of halibut, for example. Follow the recipe instructions carefully.
The Pratesi Living blog offers some recommended temperatures for various foods:
  • 38-43°C (100-109°F): Very rare to rare tuna
  • 39-49°C (101-120°F): Rare to medium-rare salmon
  • 49-55°C (120-130°F): Medium-rare to medium fish and shellfish (unpasteurized)
  • 55-60°C (131-140°F): Beef
  • 60°C (140°F): Pork and chicken (pasteurized)
  • 63-65°C (145-149°F): Poached eggs
  • 82-85°C (180-185°F): Root vegetables
Don't go overboard on the sauces.
While some people prefer to add butter, oil or some other wet marinade or seasoning to the bag prior to cooking, the experts recommend only using enough to cover the surface of the food. It may be easier, and just as flavorful, to sprinkle meat or fish with some dried herbs and spices before putting them in the bag.

9 Scrumptious Sous Vide Recipes

Orange and Mint Chicken Legs: These chicken legs have an encompassing combination of sweet, spicy and minty flavors.

Poached Eggs and Avocado Toast: Eliminate the guesswork of preparing perfectly poached eggs with this risk-free recipe. It's equal parts healthy, delicious and Instagram-worthy.
Image courtesy of Sous Vide Guy

Starbucks Sous Vide Egg Bites Bacon Gruyere: We love this copycat version of Starbucks' delicious grab-and-go breakfast. Chances are you already have all of the ingredients on hand.

Image courtesy of Copykat
Sous Vide Halibut: If you've ever been let down by dried-out fish cooked in the oven, you'll love this moist, flaky sous vide version. Prep time is just five minutes.
Image courtesy of Sous Vide Guy
Sesame Bok Choy: This sous vide meal uses several common Asian ingredients, such as ginger, soy sauce and sesame seeds, to create a complex sauce that coats the bok choy.
Sous Vide Cheesecake: Equally delicious and adorable, these mini cheesecakes are served in canning jars for perfectly portioned treats.
Image courtesy of Sous Vide Guy
Sous Vide Garlic Herb Butter Steaks: Premium cuts of meat cook perfectly in a temperature-controlled water bath, ensuring a tender, juicy, flavorful result.
Image courtesy of Number 2 Pencil
Sous Vide Pulled Pork: Preparing pounds of juicy pulled pork has never been easier or more foolproof than with this sous vide version.
Image courtesy of Sous Vide Guy
Cold Brew Coffee:  You'll want to enjoy this refreshing, chilled, super-smooth beverage all year round.
Image courtesy of Sous Vide Guy
Which of these would you like to try? Are there any other sous vide recipes you'd recommend?

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