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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CECELW 8/7/2020
No thanks. I have plenty of junk around here as it is Report
MUSICNUT 8/5/2020
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
REDROBIN47 7/17/2020
Interesting. Thank you. Report
NELLJONES 4/24/2020
I wish recipes had time as well as temp. You can't check what's in the bag. Report
MWHIGGINS 4/23/2020
I've seen inexpensive units lately...I wonder if they are worth the costs... Report
CECTARR 4/23/2020
Sounds great until you look up the prices and figure out you spending over 300.00 or more to get all the stuff needed. No thanks Report
MAREE1953 4/23/2020
My husband is a WONDERFUL cook and added the sous vide a couple of years ago. Excellent!! Better reheat than a microwave, too. About $100+ Report
LOSER05 4/15/2020
thanks Report
I believe these precision cookers run around $500 unless the cost has come down. The immersion ones are less but then you're back to monitoring.
For those who aren't great cooks, go for it. I use my slow cooker, dutch oven, smoker, bbq grill, electric skillet, toaster oven & regular oven for roasting or broiling. I reheat in the microwave or a fry pan w/ a little water or steamer in the microwave. If I wanted to cook food in plastic bags I would. They have liners for crock pots & cooking bags for roasts & turkeys. After a half century of cooking I'll pass on another new unnecessary type of cooking. This seems the opposite of eating more foods raw. I also use my blender & juicer to save on time or just get more nutrition into my diet. Perhaps an article on dessert equipment would benefit Sparkers. Report
I suspect we'll be seeing the research coming out in a couple of years reminding folks to not cook food in plastic bags - especially ones that were not specifically designed / tested / rated for cooking. This is no different than microwaving food in non-approved plastic containers (or, really, in any plastic container).

I really can't see the results of this method of cooking being good enough to be worth the health risks. Report
thank you Report
Thanks for the suggestions. Report
Great to know info! Report
Do you ever get the flavor of meat that has been browned? Report
I received a Sous Vide as a present. I will definitely be making a few of these!
Cooking in a plastic bag,hopefully not one from China then? Report
Something to consider. Thank you. Report
My brother shared about sous vide with me last year, and I have been hooked ever since. Basically, it is an oversized curling iron that you stick into a large pot of water (pot from your cabinet, so the only new gadget is your large 'curling iron'), and then you hang the product in a freezer bag in the water at a precise temperature, for a period of time.
Upsides: any hunk of meat like steaks, pork or beef roasts, split or boneless chicken breasts will be cooked to that perfect internal temperature leaving it moist, and depending how you season, it will be flavorful all the way through. Never again will you get a hammered piece of shoe leather.... ever! I use it all the time on boneless/skinless chicken breast for a low fat/low WW Point building block for meal planning and have NEVER BEEN DISAPPOINTED IN THE MEAT..
Downside: very few, other that leaving it in too long which leads to "excessive tenderness" where the meat is fall apart tender when you are looking for some bite/chew to it. The other is that ziplock bags are one-use. There ARE reusable sous vide immersion bags, but i have not given those a shake yet.

I recommend the "seriouseats" website for additional info. It not only has recipes, but it also goes into the science/mechanics of sous vide using sample meals. If you use this search phrase into your browser search window, it will take you to a results page where you can get to several different items to select: "food lab complete guide to sous vide" Report
I’m one of the ones who has heard of it and seen various versions of the equipment for sale on Amazon - but A) I still don’t know how to pronounce it, and b) I bought the Instant Pot because it was cheaper, at the time. But C) what’s with the new sous vide “immersion” where you can use your own pot? That might be more useful in our house because we already have too much stuff sitting in cabinets and on counter tops (I’d be happy to ditch the microwave as I rarely use it now. I prefer my convection oven or my instant pot instead.)
www.amazon.com/immersion-sous-vide /

interesting.... Report
great Report
Interesting! Report
Interesting! Report
interesting Report
I like my pressure cooker. Report
Interesting Report
Interresting Report
Though we travel the world to find beauty, we must carry it with us or we find it not. - Emerson ~ 4/10/18 Report
Great article! Report
For only 1 person, I’ll do without. Report
I ran out of room in my kitchen years ago. Hubby likes to buy gadgets. It looks interesting but I think I will keep with the standard methods of cooking. Report
good info Report
Wish there was more and more detailed instruction as to ho to try this wthout a cooker. Report
I have too much stuff and not enough space, all these gadgets take up space and are not used often enough to be worth it. Report
I am not to sure about this Report
Extra work but should be worth it Report
No, I think I'll just cook the normal way. It's like the Instant Pot, I don't have room for. To me this is just a gimmick Report
Back in the early 60's, we put food in bags in a bot of boiling water..Banquet made the foods. Same thing..just another consumer gimmick to spend our money and take up space,, in landfills. Report
Thanks, does not interested Report
Sounds interesting. Never heard about it before. Thanks! Report
I have a slow cooker, and a pressure cooker. Don’t need anything else. Report
Interesting! Report
I don't think I will do this, but I loved the article. Report
I'm not going to another page to look at the device. If you can put pictures of food in the blog, you can put a picture of the cooker in the blog. Report
Don’t need one. Report
I would love to do sous vide, but I can't find a chart of times to go with the temp of the water bath. You can't check on food temp if it's vacuum sealed. Report
No, not for me, no more room Report
Finally a good use for all the baggies in my pantry. WooHoo! Report