Product Review: Sous Vide Supreme

While exploring various methods for slow cooking, I came across one called sous vide. I’d never heard of this process, so, being a Food Explorer, of course I had to give it a try.

And, I have to say, it is different.

With sous vide, the aim is to cook the food slowly, over a period of several hours, in a low temperature water bath designed to cook the entire dish to a uniform interior temperature of your choice. To achieve this, you vacuum seal your meat—or vegetables or whatever—inside a plastic bag, with the seasonings you desire.

For a look at the history of sous vide cooking, see our previous CHEFS Mix blog.

Test #1

Vacuum Sealer at CHEFScatalog.comFor our first test of the Sous Vide Supreme, we chose a 1.5 pound pork tenderloin, which we did not season at all since we wanted to use it for shredded pork barbecue sandwiches. We brought the sous vide up to our desired temperature (65.5 C, 150 F), sealed the pork into its bag, and placed the bag into the water bath—where we left it, untouched, no peeking, for about six hours.

How long to leave your food in the water bath was a bit unclear, on first read of the instructions. It depends upon:

  • The thickness/size of the meat.
  • The degree of “doneness” you desire (medium, medium well, well, etc.).
  • Your lifestyle.

Your lifestyle?

For some who enjoy a more, shall we say, laissez-faire lifestyle where you wish to eat dinner sometime between, oh, 6 and 9 p.m., the sous vide is a perfect tool, because it will hold your dish at the chosen serving temperature for hours after the cooking is done with little to no degradation of food quality. (The phrase laissez-faire is French and literally means “let [them] do,” but more broadly implies, “let it be.”)

But, for those of us who are used to dinner being ready at a particular time, the conversion to sous vide cooking can be a challenge—but one worth taking, even if just for the new experience. You can’t just cut into the meat, for instance, to “see” if it is done—unless you’re willing to re-vacuum seal the dish, seasonings and all, into a new bag. Of course, if your dish is not quite done to your liking, you can finish cooking in your oven or on your stovetop.

How was the pork tenderloin?

Our unseasoned pork tenderloin came out perfect in every way. Pete and RePete, our two dogs, were at attention from the moment we cut the bag open—as were we. The aroma was divine, the interior temperature perfect at 150 F (regardless of where we measured it), and the tenderloin melted in our mouths. And, yes, it was equally good after we shredded what was left for our barbecue sandwiches. But it did make me wonder (almost to distraction) what it would taste like with, say, a Tuscan style flavoring.

Beef Sous Vide at CHEFScatalog.comTest #2

This time, we prepared a 1-3/4 inch thick ribeye steak, with a simple seasoning of salt, pepper, and a multi-spice mixture we like. Added just a dribble of olive oil before vacuum-sealing the bag. The instructions said to cook it from 30 minutes (I thought this was a slow cooking method…?) up to three hours. We chose to stay with an interior temperature of 150 F, placed the bag in the water, and walked away.

Assuming 30 minutes would not be enough for a steak of this thickness, we left it for three hours. When opening the bag, the dogs once again gave their rapt attention as we plated the steak. Again, the meat measured the appropriate temperature throughout, so was done accurately, but it was more red than we prefer. This was not the fault of the sous vide—it did what we asked it to.

Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide at CHEFScatalog.comHowever, what would have been helpful is a chart that showed for what kind of cut, what temperature one should use if you want your meat at medium, medium-well, etc.

We opted not to sear the steak either (we wanted to experience how the sous vide cooked without using other techniques), which could have cooked the meat closer to our preferred shade of pink. However, we did eat the steak as it came out of the bag (see photos) and the taste was exceptional.

I’m convinced the more we use the sous vide, the more we’ll become comfortable with how it cooks and how to adapt the technique for our personal preferences. But, for us, there is a little bit of a learning curve—which was not unexpected. Be prepared for that if you decide to try it, too.

To smooth out that curve a bit, read Thomas Keller’s book, Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide, a source of instruction, technique, and recipes for anyone who wants to experience the new ideas sous vide makes possible.

Your Turn: Try Sous Vide Cooking at CHEFScatalog.comWhat we liked

  • The precise temperature control provides rich and moist textures that are not achievable any other way.
  • Exceptionally rich flavors.
  • By placing the seasonings (marinades, too) inside the bag you’re cooking in, you achieve infused flavors.
  • Easy clean up.

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