I Used a Sous Vide to Make Dinner for a Week — Here's How It Went
Our writer investigates if all the promises she's heard about sous vide cooking are true.
I’ll be honest, I have been having a tough time falling back in love with cooking after being a vegan for nearly a year. Now that I'm back to meat-eating (with plenty of plants in there, too!), the making of my meal’s main attraction (typically eggs, chicken or fish) has simply become a chore with all of the prep, mess and slimy hands — yuck.
So when I recently learned about the nearly effortless “set it and forget it” sous vide (the exact reason why I adore my Instant Pot...), I was intrigued.
I taste-tested a friend’s go-to chicken dish made with an Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker Nano and was sold on the spot. I mean, the no-fuss chicken breast didn’t have to be butterflied or pounded. Better yet, its thickest part didn’t require a presentation-shattering slice to ensure it was fully-cooked. The Anova sous vide comes an app for that, which alerted my friend when the chicken was cooked to perfection.
The following week I ordered my very own gadget: the Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker Nano. Needless to say, the Food Gods have officially answered my prayers and my chef hat is back on. Why? Let’s dive in.
It Cooks Evenly Without Guesswork
Sous vide, meaning “under vacuum” in French, is a hands-off approach to restaurant-quality meals. Immersion stick models, like mine, are plunged into a big pot of water to create a temperature-controlled bath. It then heats food evenly and consistently for the most perfect doneness.
Flavor Has Nowhere to Hide
From salmon and the most perfect soft boiled eggs to balsamic beets and honey butter glazed carrots, I had a blast playing again in the kitchen. I wasn't bored or feeling overwhelmed thanks to this nearly-foolproof method of cooking. Flavor and juices have nowhere to hide, to say the very least, which in turn leaves food tasty and moist every time. It was a cinch to add flavor, especially in typically bland foods like flaky white fish and cauliflower, with a few fresh herbs, citrus and a little olive oil. (See you never, butter!)
Crispy Foods Aren't Totally Impossible to Make
Love a crispy sear? I feel you, so here’s a heads up: The sous vide is only your BFF for an even cook, so you will need to finish it off in a cast iron pan or on the grill to get that extra oomph of smokey flavor. (Yes, I’m looking at you, steak enthusiasts.) Bonus points: Anova’s app is filled with instructions, intuitive time, temp guides and recipes.
It's Actually Really Healthy
So how does it stack up on the healthy cooking appliance scale? According to the International Journal of Food Sciences & Nutrition, the sous vide outperforms traditional cooking methods in delivering superior flavor, nutritional value and food safety. “Sous vide cooking can lead to less vitamin degradation that happens when you heat food to a higher temperature,” explains Taylor C. Wallace, PhD, CFS, FACN.
Opt for Silicone Bags
Okay, but let’s chat quick about the elephant in the room: Cooking in plastic. I was nervous, too. That’s why I turned to silicone bags. The only real difference I found using my reusable sandwich baggies was that they required a bit more cooking liquid versus the resealable freezer grade plastic bags you most likely have already in your cupboard. Pro tip: You will want to “burp” out all of the air to get an airtight seal before letting them take a dip.
Food grade vacuum sealing bags are designed to withstand boiling temperature, however, so if you don’t want to splurge on silicone, I’d recommend these babies. Pricier Stasher bags do provide you with an eco-friendly option though with its reusability! Plus, silicon is much more durable than its plastic alternatives.
Delicious? Check. Convenient? Check. Healthy? Check. Add in the fact that it’s a fraction of the size of other popular kitchen gadgets that offer the same benefits? Winner winner chicken dinner. Literally.