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Sous vide cooking is something I’ve known about for a couple of years now but it never seemed a practical choice for home cooking. That changed for me in October when I read an article on the technique in the New York Times.

The article describes the technique—named after the practice of vacuum sealing the food—as way to cook food with great precision and consistency. Food under seal is submerged in hot water where it cooks. If the water’s temperature can be held to a precise level, the cooking results are readily reproducible. Precise control of the water temperature provides cooks with a great deal of control and the ability to achieve the results that they prefer.

What had made the technique impractical in the past? Two things: the time needed to cook the food and the attendance needed to keep the pot of water at its target temperature.

However, in the article’s pictures, there peaked out a wand-like device tall and slender from a pot sitting out on the kitchen counter. This device, Joule by ChefSteps, heats and circulates the water in the pot. I blinked at the device and the pictures’ implication. Here is a method for cooking food on the counter—no stove, no oven—in any sized vessel that the circulator could handle. After investigating the capabilities of Joule, it turns out that the circular can handle a lot. It has very precise temperature control and a single unit can work with baths up to 10 gallons.

What does this all mean? First and foremost, I can be more ambitious in my cooking. With this device, I can achieve consistent results on scales I have never seriously considered before.

Exotic and elegantly scientific, sous vide comes home.


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