Investing in kitchen equipment can be daunting. What brand? What model? Do I really need this? Are there more pieces to buy afterwards? For me (kook Jenna), I try to keep an open mind and often dive right into a purchase, enjoying the thrill of the unknown, unlike my mom (the other kook) who will do several hours of research before making a move. In this review of kitchen gadgets, we will explore my first hand experience with a SousVide Supreme Demi in the hopes I can make your decision to purchase or pass far simpler!
WHAT IS SOUSVIDE?
SousVide (French for “under vacuum” and pronounced sue-veed) is a method of cooking in which food is sealed in airtight plastic bags then placed in a water bath or in a temperature-controlled steam environment for longer than normal cooking times (usually 1 to 6 hours, up to 48 or more in some select cases) at an accurately regulated temperature much lower than normally used for cooking, typically around 55 to 60 °C (131 to 140 °F) for meat and higher for vegetables. The intent is to cook the item evenly, ensuring that the inside is properly cooked without overcooking the outside, and retain moisture. (Wikepedia) It’s a fantastic technique because it gives the cook a very total control over the texture of the finished dish, while eliminating any chance of over- or undercooking it.
OUT OF THE BOX IMPRESSION
When my machine first arrived I was a bit worried about the size. The box was quite massive and the only thing running through my head was “where am I going to put this in my tiny kitchen?!”. Luckily for me, within the much larger box was several smaller boxes including the machine itself, the vacuum sealer and the pouches. The SousVide is similar in size to a slow cooker. It is fairly minimalist as far as design goes (rectangular in shape with a plug on the back, a carrying handle on each side and a small display pad on the front). Depending on your kitchen size, you could leave it on your counter top, particularly if you end up using it often.
When I think of SousVide I instantly picture MasterChef cooking shows and fancy gastronomy restaurants that are using all sorts of scientific approaches/devices to cook food…intimidating to say the least. What I discovered is that, despite the fact that I am no culinary master with only a few years of cooking under my belt, this piece of equipment was perfect for the novice chef. I simply filled up the main vessel to just above the Fill Line (there is also a Max Line so you can work within that range) and held down the start button to turn it on. I then easily set the temperature of the water by pressing the “Set Temp” button and increased it to 134F (for cooking a 6.5oz filet mignon steak to medium-rare) using the right at left arrow buttons. The SousVide worked its magic to get to the exact temperature as I prepared the rest of the meal.
LET’S GET COOKING
I thought for my first attempt I should not only do something simple, but also try to cook something that the SousVide is supposed to be really good at…meat. Speaking as a vegetarian who is married to a meat-eater, I rarely ever work with any type of meat in the kitchen, sometimes to my husband’s dismay. And I also find it challenging to understand the different techniques used to get a medium-rare finish vs a medium finish on a piece of meat, having never eaten any myself. I was hoping that the SousVide appliance would take the stress out of cooking a steak perfectly for my husband while minimizing my interaction with it.
I purchased a 6.5oz filet mignon steak (with bacon wrap on the outside) from my local farmers market. I proceeded to generously season it with salt and pepper on both sides. Then I put a pad of button on top and finished it with a sprig of rosemary from my garden.
Next came the fun part of vacuum sealing it! Grabbing a pair of tongs, I gently placed the meat and its seasonings into the vacuum seal pouch (*trick: fold back the top of the pouch to avoid food particles and oils sticking to the top where the seal will be made) and positioned it in the sealing machine. I made sure the pouch was below the air spout and proceeded to clamp it down on either side. As I pressed the button, the air began to suck out of the pouch instantaneously, making a perfect seal.
By this time my temperature had reached the correct setting (the beauty of this machine is it maintains whatever temperature you set it to constantly) so I was ready to get cooking. I lowered the now fully sealed meat into the water, making sure it was fully submerged, placed the lid back on and set the timer to 1 hour. Apparently you could leave the meat for 12 hours and it won’t overcook…I will have to test that theory out one day.
While my meat was busy cooking away, I prepared my accompaniments which included a creamy polenta and sauteed leeks and zucchini with a hint of nutmeg. I was left with lots of time to be able to sit down and relax in between my prep. After it was finished I put a pan on the stove with a bit of ghee butter (this has a higher burn rate than regular butter so better to sear with) and seared the steak to finish it off. I got a nice colour on both sides and promptly plated with my sides. I eagerly watched my husband take the first bite, dying to know how it tasted and if it was cooked right. The words that spilled out of his mouth was “Phenomenal and it is so juicy!”. I breathed a big sigh of relief. Apparently it was cooked to a perfect medium rare and he devoured every last bite!
PURCHASE OR PASS?
The Benefits: Ok, here’s what you get with a SousVide cooking method: juicy, tender, perfect texture, maximum flavour, full control over the temperature and cook on your food and stress-free cooking. Not bad for one machine!
If you are a foodie or have a foodie friend/family member in your life, then I think this is a great machine to have in your culinary arsenal. It is similar to a slow cooker in the sense you can leave it for long periods of time, but a vast improvement regarding full control over the temperature (and “doneness”). And, all liquid remains sealed in for maximum nutrition. I can see SousVide being particularly helpful if you entertain a lot as you can simply get everything ready before your guests arrive and just finish your dish off at the end allowing you to be the perfect host by spending ample time with your party. It is not a cheap investment, but no cooking equipment is. I mean let’s be honest, you can buy a $10 knife or a $300 knife and you will notice a big difference. When it comes to most cooking gadgets, you do get what you pay for and the SousVide is no exception.
For more information on where you can purchase this machine, visit Cedarlane Culinary who we would sincerely like to thank for letting us try out this very cool and effective cooking method.
We look forward to posting some new recipes using this incredible kitchen gadget!