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Food & Wine Ground >> The Sous Vide Supreme


12/19/09 4:15 PM
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samichlaus
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Edited: 12/19/09 4:19 PM
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This is intriguing, I kinds wonder about the food safety side of things. Kinda wonder about cooking things in plastic too.


From http://blog.ruhlman.com/






Last year, The French Laundry Cookbook Team, published Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide, a book spearheaded by per se chef de cuisine Jonathon Benno and featuring the dishes of him, his French Laundry counterpart Corey Lee, and Thomas Keller. The book was explicitly geared toward professional chefs (recipes are in metric weights) because this form of cooking was at the time most applicable to restaurant kitchens. The capacity to cook food sous vide, that is vacuum sealed and submerged in water kept at low precise temperatures, is perfectly suited to the demands of cooking for large numbers because food hit a specific temperature and stays there, no real chance to overcook. But also the equipment was prohibitively expensive, with chamber vacuum sealers and immersion circulators (the device that heats the water) costing several thousand dollars.

This past October, Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades, physician entrepreneurs, unveiled Sous Vide Supreme, a sous vide cooker intended for home use and priced at $500, the cost of a standing mixer and other high powered kitchen appliances. Having written the above book, experimented with immersion circulator cooking, and having attended a demonstration in New York led by Fat Duck chef Heston Blumenthal, an enthusiastic endorser of the product, I was eager to try it and asked for an early model.







I've cooked meat, veg, fruit, eggs, custards, yogurt in this.

Sous Vide Supreme works perfectly and comes through on every claim it makes. It's not much bigger than a bread machine, is handsomely designed, easy to use, and makes it clear that sous vide cooking could very well become a standard cooking technique in American kitchens. Indeed, Keller told me that in his discussions with large appliance manufacturers, many are already designing stoves with sous vide cooker built into them.

It's still a pricey item. It can't do half the number of jobs a standing mixer can do. It really helps to have a decent vacuum sealer, yet another appliance (I use an older version of this one--wow, just checked, fabulous price at amazon). And it takes up more than a cubic foot of the countertop, valuable real estate in many kitchens.

All that said, if you want to cook sous vide, this is a terrific product and I thoroughly recommend it for the home kitchen (for restaurants, too, but only for small portions; restaurants are still better off with Polyscience's immersion circulators, still the gold standard because they can be put in Lexan tubs for restaurant quantities). I've been using this for two months now, cooking everything from meats to vegetables and couldn't be easier or more convenient. It's available from the company linked above, as well as from Sur la Table. And I hope soon to offer it at my Open Sky store.






Short ribs cooked at 138 F, 48 hrs, then finished on the grill.

What I love about sous vide cooking is that you can achieve results that are either difficult at home or impossible any other way. For instance, traditionally, you had to braise short ribs for hours to tenderize them, cooking most of the flavor out of them (which is why the sauce and serving braised things hot is so important). With sous vide you can cook them at 138 degrees for two or three days and they become tender and yet they're still medium rare. A sirloin steak, the tri-tip cut is best, can be cooked at that temperature, then seared and you will have a relatively inexpensive cut of meat that is gorgeously and uniformly rare, as tender and tasty as a strip steak, something that would ordinarily take a lot of practice and skill.

I'll do more posts on cooking sous vide next month but wanted to help get the word out now (Julia Moskin wrote about it for the NYTimes last week), for those who love to cook and can afford (or can afford to ask for) a big ticket item.

In the introduction to Under Pressure, Harold McGee writes that sous vide cooking is "one of the most important culinary innovations of modern times." I agree and am thrilled by the arrival of Sous Vide Supreme.
12/20/09 2:20 PM
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crescentwrench
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For 500 bucks I might go for that.  Kinda bulky for my kitchen though.  I need more kitchen.  

For food safety I there's a small chance of bacterial growth in the anaerobic environment because temperatures are usually too low to kill it off.  I don't know if it's a handling / food quality issue or if it's possible no matter what you do.  

As far as the cooking in plastic, meh.   I cook with non-stick cookware and use those plastic crock pot liners.  I never use an oven bag but I eat stuff cooked that way.  Everything is bad for you, I'm not going to sweat this too much.  Especially since it wouldn't be an everyday thing.  
12/21/09 7:08 AM
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droc
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 500 dollars? WTF?
12/21/09 9:29 AM
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shibbytastic
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It seems like food safety is the main reason they are vacuum sealing instead of just placing the food in a watertight bag. By removing all of the air from the package they are cutting out the possibility of aerobic bacterial growth.

Botulism may still be a concern in anerobic environments.

It looks like an interesting toy, but I need a new smoker long before i mess with anything crazy like that.
12/21/09 3:01 PM
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d0mm3r
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Richard Blais has been pimping this on his Twitter for a couple of weeks now, and Eli from this season's Top Chef posted a Rib Roast he did in the machine, and it looked fantastic. I am heavily considering getting this, but I'd also have to get a foodsaver machine to make the bags = $700+ investment :(
12/21/09 5:51 PM
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crescentwrench
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You need a foodsaver anyway.   
12/21/09 9:29 PM
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d0mm3r
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Fair point
12/23/09 10:29 AM
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MikeZev
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looks interesting but i cant see dropping $500 on it right now.
12/23/09 7:49 PM
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CR1chard
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The comparison of $500 for a stand mixer vs. this thing is apples and oranges. I can see the whole sous vide thing being a cool gimmick, but I don't see myself getting enough use out of it for it to be worth the money. Plus, I'd hate to have to wait two days when I get a craving for medium-rare short ribs. I wonder if you could fit a brisket (flat) into that thing?
12/23/09 9:38 PM
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MikeZev
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exactly
12/23/09 9:49 PM
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d0mm3r
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[quote]CR1chard - I wonder if you could fit a brisket (flat) into that thing?[/quote] 


It's a rib roast... maybe not a brisket, but still pretty big
12/25/09 7:55 AM
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junon
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fuck all that Sous Vide nonsense.

deep fry that shit.
12/28/09 12:54 PM
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Breezah
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 Last week at work I tried my first sous vide attempt--an experiment with leeks. I kept braising them and was having trouble getting them to be cooked consistently on the inside and the outside.

I sous vide the leeks for 8 hours at 71 degrees and was told by many that they would be cooked perfectly. The inside was tender, but the outside was still kind of crunchy.

So I tried braising them in a court bouillon,  slowly raising the heat and they came out much better.

I'm sure it has its purposes and I've heard that short ribs come out really nice.

I'll post more of my experiences as I get into sous vide more.
12/28/09 4:21 PM
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d0mm3r
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Well temptation got the best of me, and I ordered one. I will post results as soon as it arrives.
12/30/09 9:44 PM
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alpo
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You could build this for probably $150 with a decent pot, a plug-in electric burner, a Ranco temperature controller and a roll of that reflective bubble wrap insulation. 

Hell, you should know this shit already... people make stuff like that for mash tuns and HLTs all the time. 
3/11/10 2:58 AM
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BigJimmy
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I've worked extensivly with sous vide cooking in a professional setting. If anybody buys one of these i can help with temperatures and techniques.
3/11/10 4:43 PM
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MichaelVronsky
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 jimmy, how does it "cook" something at 71 degrees?
3/29/10 11:33 AM
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Lofland
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Edited: 03/29/10 11:54 AM
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I wonder if you could do this in a tightly sealed container in a smoker. That might allow you to maintain a low enough temperature. You could get 138 degrees in a solar cooker in the sun in the summer in Texas, too bad you have to do it for 48 hours.

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