I fully admit I am a gadget freak and a techno nerd. Laura complains about all the gizmos and gadgets I have in the kitchen, but I use them all. Well maybe not the pressure cooker, which I will probably give away, but that is so I can buy a Instant Pot (don’t tell Laura).
One tool I have in the kitchen that even Laura agrees is useful and likes is my sous vide machine. You can buy sous vide devices for up to $500 but this one is really inexpensive and wow does it make food taste great.
So what is sous vide you ask? The words mean in French “under vacuum”. It entails the use of a water bath and a vacuum sealed bag, which contains the food to be cooked along with herbs, spices, etc. The bag is placed in the water bath and the temperature is precisely controlled so that the food is cooked but never gets above the controlled temperature. This insures that the end result is never “overdone” or “dried out”. Instead it is “perfectly done”.
I have used it to make chicken, vegetables, steak, eggs, pork chops, pulled pork, shrimp,… I am still trying out new things. All you need is this tool and a large enough pot, which you clamp it to the inside of and fill with water.
It is important to be able to seal whatever you are sous vide-ing (is that a verb?) in a plastic bag and to remove all the air. You can use a conventional Ziploc bag and immerse it in water to push out most of the air, but this, I found was not very successful. What I use is this device, which I also use to individually bag stuff we buy at Costco for freezing. We’ll go to Costco and get, say, a big bunch of steaks, or chicken breasts. Then when I get them home I will individually bag them, label them and suck the air out of them with this tool, then put them in the freezer. This prevents getting “freezer burn” and has paid for itself many times over with the savings we get from buying large quantities, and it is also perfect for use with a sous vide machine.
You have to buy special bags that work with the device but they are not expensive and are reusable.
First thing to try doing is a chicken breast. Place the chicken breast in the vacuum bag. Add some Italian salad dressing from a bottle. Seal the bag with the device and place it in the sous vide bath at 140 degrees for 2 hours. (Yes, I know that is a really low temp for chicken, but holding it for that long pasteurizes it and kills any germs.) Sucking the air out causes the marinate to enter the meat because it has nowhere else to go and kind of gets forced in there. You will get amazingly flavorful chicken, which you can use for chicken salad, or use on top of my famous Caesar Salad for a complete meal.