Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.
Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is the Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker. I have talked about Sous Vide Cooking a lot on the show and this is my third cooker to purchase before settling on which to recommend. One worked great until it crapped out in six months and a value model proved to be of little value for consistency.
There are two versions of the Anova to consider, they are,
- The New Nano – Controlled by Bluetooth Only.
- The Bluetooth and WiFi Version – The one I own and I think it is worth the extra money.
The difference is you can control the Nano version with your smart phone when in bluetooth range. But the WiFi one becomes a device on your network attached to an account (that is free) with Anova. This means you can control your cooker from anywhere you have signal to your phone. Like the parking lot at your office when you leave work. More on why you may want this in the PS below.
Sous Vide is a method of cooking that I describe as a dry poaching. Poaching of course is holding a food item in a liquid until it is cooked to your liking. This keeps foods moist and prevents over cooking. It is also simmering in water when you get right to it, for some stuff that is fine.
There are a few primary differences with Sous Vide. First it uses a precision cooker, meaning if you want 137 degrees you get exactly that, if you want 165, and you might, say for chicken, you get EXACTLY THAT. Not 162, not 166, not 163, you get precisely the temperature you want. Most poaching is a best effort process. It also in general uses higher temps say 180 for instance for eggs.
Next Sous Vide is dry, well not exactly dry but the food doesn’t contact the heated liquid, it is instead held inside a food safe bag. This can be done with a quality zip top bag but I prefer to use a vacuum sealed bag. The meat or other item is seasoned as you choose, then cooked to the exact temp you want. After that it is finished with a quick sear, about one minute per side or less.
For steak the results are a perfect cook to your preferred temp, we are talking end to end pink or red or what ever you want. Not perfect in the center and darkening to the outside.
Overall I resisted Sous Vide when I first heard about it. I considered it the relm of hipster types and what have you. I have become a full on convert, in some ways it has changed my life a little bit. I don’t use it every day, I do use it at least once a week though. Over time you find the things that work best for you with this method and the things you prefer to do more conventionally.
I also figured this was sort of a fussy pain in the ass method until I tried it. I was wrong! Compare it to conventional cooking in a real world scenario. Say I want to make steak tonight. We have my grandkids, my wife is busy, I am busy, etc. My daughter-in-law some days has to work late, we don’t usually know that until about 4PM, then we don’t even know how late, late might be some days. Then there is my wife, after a day of taking care of kids she doesn’t want to eat right away when they are gone. We just want some peace and quiet for a while.
So I have to wait until we are both ready. Then fire up the grill, then try to get my steak perfect for me and her’s perfect for her. The entire time dealing with “I’m not really ready to eat just yet”, soon followed by, “well now I am really hungry”. The later it gets the more likely we are to end up eating left overs or something.
Contrast Sous Vide. Toss seasoned steaks in bag, heat pot to 137 (my preferred temp), cook 1 hour, 15 minutes. Remove my steak, turn up heat to 150 (her preferred temp) cook 20 minutes. Turn temp back to 135, throw in a handful or ice to drop the temp. It can now sit there an hour, nothing is going to happen, it can’t over cook. When she is ready, take out steak, heat carbon steal pan, and or grab torch, sear, takes bout 3 minutes tops.
You tell me which way is more fussy and a pain in the ass? So if you have been looking to try sous vide I really can’t recommend the Anova either in WiFi or Bluetooth Nano version enough. Everyone I know that owns one just loves it.
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P.S. – So why would you want to be able to control your cooker from miles away. Imagine you want to come home and have steak for dinner. Well in the morning you take your vac sealed steak and put it in a pot of cold water and fill it with ice. Your trusty Anova goes in to the pot too.
A one inch steak takes about an hour to cook but still mostly frozen it will take 90-120 minutes. So as you get in your car, you push start. When you get home say 45 minutes later, the steak has about 45 minutes to go. You start your side dish and salad, open the bag when ready, sear and eat. Oh and while you can run Sous Vide too long for a cut of meat, it will NEVER over cook because it can’t, 135 is 135 period. More on this in today’s show.