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How to Sous Vide Like a Pro Chef

A cooking method once reserved for professional kitchens is now doable at home.

seasoning meat for sous vide
Breville

Conversations about sous-vide cooking frequently begin and end with “it makes a good steak,” which, though very true, is grossly shortsighted.

The why of sous-vide cooking is clear: The device’s function is bringing anything you can put in a bag to an exact temperature and removing much of the difficulty of constant temperature probing in the cooking process. But that function deserves a bit more thought than a simple, albeit delicious, steak.

“I think a lot of people still see it as this fancy way of boiling your food,” said Nick Gavin, longtime chef at ChefSteps, a huge online teaching and learning community for cooking. “It’s more like a modern-day Crock-Pot on crack.”

Sous-vide circulation provides constant, consistent temperature, where ovens power up and down and lose enormous temperature if the door is opened. Ovens are also a bit nonsensical from an internal temperature perspective, as you’re trying to bring the meat to a temperature in the 140s, but you’re cooking it in the 300s, giving you a very, very small window between under- and over-cooked.

If you're trying to get into sous vide cooking, Gavin gave us the lowdown on how to do it and the gear to have on hand.

What You’ll Need

    How To Do It

    1. Prep and pre-heat sous-vide.

    Pre-heat your sous-vide to 140 degrees Fahrenheit in a pot or vessel with enough capacity to keep the cut of meat submerged. If you want to add seasoning, coat pork shoulder or butt in the desired seasoning and oil. Place the meat in a sealable bag.

    2. Cook for 24 hours.

    Allow the meat to rest in the pot for 24 hours with the sous-vide on. Ensure it is fully submerged, and check the pot regularly as you’ll need to add water as it steams off. (ChefSteps' recommended sous vide times and target temperatures can be found here.)

    3. Pre-portion into steaks, then freeze.

    Remove the meat from the water bath and allow it to cool at room temperature for an hour. Then, remove it from the bag, and cut into chop-sized portions. Place chops in individual re-sealable baggies and freeze.

    4. Reheat meat.

    Reheating can be done in the sink or the microwave, but Gavin says reheating using the sous-vide tool itself is quicker than the sink, and less destructive to the meat than the microwave. Charts can be found online, or just use ChefSteps very informative guide on the subject.

    5. Sear the chops and enjoy.

    Heat a cast-iron skillet all the way through (about 10 minutes). Once heated, apply oil to the skillet and place meat into the skillet to sear. Keep in skillet on each side only long enough to reach desired sear. Alternatively, use a kitchen torch to scorch the surface of the meat and create a crust.

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