Sous vide, a cooking method in which food is vacuum sealed in plastic bags then slowly cooked in a temperature-controlled water bath, has long been used by five-star chefs for its ability to cook meat, poultry, and fish evenly without losing moisture and flavor. When using an immersion circulator, it’s almost impossible to overcook a filet mignon or lamb shank. It’s easy to use, and the market has introduced at-home versions that make it accessible to the amateur chef. We turned to chef Justo Blanco from Bolsa Mercado to give us a step-to-step guide to ensure your holiday dishes are “Top Chef”–worthy.
- Set the temperature. The Anova website and app list cooking times and temperatures for a variety of meats. We used Blanco’s recommendation of 139.5 degrees Fahrenheit for 4- to 6-ounce filet mignons and 147 degrees for 6-ounce chicken breasts. Fill a stockpot with water and attach the Anova to the pot. Set the temperature and start the machine. The alarm will sound when the water is hot.
- Prepare your meat. For chicken, add olive oil, salt, and pepper, then sear in a hot pan or on the grill. Cool in the refrigerator for an hour. When ready to cook, season again with herbs like thyme or rosemary. Place side by side in a vacuum bag with no more than a tablespoon of olive oil. For the filet, hold off on searing. Season the steaks, then place them in the bag with olive oil or butter.
- Seal the bags. Blanco suggests always using a vacuum sealer. “That’s a required component,” he explains. “Otherwise, you are at risk for letting in water that directly touches your food.” We used the FoodSavor vacuum sealer ($99/amazon.com). When placing food in the bag, make sure cuts are in an even layer.
- Place in the water to cook. When water is hot, place the bags in the pot so that water circulates on all sides. Cook chicken for 1 1/2 hours or filet for 45 minutes. You can leave the meat in the water for up to an hour after they are finished cooking, leaving more time for party guests or family. “That’s the beauty of this device,” he says. “It actually extends dramatically the room for error.”
- Finish the meat. Make sure chicken cooks at an internal temperature of 165 degrees. (Blanco suggests 147 degrees, but for home chefs we recommend sticking to USDA guidelines.) Pick up a meat thermometer if you’re unsure of the internal temperatures. For the filet, finish off by searing in a hot pan of butter or vegetable oil. Once you cut it open, you’ll notice how evenly cooked the meat is.