Much of the equipment found in commercial kitchens is not affordable for a home use.
Want a six burner Viking stove? Then plan on spending thousands of dollars.
Even that fancy faucet with a handheld rinse attachment will set you back several hundred dollars.
There is, however, an exception and it is a pretty exciting addition to any home kitchen — an immersion circulator.
Until recently, the gadget would have set you back close to $1,000, but due to its growing popularity as an effective means of cooking almost anything with minimal moisture loss, you can now get one on-line for just over $100.
Check out what Anova has to offer, it’s a good starting place (https://anovaculinary.com).
The technique, which is called sous-vide (French for under vacuum), has been around since the late 1700s, but it did not get adapted in modern cooking until the 1970s.
Today it is all the rage in better restaurants but the machine they use is far more expensive than the home models.
The Beau Rivage Casino and Resort has one that can hold 500 gallons of water, but the one I use at home can heat only three or four gallons of water. Big difference is capacity and cost.
The basic idea
The food that is to be sous vide is encased in plastic and slowly cooked in a warm water bath. The temperature of the water is the final temperature of the item cooked.
As examples, if you were cooking chicken that you would later fry, the temperature would be around 149 f., pork chops 140 f., a boiled egg also 149 f. Don’t worry about the science part, there are tons of online sites that give you the specific temperatures and time for cooking anything you want to try.
So what do you get for your effort? You get amazingly tender meats and wonderfully textured vegetables. The one caveat to consider is that because extreme heat is not used, the food you cook will not be browned and may appear to be uncooked. That problem is easily solved by quickly searing in a hot pan, or getting out the kitchen blow torch (you do have one in your kitchen, right?).
It is possible to place the food you are going to cook in a Ziploc bag, immerse it in water to remove all the air, but because of the low temperatures that are used to cook, a vacuum sealer is a much better idea.
Beef Short Ribs
Pre-heat water bath to 62 c/140 f. Lightly season with salt and pepper, then seal in vacuum bags.
Place in the immersion circulator for 72 hours. If you cook at a higher temperature, you can reduce the cooking time, as an example, if you cook at 70 c/158 f the cooking time is reduced to 24 hours.
Remove from the plastic container, make sure the ribs are dry, then sear in clarified butter just until well browned. Serve at once.
Best Fried Chicken
Brine boneless thicken thighs (skin on) in salted water and fresh rosemary for 2 hours, dry, encase in plastic, and sous vide at 167F /75C for 1.5 hours.
Remove from the plastic, dip in a mixture of egg and milk, then toss in aggressively seasoned flour (Tony’s, black pepper and red pepper flakes will do nicely), then fry in very hot oil just until well browned. Remember the chicken is already cooked, all you are doing is browning.
Best Pork Chop Ever
Make sure the chops are dry, season lightly with freshly ground black pepper and careful seal in plastic.
Heat the immersion circulator to 140 f/60 c. Submerge the chops and cook for 3 to 4 hours. Remove from the circulator and discard the plastic, sear in clarified butter, or sear with a kitchen blowtorch. Season again if you like but serve at once. These chops will be medium rare, just perfect for today’s ultra clean and safe pork.