I first heard about this when I stumbled on this article: Under Pressure in the NY Times back in February of 2009. I'd also been gently introduced to the notion of very controlled temperature cooking from an episode of Good Eats and it was rather exciting! I looked into what it would take to do Sous Vide at home and I didn't really see a way to do it that I could afford.
Just in case you didn't press the link and read Under Pressure in a nutshell sous vide is cooking food which is packaged into vacuum sealed bags at very precise temperatures. Why? Well, you won't over cook and dry out food if the temperature doesn't get too high. It also keeps all the flavor inside the food, instead of allowing it to vaporize or leach out. The flavors become very concentrated, the meat stays moist and perfectly cooked. The only thing that doesn't happen is the Malliard reaction, which we are all fond of, which causes food to brown. However, you can do a quick sear afterwards.
At some point I stumbled upon a lower cost solution for at home sous vide. You can buy a PID controller, such as this one, and use it to control a crockpot, rice cooker or other device with a manual switch. It will cycle the power on and off to maintain a very steady, accurate temperature. After thinking it over for awhile I decided this would be a really neat birthday gift to myself (a few months late) so I bought the equipment I needed:
- A very large rice cooker (24 cup Black and Decker) ($40)
- A Foodsaver vacuum sealer ($95 at Walmart)
- The PID controller from Auberins ($139)
Descriptions and general articles: