We’ve certainly got a soft spot for cooking meat over an open flame, but there’s a new technique that’s got us ditching the grill lately.
It’s called sous vide (pronounced sue veede), and if you haven’t heard of it, don’t trip – it’s a relatively new thing for home cooks. The process involves placing food in an airtight, vacuum-sealed bag and cooking it in a controlled low-temperature bath known as an immersion circulator. This way, you keep the temperature of the water at the exact temperature that you want your food to reach. After a certain amount of time, it’ll reach that temp minus the risk of overcooking.
The benefit of this technique comes down to food chemistry. Cooking at lower temperatures generally prevents the food’s cell walls from bursting, which helps make it more succulent and retain nutrients. Cooking at low temperatures also makes it possible for tough collagens in the meat’s connective tissue to be hydrolized into gelatin without overheating the proteins, which is generally what causes meat to lose moisture and develop a tougher texture.
Until recently, the equipment needed to cook in this fashion was extremely expensive (and it still sort of is), so only hardcore gastrophiles and high-end restaurants had access to it. But now that sous vide is catching on, more and more manufacturers are developing immersion circulators designed for non-industrial use.
The Sous Vide Center from Caso is the latest entry in this category, and it’s one of the best we’ve seen yet. For the most part, it’s not much different than other immersion circulators. It’s got a big water bath to accommodate plenty of food and extremely precise temperature controls, but it also comes with a key feature you can’t find elsewhere – a built-in vacuum sealer. Most other machines require you to vacuum seal your pouches by hand or simply use another device, but Caso lets you do it all from one convenient location.
The device currently retails for just under $500, which might seem a bit pricey for a counter-top appliance. However, it’s actually a steal in comparison to most other immersion circulators on the market right now. Find out more about specs and features here.