“Sous vide” means “under vacuum.” When cooking sous vide style you put meat in a plastic bag, remove the air, and then slowly cook it in temperature-controlled hot water. The advantage is the meat is cooked evenly. Most people who cook sous vide use designed-to-task sous vide water immersion heaters that usually cost $100 to $200.
A while back, Winkler showed how to cook steak sous vide in a dishwasher while running a load of dirty dishes. Some thought that was a great idea, others pushed back on the aesthetics. So Winkler thought about the problem and came up with the beer cooler solution.
Not counting a beer cooler (we say two beer coolers) and some hot water, you only need four ingredients: Steak, salt and pepper, butter, and a ziplock bag. You will also need a hot skillet for a couple minutes at the very end.
Here is what you do.
First, buy a good steak.
Put the steak in a heavyweight locking plastic bag.
Add a hunk of butter.
Almost close the bag, leave room on one end for a plastic straw (not paper).
Use the straw to suck the air out of the bag and then seal the bag. Now you have a vacuum.
It should look something like this.
Put a bunch of really hot water in one of the beer coolers.
You want the water to be 54 degrees Centigrade (about 130 Fahrenheit). It is better if you get it 5 to 10 degrees hotter because of heat loss in the cooler.
Put the lid on the cooler and, here is the hard part, wait for 50 minutes.
After 50 minutes have passed, take the bag out of the cooler.
Pat it dry, preferably with paper towels or napkins.
Season each side generously with coarse salt.
Put the salted steak in a pre-heated frying pan. Hot, not warm.
Sear each side of the steak for one minute. Chefs call this “finishing.”
Pepper each side of the steak to taste.
Slice, serve, and enjoy. Your friends will be impressed.
Oh, and the second beer cooler? Well, you are using your regular cooler to cook. You need the other one for beer. What else are you going to do while you wait 50 minutes?