Cheap Sous Vide, Part 1

So, I mentioned I got Under Pressure recently. I have been reading it, and I will freely admit I'm both intrigued and intimidated. The intimidation comes from two somewhat related issues. This is a book for foodies and professional chefs. The recipes are technically demanding, have absurd ingredient lists, almost requires a brigade de cuisine, and some specialized equipment. I'm fine with the first two. I can either do it, or I'll take a swing at it and fail spectacularly. Ingredients are readily available in a town with 4 million people. The last two are more an issue.

This is what I refer to as sous-chef cooking at it's finest. WTF does Keller care that it takes 200 steps and 7 people to do it? He's got staff. Me? I have J and a dog, only one of whom actually wants to be in the kitchen when I'm doing serious cooking. The dog has figured out I'm clumsy and drop things that are occasionally tasty. J has figured out out other people get in my way and make even more peevish and irascible than normal. Needless to say, this cuts down on the amount of prep work that can be done for any single recipe if it's all going to be eaten at the same time. I have learned to accept this limitation and work around it. I do a fair amount of mise en place and bastardize recipes to get where I need to go.

The specialized equipment, however, would appear to be a deal breaker. Sous vide needs a vacuum packer and an immersion circulator. I'm thinking my cheap FoodSaver will work for the vacuum packing aspect, even though Keller insists they aren't adequate. Maybe not for what he's doing, but I figure it'll work for me. The immersion circulator, though? That's kind of a bitch. A cheap one runs about $900 new, and you don't get much of a discount for buying used. That strikes me as a little much for experimentation. What to do, what to do?

Hey, wait a minute. I'm an engineer. I can figure this out...

Labels: , ,


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Use the SousVideMagic PID controller for $139 or so, and spend the difference on fois gras, lobster, and butterfly tongues pickled in fine cognac or whatever.

Temperature is temperature, and a $185 Chinese 10-liter rice cooker plus a P{ID controller is more than good enough. You certainly DON'T need a $1500 immersion circulator, unless you are getting your PhD in growing microorganisms.

Note -- I don't particularly trust Chinese equipment -- many digital thermometers are wildly inaccurate -- but I do think that they know how to build a rice cooker. But DO calibrate your setup with a basal thermometer, accurate to 0.1F at 100F, before you exchange recipes. Please!

10:33 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home