Why We’re Grateful for Sous Vide Cooking
A Home Cook’s Greatest Meat-Cooking Secret
By: Monica Stockbridge, Frontière Natural Meats
For many of us, cooking for friends and family is a favorite pastime. It’s about gathering together, and, if we’re lucky, enjoying memorable meals that nurture the soul and the belly. And hey, if we’re being honest, we’re grateful for anything that makes cooking for a crowd a little bit easier.
That’s where sous vide comes in.
Wait, the what?
Sous vide. It’s pronounced “soo veed,” and it’s French for “under vacuum.” While it’s a method of cooking, many people understand sous vide as a kitchen gadget or appliance. That’s because, in order to cook something sous vide, you need the sous vide tool — also called a water circulator or precision cooker — to heat and circulate water in a pot.
Here’s the gist of cooking sous vide: You do some easy prep such as salting, marinating or searing your meat (or other food), then place the meat in a food storage bag that you can seal with as little air as possible. Then, you immerse the bag in water, and the sous vide cooker cooks the food to a precise temperature for a specified amount of time. Take it out, sear the food to finish, and you’re done.
Still with us? It’s easy to dismiss this unusual, tough-to-pronounce cooking method as too techy or confusing at first. Yet, cooking sous vide can be a great benefit to home cooks, especially if you’re frequently cooking things like high-end steak, chops, or salmon — even more so if you’re cooking for a crowd and don’t’ want to risk overcooking your food.
If you’re like us here at Frontiere Natural Meats, we’re pretty keen on good steak (and burgers, and sausage, and elk …). When it’s time to cook steak at home, we want to make sure we time it right, get that perfect sear, and above all, avoid turning our high-quality, grass-fed and organic meat into a dry, flavorless brick. We shudder to imagine it!
In this article, we’ll talk a bit more about what sous vide cooking is, why we love it, and how to use the nifty precision cooking sous vide tool for your next steak dinner.
Why is sous vide cooking so great?
Most of us have our preferred cooking methods at home. Perhaps you like roasting vegetables and meats in the oven for that slow-cooked flavor and whole-house-warming effect. Maybe skillet-cooking is your go-to for easy weeknight meals. Or perhaps you’re into slow-cooking — who doesn’t love a Crock Pot?
So, why would you try this new way? We’re not suggesting that you need to go out and buy a sous vide tool, but in case you were thinking about it or have one at home you’ve yet to try, consider these reasons why we’re grateful to have the sous vide in our kitchen:
The results are precise and predictable
One of the toughest things to control about cooking is heat. Even your oven temperature’s readout is notoriously inaccurate, and if you’re cooking over a live fire, the difficulty grows. Perhaps the best thing about the sous vide method of cooking is that it’s precise to the degree. You know what to expect and you can achieve it with very little effort.
It won’t burn, dry out, or overcook
Unlike cooking in an oven, skillet, or on the grill, there is no chance of burning or overcooking your meat when you cook sous vide. Because it’s designed to cook at a precise temperature and no higher, you can leave your food unattended for a few minutes, an hour, even longer without risk of ruining it or drying it out. This is especially useful when it comes to hosting company or having dinner ready in situations that require a little flexibility.
It helps make the most of your quality meats
High-quality meat is an investment, and the last thing you want to do is burn or overcook the local, organic beef tenderloins you bought for a special dinner at home, or the choice meats you’re cooking for company.
Okay, so how does it work?
The two most important factors when it comes to using a sous vide precision cooker are time and temperature. Some sous vide cooking tools now have wireless technology built in so that users can control the temperature and cook time from your smartphone.
While you don’t necessarily need this type of control, it definitely adds to the cool factor! Plus, the apps that come with these cookers usually have recipe information built in, so that you can search for your type of meat — say, an organic beef tenderloin — and then select your preferred doneness. When you set the temperature, you’re cooking the meat evenly and all the way through, so that you aren’t left with charred bits, overdone sections or a raw center.
A general guide is that for rare, you’d cook at 130°F, and medium-rare is 137°F. Medium is 140°F, and well-done would be 147°F.
(Note that, because it’s cooking and holding at one of these set temperatures, sous vide cooking also pasteurizes the meat. So, you can cook food below 140 degrees and still achieve pasteurization, so long as you cook it for a long enough period of time.)
Another tip? Consider investing in a vacuum sealer. Sous vide cooking is perfectly attainable with simple zip-top freezer bags (immerse them in water almost all the way before sealing to push all the air out, like this), but vacuum-sealing is a sure-fire way to make the most of this “under vacuum” style of cooking by sucking out air and locking flavor in.
Like any other method of cooking, sous vide may feel foreign at first. However, with the benefit of perfectly done meat every time, you may find that sous vide becomes your new favorite way to cook meat.
Ready to cook sous vide? Try our Sous Vide Beef Tenderloin recipe!
ABOUT FRONTIERE NATURAL MEATS
Frontière Natural Meats is a family-operated business dedicated to an all-natural, hormone-free farming process. Our animals are free-range and raised under strict guidelines in accordance with USDA requirements. We hold our values to the same high standards you set for yourself when it comes to guaranteeing healthy, savory nutrition for your loved ones. For more healthy products, cooking tips, and recipe ideas, connect with us on Facebook.
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