Introduction to Sous Vide
Sous vide is a method of low-temperature cooking in a water bath, usually for prolonged periods of time. This technique has been used for decades in professional kitchens due to its precise results; foods are vacuum sealed and can’t become overcooked since foods actually cook at their target temperature. Sous vide is much more predictable than traditional high-temperature cooking methods, which quickly raise the internal temperature of the food. Food can easily become overcooked if not removed and cooled at just the right moment. Professional chefs use sous vide for dishes like foie gras, duck confit, steak, brisket, salmon, and many more.
Companies like Anova and Instant Pot have introduced sous vide equipment at affordable pricing, making this pro technique much more feasible for home cooks like me! (Note: see my review of the Instant Pot pressure cooker here!) After seeing sous vide on TV cooking shows so many times, I was super stoked when my brother lent me his new Anova Precision Cooker last week! I decided to experiment on a couple of this year’s Thanksgiving dishes. I was feeling brave because we were not expecting any guests for dinner this year, so there was almost no pressure. 🙂 The two sous vide experiments were a roast pork loin and glazed carrots.
Sous Vide Glazed Carrots
Step by Step Overview
I set up the Anova app on my iPhone, and connected it to my wi-fi so that I could control my cooking from anywhere (mindblowing, right?)! The app is really user-friendly, and includes the user manual as well as lots of tips and recipes. I selected a Glazed Carrots recipe on the App (full recipe at bottom).
I then filled up a stock pot with water, and clamped the Anova to the side. It came to life when I plugged it in. I pressed “Start Cooking” on the app, and the Anova started to warm and circulate the water. It took a while to heat up the water (next time, I would fill up the pot with warm water to save time).
I trimmed and peeled my organic carrots.
Then, I prepared my ingredients: honey; butter and salt.
I put everything into a Ziploc freezer bag along with the honey, butter, and salt.
Now this part was critical: I had to remove air from the bag! While sous vide purists might insist on using a vacuum sealer (which is ideal), I wondered whether you can use regular Ziplog freezer bags. My google searching revealed that you can, indeed! The trick is to use the water displacement technique. You just need to close your zipper almost all the way. Then slowly immerse your bag into water, until the water almost reaches the top. Make sure you don’t let any water into the bag! Then zip up!
The bag was now vacuum sealed and ready to go into the pot! Pretty cool, eh?
The Anova app notified me that the water had reached target temperature of 83.9C. I slowly immersed the bag into the hot water. Then I placed a metal spoon holder to help weigh down the bag.
An hour later, the Anova app notified me that the carrots were ready! I used tongs to pull out the weight and the bag of carrots. The carrots smelled amazing! They turn out really sweet and tasty (and my kids love them)! I would probably cut the larger carrots a bit smaller next time, as I found the larger carrots were a bit hard and less sweet.
Sous Vide Glazed Carrots Recipe
Here’s the recipe I used, which is based on The Food Lab‘s J. Kenji López-Alt‘s recipe via the Anova app.
- 2 lb whole carrots
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp honey
- salt and pepper
- optional: parsley for garnish
- Set Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker to 183°F / 83.9°C.
- Place carrots, butter, honey, and 1/2 teaspoon salt ziplock bag. Remove air using water displacement method.
- Cook carrots in the water bath until fully tender, about 1 hour.
- Optional: to finish, cook carrots and liquid over high heat in a heavy bottomed skillet, stirring constantly, until liquid has reduced to a shiny glaze, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, stir in parsley, and serve. If glaze breaks and turns greasy, add water a teaspoon at a time, shaking pan to re-form glaze.
Sous Vide Roast Pork Loin
Step by Step Overview
I picked up a beautiful 3-pound pork loin from my favourite organic butcher, Fiesta Farms. They have an amazing selection of local and organic foods. I noticed they have some more exotic meats like deer and rabbit (will try next time)!
I seasoned the loin with lots of salt, pepper and mustard powder. Then, I covered it in plastic and let it dry brine in the fridge for a few hours. Overnight would have been ideal, but I think just the few hours worked out just fine.
I placed the pork loin into a Ziploc freezer bag and, using the same water bowl as before, applied the water displacement technique to remove all the air. I also got to thinking about how achieving a vacuum seal could be helpful for marinating and freezing foods too!
I cooled down the water with ice cubes so it could get it closer to the target temperature. The app notified me when the water was at 58.3C.
The recipe called for a cook time of 2.5 for a five-pound loin (mine was only three pounds). I decided to leave it in for 4 hours, thinking it might make it more tender.
I finished the pork loin by searing it for 10 minutes in a 500C oven.
I then let it rest for 15 minutes, and sliced it up. I was really happy with the results! It was very tender, and the seasoning was good. Next time, I would brine it overnight, and probably only cook for the recommended 2.5 hours. I am not sure the extra time made it more tender afterall.
Sous Vide Pork Loin Recipe
I used the following recipe, which was based on Anova’s recipe by Vincent Meli (@theironspork on Instagram).
- 3 pound pork loin
- 2 tbsp mustard powder
- salt and pepper
- Set sous vide cooker to 137°F / 58.3°C
- Score fat on pork loin. Season with salt, pepper and mustard powder. Cover with plastic wrap and let dry-brine in refrigerator for 5 hours, up to overnight.
- Remove from fridge, pat dry, and place in freezer bag. Use water displacement to remove air.
- Cook for 2.5 hours. While meat is cooking, preheat oven to 500F.
- Remove pork from bag, dry off. Place in oven, in pre-heated pan, for 10 minutes. Flip halfway through for perfect sear.
- Slice and serve.
My first sous vide experiment was a success! I thought both the carrots and pork loin turned out very tasty, and sous vide was very straightforward given the user-friendly technology. I can’t wait to sous vide more dishes – steaks are next on the menu!
I definitely plan to buy my own sous vide cooker. I may be more inclined to buy the Anova Precision Cooker given I found it super easy to use (and I loved the app). However, I definitely wouldn’t dismiss the Instant Pot Sous Vide Immersion Cooker given how much I love my Instant Pot, and the price point is about half of the Anova. The main advantages of the Anova, and possibly worth the extra price, is the app and wi-fi capability which are very useful features.
Sous vide and pressure cooking have revolutionized how I cook, both from a time and quality perspective. In fact, I cooked our entire Thanksgiving dinner using the Anova sous vide and my Instant Pot pressure cooker (for mashed potatoes and beet and goat cheese salad). I only used the oven to finish the pork loin roast. This made for stress-free experience given I programmed all my cooking, and didn’t have to stand in front of a stovetop all day! I love technology! 🙂