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So for those of you who don't know, johnnyeponymous is on a ghetto-sous-vide cooking trip.

So what do you really need for sous-vide?

You need a vac-pack system. There are ways to get by without one, but they're sub-optimal at best. Costco.com is dumping the old "flat" model FoodSaver for half price right now.

You need a blowtorch to finish your food, because cooking stuff in a vac-bag doesn't produce any browning or caramelization, and you're missing out on flavor. Any blowtorch is fine, as long as you're not using the citronella propane.

You need a precisely temperature-controlled water bath. Now if you don't want to spend a grand or more on an immersion circulator, there are some relatively economical alternatives:

There is, of course, the ghetto-tastic solutions of doing sous-vide in a pot in your oven. The temperature control is pretty sloppy then, though.

There is basic crock-pot sous-vide. The temperature control is consistent, but pretty inflexible. Low, High and warm in most cases, and you're going to have to measure those temperatures.

The real winner is rice-cooker sous-vide with a good precise thermal controller. You can just go out and buy a controller from Auber Instruments and build your own, or you can buy a whole kit (including the modified commerical rice cooker) from Fresh Meals Solutions. The inventively named "Combo #1" is a reasonably-priced system featuring an interesting cooker that includes a ceramic pot insert for cooking stews and soups in a temperature-controlled environment (if you don't have the equipment to vac-pack liquids).


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 13th, 2009 09:09 am (UTC)

I have the Thomas Keller food-pronz book, and a FoodSaver vac sealer (essential for burning man). I'm not technical enough to make an immersion bath... but Jovino might be. (heh!)

oh, and we has a kitchen blowtorch - so far only used for creme brulee and searing sashimi.

thanks for this. see you at fc!

Edited at 2009-01-13 09:11 am (UTC)
Jan. 13th, 2009 03:50 pm (UTC)
I use a screamin' hot pan for thirty seconds or so instead of a blow torch. Have to remember to pat the thing dry first.

It turns out that my Flat Iron Steak experiments have worked the best, though chicken thighs are a close second.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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