The Joy of Sous Vide

Recently we’ve been a little obsessed with the single-best $100 gadget we’ve ever purchased for our kitchen: the Dorkfood DSV. It’s a simple idea that I’m surprised no one had thought to market before: a temperature controller for sous vide cooking that uses an ordinary slow cooker (or roaster, in our case) as the primary cooking apparatus.

Sous vide cooking, for those foodies who have been living under a rock (or a Paula Deen-induced sugar coma) for the last 10 years, means slowly bringing food in a vacuum-sealed plastic bag up to its final cooked temperature in a closely-controlled water bath at that temperature. So, if you want your pork tenderloin to get up to a final temperature of 155 degrees Fahrenheit, you would cook it in a water bath of 155 degrees (I realize that to some foodies out there, 155 is too well-done for pork, but that’s just what we prefer — and the great thing about sous vide cooking is that well-done anything is still pretty damn tender).

Tonight I made pork tenderloin (we prefer Hormel Natural Choice). I seasoned it incredibly simply: generous salt, generous fresh-ground white peppercorns, and generous pats of butter.

You’ll want to let your water bath (we use a large roaster instead of the Dorkfood-standard slow cooker, because we like the extra capacity) heat up for at least an hour after you set the temperature. I used 155 degrees. Vacuum-seal your seasoned tenderloin with the butter on top (I use a FoodSaver V2244, which is one of their less-expensive models, and has worked flawlessly) and set it in the water bath for at least two and up to eight hours (I did ours about 4 1/2).

When the time in the water bath is up, take the food out of the bath and immediately place on a super-hot grill to sear for just a minute or two per side, then rest for 10 minutes and serve. You won’t need sauce (though a dash of horseradish is always good).

Probably my favorite thing about cooking sous vide is the extra time it gives me to focus on making outstanding side dishes. Since there is no rush to get the food out of the water bath and since searing only takes a few minutes, timing plating like a Eric Ripert-run restaurant kitchen is easy. We prefer to keep everything simple in our cooking, using high-quality ingredients prepared very well. For many of our meals, that means a fresh caprese salad (fresh tomatoes, high-quality mozzarella cheese, basil freshly-picked from our garden and a dash of good olive oil and salt) or a rice or quinoa side.

So far, all of our sous vide experiments with our Dorkfood DSV have turned out amazing. These have included:

Skirt steak
I used a pre-seasoned skirt steak from Whole Foods (a chipotle BBQ dry rub), a thicker cut of skirt steak, and cooked sous vide at 138 degrees for 16 hours (yes, 16 hours — give that tough muscle tissue plenty of time to break down). Then I finished it on a hot grill, rested for 10 minutes, and served. It was, without a doubt, the best steak I’ve prepared at home (though grilling a rib eye over a wood fire at 7,000 feet above sea level in Wyoming while chilling my beer in a June snowbank was still the best ever).

Pork chops
Again, it was a weeknight meal, so I used a pre-seasoned cut from Whole Foods. 155 degrees for six hours, finished in a hot skillet with two tablespoons of butter and two tablespoons of olive oil.

Related posts:

  1. Steak sous vide with corn-jalapeno hash
  2. Fried sous vide egg yolk salad
  3. Pork and apples in a cherry stout sauce
  4. Bison tenderloin in bourbon sauce
  5. Pork with Riesling and shallots

About the Author

Owner of a graphic design firm specializing in magazine design and wannabe chef. Former resident of Belgium, the United Kingdom and...North Dakota.