Sue What?

US Wealth Napolitano |

By: Tom Fletcher, CFP®

Sue what? That was my response when having a January dinner with a friend of mine. Between bites he told me about a relatively new and allegedly delicious cooking trend that was taking place using plastic bags to cook meat in a water bath. Not only hadn’t I heard of this cooking method before, I also couldn’t pronounce it, much less spell it. After several repetitions I finally got it right: sous-vide (pronounced sue veed), which in French apparently means “under vacuum”. I assume this has more to do with the interstellar type of vacuum versus the Hoover variety, as I imagine nobody would like their food to taste anything like a “dirt bag”. I must confess though, the thought of combining plastic, warm water and meat didn’t sound very appetizing to me. But I was fascinated because this was a gadget, and most any type of gadget is worthy of my consideration. After the dinner I briefly mentioned the concept to my wife, then promptly forgot all about it.

Fast forward to Valentine’s Day and my wife surprised me with what else? A sous-vide unit. I didn’t know what to expect when I opened the box, but I was a little surprised at how small it was. Essentially it’s just a recirculating pump with an internal heating element that clamps on the side of a pot. Think of it as somewhat resembling an oversized aquarium heater.

I’m comfortable baking bread and grilling, but consistently cooking something edible in the kitchen can be challenging for me. The basic advantage to sous-vide is the water evenly cooks the immersed meat at your desired temperature. It is also forgiving up to a point on the length of time you cook it - so it is very difficult to overcook something and also pretty easy to produce a tender and juicy product once complete. And there is no plastic bag type of taste, if that is of concern - it had crossed my mind.

Using this machine was a snap. As mentioned, prep included a generous sized pot, BPA free plastic ziplock bags, and water. My first meal started with thick beef filets. I added salt and pepper to the filets and threw them into the ziplocks, removed the air from the bags (hence the vacuum), then placed them in the water. Using the manufacture’s app on my phone, I calibrated the water temperature and the recommended cooking time. Voila! After 45 minutes at 139.5º the meat was thoroughly cooked to a light, tender pink. The final step was throwing the meat onto my 700º grill for 45 seconds per side to add the sear. I could be mistaken, but if you closed your eyes and took a bite, it was hard tell the difference between the sous-vide filet and one from a top New York steakhouse.