You may not have heard of sous-vide cooking before, but chances are you’ve tasted it. Remember that delicious, juicy, flavorful steak you paid way too much money for on your anniversary? Chances are it was cooked sous-vide (French for “under vacuum”) and the good news is that you can save yourself a ton of money and do it yourself.
The sous-vide method of cooking essentially involves sealing food in a vacuum sealed bag and placing it in a heated water bath to cook. It may sound a little strange, and perhaps you’re imagining boiled food, but I promise it’s not like that at all. Sous-vide allows you to maintain a perfect temperature (let’s say 135 degrees for this duck) “indefinitely,” meaning a perfect cook every time.
The temperature never drops or increases, meaning no overcooked or undercooked food. Start the machine before work and leave it on all day if you like. It’s super convenient, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
The Anova Precision Cooker
I happen to use (and love) the Anova Precision Cooker for all my sous-vide cooking. What follows is both a review of the Anova Precision Cooker, and a simple guide to cooking sous-vide duck breast because it’s absolutely delicious.
We start by turning on the Anova and setting a temperature of 135 degrees. After about 10-15 minutes, it should be the correct temperature. In the meantime, we’re going to prepare the meat for cooking. Don’t worry about keeping an eye on the Anova; it will give off a little chime when it hits the right temperature.
The setup is pretty simple. Turn a scroll-wheel to set the desired temperature, press play, and then wait. You can also pair this to a Bluetooth device, but unfortunately the official app only works on iOS devices for the time being.
Now, while we wait for that to finish heating up, it’s time to prepare the duck breast. Here’s what you need to do:
- Take your thawed duck breast and make angled cuts into the fatty side. Try to avoid cutting into the meat itself.
- Rub coarse salt into the fatty side.
- Place in a ziplock bag and remove as much of the air as possible before sealing, or do this properly and use a vacuum sealer. I use a simple ThriftyVac sealer because they’re cheap, effective, and don’t take up much room in my kitchen drawers.
Now we’re reading to place the sealed duck breast into the sous-vide cooker.
Use a pair of tongs like so…
The bag may move around a bit, and that’s fine. The Anova is designed to circulate the water to make absolutely sure that the temperature is consistent.
Now, you’re probably wondering how long the actual cooking process takes. I’ve read that the meat should be cooked for between 1-4 hours. If you go over, that’s completely fine too. I usually aim for about 1.5 hours.
But after it’s done cooking, we’ve gone one more thing to do…
The one major downside to sous-vide is that the meat is never browned or crisped. Thankfully, this is a simple problem to solve. We simply need to pan fry the duck for about 5 minutes, fat side down. Get it rip-roaring hot, place the duck for a few minutes down on the fat side, and 1 minute down on the non-fat side.
When you’re done, it’s going to look like this.
Sous-vide cooking takes a little bit more time, but I promise you one thing: it’s the absolute best way to cook meat, period. Your duck, or steak, or chicken, or whatever you decide to cook… is going to be so delicious, you’ll probably want to hug me, or at least leave me a message that says “yep, it’s good!”
But there are a few downsides…
As I mentioned a moment ago, you will have to brown any meat you cook to give it some texture. I like to pan fry, but people often use a blow torch as well. No, I’m not kidding, and it’s really not even that big of a deal.
Lastly, you’re going to go through a lot of bags which isn’t great for the environment. I’m actually in the process of trying to find bags that are BPA free and reusable, but it’s a challenge. If you know any bags that fit the bill, please leave me a comment and I’ll update the article to include it!
Where to Buy?
If I’ve sold you on sous-vide cooking, I’m glad. It’s super delicious and you won’t be disappointed. There are plenty of cookers on the market, but based on all the research I’ve done, the Anova Precision Cooker is one of the best consumer cookers on the market.
It retails for $179 USD, and you can find out more about it right here.