SCOTT HEIMENDINGER HAS two big passions—technology and food. Microsoftie by day and amateur chef by night, the self-proclaimed Seattle Food Geek is an advocate of the sous vide (pronounced “soo veed”) cooking technique, in which vacuum-sealed meats and veggies are simmered slowly at a precise low temperature. He told us how to get started sous-viding at home.
“I first discovered sous-vide cooking while having dinner at Tilth; Maria Hines served me a sous-vide egg on a bed of frisee with vinaigrette. That egg changed my life,” says Heimendinger. Sous vide requires heating and circulation equipment that, until recently, only high-end restaurants found affordable. But in 2009, Sur La Table started stocking the first sous-vide cooker for the home kitchen, the SousVide Supreme. At $450, our geeky friend decided the Supreme was a little rich for his blood, so he proceeded to build his own heating immersion circulator for $75.
Whether you’re splurging on the Supreme or jerry-rigging your own apparatus (Heimendinger provides specs for his own system on his blog, seattlefoodgeek.com), here are his tips for slow-cooked goodness every time.
Invest in a good vacuum sealer. “You don’t want to deal with bags that leak or won’t seal well. Not only does this create health risks, it can ruin the dinner you’ve been cooking for three days!”
Start with recipes. “Just like baking, sous vide is a science.” There are charts for temperatures, timetables, and ingredients out there that will help you get your bearings.
Once you’ve mastered the recipe, experiment! Heimendinger notes that while sous vide has been around for a while, there’s a lot more creative ground to cover. “Would we have ever invented Hot Pockets if bakers had stopped after they discovered the baguette?”