Category Luxury ($500-$1000)
Best For Seriously well-stocked cooks and hopeless hosts.
First off, a bit of an anti-disclaimer: This is not an infomercial. At the end of this post, I will not write “but wait, there’s more!” No one is paying me to recommend this kitchen appliance, and I don’t get any kickbacks for writing about it, and I had nothing against that pig that Heston Blumenthal slowcooked in a hot tub. I’m sure it was a lovely pig. Okay, on with it.
Some weeks back I attended a demo for a new kitchen appliance, the Sousvide Supreme.
To be totally honest, I was mostly there for a chance to listen to Heston Blumenthal, the molecular gastronomy genius behind the Fat Duck, a British restaurant that has three (count them) Michelin stars. Blumenthal has long been a proponent of sous-vide cooking, so he was a natural choice to schill the new “water oven,” a $449 (special offer price, usually $499) kitchen appliance in which you cook vacuum-sealed pouches of meats and veggies slowly at a low temperature over a long period of time.
For me, the most amazing part of the demo—whose audience was made up mostly of Seattle cooks, including Jason Franey of Canlis —was when Blumenthal described how he cooked an entire pig sous-vide in a jacuzzi for a Channel 4 program. How excessive/awesome. But there were also samples of beef, veggies, salmon, scrambled eggs, and chicken cooked in the water bath. What really wows me is the egg thing: you can cook eggs for like 9 and a half hours and they emerge runny. Isn’t that weird and amazing? I couldn’t, however, get down with the chicken breast samples. Sous-vide has a way of taking a food’s signature textures away, so a stringy meat like chicken takes on the consistency of like…tofu, almost. I couldn’t quite deal with it.
Proponents like Blumenthal love the way the method locks in flavor, cooks foods evenly, and allows for controlled, unmonitored, and pretty much foolproof preparation. I see this as a great gift for either:
1. Home cooks who have every other appliance on the planet.
2. Hopeless hosts who love the idea of dinner parties but become SNAFU-prone headcases when it comes to cooking supper for a group.
Order one through locally based Sur La table here.