What is sous vide? Well, it’s a method of cooking that used to be exclusive to fancy restaurants, but is now becoming accessible to home cooks. Great news!
But what is sous vide exactly? Basically, you put your food in a vacuum-sealed bag and cook it gently in a temperature-controlled water bath using an immersion circulator (more on that in a minute). In French, it literally means “under vacuum”.
It sounds like a headache. Why would I want to do this? Wouldn’t it be similar to poaching? Ew.
Not exactly. What happens is that the food retains all of its juices—and cooks in those juices. You don’t lose any flavor to the cooking water because it’s contained in a bag, and because it cooks at a lower temperature (the temperature you want your food to reach, which is always less than boiling) there’s zero risk of overcooking your food.
Ultimately, you end up with the best steaks, chicken breasts, and pork chops of your life with little to no effort. No baby sitting pans on the stove. No checking and rechecking with instant-read thermometers. And you can hold your food at perfect doneness for 1–2 hours until YOU are ready to eat.
Plus, it’s easy. I promise.
Let me show you.
First you need a special little gadget called an immersion circulator. This heats your water and keeps it at whatever temperature you want. Trying to maintain a constant temperature on the stove would be a headache, right?
There are several brands of sous vide circulators out there. I have a Joule, which is also Bluetooth enabled and connects to an app on your smart phone. (Get ready to geek out, friends.) You can find circulators on Amazon, and I’ve even seen some pop up at Target and other stores that sell small appliances.
Once you have a circulator, you just need a big pot, something to (mostly) cover the pot, a plastic bag, and, of course, food to put in the bag. I seasoned a couple of chicken breasts with salt and pepper and added a couple tablespoons of basil pesto. (You can find the full recipe and instructions below!)
I find that the insert pot from my Instant Pot works well for this. You could also use a pot you’d make soup in. Or even a large sturdy plastic container. It doesn’t even have to be a pot.
As far as plastic bags go, there are reusable ones that are made for vacuum sealing you can also use for sous vide. Or you can use a zip top disposable bag, preferably the freezer bags because those are more durable.
If you’re concerned about BPA seeping into your food, Ziploc brand bags do not contain BPA. And the water you cook the food in will never reach a boiling point. The temperature of the water is always the same as the goal temperature for the food. So if you want to cook your chicken breasts until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees, then the water will be set to 150 degrees and stay that way.
You’ll need to put your pot on a relatively heat-safe surface. Or put a trivet under it if you’re worried about your countertops getting too warm. (Like I said, the water will never boil, but that pot does get rather warm during cooking.)
Fill the pot with enough water to submerge whatever food you’re about to cook. And put the immersion circulator in the pot, too. Mine has a magnetic bottom and a clip on the back to keep it secured in place.
Another thing you’ll need is something to cover the pot. I bought this silicone pot cover (specifically for sous vide cooking), but you can also use a small, inverted sheet pan and cover the whole thing with a towel. (I did that up until recently. It works just fine!)
Covering the pot keeps the water warmer and allows the circulator to maintain the temperature of the water more easily.
Are you ready to geek out with me? My immersion circulator (Joule brand) has an app. There are recipes and cooking times built in, so all you need to do is select what you’d like to make, the preferred doneness of the meat, and it does all of the pot watching for you.
For this recipe, I selected a basic chicken breast recipe and told the app whether it was fresh or frozen and how thick the meat was. Then a cooking time popped up. Amazing, right?
You click start and the immersion circulator turns on by itself and begins to heat the water! I seriously felt like I was Rosie from the Jetsons with all of her spacey gadgets.
The app tells you the temperature of the water and when it’s preheated. It’s ready for the chicken!
Carefully lower the bag into the hot water (I use a pair of tongs), letting as much air from the bag escape as you can to create a vacuum. I clip the bag to the side of the pot to keep it from floating around.
If you have really lightweight food, like fish, you can add a sealed can of food (like a can of diced tomatoes) to keep it submerged.
Then you put the lid on and walk away until the app tells you your food is finished cooking. Not only that, it’ll even hold it at a perfect temperature for you for 1–2 hours, depending on what you’re cooking. Pretty amazing, right?
Once I put some chicken breasts in and then took my daughter to her karate class. During class, the app told me that the chicken was finished and I told it to keep it warm for me. I could have turned it off, too. From a couple of miles away with my phone. My mind just keeps blowing up over that one. Technology is so amazing.
When you take it out, though, it usually isn’t super pretty. That’s why a quick sear in a hot pan finishes it off nicely and adds some color. We’re talking about a 2- or 3-minute sear. You could throw it on a grill, too, and finish it off that way. Be careful, though—you don’t want to overcook it and undo all of the magic that just occurred during the sous vide cooking.
This chicken, guys. I’m not sure I’ve ever made more juicy or flavorful chicken in my kitchen than this. It’s so soft. And tender. And perfectly seasoned.
I sliced it up (after letting it rest for a few minutes) and drizzled more pesto on it. We ate this with some roasted vegetables and a salad. It would be fabulous over pasta or with a side of garlicky rice, too.
We’ve been having so much fun playing with our sous vide circulator! Do any of you own one? I’d love to hear what you’re making with it!
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It’s #canbassador time again. That means I get a big box of cherries from the Northwest Cherry Growers and head into the kitchen to do some canning. Last year I finally bit the bullet and purchased a canner. It’s not terribly expensive and stacks inside one of my stockpots. I generally can small batches and this time around I decided to make chutney with the help of my pal Alison. She shared the ingredients she would use and I tweaked the proportions.
The first rule of cooking with fruit is you need to taste it. How sweet is it? How juicy is it? That should guide your recipe. Adapt the recipe based on your preferences and the quality of your fruit. My cherries turned out to be very juicy so I added some dried fruit towards the end of the cooking to thicken the mixture. While this chutney has a great sweet and sour flavor, someone in my household actually used it in place of jam on toast. So far I’ve used it on grilled cheese sandwiches and on lamb chops. How you use it is entirely up to you!
Cherry season is short, but there are so many great ways to preserve the fruit. In past years I’ve made cherry barbecue sauce and cherry vanilla balsamic shrub. When Winter comes, I’ll be making cocktails with bourbon cherries and eating turkey with cherry cranberry chutney…
Cherry Cranberry Chutney
One of the wonderful things about cooking is the ability to take a food and transform it simply by adding a few ingredients and changing the way you cook it.
Take salmon, for example. It’s not my husband’s favorite food when I serve it seasoned simply with salt and pepper and baked. But if I make it into these salmon cakes, it’s a totally different matter. In fact, the other day he said, “I don’t really like salmon. Except for those salmon cakes you make!” In other words, they’re stuff-in-your-face delicious.
If you’re a salmon lover, these yummy cakes are a fabulous way to change up your meal rotation. If you’re on the fence about salmon, they just might make a convert out of you.
Okay, let’s make them!
I suggest that you start by making the mango salsa. That way it has time to sit so the flavors can meld.
Here’s what you’ll need: mangoes, an avocado, cilantro, red bell pepper (you only need half), garlic, salt, lime, green onions, and a jalapeno pepper.
Mix the mango with the chopped veggies, squeeze in the lime juice, and season to taste with salt. Keep chilled until ready to serve.
Next come the salmon cakes! You’ll need: 1 pound of fresh salmon, Worcestershire sauce, green onions, parsley, the other half of the red bell pepper, eggs, mayonnaise, panko breadcrumbs, and salt and pepper.
Start by baking the salmon in a hot oven. I suggest that you err on the side of under-cooking it slightly since it will get cooked more when the patties are fried. About 130ºF on an instant-read thermometer seems to work well for me.
Flip the fillet over and scrape off the skin. My kids fight over who gets to eat the skin. Weirdos.
Crumble up the salmon in a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Get your hands in there and mix everything together very well.
Form into patties that are about 2 1/2 inches across.
Put some oil in a pan and fry the patties for about 3–4 minutes per side.
Serve with steaming rice and the mango salsa. I always put butter on my rice, and I highly recommend it here. You could even put a dollop of mayonnaise off to the side to dip the cakes in if you like!
Is there a food that you or a family member can’t stand when it’s prepared a certain way, but adore when it’s cooked differently?
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My new cookbook will be here October 22, and it’s available for preorder now! It’s a brand new book, brand new cover, and brand new frontier! I actually stepped outside the kitchen for this cover, and it was nice to get a little fresh air! Ha.
Oh, friends. This cookbook has been many, many months (almost a year) in the making. The testing, the tasting, the obsessing, and the shooting was a delicious process, and I’m so excited for you to see what’s inside. It’s filled to the brim with all the delicious food my family and I love, but I also throw in a few curveballs to keep us all on our toes.
Speaking of what’s inside…here’s a peek! I won’t describe what’s going on in these photos…I’ll just let them seep into your consciousness.
I think of all my cookbooks, while I have different reasons to like each one, The New Frontier is the one I’ve most poured my heart and focus into. It reflects where my life and my cooking are now, and I’ve had so much fun putting it together. More than anything else, I want any cookbook I write to be USED—pages smeared with food stains, dog-eared, and so forth—and I feel good that this cookbook has so many recipes that you will want to make today! (Well, tomorrow, too.)
Here’s where you can preorder the book. I can’t wait for October 22!
And lots of other retailers!
I’ll be announcing my book signing tour soon, and I’m getting excited/geared up for the stops I’m going to make. I hope I can meet you along the way!
This is a sponsored post for CA GROWN Flowers.
Don’t you just love treating yourself to fresh flowers? Whether it’s a fresh cut bouquet from my garden or a fresh bunch of flowers purchased while grocery shopping, that beautiful pop of color sitting on my dining room table always puts a smile on my face.
Since the flowers in my yard aren’t holding up too well to the heat wave we’ve been dealing with in California, I was happy to treat myself to some beautiful flowers from Vons recently. When I walked in the house with them, my 3-year-old jumped up and shouted, “Oh! You brought flowers just for ME?!” How could I say no to that?
Good thing I bought two bunches!
Did you know that June is California Grown Flower Month? The state legislature issued a proclamation making June California Grown Flower month to demonstrate support for an industry that provides over 145,000 jobs, generates $12.2 billion in business activity and $1.1 billion in additional tax.
Honestly, I had no idea that the California flower industry was so big or that it was so easy to find and purchase beautiful flowers that are grown right in my state. When buying flowers, look for the blue and yellow CA GROWN license plate on the packaging and you’ll know that you’re supporting California flower farmers. I know that many of you think about buying local when it comes to food and supporting small businesses, but it might not occur to you think the same way when buying flowers.
I happened to be in Fresno recently so I went to Vons Woodward Park Pavilion to check out their selection of California Grown flowers They had a nice big display that was visible as soon as I walked in. Each bunch of California Grown flowers was clearly marked with the blue license plate logo, making it super easy to choose locally grown flowers.
Flowers grown in our state are fresh and last longer because they are grown in our own backyard. And California Grown flowers are grown by multi-generational farming families, who have a rich history of giving back to their communities. Coming from a multi-generational farming family myself, I have seen this firsthand.
My husband and I went to our local Save Mart in Madera last night and I discovered they have a huge beautiful CA Grown flowers display there now, too. I was happy to see the flower department looking so great to go along with the recent remodel the store has undergone. To be honest I haven’t always loved the flower selection at our local grocery store, but I was seriously impressed with the CA Grown flowers on display.
If you’re in Madera and haven’t shopped at Save Mart on Howard Road in a while, check it out. The new look of the store is so beautiful that I almost don’t mind having to walk up and down every aisle to find my groceries since the entire store has been rearranged. Luckily the ice cream is in the same spot.
So next time you’re in the mood to treat yourself to fresh flowers, look for the blue CA Grown license plate logo and help support California flower farmers with your purchase. You can find CA Grown flowers at Safeway Northern California, Bristol Farms, Gelson’s, Albertsons and Vons Pavilions, Lazy Acres Natural Markets.
Just don’t forget the ice cream!