Ultimate Meat Guide: Why You Should Buy a Sous Vide Machine

Beth Stallings

At a restaurant in New Orleans, Avishar Barua gazed dumbfounded at the Kobe short rib dish before him. "It was pink inside and still tender," recalls the former Veritas chef. "How is that possible?" The answer: It had been cooked sous vide. Translation: Beef was vacuum-sealed in a plastic bag and slowly cooked (from a few hours to sometimes days) to perfect doneness in a temperature-controlled water bath.

"It's like having a sous chef who never messes up," Barua says, because it's near-impossible to overcook what's inside. "It's a very forgiving technique." For example, set the water bath to 165 degrees, drop in chicken sealed with a little schmaltz (always add a little fat, Barua says) inside a freezer-grade Ziploc bag, and that piece of poultry will never cook higher than the water temp. Better yet, with nowhere for fat and flavor to run, they're locked inside (use caution when adding hearty herbs like rosemary-a little goes a long way).

Want to cook like this at home? Grab a beer cooler and an immersion circulator; the stick will run a few hundred bucks. Or invest in a Sous Vide Supreme for around $320. Barua suggests starting with salmon: "It's one of the easiest and best things."