Carie Birkmeier EBS Staff

Sous vide (SOO’-veed) is a French term that means “under vacuum.” It is a cooking technique in which vacuum-sealed foods are cooked at a very precise, controlled temperature in a water bath. This technique was once only an option for restaurant chefs but it has recently become more accessible to home cooks.

A sous vide provides unparalleled control over whatever food you choose to cook, whether it’s meat, eggs or vegetables. The vacuum sealing process also allows flavors to be more intensely infused into foods. Additionally, this device removes any guesswork that might be involved in your cooking process by controlling temperature down to one-tenth of a degree.

You might be wondering why on earth it would be necessary or beneficial to cook things that precisely.

Poached and soft-boiled eggs are great examples of foods that benefit from the precise, controlled environment of sous vide. The white of an egg cooks at a lower temperature than the yolk. By setting your sous vide at 147 degrees Fahrenheit, the whites of the egg will set up, while the yolks, which require a higher temperature to coagulate, will remain runny. This temperature can be adjusted down 1 to 2 degrees, depending on how soft you prefer your egg whites.

Soft boiled eggs heating up to temperature in a sous vide water bath. Since eggs already have a shell that makes them inpenatrable by water, a ziploc bag rather than a true vacuum sealed bag will do the trick. PHOTO BY MARK BIRKMEIER

Soft boiled eggs heating up to temperature in a sous vide water bath. Since eggs already have a shell that makes them inpenatrable by water, a ziploc bag rather than a true vacuum sealed bag will do the trick. PHOTO BY MARK BIRKMEIER

Another great use for the sous vide technique is for preparing meat. Many home cooks struggle with getting meat to their desired level of doneness. A steak, for example, will be a perfect medium rare when it reaches 130 to 135 F. Place a vacuum-sealed steak into your sous vide at 130 F and once it’s done, place it on a hot grill just to get grill marks on the outside and to achieve that charred grill flavor.

Once a kitchen appliance only available to restaurant chefs, sous vide cooking has become more mainstream and available for home cooks. You can purchase a household sous vide device just as you might any other kitchen appliance. Non-commercial versions are more portable. Attach them to a large pot of water, punch in the desired temperature and you’re set.

Regardless of what ingredients or flavor profiles you’re preparing, a sous vide machine is a great appliance to add to your kitchen. Many food blogs and recipe books are picking up sous vide as a cooking technique, making it easy to find something that will appeal to your taste buds and skill level. It will certainly make whipping up an eggs benedict brunch—a once-tedious chore—an easy task that your family will love!