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I’m a kitchen gadget person.
I love a new tool or appliance if it will make my life a little easier. So when we were registering for wedding gifts back in 2017, I added the three hottest appliances of the time: an Instant Pot, an air fryer, and a sous vide precision cooker.
The Instant Pot and air fryer have obviously become much more popular since then — chances are you may already own one or both. But the sous vide (pronounced “sue-veed”) has quietly amassed quite the following on its own.
What is sous vide cooking?
Restaurants have been using the sous vide method for years to deliver perfectly-cooked foods. If sous vide cooking is new to you, here it is in a nutshell: your uncooked food is vacuum-sealed (more on that in a moment) and submerged in a water bath that is kept at the exact cooking temperature by the appliance. Cooking food this precisely ensures that the food is cooked perfectly every time. Some proteins like steak and skin-on chicken need to be finished by searing or running under the broiler, but many foods are perfect out of the bath. (By the way, sous vide steak is the BEST steak you will ever eat at home. Serve it with some butter-poached potatoes and change ya life!)
As a self-proclaimed gadget lover, I have a vacuum sealer and use it often for my freezer meal prep. But if you don’t have one, you can use the water displacement technique, which is just a fancy term for putting your food in a Ziploc bag with the top open, carefully submerging the open bag in water to force the air out of it, and then sealing the bag. You can read more about sous vide cooking here. I have this cooker and use a water bath set up similar to this one.
How can a sous vide cooker make meal prep easier?
Like countless other people, my husband and I went into the New Year looking to make some positive changes in our lifestyles. One of those changes was to start bringing our lunches to work to save money and eat healthier. So to combat us tiring of “boring” salads, I looked up the descriptions of salads we enjoy most when eating at restaurants to recreate them at home.
We mostly do chicken on our salads, but we like to change it up with steak, shrimp, or even deli meats (hello, Muffaletta Salad!) now and then. I decided to pull out our trusty old sous vide precision cooker to streamline the process.
Using the sous vide, we can prep multiple flavors of protein (think: chicken for Greek salads, chicken for Southwest salads, chicken for Italian salads, etc.) at one time and with literally nothing to clean up other than the knife we use to slice the cooked chicken. How easy is that?
Here’s how we do it: In a vacuum bag, I place the desired amount of fresh or frozen chicken breast and then add whatever seasoning I want. For example, if I’m making Greek chicken, I use a Greek spice blend. We love Kinder’s spice blends to change it up. You can also use sauces to cook the chicken in — think along the lines of pesto, BBQ, or teriyaki. Seal the bag. You can sous vide as is or freeze to sous vide later.
This basic technique also works for steak. We often buy a $20 pack of sirloin from Sam’s and sprinkle some with Kinder’s Carne Asada spice blend and some with their Buttery Steakhouse blend. These steaks are great for topping salads or eating them on their own.
When you’re ready to sous vide, place your filled bags in the water bath at the specified temperature for the specified time. You can even cook directly from frozen! Keep in mind that chicken and steak cook at different temperatures, so you can’t cook them in the sous vide at the same time.
We sear our steaks for 1-2 minutes per side in a hot skillet with a little garlic butter after they come out of the sous vide. Let them rest for a few minutes and then eat as is or slice for your salad. With skinless chicken there’s no skin to crisp, so searing is optional. But you can throw them on a hot grill to give them some nice grill marks and a smoky flavor. Personally, I like to put my sliced chicken or steak in a Ziploc bag separate from my salad to keep it juicier and then add it just before I’m ready to eat.
The sous vide has made our meal prep significantly easier and much faster. It’s quickly becoming one of the most used appliances in our home!