My First Foray Into Sous Vide!

It didn’t exactly go smoothly, but the resulting sous vide tacos were enjoyable!

I jut had a birthday; ughhhhhhhh, my 40th birthday. But birthdays are cool because I like getting presents. And as far as presents for my 40th are concerned, my in-laws Jerry and Ellen got me a pretty damn cool birthday present; a 1000 watt Anova Precision sous vide immersion cooker.

Sous vide is French and translates to “under vacuum”. Typically, a food item is vacuum sealed or placed into a zipper locked bag, submerged in a bath of water, and the water is heated to a desired temperature with an immersion cooker. This is a method of cooking I have been interested in trying for a couple of years now. What appeals to me about the sous vide method of cooking is the ability to be able to prepare a steak to the exact level of finish desired, and then sear it off for a nice caramelized exterior. In other words, you can get a perfect medium rare steak from crust to crust!

What really excites me about sous vide is the seemingly endless variety of other dishes that can be cooked with the sous vide method. And to get myself warmed up cooking with the sous vide method, I decided to start with tacos! I cooked a dish called tinga de pollo; shredded chicken with tomatoes, onions, and chipotle peppers in adobe sauce.

I basically destroyed my kitchen preparing this dish from a recipe found on Cook’s Illustrated. I think it actually took me longer to clean up than it did to prepare the recipe for the sous vide cooking!

Luckily the adobe sauce smeared over almost every surface doesn’t show up that well in the photo!

Once I had the chicken prepared for the sous vide part of the adventure, things started not going that smoothly for me with my new Anova Precision. One of the main features of the Anova Precision is the ability to connect to and control the cooker via an application on a smart phone or tablet. This turned out to be a bit of a headache, and I was unsuccessful at pairing my phone to the cooker. As time started getting tight on getting dinner done in time for the evening I went manual, using the controls on the Anova Precision itself. This also proved a little troublesome due to the lack of detailed instructions and my lack of familiarity with the cooker. For some reason, several times during this cook, the Anova Precision shut off or stopped for no explicable reason (other than maybe I didn’t know what I was doing). However, later in the evening I discovered the Anova Precision isn’t compatible with WiFi networks that are using a network password containing a special character. Adjusting my network password solved the problem, but in my opinion this quirk is pretty damn ridiculous. Come on Anova! Fix this!

The Anova Precision going full steam ahead on some taco meat!

But how was the food, right? It came out pretty good! After three or four hours slow cooking at 175°F (it’s hard to tell how long it went with the issues I was having), the chicken came out of the bag very moist and tender in the tinga de pollo sauce. It shredded very nicely with a couple of forks and was very flavorful on soft tacos.

Tinga de pollo all shredded up and ready for tacos (or taco salad)!

I topped my tacos somewhat traditionally, with cilantro, onion, avocado, and some queso Cotija. While they were good on flour tortillas, I would really like to try them on a corn tortilla!

Very good tacos!

The take aways:

  • Technology can be frustrating!
  • Hopefully patience wins out in the end and I get the hang of this Anova Precision!
  • Tacos are damn good, and these were no exception.
  • I can’t wait to do steak with the Anova Precision!