1. The recipe that, for me, shows sous vide to the greatest advantage is chicken salad. The reason is that sous vide chicken lets you cook the chicken (safely!) to an impossibly low 142 degree finish temperature. You have to look at the time/temperature safety chart to realize that 165 degrees (the usual recommended chicken “done” temp) is designed to kill all the bacteria within seconds. At 142, it takes about eighteen minutes. However, when cooked to 142, the chicken is not only perfectly safe, it is an amazingly different dish, with juiciness you’ve never experienced before, and a texture that is totally devoid of any stringiness or toughness. When put into a chicken salad, the result is infinitely better for that dish than any other preparation and cooking method.
2. My second point is that a lot of the comments about safety posted here don’t seem to understand that because the food is in “contact” (via the thin plastic bag) with circulating water, which is an amazing conductor of heat, the temperature of the food increases very rapidly to the temperature of the water, and therefore does not stay in the “danger zone” for long enough to be a problem.
Thanks so much, John!
I have been sous-vide cooking for about 5 weeks, and I am in love with it! I started with cap steak and my husband said it was the best steak he had ever eaten! I upped the anti a little by buying some cheap beef which I cut into portions so I could sear it really well and make a great pan sauce. I adore salmon but have read mixed reviews. After reading your review of salmon I can’t wait to try it! Husband doesn’t like salmon, but I can fix it when he is out of town or working late!!! More sous-vide recipes please! I also got a couple of good cookbooks which help too.
Awesome, Ann! I’m loving experimenting with sous vide cooking, too (obviously!). I can’t wait to do more recipes!
I am concerned about the temps. that you cook at.I don’t have to tell you that bacteria grows between 40 F, to 140F.In this type of cooking at these low temps, do you see a problem?
Tnx in advance.
Hi, Jim! Cooking time is also a factor with food safety. For this recipe, and other sous vide recipe where the food is cooked below 140F for an extended period of time, the food effectively becomes pasteurized after several hours of cooking and the risk of harmful levels of bacterial growth is very small. (And foods that are cooked at or above 140F are not in the temperature danger zone long enough for bacteria growth to be a concern.)
I’ve been so curious about trying sous vide for months now (I’ve come really close to purchasing an immersion circulator several times!). When we had Thanksgiving dinner at our friends’ house last year, he prepared a lot of the meal, including turkey, sous vide style. When we arrived, he had a big cooler filled with bags of food and a circulator (his was a different brand). It was so cool, and everything was very good. This article may have pushed me into finally trying it for myself. Thanks so much!
Glad to hear it, Erin! :) A sous vide Thanksgiving sounds pretty amazing!
What adjustments do I need to make if I want to cook only a pound or two of beef?
Hi, Doug! No adjustments necessary for this particular recipe — smaller portions will cook at the same time/temperature as the larger ones. Check the ChefStep’s Time and Temperature Guide for other cuts.
Forgot to ask, I assume if I use a water bath type sous vide all the instructions still apply?
I found out through the Chefsteps website how to sous vide with frozen food. I’m so thrilled to be able to do that!! Can’t wait to try this recipe. Everything I’ve cooked from your site has been great!
Yes! I love being able to cook frozen food straight from the freezer! A friend of mine actually has her butcher season cuts of meat and vacuum seal them for her, and then she throws them straight into the freezer for quick meals. So smart!
My wow moment was with boneless skinless chicken breast. Cooked 1 hour plus at 150. Delicious!
Don’t know if it’s my imagination, but I find that I need to season the meat a little bit more than I usual.
Also, suggestion for your sandwiches. Before you sear it the second time, be sure to patted dry first.
Yes! Chicken breast is so great. Thanks for the tip on the sandwiches! I actually do that, but forgot to add a note to the recipe — will do so now!
From my investigations into Sous-Vide cooking, the Joule model is not as highly recommended as others. I would check Serious Eats (my personal favorite) or Cooks Illustrated before you decide on which model to buy. That aside, this was a very informative article about the advantages and limitations of Sous-Vide cooking. Thank You! Also, great French-Dip recipe!
Does altitude make a difference in this cooking method? I am high & dry so I liked your idea about covering the pot to prevent evaporation, but wonder if altitude boiling temp makes any difference as it does in canning projects. Also, does this work for hot water bath canning?
Hi Patti Ann, the temperature of the water when you sous vide never reaches anything close to boiling (212°F), so altitude shouldn’t make any difference. Also, because this is not a method for boiling water, I wouldn’t recommend it for hot water bath canning.
Ditto what Elise said! The max temperature for the Joule is 208F (just under boiling), and I’m guessing it’s the same for other immersion circulators.
Wow this is so cool! I’ve never tried cooking anything this way before, but I”m intrigued
Hooray! Let us know if you try it, or if there’s anything else you’re curious about with sous vide cooking!
Hi Emma, great post, thank you. I have been cooking “sous vide” almost 7 years, since Cooks Illustrated ran a review of the Sous Vide Supreme machine. I have had great results with bison filet, steaks, lamb, duck and eggs. However, I have not had good results with salmon, so I would love to see your method. I used very fresh salmon from a great supplier, but I always had trouble with albumen “deposits” on the surface. Similar spoiling of beauty to the seepage of egg white on a cracked boiled egg. The flavor and texture was still great, but the visual appeal was marred. I would love to strongly encourage you to post your salmon recipe, for the benefit of your sous-vide followers! :)
Thanks, Dawn! For the salmon, I believe I just followed the basic recipe on the ChefSteps app — 122F for 40 min, plus I added some olive oil and spices to the bag. I’ll have to double-check my notes when I’m back home. I do remember the albumen issue happening, but I think I was so amazed by the texture and flavor that I didn’t pay it much mind! I’ll do some more experimenting, and if I can find a solution, I’ll let you know. Or better yet, post a recipe!
A simple salt and sugar solution such as 5 parts salt to 1 part sugar for 10 minutes will firm up your salmon and greatly reduce if not eliminate the white albumen, results in a better texture whatever cooking method you choose.This exact brine recipe can be found on ChefSteps website.
Great tip! I’ll give it a try next time I do salmon. Thanks!
Thank you, both! I will try this next time. I also agree that chicken breast sous-vide is outstanding. If I am making a chicken salad, sous-vide is really the only way to cook the breasts – so juicy and flavorful.
Argh! Every recipe on the web that specifies sous vide has to spend three pages talking about how wonderful sous vide is before they give the recipe. That is fine the first sous vide recipe you read but the second and third and fourth and fifth and sixth and seventh and eighth and ninth and tenth and …, and …, Could we have a “skip the sous vide advertisement” button or something? Or maybe gives us the recipe first but include a link to your “What is sous vide” page. I understand that sous vide is new for many people but it is old hat to many others. This is a great tutorial for newbies but do you expect only newbies to read your blog?
Thanks so much for the feedback, zencuke! Since this is the first time we’ve ever talked about sous vide cooking on Simply Recipes, we wanted to make sure to give more background about what it is, how it works, etc etc. In the future, we plan to link back to this post as our “intro post” whenever we do another sous vide recipe. We may also divide the intro/background portion and the recipe portion into two separate posts, just as you suggest — we decided to leave them as one post for now for a few editorial reasons. Also, as part of a greater re-design for all of our recipe pages, we’ve been looking into a “skip to recipe” option. Stay tuned! And in the meantime, I really appreciate your feedback on all of this!
I love each sandwich recipe with cheese, OMG I can even say that I love it :) Looks so gooooood
A bought an Instant Pot Circulator on Black Friday and haven’t used it yet. This may be the push I need. Sounds fantastic.
Awesome! Have fun!
How do you receive the $30.00 off?
Hi, Janet! The discount is already applied when you click through to the ChefSteps site — the Joule is normally $199, but you can see that it’s discounted to $169 for the next few days.
Great introductory info to sous vide! Two questions… (1) Do you wait until the water reaches the desired temperature before putting in the meat? and (2) After the desired cook time duration has been reached and if you’re not home to take the meat out immediately, do you turn off the sous vide remotely? Does leaving the meat in the warm water continue cooking the meat or affect the meat’s texture/juiciness?
Question #1) Yes, wait until the water reaches the desired temperature before putting in the meat and beginning cooking.
And Question #2) No, leave the immersion circulator running if you’re not at home when cooking is complete — this make sure it stays at a safe temperature until you’re home. Also, no, a little extra time with this recipe will just result in even more tender meat. Even an extra hour or two with this recipe would be fine. (There is an upper limit with some other recipes, which is where that cooking guide from ChefSteps comes in handy.)
24 hours, no oxygen Danger Temp zone ?
Not worried about Botulism ?
Hi, Mark! Nope, botulism is really only a concern when there is zero oxygen present since “Clostridium botulism” is anaerobic. With sous vide cooking, there is enough oxygen still present in the bags that botulism isn’t a worry (even vacuum-sealing with home vacuum sealing devices is imperfect and generally leaves a fair amount of oxygen trapped inside the bag). Additionally, meats that reach a minimum temperature of 131F within 4 hours aren’t at risk for botulism. To be extra-safe, always be sure to properly chill and store sous-vide cooked foods that aren’t being eaten right away, and consume leftovers within the time period specified in the recipe.
To my knowledge, there have been no known or reported cases of botulism related to sous vide cooking.
Hi, Michael — All the links seem to be working fine on our end. Which links aren’t working for you?
My bad. Must have cached a bad page load. Can you recommend an immersion device that isn’t only available in the US?
Hmmm… I don’t actually know of any specifically. Any other readers have suggestions for Michael?
Anova Culinary has a good one that I know is available in Canada at least
Anova can found at Target,don`t know if Target is in Canada.
I love this SO much. What a great tutorial. I just bought my own Joule a month ago and am loving it so far. Thanks for the walkthrough on these AWESOME sandwiches Emma!
Thanks, Nick! Hope you enjoy!
Your comment may need to be approved before it will appear on the site. Thanks for waiting. First time commenting? Please review the Comment Policy.