I get asked this question a lot, and it’s a fair question. We are all so busy with jobs, kids, commutes, hobbies, and significant others. There are a couple of secrets that I will share, but I am so lucky that my daughter loves the kitchen. It’s one thing to cook quickly to get everybody fed, and another, to cook and stretch your culinary education. My daughter allows me cooking time while spending quality time with her. Without it, I would be cooking pasta, rice, steamed vegetables, and some other sources of quick protein.
My daily life involves driving my daughter to school, driving an hour to work, working, training my dog at lunch, back to work, and then driving an hour to pick up my daughter and then getting us both home. Although I love to cook sometimes it’s hard to motivate myself after a hard day, but cooking sous vide helps tremendously.
So how do I do it. Secret number 1 is planning. Have a game plan going into the kitchen and have things ready to go before you start cooking. If I have a lot of prep, I will do as much the night before and then for dinner its “badda bing…badda boom”. Cook something that is 20 minutes, and while its cooking finish the other dish(es). During the week, make it simple with fewer but fresher ingredients. Letting the quality rule the day provides many benefits. I cannot stress enough how I have looked like a rock star because I used fresh caught salmon and cooked it for only 15 minutes.
The second secret is using technology, specifically, Sous-Vide. French for under vacuum. This process of cooking has made my life easier for everyday cooking. I use a professional immersion circulator from PolyScience, but you can also use a digital thermometer and a large stockpot of water. I am able to cook several days worth of meat, chicken, vegetables and then serve it days later. I only have to sear or bring the temperature of the food up to eating temps. You can have 4 chicken breasts with vegetables served in less than 10 minutes, and it will take only 3o minutes of total active cooking time.
Having a vacuum sealer like a FoodSaver is optimal, but you can also get by using the Ziploc handheld vacuum sealing system. Even a Ziploc bag with as much air taken out of it will work. If you go with the last option a tip is to submerge the bag into water after you placed the product in the bag. This will push the air out, and you can seal it. Make sure to keep the water out of the bag.
- 4 boneless chicken breasts with skin on.
- salt and pepper ( a little goes a long way in sous vide)
- 2 small cloves of garlic cut into halves (4 small pieces total)
- 4 teaspoons of unsalted butter
- 1-2 sprigs of thyme
- 1 tsp of smoked paprika
- 1 pound of ice and gallon of water (at end of cooking chicken)
Place all of the chicken in one layer with garlic on top of skin, paprika, salt and pepper, and place butter with chicken. The most important part is having the chicken on a single layer with skin up.
Seal chicken in bag, and place in the water bath that has reached a consistent (145.4 F) temperature. Put in water bath for one hour. Pull out and place the chicken in the ice bath to stop the cooking process and to eliminate any chance for bacteria growth. Plus the goal is to eat it the chicken in a couple of days. After the chicken has cooled considerably place the chicken on a baking sheet and put another pan on top to flatten the chicken. Place in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or days, and the pull out the chicken from the bags. Fry the chicken in hot vegetable oil for 3 minutes on each side. You want to brown the skin and not necessary cook the chicken.
In six minutes you can also warm up vegetables and dinner is ready. The chicken will be extremely tender and very tasty. When I was begging to my wife to let me have an immersion circulator she laughed at me and said, “no way!”. After I cooked this chicken using a stock pot and a digital thermometer she said okay after eating this chicken.
What I love most about this tool is the ability to cook proteins perfectly every time. Very stress free and the cooking times are very long that you can start the process and come back later that night or tomorrow. You don’t need an expensive device for occasional sous-vide action, read how QandAbe.com created a device for well under $75.
For my PolyScience circulator, I purchased it from Williams Sonoma and I choose this model. Michael Voltaggio, an amazing chef from Season 6 of TopChef, is a spokesman for this device and his videos on the Williams Sonoma website really helped me pick the PolyScience model. The benefits of this model over other devices are many. My kitchen counterspace is incredbily small and I cannot rent out a permanent space on the counter. After finishing my cooking, I clean it and put it away in a cabinet. The cookbook from Thomas Keller that comes with the device is incredible and approachable and has helped me from day 1 to conceive my own ideas on cooking sous vide. Cooking sous vide has already saved over $100 in a couple of months by eliminating the need to eat out on busy work days.
The possibilities are endless for sous-vide and it can make every day cooking so much easier.