Sous Vide Cooking: Healthy Breakthrough?

Sous vide cooking promises to preserve more nutrients—but at what price?

By Susan Toepfer

Back at the water bath, I follow the directions for “quick chilling” the cooked chops—which look none too appetizing when they emerge—and put them in the refrigerator to brown another night.

Day Three: Sous Vide Corn and Green Beans
For doctors, these SousVide promoters seem inordinately into red meat. I decide to toss a couple of vegetables in the bath—which is harder than you’d think, because I had to find two that could be cooked at the same temp.
I ended up with corn and green beans—the health benefits of the beans undercut by a recipe that called for bacon. But at least both cooked at 185F.
This was great—thanks to the precooked lamb chops, we could have a whole sous vide experience tonight! And when my husband’s niece turned up unexpectedly, balking at lamb, I decided to turn even that to my benefit: He could grill her a steak before using the same fire to sear our sous vide chops.
First, the veggies: The corn (I know, it really doesn’t qualify, but it was August) was amazing. Basically, poached in butter! It made me dream about what sous vide could do with lobster meat. The green beans were also tasty enough, though not something I’d repeat.
As for the lamb chops: They were the single best I have eaten in my life. Perfectly and uniformly medium rare, juicy and a texture that was beyond tender. All of a sudden I’m thinking: How many lamb chops would we have to eat to justify a $449 price?
Lorenzo, while enjoying the meal, is having none of it: “For $499,” he says, “it should make your life easier.”
“But they say you can buy a cheap steak and make it taste like an expensive one,” I defend.
 “If you can afford $449,” he counters, “why would you have to buy cheap steak?”
 Day Four: Chicken Sous Vide
Okay, Scary Machine—-you’ve shown what you can do with lamb chops, what about the chipper chicken? For a true test, I go with chicken breasts, which I usually avoid because they can be dry.
But I also avoid brining—which the “Cajun Chicken Sous Vide” recipe advises, overnight! Okay, going for “best results,” I bite the bullet and brine before sealing the breasts in their bags.
And I’ve finally figured something out—if I start with HOT water, it will heat up fast. Somewhere I once read you should never bring hot water to a boil when cooking because the chemicals in the water will seep into the food. But, hey—I now have those protective plastic bags. Chemical vs. chemical smackdown!
The recipe advises that “added fat is not necessary,” but considering my aversion to dry white meat, I decide to go for the optional pat of butter per pouch.
It wasn’t necessary. The bag emerges with a slew of juices and, once again, this is the single best piece of chicken I have ever eaten. Even better the next day, sliced into a salad.
Day Five: Scrambled Eggs Sous Vide
I know: What was I thinking? But the food writer Mike Hess got me hooked on Gordon Ramsey’s scrambled eggs, which take forever, and I thought maybe this would be a shortcut.
Hardly. “Creamy Scrambled Eggs” took one hour, and came out of the bath looking (and tasting) like undercooked polenta. Trust me: Ramsey’s eggs are worth the effort. 
Day Six: Soft-Boiled Eggs Sous Vide
Sure, I should have learned my lesson. And I happen to make a perfect soft-boiled egg already. But the notion of preparing, say, a dozen at once, all evenly cooked, was tempting.
Three-minute egg? Try 45 minutes. And when they come out, the whites were all gooey.
I quickly boil them, stovetop, for another minute.
Day Seven: Salmon Sous Vide
This is sort of like baking it in foil or parchment—except for the plastic. The fish cooked quickly, and was delicious—but maybe no tastier than cooked any other method.

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