Published November 1, 2010. From Cook's Illustrated.
If you have some extra money to spend, the ultimate slow cooker might be worth its high price tag.
We admit it: The $449.95 price tag on this deluxe appliance will be a deal-breaker for most cooks. But when the SousVide Supreme introduced water-bath cooking—a hugely popular restaurant technique—into the home kitchen, we had to give it a try. Sous-vide (literally “under vacuum”) describes the process of vacuum-sealing food in plastic, immersing it in water, and cooking it slowly at the precise temperature at which it’s meant to be served (e.g., 130 degrees for medium steaks). Unlike standard high-heat methods, the beauty of this technique is that there’s absolutely no risk of overcooking the food. Even better, you can hold it at the desired temperature for hours; keeping meat at 130 degrees or higher for a prolonged period of time kills most bacteria. Plus the long slow cooking can turn tough cuts of meat incredibly tender. (They still need a quick sear in a hot pan for a nicely browned crust.) Wondering if this machine was as good as its restaurant counterparts or just another overpriced toy, we followed the simple setup instructions and cooked fish, chicken, and steaks—all with perfect results. We had only one gripe: A vacuum sealer—another pricey investment—is necessary but not included. That said, the machine would make a great splurge gift.