Unless you’re a lab technician or a chef in a high-end restaurant, you probably have no idea what the hell an immersion circulator is. Let us drop some knowledge: Culinary enthusiasts around the world have been using them for years to cook proteins at low temperatures under a vacuum seal (sous vide) with no risk of overcooking or drying them out.
But for home cooks, it’s still something new, expensive, and a little bewildering. A circulator along with the necessary sealing components will run well north of a thousand dollars. More dauntingly, there’s still not much quality information out there for wannabe Thomas Kellers on how to cook sous vide, especially safely.
The Sous Vide Supreme aims to change some of that. Billed as a “water oven,” it’s essentially an immersion circulator about the size of a breadbox, and consists of a 2.6-gallon tub, a heating element and a precision temperature-control device. It’s got a stainless steel exterior that would look right at home in any modern kitchen.
Overall, operation of the unit is simple and straightforward. The controls are clear and easy to understand, and the temperature readings are consistent and accurate — critical for sous vide cooking, where a difference of 2 degrees can change the consistency of the final product. One nice touch is a lid, which helps keep the heat in the water, although it does lead to a little bit of a mess when removed.
The included rack is meant to help organize food inside the bath, but we found that it was a little too small — all it does is slide around, and it seems just a bit unstable.
But overall, the Sous Vide Supreme does what it claims to do, and does it well. There are just a couple of concerns. The included booklet has some recipes and safety information, but you’ll want more. Thomas Keller’s cookbook Under Pressure is a good place to start.
And the price is still pretty high: $450 will get you the Sous Vide Supreme, and it’s a great way to try out the cooking technique. But to truly drive the art of “under vacuum” cooking into the mainstream, the price going to have to drop another couple hundred dollars.