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7 reasons to get a sous vide machine

It's the new-age slow cooker.

Now Playing: Watch this: How to cook the perfect restaurant steak at home
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By now, you might have caught "sous vide" on a restaurant menu, Shark Tank or even CNET. When you cook sous vide, food is sealed, submerged in a temperature-controlled water bath and cooked for anywhere from 20 minutes to 48 hours, depending.

An entirely new cooking method can be daunting at first, but here's why it's worth learning.

No more defrosting!

Sharon Profis/CNET

Remember that one time you waited 30 minutes for your chicken to thaw before cooking? Say "goodbye" to that. If you have food -- like beef, chicken, or even vegetables -- in the freezer, they can go straight into the water bath.

Cooking frozen meats sous vide is just as healthy as cooking fresh meats. In fact, it's probably even healthier, since there is a zero-to-little chance of cross-contamination, which can occur when defrosting meat in the sink or elsewhere.

You probably have many more questions. ChefSteps has a fantastic guide to cooking frozen meats sous vide.

So meal prepping is really easy.

Who has time to cook a fancy meal every night? You do -- with a sous vide machine.

Here are the basics:

  • Buy meat (or veggies, or poultry) in bulk
  • Portion them into individual servings
  • Put individual servings in freezer-safe zip-loc bags
  • Add a little fat (olive oil, butter) and seasonings (herbs, spices) to the bag
  • Create an air-tight seal (using this method) and freeze

To cook a meal, transfer it to the water bath and add about 30 minutes to the regular cooking time. Depending on what you're cooking, you might also want to take a couple minutes to brown the food in a pan.

It's how restaurant chefs make consistently perfect food.

Sharon Profis/CNET

How does Tyler Florence of the Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco make award-winning fried chicken that's ridiculously juicy and crunchy every time? Sous vide.

Many restaurants use sous vide to bulk-cook consistently-perfect foods and design creative dishes. Here in the Bay Area, restaurants such as Saison, Cockscomb and Atelier Crenn all use Nomiku machines in their kitchens.

Wayfare Tavern's famous fried chicken is fully cooked sous vide before being breaded and flash-fried. Cooking it sous vide first:

  • Renders an unbelievably juicy chicken -- juicier than a chicken that's only fried
  • Extracts maximum flavor from the herbs it's cooked in
  • Gives the chicken time to absorb that amazing herby flavor
  • Allows the chicken to be flash-fried to create a crunchy crust and low-oil dish
  • Meats are cooked perfectly, every time
Sharon Profis/CNET

Cheap cuts of meat become super tender.

Because you can cook meat at consistent temperatures for long periods of time, the meat's collagen and fat has more time than usual to break down -- without drying out.

Cheap cuts (as long as they're not too lean) can be transformed into much juicier, more flavorful dishes. For beef, try chuck, rump, eye of the round, skirt or hangar. For pork, try shoulder.

It's not just for meat. (Desserts, too!)

Sous vide cooking is also fantastic for making desserts. Here are a few of my favorites:

It makes cooking for a crowd much easier.

I recently hosted a dinner party where I ambitiously decided to cook steak -- for six people. The only way that was possible (at least for me and my petite kitchen) was with sous vide.

A couple hours before guests arrived, I put the steaks in the water bath (using the same recipe in the video at the top of this post). When it was time to serve the steaks, all that was left to do was torch them for a couple minutes and serve. If you have a plancha, griddle or multiple cast iron pans, you can quickly sear the steaks in oil or butter.

Every single person at the table had a perfect, medium-rare steak with a crunchy outer crust. Boom!

Sharon Profis/CNET

It's more affordable than ever.

Just a few years ago, cooking sous vide at home required an expensive (upwards of $1,000) machine that took up as much space as a slow cooker. Then, Nomiku -- and since then, others like Anova and Joule -- came along and changed the market. These devices are available for $199-250 in the US. Anova is £125 or AU$149, while Joule is yet to go on sale outside of the US. Nomiku ships internationally and its $250 price converts to about £200 or AU$335.

Once you have one of these devices, the minimum you need to cook sous vide is a stock pot and a freezer bag.