New things can be intimidating. New things in the kitchen are even more so. It hits us on a primal level, whether it be a new food or a new preparation. When it comes to cooking sous vide, any hesitation makes sense -- after all, we've been cooking with fire forever; somehow cooking with water just doesn't seem right. Until it's time to taste the results, that is.
The Anova Sous Vide Immersion Circulator ($199) offers a no-nonsense way to test the waters. The device is kept affordable in part because of its no-frills approach. What comes in the box is basic, streamlined and ready to use -- just add water. But don't be fooled by the lack of bells and whistles; the sous vide cooker is solid with some heft to it and is capable of heating 5 to 6 gallons of water from 77 degrees F on up.
Well-suited for beginners and pros alike, the sous vide machine doesn't get bogged down by details -- and that's exactly its charm. Users supply their own cooking bags and water vessel (a large stock pot does the trick) and the unit does the rest. To use, just select the temperature and time (if desired) and turn it on. The first thing that happens is the water starts to circulate through the pot, and this is the sound of deliciousness to be.
The final product of food cooked sous vide is well worth the exploration, even without the familiar snap and pop that accompanies food cooked over high heat (although a finishing sear applied to sous vide steaks and the like is recommended). And have no fear about the meal ahead -- food cooked sous vide never gets above the temperature of the water, so overcooking is not a concern.