Looking to up your game in the kitchen? Consider a sous-vide cooker. The technique suspends vacuum-sealed ingredients in a water bath held at a steady temperature, gently bringing them up to temp with little to no risk of overcooking. Professional chefs have been cooking sous vide for years in order to get even, consistent results from recipes ranging from filet mignon to eggs benedict. Lucky for you, a new generation of easy to use countertop appliances wants to bring the technique into your home -- and a lot of them cost a lot less than you probably think.
With its low-and-slow approach to cooking, sous vide has a lot in common with the venerable slow cooker -- so why not marry the two? That's what 3Squares wants to do with the Du3t, a combination slow cooker and sous-vide bath that's headed to Kickstarter later this year.
The crowdfunding route has been awfully good to sous-vide cookers. One of the first big success stories was the Anova One, an immersion circulator that you stick into a pot of water for quick and easy sous-vide cooking.
Anova followed up that product with the Anova Precision Cooker, which refines the design, lowers the price point, and adds in app-enabled Bluetooth smarts, to boot.
If you're looking to dive in all the way with sous vide, a full-size, all-in-one water bath like the Caso SousVide Center might be worth the extra cash.
On the other end of the spectrum lies the Dorkfood DSV, which costs just $99. Plug it in and connect it to a cheap slow cooker or rice maker, then fill the thing with water and the insert DSV's temperature probe, and voila, you've got yourself a surprisingly effective sous-vide cooker.
If that sounds too clunky for your liking, then a more streamlined approach like the Sous Vide Supreme might be more to your tastes.
The Paragon Induction Cooktop might be worth a close look, too. Due out at the end of 2015, the Paragon pairs a Bluetooth thermometer with a solo induction burner for a smart, innovative spin on sous vide. Unlike other cookers, you can use other liquids besides water -- that means you can apply sous vide's precision temperature control to things like candy-making and deep frying.
You should also keep an eye out for the Wi-Fi-enabled Mellow, from FNV Labs. Not only does it look great, but it's capable of heating and chilling the water. That means you can store perishable ingredients in the bath for as long as needed, then start cooking remotely using the app whenever you're ready. That might be a sous-vide game-changer.
If you don't feel like waiting for Mellow, you could consider Nomiku, another stick-style immersion circulator with its own plans for a Wi-Fi-enabled cooker.
Maybe connected cooking isn't your thing, though -- and that's OK. A standard sous-vide cooker like the SousVant would be a great addition to your countertop. Trust us, your taste buds will thank you.