For For those who don't know what a sous-vide machine is, it's this fancy-ass chef tool that fancy-ass chefs use. You stick what looks like a submarine periscope in a giant pot filled with water, and it keeps the water at an exact temperature. You then put meat (or whatever) in an airtight plastic bag and that goes in the water, where it cooks for hours and hours and hours.
This Burger Comes on a Fried Cheese Bun
The benefit of this method is that a super-low and steady temperature produces magical things. For example, if cooked at 129 degrees, a steak will stay a perfect medium-rare for hours. It's pretty dang neat.
Common belief dictates that this meat hot tub is best used to slow-cook thick cuts of protein, like chicken, fish, beef, and pork, or whole eggs. But I had other ideas for my Nomiku sous-vide machine. I sous-vided (this is not technically a verb, though I am unconcerned) a range of highly unconventional foodstuffs to see if, in fact, they sous-vided (yeah, I did it again) well. Here's how they stacked up.
Cooked at: 169 degrees F for four hours Did it work? Nope! I actually had high hopes for the brownie mix turning into the ultimate gooey brownie. But it didn't! At all. The oil separation was seriously off-putting. These suckers cook up regularly at 375 degrees, so it makes sense that we wouldn't achieve legitimate brownies.
7. Popcorn kernels
Cooked at: 169 degrees F for two hours Did it work? Not a chance Popcorn pops at 212 degrees F. Ziploc-brand bags start to melt at 195 degrees Fahrenheit. This was generally a bad idea all around. Also, duration here is completely irrelevant considering the temperature was so low. We ended up with warm kernels, which are extremely difficult to chew.
6. Pillsbury cinnamon rolls
Cooked at: 169 degrees F for four hours Did it work? Kind of? There are billions of things one can do with Pillsbury dough, but cooking it sous-vide is not one of them. Unless, of course, you prefer to cook things for eight times the time for a quarter of the results.
5. Totino's Pizza Rolls
Cooked at: 169 degrees F for four hours Did it work? It didn't not work! The tiny pizza pastries went straight from the freezer into the pot. They cooked through, as in, they were warm, but they also kind of tasted like they would if you left a box out on your counter for a few days. They also had a distinct metallic/plastic aftertaste of an unidentified origin. Maybe the tap water that was in the pot seeped into the bag? Or maybe it was the warmed plastic? No matter -- it was gross and also potentially disease-causing.
Cooked at: 129 degrees for two hours; 169 degrees for three hours Did it work? As well as it could've! The whole point of cooking down tomatoes for red sauce on the stove with the lid off is so the liquid simmers off and you're left with a beautiful, thick consistency. Technically cooking the tomatoes, onions, basil, garlic, and basil all together worked to blend flavors and break down the 'matos, but the resulting mixture was not particularly dissimilar to just putting the bag of ingredients on the floor and stomping on it for six minutes.
3. Hot Pocket
Cooked at: 169 degrees for two hours Did it work? Yeah! Think of it as a steamed Philly cheesesteak dumpling. There's no toaster crisp, but they were actually quite scrumptious, minus the end note that tasted like I just sucked on a roll of quarters.
2. Cake mix
Cooked at: 169 degrees for four hours Did it work? Not in the way it was supposed to Cooking an egg at 165 degrees will hard-boil it, so we assumed this temperature would at least cook the egg to a point where it was safe to eat. Boxed cake mix, however, bakes at 375 degrees, so there was no way this was going to fully rise. We ended up with a pudding of sorts and it was actually, legitimately delicious so long as you didn't think too hard about how much plastic had seeped into it.
1. A whole Denver omelet
Cooked at: 169 degrees for one hour Did it work? Yeah! A Denver omelet has: eggs (duh), ham, green and red bell peppers, and onions, and is fried with butter. Turns out tossing all these ingredients in a bag (including the butter) is a damn efficient way to cook an omelet! So long as appearances are secondary to taste -- the eggs came out in the shape of the bag, which was distressing.