01.Breville Sous Vide
What is Sous Vide?
If you’re a fan of modern cooking shows like Masterchef and Iron Chef you’ve probably seen the Sous Vide technique in action.
It’s a cooking method that requires food to be vacuum sealed in pouches and heated at a controlled temperature over a period of time. This method can perfectly cook meat, fish, poultry, vegetables and fruit.
The pouches contain the natural juices, moisture and flavours to keep food tender without overcooking. It’s particularly popular in restaurants as food can be cooked ahead of service and left in the Sous Vide until the order is placed.
The Sous Vide from Breville has an 11 litre water tank. Its water temperature defaults to 60°C however you can set the temperature up to 83.5°C. Our tester, Fiona Mair, cooked pork chops, two pieces of chicken breast (one for an hour and the other for six hours), salmon and beetroot in the Sous Vide and overall it was very good.
The salmon and beetroot were perfectly cooked while the pork chops were slightly dry and a little chewy after an hour of cooking. The first piece of chicken was slightly undercooked in the center after an hour but after six hours it was perfectly cooked although a little rubbery.
Heating the water bath can take almost an hour to reach 84°C and cooking times vary depending on the thickness of the food. While tender cuts of meat can be ready in an hour, tougher meats can take six to eight hours. Leg of lamb or spare ribs can take up to 24 hours and you can even extend this to 72 hours if you want falling-apart tender meat.
Since different foods require different temperatures, meat and vegetables can’t be cooked at the same time. After cooking in the Sous Vide most meats will need to be browned to lift the appearance and caramelise the outside of the meat.
Ease of use
Fiona also assessed ease of use, the quality of the instructions, controls and ease of cleaning.
The Sous Vide is easy to fill with water – there is no steam during cooking but condensation builds up and drips onto the bench when removing the lid. It’s big and bulky so will take up space in your kitchen. It’s quiet and the sealed food sits in the provided racks.
The instructions are fairly comprehensive and the controls are easy to use with a clear and bright digital display. Since there is only water residue the Sous Vide is very easy to clean, unless a cooking pouch happens to rupture which is unlikely. The stainless steel exterior may require extra attention when cleaning.
Since you need a food sealer to use the Sous Vide we also tested Breville’s Fresh Keeper BVP700. It’s easy to use, simply position the bag correctly, making sure there is no food or residue near the opening of the bag and then press down on the unit. After about 20 seconds most of the air is removed and then a further five to 10 seconds will seal the bag. While it works well to remove air and seal food, Fiona found it to be a hit and miss at times.
Make sure the bag is correctly positioned and pressing down on both sides should give a better seal.
The Sous Vide is in some ways similar to a slow cooker in that if you have time to prepare the Sous Vide in the morning, and it will cook tender and flavourful foods while you’re out. While the whole meal will be ready when you get home with a slow cooker, you’ll need to add the final touches when you get home with a Sous Vide. It’s expensive and bulky to store so consider your space first. While Fiona is impressed with the Sous Vide, she doesn’t consider it to be a kitchen necessity.
For more information about benchtop appliances, see Kitchen.