The joys of summer grilling are just around the corner—gorgeous weather, that smoky aroma in the backyard, and cool tunes coming through the speakers, paired with the sizzle of your favorite meats and veggies. It's a blissful tradition, one that makes you forget how terrible winter was. But just because grilling is a tradition doesn't mean that it needs to stay the same. This year, we recommend trying something a little different: the sous-vide-to-grill technique.
Now, hear us out before you get all anxious. This isn't going to create a whole bunch of extra steps and ruin your laid-back, sunny summer vibe. This technique is a surefire way to get a perfect crust on all your grilled foods, while minimizing your time spent standing at the grill—which means more time eating and chilling with friends and family.
While there are many sous vide circulators out there, we are big fans of Joule, which is an app-operated sous vide tool from ChefSteps. (You can even read Kenji's take right here.) We sat down with Grant Crilly, cofounder of the James Beard Award-winning food content and technology company, to get the inside scoop on this technique and why Joule is the best tool for the job.
What are the benefits of the combo sous vide/grilling method? Why should home cooks take those extra steps?
Traditional grilling means cooking over high heat until you think or hope your food is done on the inside, while trying not to burn the outside. Sous vide followed by grilling makes for perfectly done protein that you can serve with confidence. Normally when you grill, you are trying to juggle cooking the interior of the meat just right, while also adding enough crust or char to the outside for flavor without under- or overcooking. And when you want to grill several different items of somewhat varying shapes and sizes for a crowd, forget it. With sous vide, you can cook or tenderize small or large cuts of meat to their ideal doneness without second-guessing, and then go to the grill knowing that the interior is cooked to perfection. All you need to focus on is how charred and delicious it looks on the outside.
What advice do you have for new sous vide cooks?
Skip the expensive ribeye steaks, and head straight for the tough cuts. Buy a chuck rib steak, season it like a steak, then cook it overnight sous vide at about 144°F (62°C). When you want to eat dinner the next night, grill it over the highest possible heat until it looks tasty. You just cooked a steak that is more tender, more flavorful, and one-third the cost of a ribeye steak.
What is your favorite thing to sous-vide, then grill?
Pork shoulder steaks are juicier, more flavorful, and more tender than pork chops—and one-fourth the price. Buy a three- to five-pound pork shoulder, throw salt and sugar on it and any other seasoning you like, and cook the hunk of shoulder sous vide overnight at about 145°F (63°C). Don't stress about how long it cooks for; anywhere from 12 to 24 hours is amazing. After it cooks, cut it into thick, one-and-a-half-inch steaks and store those in the fridge or freezer for later, or head right to the grill and grill them until they look good. It will be the most succulent pork "chop" you have ever eaten.
Have you ever had any sous vide blunders? Any tips to steer sous-viders in the right direction?
Usually the only issue you can run into is that, once in while, a bag will break. That is usually when you are cooking things with sharp bones that puncture the softer plastic bags. But don't worry; this is more visually unappealing than it is a real cooking disaster. You can still move forward with finishing and grilling the food just fine. I would recommend you use the ChefSteps guides in the Joule App. They are free, after all, and will help you to avoid pitfalls in your cooking adventure.
What, in your opinion, differentiates Joule from its competitors?
We put a lot of work into the design and overall cooking experience, so new sous vide cooks can have more confidence that they will create something worthwhile and have fun doing it. I have seen a lot of people who did not consider themselves proficient cooks pull off some amazing stuff with ease their first round, because with Joule, they had the support of inspiring content and step-by-step instructions when they wanted them.
Now that you have the background, it's time to find your own great recipe. Perhaps Cantonese-style char siu (pictured above), unbelievably juicy grilled turkey, or smoky mojo-marinated pork shoulder. Once you get a Joule (which you can buy here), remember to download the free app for recipes like these—with more to be released soon, like basic carne asada, grilled chuck, and Korean-style short ribs. Even if you don't have a Joule quite yet, you can still download the ChefSteps App for new grilling guides and countless cooking tips. Once you're armed with everything you need for a delicious summer of cookouts, the hardest part of the season will simply be waiting for the weather to cooperate.
From May 30 to the 31st, you can get the brand new Joule for an extra $30 off. Click here for details.