There are countless good ways to cook a steak. So long as you start with good, high quality meat, season it properly, don't overcook it, and get a good sear on it, you can't really go wrong. But if your goal is the ultimate in tenderness and juiciness, a steak with a crisp, crackling, dark brown crust that cuts open to reveal flesh that's perfectly pink from edge to edge, then you're going to want to cook your steak sous-vide. Sound expensive? Think again. Watch the video or read the transcript to see how you can cook the best, most consistently foolproof steaks of your life, all in a $30 beer cooler.
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It's because of my addiction to MacGyver as a kid (along with a healthy addiction to Mr. Wizard and Jacques Pépin) that I constantly press myself to try and come up with unique solutions to common kitchen problems. They're not always successful, but when they are, you get so much more satisfaction out of developing a novel recipe or technique than you do out of merely tweaking what's standard. Here are a few of my favorite kitchen hacks. Some are my own, others are not, all of them are pretty awesome, if you ask me.
In a great article in yesterday's LA Times, Thomas Keller, chef of The French Laundry, Per Se, Bouchon, and others himself gives us some tips and tricks for how to cook sous-vide at home (that's cooking in vacuum-sealed pouches in a water bath). His advice for home cooks? Cook the food in a cooler. Sound familiar?
By this point, there is absolutely no question that the method of cooking foods at precise low-temperatures in vacuum-sealed pouches (commonly referred to as "sous-vide") has revolutionized fine-dining kitchens around the world. But the question of when this technique will trickle down to home users—and it certainly is a question of when, and not if—remains to be answered. The Sous-Vide Supreme is certainly a big step in the right direction. But at $450, for most people, it still remains prohibitively costly. In an effort to help those who'd like to experiment with sous-vide cookery without having to put in the capital, a couple weeks ago I devised a novel solution to the problem: cook your food in a beer cooler. I put the hack method head-to-head against the Sous-Vide Supreme.