Sous-vide with the Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus

Since starting to use sous-vide in my cooking nearly 20 years ago, I’ve been looking for the best way to have it available without too much hassle. My first thermal bath was a retread from a Chem lab I bought on eBay for $50. I calibrated it myself, and used a marker to write temps on the analog dial.

Then I was generously-gifted a pro-grade CuisineTech unit that I have used ever since. It is incredibly accurate, and has worked perfectly for 15 years. But it is a bit small, and takes up room on the counter. So I got an immersion circulator. In principle, it should have been the perfect solution. But it is really loud. I had to put it out in the garage when it was running. So it was back to the thermal bath for all but the largest cuts of meat that needed the immersion circulator in a large container. Still an extra device and room on the counter.

So I was intrigued when the newest generation of Instant Pot, the Duo Evo Plus, advertised that it would do sous-vide. How could I resist? Even though we already had a perfectly-good Duo, we upgraded. I was skeptical about how accurate it would be, so for my first experiment I sealed some cabbage in along with a MEATER wireless thermometer. Because it is wireless, you can use a MEATER even in a closed cooker.

I was pretty pleased with the results. While not as accurate as my similar experiments with my CuisineTech or even my Cinder Grill, the Instant Pot kept the water temperature within 10 degrees of my 180F target. So, if you’re trying for degree-perfect control, it might not be the ideal solution, but for a device that does about a dozen kinds of cooking for $150, I was impressed.

Stay tuned for my experiments with some more temperature sensitive foods like eggs and fish in the Instant Pot.

December 13, 2019. Technique. Leave a comment.

Sous-vide without water: Using the Cinder Grill

For most of us sous-vide is synonymous with water, as the whole point is a temperature-controlled thermal bath providing precise heat transfer to our food. So I was intrigued when the makers of the Cinder Grill reached out to me saying that their device could sous-vide, grill, and sear — all without water.

So I had to give it a try. I was skeptical of course. First I carefully measured the surface temperature of the grills (there is both a bottom and a top grill) with a FLIR thermal camera. Then I placed a steak on it and tracked the internal temperature with a MEATER wireless thermometer. The Cinder passed both tests with flying colors. And yes, after a quick sear on the Cinder the steak was amazing. So was some salmon. In my book, the Cinder gets a definite thumbs up as an interesting sous-vide alternative for foods that are “flat” enough that they make uniform contact with the grill surfaces.

You can read my full review of the Cinder Grill (and the impressive MEATER wireless thermometers) on ExtremeTech.com at: https://www.extremetech.com/electronics/300706-high-tech-cooking-with-the-cinder-grill-and-meater-thermometer. Aside from benefiting from evenly shaped food (my experiment with short ribs wasn’t quite as impressive) the other difference is the difference in the moisture environment for the food. That can be a plus (who wants wet steaks:)), but for foods that benefit from it — like the semi-final step in my time-consuming process for making pastrami — I’m not sure it would produce the same results.

As always, happy cooking!

December 13, 2019. Technique. Leave a comment.