Tech toys are fun, but sometimes the best Christmas gifts are the ones you can use throughout the year and that not only entertain, but make your life a little better. The Anova Precision Cooker can make sous chefs of us all. From the perfect steak to bistro-worthy desserts, this little tool helps you cook amazing and healthy meals without having to spend hours over the stove or rushing back to the oven to make sure you didn’t overcook the food again.
Sous vide (pronounced sue veed) cooking sounds like something you would study at a French culinary institute, but it's really quite simple. You prepare your food, whether it's a salmon fillet or corn on the cob, then vacuum seal it in a plastic bag and place it in a water bath to cook at a certain temperature. The precise temperatures ensure the food is cooked perfectly every time. The food not only tastes delicious, but also retains more of its vitamins and minerals than with conventional cooking.
With the Anova precision cooker, all you need is a pot big enough to hold the bags and the water to cook them in. You don't even need special bags. Regular Ziplock bags work and are safe to use, and you can vacuum seal them by partly closing the bag, then lowering it into the water. The water pressure pushes out the air. When the zipper is just above the water, then seal the bag shut, and voila!
The Anova is essentially a cylinder with a heating element and controls to measure and maintain the temperature you program. You set the time and temperature, attach it to the side of the pot, add the water and bag(s), and go about your other business. In fact, you can download an app to your phone to have Anova tell you when your food is done. No more rushing to the oven because you thought you heard the timer – or dealing with overcooked food because you forgot the timer. You can learn more about it on our Best Sous Vide Machine page.
The Anova precision cooker was super easy to set up. Connecting to the smartphone app was so seamless, we weren't sure it had worked. When planning cooking time, though, give yourself time for the water to heat. In our case, supper was late because we didn't calculate that in our start time. However, once it's going, you can walk away while it cooks. The steak and lamb chops, which we cooked in separate bags but in the same pot, were amazing! The only thing we didn't like about the Anova is the short cord, which limits where you place your pot unless you want to deal with an extension cord. Our tester didn't want to give it back!
The Anova precision cooker is a terrific gift for the dedicated chef or hapless cook who always overcooks or undercooks meals – or just doesn't like spending hours in the kitchen. Plus, it makes healthy eating an achievable goal for 2017.