Kitchen Tech Stories February 20, 2017

Don’t miss out on this essential kitchen tool: Instant Pot Sous Vide Immersion Circulator for $89 Prime shipped (Reg. $130)

Amazon offers the Instant Pot Accu SV800 Sous Vide Immersion Circulator (120V, 800W) for $89 Prime shipped. Usually goes for $130 and this is the all-time low price for this product. Rated 4.4/5 stars by 40 users.

  • User friendly touch-screen digital controls, lightweight stainless steel and easy-to-grip plastic handle
  • Turns home cooks into gourmet chefs by cooking high-end restaurant quality food at home
  • Clamps securely to Instant Pot 6Qt/8Qt inner pots or other containers with the adjustable stainless steel clamp that has maximum clamp height of about 8″
  • Cooks professionally and precisely with absolute accuracy of +/- 1°F between 104-194° F/40-90° C in near silence for up to 72 hours
  • Easy-to-clean with secure stand up design and removable stainless steel skirt (almost no cleaning necessary, simply wash and air dry the skirt) *Removable skirt in North American model only*

For more info, check out our previous post about Sous Vide kitchen tech.

Kitchen Tech Stories June 23, 2016

expiredThis Bluetooth Pressure Cooker makes cooking as easy as checking your phone for $140 shipped (Reg. $200+)

Today only as part of the Gold Box Deals of the Day Amazon is offering the Instant Pot IP-Smart Bluetooth-Enabled Multifunctional Pressure Cooker for $139.99 shipped. That’s about $60 off the regular price and the lowest we’ve seen since Black Friday when it was only $10 less. 

With a free app for iOS or Android, you can program and monitor cooking. It also has 14 built-in smart programs, dual pressure, automatic keep-warm and 3 temperatures for saute, slow cook and keep-warm. It’s highly energy efficient and “kitchen friendly.” Rated 4.4/5 stars from 172 Amazon shoppers and it’s also the best selling pressure cooker there.

Kitchen Tech Stories December 3, 2015

Much like every other room in your house, technology has slowly crept into our kitchen. It’s not a surprise that manufacturers are taking note of this trend when it comes to cookware. Nearly every standard appliance is available with some sort of Wi-Fi connected feature set. Add sous vide to that list, as well.

Anova Culinary has refreshed its popular sous vide Precision Cooker. It has added Wi-Fi in an attempt to increase convenience, while staying ahead of the competition. More details below.

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Kitchen Tech Stories November 3, 2015

Amazon EchoI’ve had my Amazon Echo smart speaker since they were available to the general public and can honestly say it has changed the way our family lives. We put it in our open floor plan kitchen/family room where the far-field mic can hear our voices up to 20 feet away and has pretty incredible speech recognition accuracy. We were a little weirded out calling it “Alexa” so we changed the default name to “Amazon” – the only other current choice.

My wife used to ask me what the weather was going to be like in the morning which would annoyingly (jk love of my life) require me to go to a computer or smartphone and ask the…same…question. The Amazon Echo allows me to strut my passive aggressive side so when she asked what the weather was going to be like, I would just repeat “Amazon, what’s the weather going to be like today”. My wife, who hates using Siri because she feels like it makes her look weird/uncomfortable talking to her iPhone, stopped asking me what the weather was going to be like. She started asking Echo.

Bam! Worth the money right there. But there’s so much more… expand full story

Kitchen Tech Stories September 4, 2015

Portable grills are not a new thing, nor are they especially complex: if you’re looking to do basic tailgate-quality BBQing or Japanese-style yakitori grilling, you can achieve either goal for around $50 plus the $10 cost of charcoal, ignition fluid, and matches. What that will get you is a little fireproof box with a basic wire top, passive cooking features such as “adjustable air vents,” and no style.

Importing an award-winning design from Korea, a company called Homping USA is trying to change the face of portable grilling. Rather than selling a plain box with disposable parts, the Homping Grill ($199) is a 13″ circular grill with a washable 11.5″-diameter cooking surface. Available in silver with a black or orange base, it’s claimed to be “smokeless,” safe to touch, and easy to clean. A fan is built into the base so you can actively control the power of the charcoal fire inside, and a carrying bag is included for portability. After testing the Homping Grill, I had mixed feelings about its performance relative to much cheaper or peer-priced Weber portable grills, but some people may prefer its design regardless…

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Kitchen Tech Stories July 29, 2015

Munchtime T-Rex chopsticks and more kitchen gadgets that’ll make you go aww

Prepare to attack your lunch in the cutest way—Munchtime T-Rex chomping chopsticks are now up for pre-order!

Brand new for Fall 2015, these dinos by Fred and Friends use an aggressive chomping action to help you devour your meal. Head over to the Fred and Friends website to pick up a pair for $6 plus shipping.

Looking for a gift for your favorite not-a-morning-person? The Slow Brew sloth tea infuser might be just their speed. This adorable silicone sloth fits snugly in your mug while you sip your morning tea. For $9.34 Prime shipped, this sleepy little guy can help you make it through even the most hectic morning. If you’re up and on your feet at the crack of dawn, check out this highly-rated squirrel tea infuser instead for $10 Prime shipped.

Add to your offbeat kitchen arsenal with these loveable gadgets:

Kitchen Tech Stories March 12, 2015

“Great coffee” is a moving target. Thanks mostly to Starbucks, the typical coffee drinker today laughs off Sanka and other instant coffees that were considered great three decades ago. But at the same time, “third-wave” and “fourth-wave” coffee shops consider Starbucks to be a purveyor of mediocre coffee, and serious coffee drinkers agree. Independent coffee shops have continued to push coffee quality and variety forward, dragging donut shops, Starbucks, and home coffee makers to make better-tasting beverages in the process.

My Kitchen Tech column has previously explored the highest end of fancy at-home coffee with Chemex’s $250 Ottomatic pour-over coffee machine, and yesterday we covered KitchenAid’s announcement of a $250 deluxe coffee siphon brewer. But most people don’t want to spend that much money just to pour hot water on coffee grounds. So this week’s column takes a quick look at an option that’s around 90% less expensive, extremely popular, and capable of achieving excellent results: the $26 AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker. With an average Amazon user rating of 4.6/5 stars after nearly 3,700 Amazon reviews, the AeroPress requires a little more manual involvement, but pumps out great-tasting individual cups of coffee. Read on…

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Kitchen Tech Stories March 11, 2015

While creating a perfectly-decorated latte requires creativity and talent, producing excellent-tasting coffee is less art than science. You need to heat water to the right temperature to extract flavor from – and not further burn – fresh coffee beans, then push the water through the beans and a filter into a vessel. You can do this manually with an Aeropress for under $30, upgrade to a traditional open-flame coffee siphon for under $50, or hold off for KitchenAid’s upcoming Siphon Coffee Brewer ($250), which uses a modern design to make siphoning kitchen-safe… expand full story

Kitchen Tech Stories March 5, 2015

Back in my January Kitchen Tech column on bar tools, I briefly mentioned that certain restaurants are using liquid nitrogen to make frozen cocktails that resemble sorbets — a magic trick that for all intents and purposes is impossible to replicate at home. But when nitrogen comes together with oxygen to form nitrous oxide (N2O), the result is a gas with unique powers. Nitrous oxide can supercharge engines, work as a “laughing gas” anesthetic, and… create whipped cream, ultra-fluffy pancakes like the ones shown above, and super-crispy waffles. You can probably guess which of these applications I’m exploring in today’s Kitchen Tech.

The iSi Gourmet Whip Plus has made guest appearances in two prior Kitchen Tech columns: column 3 on pro-caliber modernist cookbooks, and last week’s column on carbonating tools. It is the only modern kitchen tool Ferran Adrià recommends to home cooks in The Family Meal, and made the top 5 tools recommended by Nathan Myhrvold’s Modernist Cuisine at Home (alongside sous vide water baths and pressure cookers, which Kitchen Tech has already covered).

Why hasn’t it received its own column before now? Because it typically needs to be used with something else in order to make a special product. So for this week’s Kitchen Tech, I’m going to show you how to make the lightest, crispiest waffles you’ve ever had by combining an iSi Whip with a Belgian Waffle Maker. Read on for all the details…

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Ginsu. Cuisinart. A thousand brands you’ve never heard of. With so many options out there, how can you choose a truly great (but reasonably priced) set of kitchen knives?

Knives are so important that many professional chefs bring their own blades to work, each hand-picked for durability, weight, sharpness, and shape. Even if you’re not a cook, your dinner knives could be so dull that you’ll struggle to carve up steak. Today, rather than covering exotic knives, I’m focusing on some great mainstream picks that anyone can afford and enjoy, starting with awesome steak knives from leading knife brand J.A. Henckels, which runs neck-and-neck with longtime rival Wüsthof in offering truly excellent cutting tools. Unlike the Ginsus, Sunbeams, and other mediocre brands out there, Henckels and Wüsthof knives have decades-long reputations for durability, long-term sharpness, and great design.

As Amazon’s #1 best-selling steak knife (with a 4.4/5-star user rating), a four-knife version of the J.A. Henckels set above has composite handles rather than steel, and sells for only $20. For $40, you can get eight Henckels knives with steel handles, a version that has an even higher 4.6/5-star Amazon rating. Having used both types of Henckels steak knives, I can tell you that the all-steel ones feel especially great in the hand and slice meat with superb precision; both versions use serrated blades that legitimately never need sharpening. Our steak knives are every bit as sharp now as they were when we bought them years ago.

More great steak and kitchen knife picks are below…

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Kitchen Tech Stories February 25, 2015

I realized the other day that my first exposure to carbonation – the little carbon dioxide bubbles found in soda — came so early in life that I couldn’t possibly remember it. My kids will eventually say the same thing. Despite warning parents that sugary drinks are unhealthy, doctors still recommend fizzy ginger ale to settle kids’ upset stomachs, and no one’s likely to give up Pepsi, Coke, or Red Bull any time soon.

But carbonation isn’t just for sodas. It’s also the bubble power behind beer and champagne, as well as some avant garde culinary tricks that are both surprising and compelling. This week’s edition of Kitchen Tech looks at three different and affordable ways to bring carbonation to your drinks — and food (!) — at home.

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Kitchen Tech Stories February 18, 2015

Spheres were the subject of my very first Kitchen Tech column, and in celebration of today’s 11th Kitchen Tech, I’m returning to the theme again — with a twist.

There are many magic tricks in the world of avant garde food and beverages, but only a few that are marquee-quality. Spherification — the science of turning liquids into delicate, caviar-like balls — is probably my favorite. If you’ve ever had salmon roe, the bright orange fish eggs popularly used in Ikura sushi, you already know the “burst in your mouth” sensation that makes gel-coated spheres amazing.

But until you’ve tried liquid balls in other flavors, such as white sangria (above), cherry, mozzarella cheese, or olives, you haven’t experienced the full potential of spherification. Drinks can be turned into snacks, solids into liquids, and liquids into solids or semi-solids. Best of all, these spheres are easy and inexpensive enough to make at home! Here’s what you need to know…

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Ice is one of the most important — yet underappreciated — components of any drink. Our Kitchen Tech guide to magical ice ball makers focused on high-end spheres for fancy beverages, so today we’re looking at some fun, affordable alternatives. Almost every ice mold in this collection sells for $10 or less, letting you easily bring some excitement to your favorite drinking glass.

For instance, check out this Death Star Silicone Tray ($10 shipped) from Japanese mold maker Kotobukiya, which creates an incredibly detailed 60mm ice version of the original Death Star from Star Wars: A New Hope. If you’re looking for something less ominous and more rebellious, there’s ThinkGeek’s Han Solo in Carbonite Ice Cube Tray ($10), which makes 7 cubes based on the frozen Solo from Empire Strikes Back — one 3.5″ block and 1.75″ block.

We have plenty of other cool (yes, cool) options below, including ice shot glasses, Star Trek insignias, diamonds, hearts, skulls, cubes, and spheres. Read on!

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Kitchen Tech Stories February 13, 2015

This week, 9to5Toys is celebrating the tenth edition of my Kitchen Tech column, which is designed to help you create professional-caliber food and drinks at home. Every week, Kitchen Tech spotlights at least one cool modern tool that’s worth knowing about, ranging from delicious premium coffee makers to state-of-the-art sous vide machines, ultra-durable blenders, and high-quality bar tools.

9to5Toys readers have told us that they’ve “thoroughly enjoyed” Kitchen Tech, praising it as “very well written” with “great” book recommendations. Here’s what I’ve covered so far:

Column 1: Learn how to up your drinking game with magical ice ball makers, which transform everyday drinks into classics – recently updated with a great affordable pick!

Column 2: Radically improve meats, poultry, and fish with Sous Vide water baths, which turn plain pieces of meat into succulent, restaurant-caliber steaks, ribs, and more.

Column 3: Learn about avant garde cooking with incredible modernist cookbooks, which bring professional, modern recipes and techniques home.

Column 4: Explore part one of the world of bar tools, starting with fundamental items needed for preparing cocktails, then continuing with “good idea” tools that will make your drinks even cooler.

Column 5: Part two of the world of bar tools, including the “fancy stuff” that makes restaurant-caliber cocktails possible.

Column 6: Chemex’s new Ottomatic pour-over coffee machine, Wilfa’s Precision Coffee Maker, and the world of premium coffee makers.

Column 7: Explore home- and restaurant-caliber wine and champagne tools, including the Coravin wine preservation system and much more.

Column 8: Create restaurant-caliber rotisserie beef, pork, and poultry with the Showtime Rotisserie Oven, one of my favorite easy-to-use home cooking tools.

Column 9: Use a pressure cooker to create incredible fried chicken, sandwiches, crisped meats, soft beans, and rice in record time.

Column 10: Puree fruits, vegetables, and nuts into silky smooth smoothies and soups with a Vitamix blender, and create foamy cocktails with a hand immersion blender.

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Kitchen Tech Stories February 11, 2015

If a luxury product isn’t already mainstream, the surest way to create national awareness is appearing in a Saturday Night Live skit — buckle your seatbelt before clicking if you haven’t seen this famously NSFW Moët & Chandon infomercial. Last year, SNL gave the 94-year-old deluxe blender company Vitamix its moment in the spotlight: an infomercial spoof where two friends discussed Vitamix-made smoothies, only to devolve into an argument over their comparative financial status and priorities.

The spoof was funny, but it also raised a serious question I’m tackling in this week’s Kitchen Tech: is a fancy countertop blender worth ten times as much as a basic model? Professional chefs have repeatedly told me “yes,” praising the power and long-term durability of Vitamix’s entry-level $350 blenders compared with essentially disposable consumer models: a Vitamix can chop pretty much anything to your preferred texture, notably producing silky-smooth soups and drinks, and operate continuously in commercial-grade settings without the need for repairs. I’ve used and loved a Vitamix for years, but there are also some inexpensive blenders that can produce impressive results using lesser-known magic tricks. Let’s dive right in…

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Kitchen Tech Stories February 5, 2015

In prior Kitchen Tech columns, I’ve shown you succulence-creating sous vide water baths, and discussed the joys of rotisserie roasting. This week’s column discusses another restaurant-quality cooking tool that home chefs can easily use: pressure cookers. Similar in appearance to regular lidded pots, pressure cookers rely on a bit of science — specifically, the higher the pressure, the quicker things cook — to create finished dishes up to 70% faster than normal.

This is the key secret behind Chick Fil A’s renowned original chicken sandwich, as well as some of the country’s best fried chicken — pressure cookers can rapidly make food that’s crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, or entirely soft, depending on your needs. They’re also the #3-ranked “invaluable modernist tool” in the next-generation cookbook Modernist Cuisine at Home, notably placed one spot ahead of sous vide water baths. But they’re not (yet) ubiquitous in the United States. Below, I’ll explain why a pressure cooker should have a place in your kitchen.

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Kitchen Tech Stories January 26, 2015

Eight years ago, the Showtime Rotisserie Oven went from being the punchline of a joke to one of the best tools in my kitchen. Aggressively pitched in late-night Ron Popeil infomercials with the tagline “set it and forget it” — a catchy phrase that quickly made its way into the popular lexicon — the Rotisserie’s value as a cooking tool didn’t get as much attention as its marketing.

I’d like to fix that in this week’s edition of Kitchen Tech. As the pitch suggests, the Showtime Rotisserie is a dead-simple cooking tool, and as we learned after receiving one as a gift from my mother-in-law, it also happens to make outstanding, restaurant-quality roasts and poultry. Much larger versions are used to prepare large quantities of poultry and meats in restaurant kitchens; the countertop-sized Showtime is designed for four- to six-person meals. It’s even easier to use than the sous vide machines we’ve covered, and over nearly a decade of use, we’ve never had to replace a single part. Read on for how it works, and why it continues to be a favorite tool in our kitchen.

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Kitchen Tech Stories January 21, 2015

As the last few Kitchen Tech columns on bar tools (part 1part 2) and high-end coffee makers probably demonstrated, I’m a beverage obsessive — over the years, I’ve learned that great dining experiences are as much about what you drink as what you eat. The right beverage can actually improve your entire meal, and if it’s served in the right way, something as seemingly simple as wine or champagne can become the most memorable part of a night. There are great reasons to bring that sort of restaurant-quality experience home.

Today’s Kitchen Tech focuses on Wine Tools, including eight categories of items that range from mandatory to optional. Where appropriate, I’ll explain the benefits and issues of a bargain or higher-end option. To kick things off, I’m starting with something that’s highly optional and just starting to appear in some U.S. restaurants, a Spanish wine tool called a porrón. Read on…

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Kitchen Tech Stories January 14, 2015

At a time when people are increasingly buying “natural” and “organic” foods, the word “Chemex” mightn’t sound like an ideal name for a maker of coffee brewing gear. Yet Chemex’s 1941-vintage Coffee Maker has spent decades as a gold standard for pour-over coffee: featured in the MoMA collection, this Bauhaus-inspired design combines an hourglass-shaped glass pitcher with leather-bound wooden grips and special paper filters, producing delicious coffee.

The Chemex process involves placing freshly ground coffee beans inside a Chemex-brand filter atop the Chemex-brand pitcher, then “pouring-over” hot water in a manner that guarantees optimal extraction of coffee from the grounds. Following Chemex’s instructions, identical coffee beans and water produce a noticeably better cup of coffee than the typical home coffee machine – the reason many coffee shops offer Chemex-brewed coffee at a premium.

chemexottomatic-10

But traditional Chemex brewing requires learning, takes time, and demands a lot of user interaction: everything from hitting the right water temperature to the multi-step pouring process requires a lot more attention than just pressing the “start” button on a Keurig. While Chemex isn’t catering to the exact same audience, the company has acknowledged the value of a streamlined brewing process with this week’s release of Ottomatic ($350). Priced above top-ranked established coffee makers such as the single-cup Keurig K75 and small pot Bonavita BV1800, Ottomatic is designed to compete against premium metal and glass models such as the Wilfa Precision Coffee Maker — machines that are equal parts art and science. Chemex designed Ottomatic to look beautiful and radically simplify the fussy pour-over process. That’s exactly what it does. Read on for all the details.

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Kitchen Tech Stories January 13, 2015

Some wonderful things can be made entirely with your hands. Others — including fantastic cocktails — require tools. This week, we’re continuing our prior edition of Kitchen Tech on bar tools, focusing on items that will help you serve restaurant-caliber drinks at home. Last week’s column looked at “fundamental” tools and “good ideas.” Now we’re looking at “the fancy stuff,” special little items used by leading restaurants across the world.

Most of the tools in this week’s column aren’t expensive, even though many of them are being used by top bartenders inside and outside the United States. Below, you’ll find a collection of optional but seriously cool tools I’ve personally tested and found worthy of recommending, as well as details on why some are more optional than others.

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Kitchen Tech Stories January 5, 2015

Some wonderful things can be made entirely with your hands. Others — including fantastic cocktails — require tools. The topic for this week’s edition of Kitchen Tech is bar tools, specifically the ones necessary to make restaurant-caliber cocktails at home. Not just any restaurant and cocktails, mind you: we’re talking about making the very best cocktails from leading restaurants across the world.

Ready for the surprise? These tools aren’t crazy expensive. They’re actually some of the most affordable we’ve covered in Kitchen Tech, even though most of our choices are endorsed by top bartenders inside and outside the United States. Inside, you’ll find over a dozen different types of tools I’ve personally tested and found worthy of recommending, along with a few tips on why I didn’t pick some other options.

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Kitchen Tech Stories December 30, 2014

Home: Cocktail Kingdom metal ice ball maker $83 (Reg. $150), more

You’ve read about magical ice ball makers in our Kitchen Tech column – now’s your chance to own one for less than $100. UrbanDaddy is offering Cocktail Kingdom’s 55mm anodized aluminum ice ball maker for $83.30 plus tax with free shipping, a savings of 45% off the normal price (and 90% less than the original Japanese Taisin model it’s based upon). You’ll notice the total drop from $98 to $83.30 automatically when you add the ice ball maker to your cart. Four different colors are available, and with Cocktail Kingdom’s excellent reputation for barware, it’s a great deal.

Woot is offering the factory refurbished Ninja 3-in-1 Cooking System (MC702) for $89.99 plus $5 flat rate shipping on your whole order.

Head below for the rest of today’s best home deals including storage discounts, bakeware, vacs and more:

Kitchen Tech Stories December 25, 2014

9to5 Toys is very excited about our latest column, Kitchen Tech, which spotlights modern kitchen tools that bring restaurant-quality food and drinks into your home. If you haven’t yet seen the amazing photographs and topics in our first three Kitchen Tech editions, this would be a great time to check them out.

Column 1: Up your drinking game with magical ice ball makers, which transform everyday drinks into classics.

Column 2: Radically improve meats, poultry, and fish with Sous Vide water baths, which turn plain pieces of meat into succulent, restaurant-caliber steaks, ribs, and more.

Column 3: Learn about avant garde cooking with incredible modernist cookbooks, which bring professional, modern recipes and techniques home.

Merry Christmas from the 9to5 Toys staff! We’ll be back with more great kitchen magic and deals very soon.

Kitchen Tech Stories December 23, 2014

Cooking sits at the intersection of science and art. It is possible to produce dishes using precise measurements and processes, but truly great cooks also tend to be creative and artistic, using personal taste to fine-tune the seasoning and enhance the sensory presentation of each item. Many great chefs don’t mind sharing recipes because they know that measuring and assembling ingredients from a recipe isn’t enough; it’s the wisdom in human tweaking, alongside access to special kitchen tools, that will distinguish a pretty good home meal from a great, restaurant-quality experience.

Yet recipes — and the cookbooks that contain them — are critically important to understanding excellent food and beverages. And luckily for everyone on the planet, recipes can’t be copyrighted, which has inspired the some of the world’s most creative chefs to spread their knowledge far and wide instead of hoarding secrets. So after our first column on spherical ice for drinks and our second on temperature-controlled water baths for food, today’s Kitchen Tech is devoted to a foundational topic: smart modern cookbooks.

modernistcuisine

Two of the cookbook sets I discuss inside are absolute monsters, so big and expensive that only the most serious gourmets would consider buying them. Although some of their recipes require special tools that are well beyond the budgets of most home cooks, I’ve included them because they are ingeniously assembled and provide collegiate-level insight into modern cooking at price points lower than taking a typical college class. Most of my recommendations are for cooks with entry-level or moderate kitchen skills, with relatively few and affordable modern kitchen tools.

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Kitchen Tech Stories December 16, 2014

Last week, I debuted Kitchen Tech, a brand new 9to5Toys column designed to help you bring restaurant-quality dining into your own home. We were thrilled with the response to the first column on making magical ice balls for cocktails, so today’s column explores the opposite extreme: heating water in a precisely controlled way to get equally amazing results with vacuum-sealed bags of food.

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Some people call this sous vide (soo vee-d, “under vacuum”) cooking; others know it as cooking with an immersion circulator. Quietly used in restaurant kitchens for decades, sous vide cooking started to gain mainstream attention following the release of the avant-garde professional cookbook set Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking. Author Nathan Myhrvold ranks sous vide gear as the #4 and #5 most important modernist cooking tools in the newer consumer version of the book, Modernist Cuisine at Home, just behind a digital scale, thermometer, and pressure cooker.

In any case, temperature-controlled water baths produce the juiciest, most succulent meats you’ll ever taste, and can perform other magic tricks… like making perfect eggs, just-right vegetables, and rich, creamy sauces. Below, we’ll explain how sous vide cooking works, and show you how to do it at home.

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