Saturday, October 8, 2011

You made a WHAT?

Several years ago I made up a word for my husband. Ingenuitous. He is by far the most clever and inventive person I have ever met. I love the way his mind works and how he can take an idea and just make it happen.

A few weeks ago I came into the kitchen to find this - an ice chest, filled with water, with lots of electricity running to and from it. That is the light from the kids playroom. And yes, that is a charcoal starter sticking out of the side.

A peek inside doesn't answer many questions. It's bagged chicken breasts, underwater...

Well it turns out Darren knew what he was doing :) He was working on a prototype for a sous-vide cooker. Sous-vide is french for "under vacuum" and is a method of cooking food sealed in airtight bags in a water bath for a long time. And I must tell you, the final product is seriously the most amazingly moist meat you have ever tasted. We have now had chicken and filet mignon and they are both incredible when cooked this way.

This is Darren's final product. The light lets him know that he is powered up and that his temperature adjustments are actually adjusting.

The charcoal starter is now water-proofed and attached to the bottom. A recycled closet rack now serves as the sous-vide rack.

All of this for about $30. That's a savings of $250 :) Here is one you can find for $299!


Danaly said...

I just showed Jim this post and I'm pretty sure he fell in love with Dar all over again. Tell him to expect a phone call later. Jim had a twinkle in his eye I haven't seen in a while, LOL!!!

Kim said...

hahaha Danaly, that's awesome :)

Leslie said...

While I do think his inventive-ness is AWESOME. Kudos Darren! Did he doublecheck to make sure that plasticizers, pthalates, and polyurethanes aren't accidentally getting into your food? Okay, I didn't mean for that to sound that scary. (sorry). What I mean is that with the lower cooking temps of this method you would probably be just fine (right? I think??), but just doublecheck that your materials (food bags, metal closet rack, ice chest) aren't going to accidentally leech chemicals into your meat. Usually it's discussed in terms of high heat and long contact times, but it varies depending upon materials.... I don't mean to be a downer, I think it's a really interesting cooking concept actually and I applaud Darren's engineering and frugalness. :)

Carrie said...

THAT is so crazy-cool!

Darren said...

Hey Leslie, good question! It may not be totally clear, but the food being cooked is always vacuum packed in cooking-safe polyethylene. The bags I use don't start to break down until they hit about 235*, so at the 120-140 this usually runs at, they are fine.

The cooler is PVC, as is the coating on the rack, so phthalates etc could be a problem, but the food never comes in to contact with either the cooler or even the water in it for that matter.

As long as the bags don't leak, I could do the same technique in used motor oil, and the food would be perfectly safe to eat. A little messier than what I'm doing now, but technically safe.

YOu can read more about the cooking method @ wikipedia - and here's the original cooler sous vide blog post I read:

I got tired of adding hot water to my cooler, so I figured I'd try a little hacking...