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This Cookbook Confirms: Don’t Sous Vide Everything

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Sous Vide at Home was chosen by you as one of this year’s Piglet Community Pick cookbooks. You thought it was one of the best books of last year because it’s the first collection of sous vide recipes catered to the home cook, it’s a beautiful guide to the topic, and the author’s passion is infectious. As aargersi put it:

“Reading the introduction to Lisa Fetterman’s Sous Vide will fill your heart with hope. She explains how the sous vide works, the science behind it, the joys of consistent results every time you make a dish, and proclaims it to be the greatest culinary invention of the twenty-first century. I hoped that this book would lead me to a world in which I turned to my sous vide time and again as a trusted tool that would deliver great meals with reduced effort.”

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Photo by Bobbi Lin

People couldn’t believe how comprehensive the book is: There are chapters on eggs, fish and shellfish, poultry, meats, vegetables, desserts, cocktails and infusions, and sauces and condiments—"few people could expect a chapter on cocktails if they were browsing a bookstore and picked up the title Sous Vide At Home," My Friend Maillard thinks.

While the book confirms that you could make everything sous vide, our community cookbook reviewers found that doesn’t necessarily mean you should make everything in a sous vide. And that’s okay! The book really excels in giving ideas and reliable guidance on what sous vide does best: steak, eggs, and make-ahead meals. Here's PieceOfLayerCake:

“Sous vide is a bit like a microwave in which it does something very specific VERY well, but it may have a tendency to be misused. Take advantage of its strengths, and incorporate them into your regular cooking routine.”

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More on what you learned from Sous Vide at Home this way:

Meat

Jessica Cheung said the first thing to make is The Perfect Sous Vide Steak: "There's nothing better than getting a steak perfectly medium-rare throughout, and sous vide makes it that much easier. You can set it, walk away, do errands, and come back after the timer goes off to finish by pan. The meat is so tender and deliciously cooked."

My Friend Maillard liked the General Tso's Chicken and Beer Battered Fish and Chips a lot: "These two recipes exemplify one of the most common pro sous vide arguments—that you can gently cook finicky proteins without OVERcooking. Plus they both have great instruction for adding texture after the fact that is easy to follow. This is in sharp contrast to the chef-y sous vide recipes that advise you to create a crust with a torch and probably scare people away from the technique."

She also made the Kvell-Worthy Pastrami—"mostly because the headnote said it was the most time intensive recipe in the book. It involves a 10-day brine in the fridge and then 36 hours worth sous vide humming. A great result but maybe only a once-a-year/special occasion kind of recipe—it will probably take precedence over corned beef for my family on St. Patrick's Day."

Eggs

Aargersi loved the Chinese tea eggs: "The brine for the eggs is a snap to put together, though I had to double it to have enough to actually cover my eggs. I got those made and into the fridge for their 48-hour soak in no time. In the morning we got the eggs out...now THESE are damn fine eggs. The brine made them sweet and salty and smoky, the yolks were a perfect soft boil (mine were a bit more set than the picture, which I like), and though my gentle cracking technique needs work, I am sure I will perfect it over the next many batches to come."

PieceOfLayerCake said the first thing to make is "the eggs...absolutely the eggs. Nothing is more incredible than cracking an already-cooked, perfectly poached egg. I think one could win over even the most tenacious classic cook with a sous vide egg."

make-ahead meals

One reviewer said people will learn from the book that sous vide "is a useful technique to employ in the process of making or planning dinner." Another lauded the "do-ahead strategies" that peppered the book:

"I suppose one of the hallmarks of sous vide is the fact that food can be cooked ahead and finished for service, but I suppose I didn't expect it to be so pervasive in this book. I work long hours during the day and being able to sous vide a day or two ahead gave me a bit of a 'high.'"

Photo by Bobbi Lin

what not to sous vide

Sous vide becomes less efficient and more of a strain when it comes to certain recipes. Take making a large amount of food—one reviewer mentioned the Perfect Fried Chicken and Waffles, which calls for cooking 8 pieces of chicken, in one bag, altogether. Timmy said, "I had trouble getting a perfect vacuum around the chicken and therefore the cooking wasn't even."

And Aargersi wondered why you needed a sous vide for certain dishes:

"There are other recipes in the book that just feel, at least to me, unnecessary. Making the custard for ice cream in sous vide? Sure, you can, but why? It just takes a few minutes on stove top, and no extra equipment. Mashed potatoes? Well, my husband makes the best mashed potatoes in the world. I am probably not going to start using my sous vide every day—pots and pans are still the go-tos—but it does, however, have a place in my culinary tool kit."

2017's roster of Piglet Community Picks were chosen by an open call to our community; the reviews you see here are from some of the folks who voted these books into the tournament. To see other Piglet Community Picks reviews, head here.

Sous Vide at Home is available wherever books are sold.

What do you use your sous vide for? Tell us in the comments below.

The Piglet Tournament of Cookbooks is Here!

Tags: 2017 Piglet Community Picks