Cooking with an Anova sous-vide immersion circulator


I absolutely love mine. I often find searing with a torch to be slow, difficult, and lead to burned spots so I tend to stick to a ripping hot cast iron pan or charcoal grill.

Part of the issue is I don’t really have a decent torch. Mine doesn’t like to burn properly when inverted. And those little creme brulee torches are even worse. They’re difficult to keep burning, don’t burn hot enough, and crazy crazy directional. And you have to get them REALLY close to have any effect They’re basically cigar lighters with a slightly different form factor. And don’t work particularly well for creme brulee in particular. These: are the 2 standard models used by most people amatuer and professional.

I intend to pick one up at some point, when they turn up on sale. And maybe a Searzall but that thing is pretty pricey, especially when you combine it with a proper torch.

Another tip for Sous-vide, it’s the best way to reheat meat. Yes, a lot slower than a microwave, but if you’ve ever had re-heated meat via microwave, we all know how “great” that is. Sous vide is the way to go, you’ll get it back to the actual temp perfectly.


I’ve made this a few times : and it’s spec-diddly-tacular.

But you need proper vacuum sealing and real bags.

This also: results in killer salmon but it takes some practice to not destroy it when searing / plating it.

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Mark, on your pork recipe, what about bringing the meat to 125F in the Sous Vide then pan-searing instead of using a torch? Would the outcome be as tender and still wind up at 135F internal temp?

Its also the best and fastest way I’ve found to defrost meat. Just toss the frozen meat in (bag it if its not already sealed in some way) and set the temp to somewhere below room temperature but above freezing. I tend to go with 45-60 degrees. Dependent of size you should be defrosted in 30 minutes to an hour. Bigger/thicker roasts and what have can take a couple hours The convection from water at just a bit higher than freezing will get the meat defrosting after than nearly anything else, and it happens quickly enough that the meat doesn’t ever really cross into “the danger zone”.

Provided you get your pan hot enough there should be little difference in practice. But there’s more chance of over cooking, and you can get a wider band of overcooked/seared meat at the surface. But things cooked with a torch tend to get what they call “torch taste”, its a chemically odor and faint taste that results from cooking with a high temperature blast of burning propane. So its kind of a wash. Also searing large dishes with a torch can take so long that the meat actually gets cold. The heat doesn’t penetrate very far (a benefit if you want to avoid over cooking the center)

I find when searing in a pan I need at most 5 degrees of space to fudge it. So you’d cook to 130f to end at 135f. But when you do that you can end up losing that edge to edge no temperature gradient thing. Mostly its unnecessary if you get your pan hot enough, I mean you want that thing dangerously hot. This is especially true if you cool the meat before searing, it should just reheat through the center while you sear. Provided you don’t take too long.

I am not sure. Some of the goodness of sous vide is holding the meat at a consistent temperature for a period of time for temperature specific protein changes to happen, or not happen. The internal temperature of the meat also needs to be held for longer or shorter periods of time based on killing off any bacteria that might make you ill. So 125 needs to sit in the sous vide bath a lot longer than 130, iirc.

Anyways, I think you might get 125F sous vide texture that heated to 135 briefly, not the same as something held at 135 for a long period of time?

I’ve been cooking with an Anova since I got one for Xmas, and I’ve had some mixed results; sometimes the food ends up a little on the rubbery side, sometimes it’s the best I’ve ever had. Pork seems to be one that I have had the most problems with, partly I think because most of the guides cook at a higher temperature than I would suggest. I’ve found the Modernist cookbook the best so far in terms of recipes and temps, though I still go a little lower than they do.

I think the biggest revaluation for me has been how sous vide and grilling work together; chicken drumsticks and thighs, burgers, and even brats are best sous vide first, then grilled. Burgers have a much softer texture and better flavor, and with chicken there is no danger of having undercooked meat while overcharring the outside. Especially for larger BBQ parties, it’s an amazing time-saver that guarantees good results.

Just make sure you follow safe practices when it comes to preventing bacteria;

Oh and I agree with @Ryuthrowsstuff about using it to defrost - I hate defrosting in a microwave because it inevitably pre-cooks some of the meat. I tend to set the temp at around 110 for defrosting. Of course, if you prepare your meat before freezing, then you don’t really even need to defrost, just add defrost time to cooking time and it’s freezer-to-plate!

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My point was that if you get the pan hot enough there’s little difference between the torch and the pan, you only have to fudge on temperatures if your searing surface is cold enough that the meat has to stay in contact for a significant amount of time. But:

If your cook time is less than a few hours you don’t have to worry about time frames for pasteurization. Bacteria won’t have time to multiply enough to harm you. And IIRC correctly below 130ish you won’t practically be able to pasteurize anyway. I accidentally did 12 hours at 125f once, forgot to reset my temp, at that setting your basically producing chemical weapons. A big inflated bag of stank ass botulism.

There are charts available online, and I tend to check them for longer cooks. Otherwise its pretty intuitive. Stay above 130 for long cooks, keep low temp cooks below 4 hours. Chill food in an ice bath if you plan to store it for more than 12 hours. But for something like a steak at 125, it takes an hour or less so you’re well within the realm of safe time frames.

In terms of texture once you hit a temperature, say 135f you get the texture/doneness associated with that temperature, regardless of how short the stay is. A lower temperature needs to be held at a longer time frame if your going to pasteurize it. Which you need to do if you plan to cool the item, and store it for longer than a few hours to maybe a day. Or if your cooking for a long time (to avoid bag of death situations). Holding things at temp to tenderize them is something else entirely. Its the same process that happens with brazing and stewing. Connective tissue breaks down into gelatin, lubricating the meat and tenderizing it. But at lower temperatures it takes exponentially longer. So its not going to have much effect on the steaks your cooking in an hour or so, there isn’t nearly enough time for it to have an effect. You’re talking about 8+ hours to get noticeable results. I tend to stick to 12-24. Those 72 hour recipes tend to wind up mushy and dog food like. The longer time frames are unsafe (bag of death) at temps as low as 125.

When searing it takes time for that heat to get from the surface to the interior of the meat. So if you did cook to 125 and sear to 135, you’d have 135 texture at the center of the steak, same as if you cooked to 135. If you long cooked for tenderization, then that break down of collagen already happened and you can’t really un-do it by searing longer. But you’d have a gradient from seared through well done, medium and eventually 135 at the center. Just like if you’d cooked it the regular way, defeating the whole purpose. Though the gradient may be tighter, and the properly cooked bit bigger. Sous vide with short cook times is about accurately cooking without over cooking, and edge to edge consistency. 5 degrees of space can be helpful if you have a week stove, or you’re searing over a propane grill, 10 is too much. Otherwise if you get whatever your searing with hot enough, and don’t leave the meat on it too long, you should get the same exact results as the torch. If not better. And often times its a lot quicker. Same with tossing larger roasts and longer cooked meats into a 500f oven to sear after cooking. So long as you do it fast enough, the results are the same no matter how you sear, but 5 degrees gives you a slight cushion.

@waetherman I’ve never had issue with rubbery meats from sous vide. But some people complain that if you season your meat before bagging it it comes out kind of cured, not noticed this myself. But also a lot of pork and chicken these days is “enhanced” its basically pre-brined/cured with salt solution to keep it ■■■■■. That stuff is always kind of rubbery.

I tend to pre-bag and cook my steaks from frozen, it makes it such a convenient thing to cook. I don’t know why more people don’t stress the convenience factor. A good portion of what I use mine for has nothing to do with getting result only sous vide can provide. Its just a much more convenient, low effort way to get the same results you’d get otherwise. I’ve been doing chicken wings a lot. Season with salt pepper and MSG (TASTY!) and cook at ~145 for a few hours or so. Chill, then reheat/roast at 500f in the oven till crispy. Closest I’ve come to properly fried wings, and much easier than double frying multiple batches of wings.

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I love my Anova and use it quite often for things like pork tenderloin, chicken, and eggs.

What irritates me is that I received it as a Kickstarter backer, and the selling point of the Anova was its unique iPhone integration via Bluetooth; rather than fiddle around with temperature charts, the idea was that their app would let you plug in what you’re cooking and your desired result (i.e., “one 2” thick pork chop, medium rare", or “2 eggs, onsen style” ) and it’d set the time and temperature for you. Instead they delivered a recipe book app with none of that functionality, and no word on if they’ll ever have an app that actual does what they sold the device with.

I kind of agree, @nungesser but I there is a lot more to cooking, say eggs, than that. I figured the app would be a cookbook style… but it still has a LONG way to go. It is actually more functional on my Android phone than my iPad.

For eggs, the best tool ever, is here:

I’ve had some problems going from freezing to cooked with steaks. We bought some a couple of months ago. First 3 were cooked from the package. They were GREAT. I packaged and froze 2 more meals from that flat of steaks. They were all cooked within about 1 month, but the steaks from frozen were never as good. Not sure why, because in theory, it should be the same.

My guess is that it sounded good in theory, but when they actually got into app development and testing, they realized that, indeed, “there’s a lot more to cooking, say eggs, than that” :slight_smile:

When you freeze food, even short term the ice crystals shred up the cell walls. So when you eventually cook that meat its going to shed more liquid and be dryer. So no I wouldn’t expect them to be as good as fresh. It’ll be better than defrosting then cooking conventionally. But it’s always at least a little dryer than cooking right from the market, or never frozen at all (most meat was frozen when it showed up to the market). And its a hell of a lot more convenient than defrosting them then cooking.

The only way to mitigate it is to freeze faster (faster freeze = smaller crystals = less shredding). So liquid nitrogen, or a commercial blast chiller. But that’s kind of insane. Try turning your freezer temp down if you can, should make the effect less extreme. Also season heavily with salt and rest them for an hour before bagging and freezing. Salted, or fully cured meats tend to freeze better. Lowers the freezing temp of water so fewer/smaller crystals. But then you might be running into the “cured” texture some people claim they get from salting before bagging and cooking.

This one is new, right? I don’t remember the bluetooth feature on the old one.

Big question: does the app have a timer feature to start it up automatically at a certain time? If not, is there some docs on accessing it directly through bluetooth so I could whip up an app to do that myself? (I didn’t see any on their webpage)

Am I the only one who associates that name with the statistical F-test (ANalysis Of VAriance) —and shudders in horror?

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If you haven’t seen it yet, check out, which has some practical information.

I’m still waiting on the new Nomiku, so I haven’t been able to try any of this out, but I’m looking forward to it.

I honestly don’t understand the need for something like this. I know how to poach things - besides the hands-off capability, what does my money get me? I already use a vacuum sealer to seal up things like raw salmon, parcooked pork, etc, and then poach them to doneness.

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