By now, you either have a sous vide and love it, have a sous vide, and it’s collecting dust because you are unsure of how to use it, or have seriously contemplated buying one after hearing so much hype about it.
The best time and place to break in a brand new sous vide is on vacation.
I am sure you have experienced the challenge of trying to provide warm meals that hit the spot after an action-packed day in a vacation destination that does not have kosher options. And I am sure more than one of you have less-than-fond memories of cleaning out a crock-pot in the 2×2 sink at the Sheraton.
Welcome sous vide to the vacation life! It’s brainless—really. You can put up your dinner the night before, in the morning, or even an hour or two before you plan to eat. Not only do you end up with a meal that is 10x better than your crock-pot food, the prep happened in the time it took the kids to get out of their layers of sweaters, hats, and ski pants.
If you are ready to take it for a real test drive, you can use your sous vide for breakfast, lunch, or even dessert, though by then we may be talking about getting a second ‘dairy’ sous vide.
The way I see it, you have a few solid options for vacation-friendly dinners. The first is to set up the sous vide for the next night right after you finished dinner, so you get a 24-hour cook in there. Or you can put it up in the morning to get around an 8-hour cook. You can also choose a faster option, like a steak, chicken breast, or salmon fillet, which only needs closer to 2 hours of cook time, and put it up when your day is done.
Alternatively, if you are looking to prep like a queen, any of the options below can be done up to a week in advance—on one condition: Don’t open the bag. You must keep it airtight. DO NOT BREAK THE SEAL. If you stick to this rule of thumb, you can reheat your meat for an hour at the same temperature it was cooked at.
If you are starting with a frozen piece of meat, allow an extra hour in the sous vide for defrosting time. Just put it straight into a zip top bag. (You can marinade it in advance.)
If you want to strictly stick to the basics, here are some great options I’d suggest. I kept it really simple, but if you want to get a more in-depth look at sous vide cooking, don’t miss this article!
- Second cut brisket: season with salt, pepper, and garlic and seal it in an airtight zip top bag. Cook it at 155°F for a maximum of 24 hours.
- Rib steak: season with salt and pepper, and cook for 2 hours at that perfect medium rare 130-132°F. (You can do a bit higher or lower depending on how you like the doneness of your meat). An electric burner and a frying pan would help get that gorgeous crust if you can hack those.
- Chicken breast: season aggressively with salt and pepper, and throw any aromatics and herbs into a zip top bag. Make sure everything is flat if you are using multiple cutlets. Set the sous vide to 145°F, and cook for 2 hours. (One hour would technically give you the same texture and doneness, but 2 hours is erring on the side of caution as far as food safety goes.) You can even stuff the chicken if you’re feeling fancy.
- Turkey Roast (white meat): Season to taste with spices, herbs, and any sauces you like. Do double whatever seasoning you would initially think you should; it really takes a lot to absorb into the turkey. Cook at 160°F for 2 hours, or 140-145°F for 4-6 hours. Or 130°F for 8 hours.
- London Broil: hit it with lots of salt and pepper and any other rub ingredients you love. If you’d like, you can pre-sear it at home, and bring it already seasoned before you freeze in preparation for your trip. Cook at 128-130°F for 4-5 hours.
- Chuck Roast: Season, and cook at 135°F for 24 hours.
- Brick Roast: Season, and cook at 134°F for 8 hours.
- Salmon: season well, and cook at 130°F for 30 to 45 minutes for fillets 1-inch thick or less, or 45 minutes to an hour for fillets between 1 and 2 inches.
Other great things you can make in your sous vide while on vacation:
Hard boiled: 160°F for 45 minutes-1.5 hours
Soft boiled: 146°F for 40 minutes-1.5 hours or 167°F for 15-18 minutes
Scrambled: (5 eggs) 167°F for 20 minutes
Corn on the cob: 180°F for 30 minutes
String beans: 183°F for 30 minutes to an hour
Carrots or other root vegetables: 183°F for 1-2 hours
Baked apple: 184°F for 1 hour
With all these options and more, it’s pretty clear that taking your sous vide will give you the vacation you really deserve!
May a sous vide machine be used with both dairy and meat items? Get the answer to this and other frequently asked questions about sous vide cooking and Jewish law.