Is Sous Vide the answer to everything?
A little history...
Since I was really young I have been drawn to the kitchen for some reason. I used to love hanging out with my mom as she cooked, baked, and prepared our meals. I would watch her put time, attention, and love into every thing she made even if it was just a box of hamburger helper. We grew up pretty poor and she had to raise six children on her own, but we never missed a meal and those meals were always cooked with love. I started my first job when I was like 12 years old (under the table of course) cleaning up at a small local restaurant called "Rita's Cozy Kitchen". I had many conversations with Miss Rita at that young age about food. She had worked in and owned restaurants pretty much her whole life and I learned a lot from her. Pretty much the first 24 years of my life were spent working in and around the restaurant business and even though I didn't stay in it as a career, I still loved to cook and learn new techniques. I have always been the main cook in my family and I like it that way.
In those many years I have tried just about every cooking method out there, but always loved grilling, smoking, and barbecue the most. Sure I cooked a lot of meals in the oven, on the stove, in a crock pot, even in the microwave, but always had a passion for fire and smoke. I don't know if it just a "Man Thing" or what, but there just always seems something special about cooking on a grill. So I spent many years trying out different types of grills and smokers. Gas grills, charcoal kettles, off-set smokers, electric smokers, gas/charcoal combinations, and then finally got the money to be able to try ceramic kamado grills. I made wonderful food in all of them and learned how each can cook different the the other. one of the most popular accessories I really could not let myself purchase was a temperature controller for the grill. There are a few different ones out there and they all cost in the $250-$350 range, and really all they do is make sure your grill stays at a certain temperature for a certain time. Kind of like your oven. OK, enough with the long set-up...
Then along comes this thing called "Sous Vide".... I cant remember just how it caught my attention, most likely someone in one of the many barbecue or grilling groups I am in started talking about it and it peaked my interest. Cooking low and slow in a water bath? sounds a little crazy to me. So I started doing some research. I found some YouTube videos and channels dedicated to it. I started reading websites and blogs about it, and finally found where Meathead from Amazing Ribs was experimenting with combining the methods of BBQ and sous vide. OK, I admit I got a little excited. I have followed Meathead and Amazing Ribs website for years because he does a lot of science based research on what works best with smoking, grilling, and barbecue. There are so many "old wives tales", "Traditions", "We have always done it this way" things people do. Soaking wood chips, using mustard to hold on rub, chasing the "smoke ring", so many it is hard to count, but Meathead and his crew always bring logic and science to the table. And that leads us up to where I am today. I got so into combining the two methods it drove me to start my own Facebook group and YouTube channel dedicated to it.
Is Sous Vide "All That"?
Which finally brings us to the question I asked in the title: "Is Sous Vide the answer to everything"? Well in short, no. But can it help you create and make some awesome food in a different way? Yes! I have found that both sous vide and other cooking methods do certain things very well. The trick is using the different methods for the things they are best at and combing them with the others best thing. That is what I am doing with the "Fire & Water" brand. As an example, take something like a beef brisket that "Traditional BBQ" has to smoke for 10-12 hours at 225-250 and cook it to over 200 degrees internal temperature (well done) to make it tender. With Sous Vide you can cook the same brisket at a much lower temperature for longer time, lets say 132 degrees for 48 hours, and that same brisket will be just as tender BUT still be medium rare! You can also still throw it on the smoker for a couple hours to get some smoke and bark, but it will still be more of a medium doneness. But I have to admit, at first to me it was an alternative to buying that expensive grill temperature controller that can only do one thing. At least with this sous vide thing I can try out different cooks and it was still much cheaper than a temperature controller. My first sous vide setup cost me a total of $100, so I felt really good about that. Of course I now own a couple different set ups but find they are still well worth the cost as the value is so much better.
In conclusion, Sous Vide is still just another cooking method that has it good things and bad things. Yes it can cook in ways no other method can, but pretty much every method can say the same thing. It takes longer for sure, but the results can be outstanding. Sous vide is just another tool in the culinary tool box that can be used to make some amazing food and I am loving the stuff that I am creating by experimenting and trying to use the best of all the methods I have access to. To me, the fun in cooking is always trying something new and different and discovering what me and my family like the best. I hope that many of you have the same fun I do exploring with me!