Make a Three-, Five-, or Seven-Course Version of our Tasting Menu!

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Want to cook a tasting dinner, but not so much into menu-planning? Want to impress your friends with some ambitious, chef-level dishes from our Tasting Menu: Spring feature, but aren’t ready to commit to the full 14-course odyssey? Maybe you just want to host a warm-weather wine pairing party, and need some suggestions for what to serve.

In any case, we totally get it—and we’ve got you covered. Here are three shorter versions of our spring tasting dinner that are big on flavor and fanciness, but way easier to pull off than the whole shebang. Click on the recipes for wine pairings and suggestions on serving dishes, along with notes and everything else you need to try something new and novel.

Once you’ve selected a menu and served it, please share some photos on the ChefSteps forum. As always, we can’t wait to see what you make.

Three-Course Menu

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1. Water and Oil (Nick’s Nasti Salad Soup)
2. Boeuf Bourguignon
3. Henna Egg

Chef’s notes: Jump-start your guests’ palates with the intense Water and Oil—right out of the gate they’ll get a dish that’s acidic, earthy, and packed with distinct textures. You can follow that labor of love with a dressed-up version of Boeuf Bourguignon—a meaty main course with an umami-packed demi-glace. The silky, sous vide–cooked beef offers a texture you won’t find in the previous dish, giving guests something new to chew on. End with the dramatic henna egg, a light-and-lovely conclusion to a short meal with Indian-inflected spices and rich, tongue-coating textures.

Five-Course Menu

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1. The Field
2. Farm and Garden (Savory Ice Cream Salad)
3. Chicken and Dumplings
4. Boeuf Bourguignon
5. Matcha Rice Pudding

Chef’s notes: This menu starts out with the Field—a homemade oat cracker that offers guests a fun, crunchy bite. From there we transition into a creamy, lightly sweet ice cream that melts away in your mouth and is accompanied by tender fresh herbs—the perfect thing after the briney, nutty cracker. From there, we go straight to the savory safari that is this globe-trotting Chicken and Dumplings riff, featuring fun textures and a broth with enough kick to jump-start guests’ palates. Ah and there she is, that Bouef Bourguignon—sexy and substantial with the hearty savory notes we’ve been building up to. To end the festival of flavors: Matcha Rice Pudding, which is complex in flavor and showcases some fun new techniques you’ll learn while making it.

Seven-Course Menu

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1. The Bay
2. Water and Oil (Nick’s Nasti Salad Soup)
3. Northwest Pozole
4. Boeuf Bourguignon
6. Black Forest Glen
7. Garden Tea

Chef’s notes: Set the tone for a fun evening with The Bay, a faux-risotto featuring cucumber and caviar that just pops and melts in your mouth. Next up, the Water and Oil salad-soup offers a hit of acid along with a playground of textures. Then comes our take on pozole, transitioning your palate into more savory flavors with chewy geoduck hidden below a bed of fried tortillas. Your guests will need a little refreshment after all that, so here comes The Park, an aerated sorbet. Ratchet up the intensity once more with Black Forest Glen, a party of chocolate and cherry, followed by refreshing Garden Tea—fresh greens steeped in honeyed water.

Head to ChefSteps for hundreds of recipes, techniques, and tips designed to get you cooking.

Best of the Forum: Sausage-Making, Chicken Wings, and the Organic Food Fight

Prolific forum member Cheryl—spent the week making sausages, as well as these lovely Valentine's candies.

Prolific forum member Cheryl spent the week making sausages, as well as these lovely Valentine’s candies.

Watching the sausage getting made, and liking it.

Debunking a popular expression, Cheryl takes us inside her process for making homemade sausage. Dig that foot-long on a bun, meat lovers.

Whatever the question, the right answer is “wings.”

We are unabashed fried chicken lovers at ChefSteps, so if you’re going to put a picture of really pretty wings on the forum, we’re going to pay attention. Check out these Buffalo-style beauties from James—then quell the inevitable craving with our recipe for crispy-tender wings. Ugh, so hungry now.

Uh-oh, someone mentioned the “O” word.

Ever notice how the word “organic” tends to bring out the fight among foodies? Our community kept it civil this week when a Question of the Day focused on the issue. Care to weigh in? The forum would love to have you.

Join ChefSteps today for access to hundreds of recipes, techniques, and comprehensive classes.

Cooking and Recipe Ideas: 5 Ways to Get Inspired

 

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Not spending a lot of time in the kitchen? Don’t beat yourself up there buddy; it happens to the best of us. The antidote to that epicurean ennui? Re-inspire yourself with novel techniques and tools, a chatty community of fellow food enthusiasts, or a new look at old classics. Here, we’ve got a bunch of ideas that involve all those things. Let’s get cooking.

Treat yo’self to a new tool

Sous vide can help you create the tenderest meats and vegetables, sure, but did you know it’s also an awesome way to make no-fail Crème Brûlée? You can get started with sous vide using nothing more than a pot and a thermometer, but investing in an immersion circulator is the fastest way to master this convenient, highly predictable method. The good news is, they’re pretty cheap now. And once you’ve got yours, you can embark on an epic journey into the surprisingly wide world of this remarkable cooking technique.

Creme-Brulee

Remember a forgotten tool

You know that pressure cooker gathering dust in your pantry? Bust that out, clean it off, and start exploring amazing recipes and techniques like our Kung Pao Carnitas. And if you’ve got an immersion blender in need of work, put it to use making Green Pea Mash to go with Sous Vide Salmon—a complete dish that’s delicious, healthy, and ridiculously easy to prepare.

KungPao

Play with powders

Go modern with these five powders—all integral to creating novel textures and flavors in the kitchen. A good start: our Mayo No.4.

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Make some friends

Getting to know an online community of enthusiastic cooks is a great way to stay inspired. The ChefSteps forum, for instance, is full of recipe ideas—like the Breakfast Pizza pictured below, from Erin Z—beautiful images, and hard-to-find advice for ambitious food folk who want to take their skills to the next level.

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Rethink a classic

Maybe you’ve made many soufflés, maybe you’ve never attempted that airy, always-impressive dessert. Either way, follow in the footsteps of all the happy cooks who’ve found success with our foolproof Molten Chocolate Soufflé recipe.

Not into sugar? Then learn the art of restaurant-level meatwiches with our house specialty, the Au Jus Burger.

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Feeling fired up? Join ChefSteps today for hundreds of recipes, techniques, tips, and tricks. 

 

Best of the Forum: Ramen, Food TV, Two Pretty Plates

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Salmon wrapped in prosciutto, with lentils—a beautiful dish from ChefSteps member Davo.

Welcome to Best of the Forum (BotF), a series in which we highlight fascinating bits from the ongoing conversation happening among our awesome community of cooks. Let’s get to it.

Painting with food

Wow, behold this work of art from user Stevie Provencio! In lieu of paints, Stevie worked with ChefSteps-inspired creations like Beet Fluid Gel and Reconstructed Roast (using Teres Major steak). Inspiring, right? Check out those recipes to start creating your own masterpiece tonight.

Good taste in TV

Hungry for Netflix fodder? Our forum has plenty of advice on food shows with which to fill up your queue. Heston Blumenthal proved a favorite—if you need a snack while you watch, whip up Heston-inspired Thick-Cut French Fries or Sous Vide Pork Belly.

Rad-looking ramen

David Henley presented us with a pretty killer photo of his Caramelized Pork Ramen with Roasted Curry Acorn Squash. Doesn’t look like the work of a newbie ramen-maker, but we’ll take him at his word.

Join the ChefSteps forum today to meet our entire community of super-cool cooks.

Getting Started with Modernist Powders

Modernist-Ingredients-ChefSteps

You’ve likely heard tell of the fairy dusts employed by modernist chefs to create novel textures, amp up flavor, and just generally have a lot of fun with food. In fact, these powders aren’t storybook fodder at all—they’re developed in the service of food science. (And despite their high-tech origins, most are derived from natural ingredients). The stuff that makes Velveeta melt so winningly? You can use that to transform any cheese into something equally gooey and delectable. The bonding powder developed to make artificial crab, meanwhile, can help you create an uncommonly well-textured beef roast.

To begin playing with powders, check out these five ingredients—all available online and all essential to the modernist kitchen. Use them in our recipes and techniques, and you’ll see how they got their magical reputations.

Xanthan Gum

Xanthan gum is a food-thickening agent that’s common to bottled salad dressings and other condiments, including ketchup and the ever-so-popular Sriracha sauce made by Huy Fong Foods. To create our Blini-topping Beet Fluid Gel, we used xanthan along with a hydrocolloid called low acyl gellan, which helps create a smooth, shiny product that envelops your tongue in bright beet flavor. (Psst: If you want to learn (a lot) more about hydrocolloids, enroll in our Fluid Gels class). 

Beet-Fluid-Gel-Blini-ChefSteps

Sodium Citrate and friends

You say you love baseball; we suspect you’re partly in it for the stadium nachos dipped in spicy, technicolor cheese sauce. The secret to the superior melty-ness you get with the processed stuff? Melting salts. A cornerstone of the commercial cheese world, salts such as sodium citrate, sodium hexametaphosphate, and sodium caseinate allow manufacturers to create sterile products that don’t “oil off”—an industry term that refers to the tendency of the fats in melting cheese to separate from the proteins.

Tinker-prone chefs have taken advantage of melting salts to alter the texture of great cheeses, creating slices that have all the melty, creamy quality of the plastic-wrapped stuff you’ll find on supermarket shelves, but also the wonderful complex flavors of the best fromages. If you want to try the technique at home, make Nacho Cheese, Cheddar Cheese Sauce, or Melty Cheese Slices.

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Activa

Ah, meat glue—an unfortunate nickname that undersells the game-changing possibilities of Activa, also known as transglutaminase and capable of bonding proteins together to create glorious frankenfoods. First developed to make imitation crab, Activa can improve texture and flavor in everything from fish to fried chicken. But one of our favorite applications is this Reconstructed Roast—a killer technique for taking home-cooked beef to the next level.

Reconstructed-Roast-Activa

MSG

Everyone loves throwing shade on MSG—the sodium salt of glutamic acid that’s used as a flavor enhancer, primarily in Asian food. For the moment, we’ll leave it to Smithsonian magazine to dissect the veracity of MSG’s unseemly reputation, and just tell you that it can seriously up the umami factor in all sorts of stuff, offering a pop of flavor that can really level up a dish. If you’re dubious, definitely don’t try it in our Potato Chips, a simple example of how MSG can be used to make a good food great.

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Citric Acid

Love sour candies? Then you’re already a fan of citric acid, which lends a tart contrast to all sorts of sweet foods. We sprinkle it into our bright Lemon Curd, a tasty topper to dishes both sweet and savory.

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Want to learn more about modernist cooking? Join the ChefSteps community today. 

You’ve Got New Year’s Resolutions. We Can Help.

Jess Voelker Preparing Staff Meal

Feeling a little doughy and broke? You’re not alone. After a long, indulgent holiday, a lot of us are inspired to tighten up a bit in the New Year—exercise more, drink and spend less, step away from those leftover Christmas cookies. But don’t close down the kitchen just yet. Preparing your own food is one of the best ways to ensure you stick to a healthy eating plan, the sort of plan that you can maintain all year until next holiday season, when—don’t worry—you can resume the nog chugging and snickerdoodle snarfing once more. Whatever your food goals are, we want to inspire you to keep cooking (and learning!) in 2015. Check out our suggestions for delicious ideas on how to do just that.

Resolution 1: Follow the Paleo Diet

Devotees of this massively popular eating plan eschew dairy products, grains, legumes, processed oils, and refined sugar. The premise is that these foods weren’t readily available during the Paleolithic era, when the human body evolved nutritional needs in line with the foods they could access. By following a diet closer to what our prehistoric ancestors ate, Paleo people eat in a manner befitting the way their bodies developed, or so the logic goes. Whether or not you swallow all that is your business, but sticking to this protein-and-vegetable focused regime is one way to cut down on those empty calories that come from (glorious) carbs and (delectable) sweets. How to do it: Investing in a sous vide water bath or circulator can prove crucial in sticking to a protein-centric diet, as it allows you to cook delicious meats with little fuss. To test the method without having to invest in any equipment, consult our Sous Vide 101 class, which includes recipes for amazing salmon, pork chops, and steak, along with instructions on how to create a water bath with a pot on the stove and a digital thermometer.

Coffee Butter Steak with Spinach

Resolution 2: Eat more vegetables

We all know we need them. With vital nutrients that help keep away chronic diseases, vegetables are a crucial part of any healthy diet. Focusing on eating more plant foods—rather than trying to stay away from stuff you love (we’re looking at you, Paleo)—can be a great recipe for success. The key to sticking with it is to make those vegetables taste delicious, and that’s where we come in. How to do it: Easy to make and surprisingly satisfying, our Microwaved Radicchio Salad is anchored by warm, slightly wilted chicory leaves; an awesome source of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. We dress them with rich buttermilk, verdant chive oil, funky blue cheese, and toasted hazelnuts. Speaking of the microwave, you can also use it to quickly cook up some mixed vegetables, then top those healthy fellas with some Bagna Càuda Foam.

Microwaved Radicchio  Salad

And at the risk of sounding repetitive, we should also point out the benefits of preparing veggies sous vide. You can achieve optimal chickpea texture (firmer for salads, softer for hummus) and maintain the vibrant crunch of kale. Carrots keep their color and signature sweetness, and tart red cabbage can be converted into a super-smooth purée that makes a great accompaniment to our pastrami.

Sous Vide Kale

Resolution 3: Eat breakfast everyday

Good one. Skipping breakfast is an easy way to wind up ravenous by the time that 11 AM meeting rolls around. Also, a morning meal sets a civilized tone for the day. How to do it: Learning to make awesome soft-poached eggs should inspire you to keep up the breakfast habit. Use our egg calculator to determine, then create, your perfect egg. And if you’re resolved to up your coffee game in 2015, be sure to consult our extensive Espresso class.

Egg White Hollandaise

Resolution 4: Spend less on food (but still eat well)

Look, we know how it is. Just like you, we’re constantly enticed by new restaurants, craft cocktail bars, and specialty shops stocked with the best ingredients. Trouble is, that stuff gets expensive. Is there a way to maintain your delicious-food lifestyle while spending a little less? Indeed. The trick is to find little ways to cut back so you can splurge on truly epic meals, tools, and culinary classes. How to do it: Pretty little microgreens are a super-impressive garnish for dinner-party dishes, and growing your own means you can afford to work them into weekday-morning smoothies or a salad to bring to work for lunch. Allow us to show you how—for free.

Microgreens

When you’re short on time, it’s tempting to order takeout for dinner—which adds up fast, and frankly often sucks. This is why we love having a pressure cooker handy. Flavor-packed braises and stews come out great in a fraction of the time they would take with other methods, and taste far better than most things that arrive at your door in a clamshell. Plus, you can use the cheapest cuts to create these comfort foods, as nothing transforms the tough stuff into succulent, velvety deliciousness as fast as a pressure cooker.

Chocolate and Mustard Stew

Ready to get cooking? Join ChefSteps today for one-of-a-kind recipes, tested techniques, and access to our lively forum.

5 Holiday Baking Recipes

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There’s baking, and then there’s holiday baking. It’s one thing to busily whip up a batch of brownies for the neighborhood block party, quite another to roll up your sleeves on a lazy winter morning—dog curled up next to a garland-strewn fireplace, ornaments twinkling in the pale sunlight, and no obligations in sight. See yourself there, a steaming cup of coffee in your hands, a dream of flaky crust or crumbly cake dancing in your head. The only thing left is to pick your project. And oh, friend, have we got projects.

2. real men bake

This slow, cozy season is the best time to learn new techniques as you craft a scrumptious snack for your pajama-clad loved ones to savor while watching It’s A Wonderful Life or grappling with a Game of Thrones jigsaw puzzle. It’s kitchen work on your terms—creations made solely for the joy of making something, then sharing it with your nearest and dearest. Below, you’ll find some of the baking recipes that have most delighted our community of cooks—and we’re sharing the gorgeous results they’ve shared with us. That’s right, the small images you’ll find throughout this post are the work of ChefSteps users. Inspired? Great! Let’s get started.

Olive Oil Cake

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We sometimes slice this chiffon cake riff into cubes for various deconstructed desserts, but it’s equally delicious served by the slice with a cup of tea or some festive bubbly. As you can see, ChefSteps users have found plenty of ways to showcase a straightforward cake that’s bound to become a favorite in your family.

Canelés

Caneles

Pastry enthusiasts who evangelize canelés will tell you that the real things are only available in some fairy tale town tucked away in Bordeaux—where canelés originate—to which you most certainly cannot travel. Ignore those enthusiasts. With this recipe and the proper copper molds, you can make canelés in your own kitchen, in less than an hour, that are worthy of selling at any patisserie in France. Nestle into your breakfast nook with a cup of espresso and a handful of canelés, and create your own little slice of Bordeaux. Don’t believe us? Just look at the image above to see what our community of cooks have created.

Macarons

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This is the only recipe on this list that comes at a price—our macaron technique is part of a comprehensive class—but you can get it half off until January 9th, 2015, and you will not find a better way to master this most festive of French cookies.

Kouign-Amann

Kouign-Amann

When you learn to make Kouign-amann (say: QUEEN-ah-mahn), you’re really learning to make croissant dough—also known as laminated dough. No way around it, this technique takes time and effort, and can be a bit of a bear to master. But once you do, you’ll reap the rewards usually reserved for artisans at top-shelf pastry shops. So settle in—you’re gonna make this Brittany-born treat your baking-project bitch.

Banana Bread

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You’ve already got a delicious banana bread recipe, we know. But this one goes beyond delicious to seriously blow some minds. The secret? Caramelized bananas along with freeze-dried ones. Serve it with Honey Butter for an unforgettable holiday treat you’ll return to every year. As you can see, however, Banana Bread doesn’t have quite as many photos as the previous recipes do. We strongly encourage you to remedy that by posting your results in the comments section of that recipe. We can’t wait to see what you come up with.

Want to find more great cooking projects for the holidays? Head on over to ChefSteps and join our community of cooks today!

ChefSteps community members who shared photos used in this post include: e. oliva, Michael Fiske, Douglas Hallett (Olive Oil Cake); Isabel Cabrita, David, Luciana, Martin, Rory (Canelés); Darragh O’Flaherty, Josh Deri, Jeff, Harry, Jyoti, Luiz Quintanilha (Macarons); Zach, Summer, Joshua Wanger, Matt, Ombibulous (Kouign-amann).

Just Desserts: Five Sweet Recipes for the Holiday Season

 

Five Sweet Recipes For The Holiday Season

Classic
Want to be a holiday hero? Bring our Pecan Pie to the party. We’re talking ooey-gooey nutty filling; rich, bourbon and vanilla notes; tender, flaky crust—this thing brings new meaning to the term crowd pleaser.

Chefsteps_pecan_pieFive Sweet Recipes For The Holiday SeasonGooey, with notes of bourbon and vanilla, this pecan pie is bound to go over well.

Easy  
If you want to serve dessert but already feel maxed out with appetizers and mains, consider serving wine-poached pears. They’re an elegant solution that leaves your guests feeling sated without adding a lot of labor.

red_wine_pear_Five Sweet Recipes For The Holiday SeasonRed Wine Roached Pears are simple, but still worthy of a special occasion.

Novel
In search of something surprising this year? We guarantee your guests are not expecting you to serve a fruity take on Italian minestrone soup. Like that versatile vegetable potage, our sweet spin can be adapted to seasonal or locally available produce. And dang, is it pretty.

fruit Minestrone Five Sweet Recipes For The Holiday Season Fruit minestrone? Yup, it’s a thing now.

Nostalgic
Don’t be intimidated by deconstructed desserts—just work through each step carefully and you’ll wind up with a beautiful presentation that always exceeds expectations. This take on the classic orange creamsicle will trigger sweet summertime memories while simultaneously showing off your plating prowess.

Orange Creamsile_Five Sweet Recipes For The Holiday Season This modern take on a kid favorite makes for a cheerful holiday dessert.

Festive
For something more classic, but equally impressive, serve our foolproof Molten Chocolate Soufflé—as is, or filled with decadent Crème Anglaise.

souffle Five Sweet Recipes For The Holiday SeasonMolten Chocolate Soufflé never fails to wow at a holiday feast.

For more great recipes, plus access to our lively forum of curious and engaging cooks, join the ChefSteps community today.

5 Common Misconceptions About Sous Vide Cooking

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UPDATE: ChefSteps has debuted our own sous vide tool, and we think you’ll love it. Head to our website to claim your Joule today.

In the past few years, sous vide cooking—already ubiquitous in fine-dining restaurants—has gained a foothold in home kitchens as well. That’s thanks to newly affordable equipment and cameos on TV shows like The Simpsons and Adventure Time, along with the publication of groundbreaking books such as Modernist Cuisine and Thomas Keller’s Under Pressure.

But despite the technique’s rocketing popularity, it’s still plagued by many-a-misconception. Below, we debunk five common myths surrounding sous vide. Ready to get started? You’ll find plenty of easy recipes, tips, and techniques in our free class, Cooking Sous Vide: Getting Started.

Before we get into some of the more common untruths surrounding sous vide, let’s clear something up: sous vide does not mean boiling food in a bag. Common boil-in-a-bag foods, like packaged rice and ready-made Indian dishes, involve bringing water to a boil and then placing the vacuum-packed food in the water to heat it. With sous vide, however, the point is to cook food gently, well below the boiling point. We’re heating water precisely to a temperature that matches the food’s ideal internal temperature—never any hotter, and certainly never to boiling! The idea that sous vide means boiling food in a bag is a persistent misconception and source of confusion, but—tell your friends and neighbors—it’s just not true.

1. “Sous vide” means “under vacuum,” and that means I need to pony up for an expensive, space-hogging chamber-style vacuum sealer if I want to try it.

Yes, “sous vide” is French for “under vacuum.” And yes, it’s a very confusing name. Because in fact, you don’t need a pricey vacuum sealer—or even an inexpensive countertop one—to successfully cook food at a low temperature in a water bath. To get started with sous vide, regular-old ziplock-style bags will do just fine. In fact, in some applications they are preferable to vacuum-sealed bags. Use the simple water displacement method (instructions in sidebar here) to remove the air from the bags, then get cooking.

salmon-bag-sous-vide

2. Okay, but I still need to buy pricey sous vide equipment.

It’s true that cooks who regularly cook sous vide often opt to invest in an immersion circulator or SousVide Supreme bath. In the last few years, however, a number of affordable models have emerged for home use. (Popular Science has published a helpful roundup of those). And if you’re just looking to test the method out, you can improvise a sous vide setup with nothing more than a pot, a stove, a digital thermometer, and some plastic bags. Allow us to show you how.

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3. I don’t need a circulator to get started, got it—that doesn’t change the fact that it’s not safe to cook food in plastic bags.

People are concerned with cooking with plastic. We totally get it—there have been some alarming reports about heating some types of plastic, and the studies, which sometimes conflict with one another, are also often over-simplified in the news. It’s all pretty confusing.

At ChefSteps, we cook food sous vide all the time. We use the technique in our development kitchen, and at home when we prepare food for our families. And we feel safe doing so. Frankly, we’re much more concerned with working clean and dining at sanitary, well-run restaurants than we are with using sous vide bags. After all, the CDC reports that food poisoning kills 3,000 Americans every year and hospitalizes 128,000. And foodborne illness is overwhelmingly caused by preventable, unhygienic handling of food—sous vide cuts the risk of contamination drastically by preventing this dangerous handling. In other words, those plastic bags are preventing serious, known health risks. To our minds, this benefit far outweighs the potential issue of cooking with plastic, which is at most a casual risk rather than a direct one.

We can’t, however, guarantee you that there’s not some small health risk involved in cooking food in sous-vide or ziplock-style bags. We read the research closely, we understand the science involved, and we believe the risk in cooking food at low temperatures in high-quality plastic bags is small. If we didn’t believe that, we wouldn’t encourage you to use them. The way we see it, risk is just part of life—every time we cross the street, or get behind the wheel of a car, we’re accepting a certain amount of risk. And adventurous eaters are well-acquainted with the possible pitfalls of fresh oysters, sushi, tartares, and certain delicious cheeses. Raw spinach is far from risk-free and, like it or not, you’re taking a gamble every time you bite into a juicy fast-food burger.

Also, the prevailing wisdom has a way of changing. Remember when eggs were considered unhealthy, and everyone ate white bread? Or when low-fat, sugar-laden cookies were supposed to help you lose weight? This week red wine and coffee are good for you, but who knows when a new study may come out and “prove” the exact opposite is true? From nonstick pans to soup cans, all kinds of kitchen products have come under question. And in the end, we can only know what we know. And we know we love to eat meats, seafoods, and vegetables—all wholesome, fresh foods—cooked gently to bring out awesome flavor and lovely texture. We love the predictability and simplicity of sous vide, and we’d love to share the many healthy recipes and techniques we’ve developed around the method, to help you have great success in your own kitchen. And if you still feel funny about using plastics, fear not. We’ll show you how to sous vide stuff in mason jars instead. For more information on sous vide packaging, check out our complete guide, featuring details on safety, when to use what, and tips for perfect presentation.

Note: The above section was updated to articulate our position on cooking with plastic bags.

Half_Candied Blood Orange_5

4. But why do I need a whole new cooking technique just to get tender steak, fish, and chicken?

People unfamiliar with sous vide often think it’s only useful for preparing proteins. While all three of those foods taste great cooked sous vide, there are so many more delicious options. Our gallery of sous vide recipes should provide you with plenty of further inspiration.

Carrots and Perfect Yolk-ChefSteps

5. Alright, ChefSteps. I’m convinced this could be a good way to go when I have plenty of time on my hands, but for day-to-day use, my trusty old oven is way more efficient.

We often reach for the circulator when it’s time to give tough cuts the slow-and-low treatment, but we also prepare sous vide mashed potatoes in 45 minutes flat, and fish, steak, and chicken usually cook in under an hour. And remember, instead of staring hopelessly into your oven window, hoping that chicken breast hasn’t turned to stringy shoe leather, you can allow food to cook largely unattended, safe in the knowledge that results will be predictable every time—and freeing you to focus on other things. Like, say, what you’re going to whip up next.

Mashed-potatoes-ChefSteps
Join the ChefSteps community to get free access to the best resources for sous-vide cooking on the web, share recipes and tips with other enthusiastic cooks, and get the first word on new recipes and techniques.

10 Foods You Didn’t Know You Could Cook Sous Vide

Flourless Carrot Cake ChefSteps

Thinking about investing in sous vide equipment for your kitchen? Here at ChefSteps, we’re unabashed fans—we love the way sous vide requires little micromanagement, and predictably cooks all sorts of food. Sous vide recipes you find online tend to focus on steak and fish—two excellent options—but when it comes to cooking in a water bath, proteins are just the beginning. Read on for 10 of our favorite unexpected uses for sous vide. Got faves of your own? Go ahead and share them in the comments

1. Custards

Yup, you can prepare crème brûlée and other custardy desserts sous vide. We use it to create the carrot custard for our Flourless Carrot Cake—a sous vide recipe that’s gluten-free and about as modernist as they come.

Get the recipe: Flourless Carrot Cake

Carrot-custard-chefsteps

2. Purées

We like making purées well in advance—cooking them in a circulator is often the simplest way to do so. When it comes time to reheat them, it’s much easier to warm them in a sous vide bath than on the stovetop, where uneven heating sometimes means the purée near the heat is getting scorched while the portion near the surface is barely warm.

Get the recipe: Celery Root Purée

Celery-root-puree-ChefSteps

3. Burgers

Think we’re crazy for publishing a sous vide burger recipe? Don’t knock it ’til you’ve served a bunch of perfect patties to a large group, no grill-manning required.

Get the recipe: Beef Burger Patties

Sous-vide-burgers-ChefSteps

4. Flavored oils 

Got a recipe that calls for a flavored oil, but don’t want to pony up the cash for something you’ll probably only use once or twice? Make it at home instead. We cook flavored oil for three hours in a sous vide bath—yes, that’s far longer than most stovetop infusions call for, but the precise low temperature results in a flavorful oil that will keep for months.

Get the recipe: Thyme Oil

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5. Cheese curds

Super-geeky, yet also super-great: using a SousVide Supreme to make your own squeaky cheese curds. You’ll need some funny ingredients, but how cool is it to be crafting curds like a pro in your own kitchen? And teachers, this would make an awesome classroom activity.

Get the recipe: Squeaky Cheese Curds

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6. French fries

For these crispy-soft fries, we use a triple-cooking process made famous by British chef Heston Blumenthal. Once you recreate them at home, you’ll see why the method has set a new standard by which the world’s greatest French fries are judged.

Get the recipe: Thin-Cut French Fries

Thin-cut-French-fries-ChefSteps

7. Mashed potatoes

Think cooking sous vide means waiting a long time for your food? Well, er, often it does. But here’s an exception—you can make these rich, creamy mashed potatoes (or pomme purée, as chefs and French people call them) in 45 minutes flat.

Get the recipe: Pomme Purée

Mashed-potatoes-ChefSteps

8. Oysters

Weird but true: You can use sous vide to help you shuck oysters! Blanching oysters in a water bath at 140 °F / 60 °C for just a few minutes makes them easy to open. Time it right, and the oyster won’t cook but will wind up with a gorgeous plump appearance and an appealing firm texture that heightens their freshness. And because this technique makes it easy to pop the oyster open, you’re less likely to end up with shell debris floating in the salty brine surrounding the oyster.

Get the technique: Firming oysters

firming-oysters-ChefSteps

9. Stock

Using sous vide equipment to make stocks gives us the ultimate temperature control—for the richest, flavor-forward broth, we like to cook ours for a full day when time allows.

Get the recipe: Beef Stock

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10. Eggnog

Yup, not even this most traditional of holiday libations is safe from our relentless need to sous vide everything. But seriously, that time of year has enough stresses—instead of slaving over your egg-and-booze beverage, drop it in the bath and occupy yourself with the million other tasks at hand.

Get the recipe: Eggnog

Eggnog-ChefSteps
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