Incorporating the latest techniques into the home cooking repertoire is often just a fantasy for cooks who don't have the experience, or the cash flow, to do so. Sure, we'd all love a Pacojet to whip up some ice cream for the kids on the fly, or a sous vide cooker, to make the perfect soft cooked egg for breakfast, but that's just not going to happen. Or is it? To buy a home-sized sous vide cooker you'd have to fork over around $500, but, for a fraction of that, you can also build your own.
Cooking for Geeks author, Jeff Potter, has generously written a step-by-step post on his blog called “Hacking Your Slow Cooker,” in which he details the process of building your own sous vide cooker at home. The task is fairly simple, and for the price of three basic components, you can be sous vide cooking in almost no time. What you need is a slow cooker, or Crock-Pot, to hold the water, a thermocouple to gauge the temperature and some sort of temperature controller to maintain the temperature. Potter's blog post explains all of these components and also tells you where to buy them, and what you can expect to pay for them. In addition to these items, you are also going to need some type of vacuum sealer system, such as a Food Saver, so that your food is secured in an air-tight plastic bag while it cooks.
Once your sous vide cooker is set up and you're ready to put it into action, pick up a copy of Thomas Keller's latest book, Under Pressure, or check out websites and blogs such as Cooking Sous Vide or Sous Vide & Cooking, for recipe ideas and more.
I haven't built my own sous vide cooker yet, but it is hovering at the top of my to-do list, and I cannot wait to see it in action.