If you’ve ever searched for sous vide recipes, sous vide cooking times and temperatures, or sous vide cooking tips, odds are you’ve been directed to Jason Logsdon’s CookingSousVide.com. He took time out of his busy schedule of writing about all things sous vide to speak with us about all things sous vide.
The first time I really remember cooking was when my mom decided to go to graduate school and my dad and I had to do our part by making the meals. Since then I’ve always enjoyed cooking and once I was out on my own I dabbled a lot more in different cuisines and techniques.
I got started with sous vide when my wife bought me Under Pressure and I thought the whole thing was fascinating. I wanted to try it out at home but there wasn’t much information available in an easy-to-digest format. Most of the information was from a scientific standpoint, such as Baldwin’s great guide, but it struck me that for the average home cook that knowledge wasn’t overly important (many people can roast a chicken but they don’t need to understand the thermal curve of the meat in oven to do so).
To solve this problem, I tried to work from the standpoint of a typical home cook and came up with the critical information they needed to know in order to sous vide at home. Over time I’ve added many of the more advanced concepts, but I still have a focus on helping the typical home cook who is more interested in preparing great food than understanding the science behind it.
How has the SousVide Supreme changed sous vide cooking for you?
I really enjoyed using the Sous Vide Supreme and it seemed to hold its temperature better and not overshoot the temperature as much as I’d experienced with the crockpot setup. The first thing I cooked with it was a chuck roast because I wanted to see how the temperature held up over a long period of time, and to see how quiet it was at night. It did great and I didn’t notice it in the other room while I was sleeping at all. I also used it for eggs and vegetables while I had it because my crockpot struggled to get up to high enough temperatures to properly cook those foods.
My use of sous vide has definitely increased and I cook something sous vide 4 or 5 times a week.
Did you create new recipes, refine existing ones, or did you find that your existing sous vide recipes adapted easily for this book?
Some of our recipes were from our other books, Beginning Sous Vide and Sous Vide Grilling, and refined for Help for the Busy Cook but most of the recipes were brand new. Like most of our books, we try to teach the reader how to really use and understand sous vide so they can apply it to their favorite traditional recipes.
Without giving away your whole book, what are some of your tips for busy cooks?
The biggest tip I can give for busy cooks, and really the premise of the whole book, is to understand the gaps between “active” times and how to manipulate them. Sous vide cooking is split into three stages: Pre-Bath, Cooking, and Finishing. Thinking of it this way allows you to do the hands-on work at one time, do the actual cooking at a different point, and finish the dish at a third point, all as your schedule permits.
For instance, you can season and bag a sirloin steak Tuesday night after dinner and put it in the refrigerator. Then on Wednesday or Thursday morning you can put it into your water bath on the way out the door. When you get home 8 to 10 hours later it will be fully cooked and you can quickly sear it and make any sides.
Our book focuses on the four different ways to make sous vide fit your schedule: Day-Of Meats, Multi-Day Meats, Fast Cookers, and Cook, Chill, and Hold. We provide a general outline of each process, which foods work well in each one, and about 20 recipes of each kind to illustrate them.
These techniques are great for anyone with a busy schedule, from single 9-to-5 workers to stay-at-home parents, and even to college students.
Have you seen an evolution in the community you’ve built (i.e.: more new people trying sous vide, more people experimenting with tastes or methods of preparation)?
The sous vide community is definitely evolving. When I got into it the community was mainly chefs and more scientifically-minded home cooking enthusiasts. As more people learn about it from TV shows and local restaurants I’ve found the community is quickly growing with “normal” home cooks.
To me, normal home cooks and professionals approach sous vide, and cooking in general, in very different ways. The professionals want to cook the best meal, consistently, over a period of time, so precision and complex flavors are very important.
On the other hand, home cooks want to cook a great meal, around their schedule, and with minimal effort. A working parent is usually willing to sacrifice some quality if it means dinner will be ready around the kids’ activities with minimal effort.
What inspired you to write your new book, Sous Vide: Help for the Busy Cook?
Many people view sous vide cooking as this precise method that takes up lots of time and is very exacting. However, to me one of the biggest benefits of cooking with sous vide is how easy it is to fit around my schedule.
Because of the wide margin of ideal “doneness,” most foods can be held for several hours with no negative effects. This allows me to fully cook the food and have it ready to go whenever I want to eat, which is especially helpful when my wife gets stuck in meetings and comes home 2 hours later than expected!
That disconnect between people’s perceptions of sous vide and my own experience with it really led to the creation of Sous Vide: Help for the Busy Cook. People’s lives are busier than ever and sous vide makes it very easy to create great meals around even the most hectic schedules.
Where do you see your site, and your sous vide cooking, going in the next year?
One of my personal sous vide goals is to branch out my cooking. I currently focus most of my sous vide energy on meat and fish. I’d like to experiment more with beans, custards, and other less common items to get a better feel for how they work.
We have several goals for CookingSousVide.com over the next year. We’re going to add many more recipes to the site and flesh out our equipment section. We’re also going to continue to grow our great community there, as many of its members are active on our forums and contribute a lot of knowledge to the site.
Following the success of our other books we are also looking to do a different kind of sous vide cookbook, which we’ll release more information about we get closer to the publishing date.