Causal sous-vide cooking has been on the rise over the last couple of years, and Anova's water circulating tools are often cited as the best. Today, the company announced an overhauled, iPhone-controlled cooker that looks very promising.
For those of you who don't know, sous-vide ("under vacuum") cooking is a method by which you prepare food in a sealed bag that's immersed in circulating, heated water. There are a few different methods for heating up and moving the water around, but Anova's new Precision Cooker is basically a big wand that you clamp to a pot full of water. Simply set the time and temperature, and the cooker does the rest.
The advantage to sous-vide cooking is that the process keeps the temperature uniform around whatever you're making for a long period of time, leading to a moist texture and delicious flavour. (Slow cooking is the jam, duh.) It's not just laziness either: fancy restaurants use the method because it's repeatable, consistent and precise.
The new Anova Precision Cooker is an evolution of the company's beloved older model, with a more compact build and a streamlined interface. (Serious Eats has an exclusive review, which we're borrowing from here, so props to them.) But besides the slicker hardware, the Precision Cooker's key selling point is its Bluetooth-enabled iPhone control. As the review notes, one of the difficulties of the otherwise simple cooking method is that people don't intuitively know the temperatures and times the way they do for, say, oven cooking.
To help remedy the problem, Anova built an app with presets for everything from chicken to salmon to eggs. You can also keep track of your food so you know exactly when it's done. Another nice touch is that the app software will be open source — so the inherently geeky sous-vide community can build out their own software to maximise Anova's powerful food-preparation wand.
Frequently, we find building an app to control a gadget seems like overkill. But for a precise art like sous-vide, it might actually make sense. The Anova Precision Cooker is currently available from a fully-funded Kickstarter. The final product is expected to ship in October for $US170, but if you order now you can get a slightly better deal.
Still, $US170 is cheaper than anything else out there, including Anova's older products. So if you've been holding out on the sous-vide trend, now might be the time to splash on in. [Kickstarter via Serious Eats]