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One of my favorite high-tech kitchen gadgets is my thermal circulator.

When you immerse the circulator in a water bath and set the temperature, it will keep the water at a consistent temp for as long as you’d like. This is the secret weapon to executing a cooking method called sous vide – French for under vacuum. To cook something sous vide, you put your ingredients – often meats, aromatics and marinating liquids – into an air-tight plastic bag and submerge it into the temperature-controlled water. The result is moist, flavorful and evenly cooked food.

There was a time when thermal circulators were astronomically expensive, and only realistically available to high-end restaurants, but they are becoming increasingly more affordable and are available for purchase to consumers.

Teriyaki chicken may sound like a rather lackluster dish, but if you throw chicken breast, teriyaki sauce, garlic and ginger into a bag in a warm water bath using a thermal circulator, the chicken will be remarkably tender and the flavors will carry all the way through the meat.

This method is perfect for par-cooking steaks ahead of time. I like to fill a bag with filet, earthy herbs like thyme and rosemary (whatever you have on hand will work), olive oil, salt and garlic and submerge it at 125 degrees for at least an hour. Then you can throw the bags in an ice bath and refrigerate until you’re ready to eat – now all you have to do is throw the steaks in a pan or on a grill to get a nice sear on the outside and to bring them up to your preferred temp. These steaks will be so incredibly tender and flavorful, you’ll never turn back.

Posted in: Ask The Chef

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