It’s that time of year when we start playing around with our new kitchen gadgets that we got for Christmas! This year’s toy, an Anova Sous Vide. I was pretty excited to receive this as a gift as I always wondered if it was worth the hype. This week I decided to put it to the test with chicken wings and to make it interesting, I made two batches. One to put in the sous vide and one to put on the Traeger. A little test to see what tasted better!
I suppose that I should start off by explaining sous vide cooking. Sous vide means “under vacuum” in French. It’s a method of cooking where whatever that you are cooking is placed in a sealed plastic bag and put in water. The sous vide heats the water to the desired temperature and slowly circulates the water around the food with the intention of evenly cooking the food on the inside without overcooking the outside. The food is cooked at a lower temperature and generally for a longer period of time to ensure the moisture stays intact with whatever you are making. It’s a foolproof way of cooking as you can’t overcook your food. The food can’t get hotter than the water bath that it’s in. That’s pretty cool, right? Click on the link above if you want to know more about sous vide cooking. It’s a technical read but worth if you are interested!
Thinking that people are starting to wonder what to make for their Super Bowl party, I thought that chicken wings would be a great place to start. I have always loved chicken wings cooked on the Traeger grill so why not do a side by side comparison of wings done in the sous vide and wings smoked on the grill. I marinated 2 batches of wings exactly the same way. When I was ready to go, I heated the sous vide to 165 degrees and set my smoker to 225 degrees. To keep things the same, I drained the wings in a colander. I placed half the wings in a ziplock bag and sealed it tightly pushing out all the air and placed in the sous vide. The other half I placed on the smoker. I cooked each version for 2 hours and removed and placed on separate plates. (See pictures below).
What I noticed was that the sous vide chicken wings lacked color and needed to be finished on the grill to make the wings crispy. They are actually very unappetizing when they come out. The smoked wings came out looking really delicious but needed to be finished on a hot grill and glazed with sauce to make them extra delicious! I turned the grill to 400 degrees, sauced both batches of the wings, and placed on the hot grill. I cooked the wings for about 20 minutes until I got my desired color. (Each batch of wings when I put on the grill were both at an internal temp of 165 degrees, so the grilling stage was for aesthetics only).
After the final stage of grilling, I was hardpressed to see a difference between the two variations. The taste difference was different though. The Traeger wings had a much livelier flavor and a little crispier skin. On a scale of 1-10 (10 being awesome), the Traeger got a 10. The sous vide wings were almost as amazing but not quite as flavorful but a tad moister. I gave the sous vide wings an 8. Which is still pretty dang good.
Things to understand if you are considering purchasing a sous vide.
- Cooking times take longer than you think. Because you are cooking at a very low temperature, food takes longer to cook. So you need to plan accordingly.
- Good news on the time thing, you don’t have to babysit the device. So set it up and walk away. Remember, it won’t overcook.
- When the food is removed from the sous vide, you have to finish it with some sort of high heat. So it’s not done when you think it is. Throw the food on a hot grill, a hot oven or skillet. You really can’t skip this step except for vegetables I suppose!
- Because the sous vide cooks food to a perfectly even temperature, it’s the perfect device if you are entertaining a large crowd. You can pre-cook your food and have it ready to finish quickly when you are ready to serve. This is why restaurants use the sous vide. They precook all their food and finish it right before it is brought to your table. Kinda brilliant if I do say so myself.
So my final thoughts on buying a sous vide. Go ahead and buy one especially if you like to entertain. It’s a great way to pre-cook your food and quickly finish it off either on a grill, oven or hot skillet and spend more time with friends. That alone is totally worth it!
Garlic Sticky Asian Marinade
- 1 cup Tamari or soy sauce
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon chili garlic paste
- 1 jalapeno, minced
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 1 orange, juiced
- 1/4 cup finely sliced green onions
- In a medium-sized bowl whisk together all the ingredients.
- Place your meat of choice in a gallon sized ziplock bag and pour the marinade over the meat reserving 1/4 cup for basting the meat later.
- Let marinade for a minimum of 6 hours up to overnight for the most flavor.
- Grilling your meat with this marinates imparts the best flavor.