Sous vide cooking, as we know it today, is a relatively recent invention. Georges Pralus, the late chef of Restaurant Troisgros in Roanne, France, is widely credited with bringing it to the professional kitchen after discovering that foie gras tasted better after a bath. The method for sous vide is as follows: food is sealed in an airtight bag, then placed in temperature-controlled water for a certain amount of time — sometimes up to several days. The result is food that is evenly cooked, with all of its original moisture. If it sounds involved, though, that’s because it is. As such, sous vide cooking has never really entered home kitchens, where practicality and convenience reign.
The Seattle-based company ChefSteps, founded by Chris Young (one of the authors of Modernist Cuisine), wants to change that. Its flagship product, Joule, is the most user-friendly, compact, efficient piece of sous vide equipment ever made for the home. Users fill up a container of water (usually a stock pot) and place the Joule vertically inside it. A magnetic bottom keeps it standing straight, though there’s also a clip. Though it functions fairly similarly to its main competitor, the Anova Precision Cooker — it heats and maintains that temperature — Joule requires an app that guides users through the correct temperatures and times for the food they are cooking. Sous vide cooking has, quite literally, never been easier or more approachable.