From helpful hacks to easy recipes

By Stacey Ballis
Updated January 21, 2020
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Sometimes for people who love to cook, the holidays bring that one piece of equipment that they have been pining for. It might be a new piece of fancy Le Creuset, or the passing down of a cherished ancient cast iron skillet or hand-carved rolling pin. Maybe you’ve been waiting on an upgrade to a stand mixer from your hand-held, or you are finally ready to get on the InstantPot bandwagon.

But what happens when someone imposes their idea of what a foodie wants on you? What do you do when you get the piece of equipment you never knew you always wanted? This season I know of at least three people in my sphere who received unsolicited sous vide machines.

When sous vide, or cooking under vacuum in a water bath, first hit the scene, the equipment was affordable only for restaurateurs, and not even for all of those. But these days you can get sous vide equipment for under $100, and it is a gadget that isn’t yet ubiquitous, so it feels like a snazzy gift that you can hand off with pride to your favorite cook! The only question is, if you got one this holiday season, and it wasn’t exactly top of your list, what on earth should you do with it?

My first recommendation is to start easy. Try using it as just a nice warm water bath to hold soup or sauces at temp for entertaining, for keeping caramel or hot fudge pourable for your kid’s ice cream party, or safely reheating chili out of your freezer.

When you are ready to start cooking, keep things simple. Try some soft-boiled eggs in the shell, or a basic steak. Baby potatoes and carrots cook to melting tenderness and deeper flavor. Hardier fruits like apples and pears can get poached for easy desserts. There are recipes galore all over the internet, so once you have the hang of things, it is easy to source fun ways to use your new gear. I particularly love mine for entertaining with meats like butterflied leg of lamb or family-sized sirloin steaks, which can hang out for a couple hours at perfect medium rare and only need a quick sear in a hot pan before serving.

Once you get your sous vide legs under you a bit, try one of our favorite sous vide recipes!