The Anova Precision Cooker is, in essence, a high-quality consumer-grade sous-vide water circulator. It is dipped into your own cooking vessel and it heats and circulates the water to a very precise temperature, gently cooking whatever is placed in the water bath. It features WiFi and Bluetooth connections for simple control via iPhone and sells for $199.
Sous-vide literally translates to “under vacuum,” in French. It’s a cooking technique where you seal the food in an airtight plastic bag and immerse the bag in a temperature controlled water bath for a period of time longer than the food usually takes to cook on a stove or in an oven. Cooking the food in an airtight container, at a lower temperature and for a longer time, generally results in a more evenly cooked, tender, moist, and more flavorful food.
The enhanced flavor is because the airtight seal keeps all of the juices and flavors surrounding the meat at all times, retaining the flavors of the meat and marinade. The gentle cooking of the food is due to the water bath never allowing the temperature to rise any higher than what you want the final internal temperature of the food to be. This is in contrast to high-heat cooking such as oven roasting or grilling where the temperature outside the food is much higher than the final internal temperature you’re looking for inside the food, which can lead to under or over-cooking.
Sous-vide style cooking has typically been kept out of the home cook’s kitchen because the equipment was either too big, clunky, and difficult to use or it was too expensive. This is where the folks at Anova had their big idea; why not manufacture a simple-to-use device that home chefs can purchase for a reasonable price? For $199, you can purchase your own sous-vide device that can be set via Anova’s excellent iPhone app via Bluetooth or even WiFi if you’re out of your house.
The Precision Cooker displays the current temperature inside the water bath, and toggles between the temperature its set for and the time remaining on the timer. There is also a touch sensitive button to start/stop the cook, turn WiFi on/off, and set the timer. There are push notifications to keep you updated on your current cook, letting you know when the water is preheated or when your cook is complete. The Precision Cooker features a 360-degree directional pump for maximum water circulation, a removable, dishwasher-safe, stainless steel skirt, and an adjustable clamp that can be used with any vessel. The glowing blue dial you see on the front of the Precision Cooker is used to dial the temperature or the timer up or down.
Anova’s Precision Cooker can produce any temperature between 77°F to 210°F, while the pump moves 1.2 gallons per minute with a water capacity of 4-5 gallons. The total heating power of the Precision Cooker is 800W, while the device itself weighs about 2.5 lbs.
To use the Anova Precision Cooker, you’ll need to fill up a pot with water, dip the Precision Cooker into the water and clamp the device to the side of the pot so that it doesn’t move. Next, you can either find a recipe on the Anova app and hit “start cook” in the app, or manually set the Precision Cooker based on a recipe of your choosing. While you’re waiting for the water to heat up to the desired temperature, you can get your ingredients together in a plastic bag and then vacuum seal the bag. Finally, place your bag inside the pot, and clip the bag to the edge of the pot ensuring your bag doesn’t touch the stainless steel skirt, which could affect water circulation.
We made three dishes for my family with the Anova Precision Cooker, all using their Anova iPhone app. First, I tried Sous Vide Butter Poached Shrimp with Spaghetti, Lemon, and Chives, next my wife cooked herself some Salmon, and finally I cooked us up a New York Strip Steak and finished it on a cast iron skillet to get that classic steak char. I found that each dish was a breeze to cook and that each came out very tender and flavorful. I’ve included a ton of pictures from my in-home experiences with the Anova Precision Cooker, below.
Butter Poached Shrimp
Sous Vide Salmon
New York Strip Steak
Some things to keep in mind with the Precision Cooker is that although sous-vide cooking is very simple to do, there are often extra steps that need to be taken to finish the food, like grilling to provide additional texture and flavor. Sous-vide cooking is not like a slow cooker where you can throw everything in the pot, let it cook, and it’s done when the timer goes off. Also, while the app was easy-to-use and the push notifications were nice, I can’t see myself ever controlling the Precision Cooker remotely. I’d still need to be in my house in order to put the bagged food into the pre-heated water. I wouldn’t leave chicken in room temperature water all day until the cook begins later that night. For these reasons, the WiFi control doesn’t intrigue me as much as I thought it would. However, the advantage to sous-vide style cooking is that I would feel comfortable leaving my home while the Anova Precision Cooker is on whereas if I was cooking in the oven, I would never think of leaving.
Although the merits of sous-vide cooking vs. high heat cooking can be argued, I’ve found that the sous-vide technique does what it’s advertised to do; gently cook your food while maintaining the moisture and flavor and never over-cooking.
Overall, I believe the Anova Precision Cooker lowers the barrier of entry into the sous-vide cooking technique for home chefs while making it crazy simple to make gourmet quality food. While the WiFi control feature may not make the most sense for some, I appreciate the connected iPhone app to set cooking temperatures and times and for notifications. Anova has hit the nail on the head here and I can see the Precision Cooker being the start of a home sous-vide revolution.
You can purchase the Anova Precision Cooker online at AnovaCulinary.com and on Amazon. The Precision Cooker is available in select Apple retail stores and at Apple.com.
Source: The Anova Precision Cooker was provided to me as a review sample by the manufacturer.
What I Like: Easy set up and use; Bright and easy to read display; Nice app with recipe book built-in; Does exactly what it’s supposed to do.
What Needs Improvement: The app could use some additional features like manually setting temp and time and more variety of recipes.