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The Joule promises a sous-vide experience that's simpler than ever.
No cooking method is more idiot-resistant than sous vide. For anyone who has ever struggled with a leathery, overcooked steak or depressing stalks of mealy asparagus left in a steamer for five minutes too long, it's really the best technique there is. Put your ingredients in a bag, set them in a temperature-controlled water bath and return later to unwrap your perfectly-cooked food. As a home sous vider, I can attest to the benefits of setting (and sometimes literally forgetting) what I am cooking. Restaurant chefs may have used it for decades, but it is the way of the future in our home kitchens, I'm convinced.
So are our pals at ChefSteps, who have an impressive library of videos that show home cooks just how easy this seemingly advanced technique can be. And today, they're removing another barrier with the announcement of their own immersion circulator, Joule. It promises a sous-vide experience that's simpler than ever, thanks to an intuitive visual doneness feature. Sous vide cooking is all about temperature, and I constantly find myself looking up how hot my water bath should be, either by frequent Googling or consulting a detailed chart that would rival most NFL playbooks (seriously, this has filled almost a dozen pages in a notebook on my counter). Joule promises to let us skip that step: Instead of setting 54.0 degrees Celsius, you can just navigate on your phone to a picture or video of a medium-rare steak. Select it, and you're on your way to perfection. And while red meat seems easy to judge by its looks, ChefSteps product designer Emmett Barton says it works just as well for other ingredients. “What’s amazing about video is that it allows you to illustrate texture as well as color. So for foods like chicken, pulling apart the meat or pressing into it as we slice through it gives the impression of how juicy or dry the meat will be.”
Visual doneness could be a game-changer, but let's also note that that this could be the first fully-connected appliance that many of us will own. You control it completely with your smartphone. There are other intriguing things about Joule, too. It's light and compact (11 inches long, 1.85 inches in diameter—not much bigger than a chef’s knife), its heating element is quick and powerful, and it has an attractive, minimal, Apple-y aesthetic. (If Jony Ive were going to outfit his white world with a kitchen, he'd probably order a Joule.) And it's priced accessibly: Until January 15 you can preorder the Joule for $199 (which puts it on par with most other home circulators) and after that it will retail for $299. If you’re looking to splurge on the culinarian in your life (or on yourself) for the holidays you can preorder the Joule on the ChefSteps website. And make sure to check out videos of more of ChefSteps’ impressive techniques here.