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Monday, March 4, 2013

AquaChef Review

My wife hates when I mess up the kitchen and cook anything beyond my usual fare. I didn't want to take any chances with the AquaChef unit so I waited until she drove out to The Vermont Country Store for the day. This did mean she'll have my camera phone though, so unfortunately no pictures. (She prefers the navigation software on my phone to hers, and I didn't think to just grab her phone before she left.) Trust me, its not as messy as I was anticipating.
AquaChef Unit
I'm a big fan of cooking competition shows like Top Chef, Worst Cooks in America, and Food Network Star, among many other show. I occasionally see them cooking their food in a vacuum sealed bag in a bath of water. This method is called sous vide (pronounced soo-veed), which is French for under vacuum. The idea is to cook something low and slow so that the whole item is cooked evenly, and not get the outside overcooked while leaving the inside raw and/or under-cooked. 

The AquaChef product is a low cost option of bringing this cooking method into the home for about $160. It is offered by KitchenAdvance and was introduced at the 2012 International Home and Housewares Show in Chicago. (I really should go there one year as I just love kitchen gadgets.) And no, this is not a deep fryer, even if it looks like one.

The way the process works is rather simple. First, you fill and preheat the unit to the desired target temperature. While that is warming up, you seal your food air-tight with the provided Seal ‘N Fresh Vacuum System. Each portion can be individually sealed, meaning if different people like different spices, they can personalize their item. The vacuum sealing keeps all the flavors and nutrients together with the food item in each bag as it cooks. Once the setup is done and the unit preheated, you place the food items in the cooking basket, place the basket in the unit, and cover. Set the cook time and walk away. Once done, remove carefully and serve immediately.

AquaChef Cooking Samples
Here's a look at some items cooked via the unit (image provided by KitchenAdvance). Cook time varies considerably depending upon the item to be cooked. To give you some more ideas on timing... 45 minutes to cook an egg, 8 hours to cook a roast, 2 hours for chicken, 1 hour for turkey breast, 45 minutes for fish/lobster. See for more recipes and videos on how to cook with the AquaChef. If you're a SAHM (or dad) and can set this up with sufficient time to cook, you can use this on a weekday. More than likely, the extended cooking times make this a weekend only option if both parents work or you just run around all afternoon dealing with your child's activities.

The nice thing about the AquaChef is you can never overcook your food since the item cooked will never get above the temperature set for the water bath. Another thing to keep in mind when cooking something like beef is the food won't have a hard sear on the outside. If you want this, you must do this yourself after you pull the food out of the unit. This can be a blessing or a curse when dealing with a young child. If they don't like the hard sear, your food won't have it. However, it will look different. The different look could turn a picky youngster off. The flavor is definitely there though.

As far as my cooking experience went, the whole process of cooking up some steaks took 2 hours. Cleanup was a breeze since the food is sealed in a bag as it cooks in a water bath. Its not like something was going to splatter on the stove. Taste-wise, you'll notice some difference from the typical broiled / grilled steak, but it isn't a bad difference. You'll just get a moist, evenly cooked steak more easily than from the other methods. (And everyone gets one cooking doneness, so hopefully everyone likes medium, or medium-rare, or whatever.) If it wasn't for the long cooking time, we'd definitely use this more regularly.

If you're interested in purchasing an AquaChef unit, they run $159.80 spread out over four payments or $39.95 each. However, there is a 20% off coupon code available (20off), bringing the total to just $127.84 (or roughly $32 per payment). Shipping is free even and you get a 60 day trial to see if you like it.

Keep your eyes open for a new giveaway of an AquaChef unit. It will be starting shortly. There is also the existing Tonights Special Dinner giveaway that ends on 3/11.

Update: My AquaChef giveaway is here: AquaChef Oven, ending 3/25

DisclosureI received the above mentioned product for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received. All opinions stated are my own and may differ from yours. See my disclosure policy for more information. Thank you to KitchenAdvance  for the review item.


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