The Anova Precision Cooker is a smart home gadget that helps home chefs achieve professional-level cooking results. It looks a bit like Doctor Who’s sonic screwdriver, but actually clamps to the side of a cooking pot filled with water.
The meat of your choice can be prepared with herbs or spices and sealed in a Ziplock style bag. The meat cooks in its own juices, warmed by the water and can be served up or seared on a grill for that griddle marking and extra flavor.
The Anova essentially is a smart immersion circulator. Using your smartphone, you can monitor it from other rooms, and the unit will heat and circulate the water at a precise temperature to produce the perfectly cooked results.
Using a long and slow cooking method, the meat cooks gently and absorbs the herbs or spices that are in the bag with it. The method helps save power and is safe, like a slow cooker to use when you’re out.
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Key Features of the Anova
The Anova Precision Cooker offers a cooking temperature range of 77°F to 210°F (25°C to 99°C) with the pump helping 1 to 1.2 gallons per minute flow, to maintain the even temperature.
It offers 800 watts of heating power, and comes with a bi-metal fuse and dual thermocouples to protect the unit. The Precision comes with a touch screen and thumbwheel for controls, and is mains powered.
To use the Anova Precision Cooker, you simply attach it to a pot, put your food in a sealable bag and set the cooking time and temperature.
The Precision Cooker warms and circulates water around the pot while ensuring a consistent temperature throughout. The Precision Cooker also connects to your phone, allowing you to cook amazing meals by simply touching a button. The food should cook perfectly every time.
The Anova has compatible iPhone and Android apps, so you can start the cooking process at your convenience, monitor the time left and find great recipes to produce fantastic food.
With flexible cooking time and push notifications from the Anova app to keep you informed, you don’t need to be tied to the kitchen and or even the house while your food cooks.
Of course, vegetables and other courses are another matter. While you might start off with small steaks or chicken breasts, it is capable of heating larger joints, but they will need up to do a day or longer to cook through.
Pros of the Anova Sous Vide Smart Precision Cooker
The Anova’s main benefit is that it provides consistent results, put the same meat in at the same settings and you should get the same results, time and time again, thanks to the cooker’s ability to maintain a constant temperature. Try that with the vagaries of a pan, different oils or in a roaster.
The food should also taste excellent as it only cooks in its own juices, plus your choice of herbs or other condiments to get exactly the right flavor. The meat will also come out juicy and tender due to the gentle cooking process.
It will also maintain more of its moisture and volume thanks to the sealed process and you can capture any juices.
The Anova Sous Vide is also a hell of a let less expensive, typically half the price, than the models you see on Masterchef and other cooking programmes. It is flexible too and can cook eggs and other produce, so isn’t just for carnivores.
If you’re worried about safety, the Anova comes with a clever double lock system. One helps to clamp the device to your cooking pot, the other affixes the cooker to the clamp.
There’s no loose feeling and you can rest assured if you start it remotely, it will still be there when you get back, and not melting your work surface. Finally, it is made of stainless steel, so is easy to clean and maintain.
Cons of the Anova Sous Vide Smart Precision Cooker
- High Quality Meat Suggested: The first weakness isn’t down to the product but the chef’s choice of meat. Cheap cuts, or those mass market produce injected with water, will leave a puddle of goo in the bag that won’t help the cooking process and instead will stew the meat. In this case, cooking with good quality meat is essential.
- Still Requires Pre-Planning: Once you’ve overcome that, there’s the hassle of having to prepare everything before you go out if you want to use the smartphone features. It isn’t a device you can just turn on and go. It will also struggle with larger pots, needed for more quantities of food, as it will take a lot longer to heat the water and maintain a temperature.
- Is the App Being Improved On? The iOS app itself also hasn’t been updated in eight months (as of March 2016), suggesting that the developers aren’t keen on improving it or adding new features. Since the last update was for bug fixes, and reviews give it a modest three-star rating it doesn’t seem the best of apps with no flexibility over control, you just pick the recipe and off it starts. The Android app fares better with a four-star average and it was updated in January 2016. Note, it needs Bluetooth LE devices to work with.
Smart cooking is taking off slowly, requiring as it does, some forethought and preparation. However, once you get with the concept, this is a great way to get into doing food the sous vide way, without the expense.
Yes, it could end up in the cupboard with all your other cooking gadgets that were used just the two or three times, but if you like your steaks to have that melt-in-the-mouth texture, then this could be a clever and inexpensive way to start creating great recipes.
While there are plenty of other sous vide products out there, this one at least has a go at being smart and is a great way to start your culinary adventures.