So back in October when I started blogging I wrote a post: There’s more than one way to poach and egg. It was yet another hack and trick which used the microwave. This worked somewhat OK but was inconsistent at best and left a lot to be desired. At that point I was happy enough with it because after trying all the tricks on the stove it was the only one to get me solid whites and occasionally runny yolks. All the ones on the stover were a hot mess and I tried several top chefs “simple tricks” and none of them worked. However, today after the gym needing a big boost of protein I achieved a PERFECTLY poached egg and all the while I was showering, getting ready, and feeding the dogs. I wasn’t involved at all.
How did I do this? Well, the device is called Joule. There are several other products on the market and they range in price. I picked Joule because I knew of many resources for questions and answers, top chefs were recommending it, a food blog I enjoy promotes it, and the app for the iPhone make cooking with is super easy. So, what is Joule? It’s an immersion circulator that cooks food through a method called sous vide. This is all to say that this new device heats water… perfectly and precisely. The precision is the key. Because Joule is the heating element you don’t need a stove. Heck you don’t even need a pot. You just need a container of ANY kind that can hold water and is food safe up to at least 206ºF.
So how does this work? Take any container as described and put in enough water to cover the water outlet of the hole on the Joule. (Joule also has a clip to hold it on the side of deep containers so you can do as large of a container as you want.) On the app you simply tell Joule the temperature you want the water and it even has a built in timer for when you’re cooking the food! (This may not seem huge but when you have a lot going on in a kitchen multiple things with timers are a life saver.) If you’re not going to follow a recipe it gets a bit tricky but what you need to know is that nothing can ever get hotter than the temperature of the water. This is the key to it all.
The major thing to know is that all proteins react to heat differently and do different things but by controlling the temperature to a tenth of a degree you are safe from over cooking! The time you choose is all about how long will it take for the center mass to reach the chosen temperature. This is where the tons of recipes from ChefSteps come in handy. Learning what temperatures your foods should be at will make all the difference in the quality of the food you are serving for meals. Now, you may be thinking: But I like the char a pan gives me when I cook a chicken breast. Well this is the beauty of it. Cook the chicken breast in the sous vide at 158ºF (the recommended temperature) then take it out and do a quick sear in a skillet. Presto you have the char and a perfectly cook piece of chicken.
The real key is that this is all about low and SLOW cooking. Nothing about this is fast so it’s all about timing or I should say multitasking and planning.
Take the poached egg I did today. I came home from the gym and filled a small pot with water. I put in the Joule and set it for 145ºF. I then took the dogs out to do what they needed and enjoyed walking around my garden with them. I got a “Push Notification” on my Apple Watch that told me the water was at temperature. I came back to the house and put in 2 very large (beyond jumbo) eggs into the water. I hit start on the timer in the Joule app for 45 minutes. I then went up and took a shower, got ready, played with the dogs, get them their food, and within a couple minutes I got another notification that the eggs were done! Oh, I should mention that when I was feeding the dogs I popped a couple english muffins in the toaster oven.
I turned off my Joule, with tongs I carefully removed the eggs, and even more carefully I started tapping the shell around the center on the counter. (I was sure the whole thing was going to break open and I’d have egg everywhere.) Then carefully I pulled enough of the shell off where the whole egg just slipped right out onto my english muffin perfectly. You could see the wobble. It was perfect! (I should say my husband was able to crash the shell well enough that he was able to just pull the two halves apart.) We sat down together and cut into our eggs and the dark rick yolk gently oozed out. It was runny but not raw. It was rich and creamy. It was like a thinned out cheese spread. It was simply perfect in every way.
So you might be thinking that this was because I cook a lot and I know how to poach an egg. Maybe you’re telling yourself it’s because I have mad skill in the kitchen. Well, I hate to break it to you but it doesn’t have to do with ANY of that. It’s all about the science. You see, egg whites and egg yolks cook at different temperatures. Egg whites will cook/set at 145ºF/63ºC where egg yolk begin to thicken at 150ºF and don’t set until they hit 158ºF. By setting the water to 145ºF there is no way to cook the yolk, thus getting the perfect poached egg. Even had I forgotten about them or it ran a minute or two over they still would have been fine. Had I been cooking them on the stove if I was off more then 10 seconds I would go from poached to cooked. This takes all the stress out! Best of all… I can do however many I want and just leave them in the water and plate one at a time… the ones left in the water can’t over cook!
Now, some of you may say this sounds interesting but what’s the cost. I won’t lie. It’s not cheap but of the ones I looked at it was in the mid range on cost and had the best reviews and costumer service of all of them. The price is $199. That may seem like a lot but when it comes to kitchen electrics and things that can cook food this is actually an amazing price. I should mention too that another raw I had to ChefSteps Joule is that one of the cofounders is Chef Chris Young. He has worked both with Heston Blumenthal at the Fat Duck (a three start Michelin restaurant and was part of the team that did the mutual volume Modernist Cuisine. Both of these on his resume told me that this is a chef that understands science, precision, and cooking.