Precision Cooking Fires Up the Crowd
May 14, 2014 6:59 AM PT
A new crowdsourced Kickstarter project has blasted out of the gate and racked up more than $1,000,000 in funding -- its goal was a modest $100,000 -- with 34 days to go. The project? The Anova Precision Cooker.
At first glance, the Anova Precision Cooker looks like a massive electronic thermometer with a plug-in cord. It's used for the sous-vide style of cooking, which is cooking food in sealed plastic bags inside a temperature-controlled water bath.
That's right, you place a slab of beef inside a plastic bag then cook it in a pot of hot water.
You might be scratching your head here, but more than 6,700 early backers of the project are already sold on the concept.
High-End Restaurant Quality Cooking
The benefit of sous-vide cooking is the ability to very precisely control the temperature at which your food will cook. At the same time, it helps your food retain moisture and cook evenly throughout.
A steak's interior, for example, will cook to a similar consistency as its outer edges -- rather than grill cooking, which might result in the steak being seared and overcooked on the outside while being rare on the inside.
A sous-vide steak retains great moisture throughout and has a consistently cooked texture. But what about those fancy grill marks? Apparently high-end restaurants will cook a sous-vide steak in the water bath, then toss it on a hot grill for a few seconds to give it the desired grill marks.
Of course, the same principle applies for vegetables and combinations of foods.
Inside the Anova Tech
The Anova Precision Cooker contains a heating element and a propeller blade. With a clamp system, you attach it to the inside of a large pot of water. You place the food in standard plastic zip bags, which you clip to the edge of your pot. With the LCD interface on the top of the heating element, you set the cooking temperature and time. Then you walk away and do something else.
According to Anova, chicken comes out juicy and tender. Vegetables are bright and flavorful.
Of course, you need to know how long to cook a bag of carrots or cauliflower and at what temperature -- and Anova has an iPhone app for that. Use the app to find the food you want to cook, adjust the settings to match the size or amount, and tap the start button on your iPhone. The Anova Precision Cooker does the rest.
All of the early bird specials are gone, but project backers can still get a white or black Anova Precision Cooker for US$159. For $229, you can get two Anova Precision Cookers so you can cook multiple dishes at the same time. Are these great deals? Anova says each cooker will retail for about $169.
The estimated delivery is slated for October.
Will It Happen?
There is more than $1 million in funding for the Anova Precision Cooker, and Anova team already has created and delivered a successful cooker, the Anova 1, which became the first affordable ($199) immersion circulator for the home chef.
The new Kickstarter-backed cooker is more affordable, more flexible, easier to clean, and has its touchscreen interface moved to the iPhone, which brings up the biggest possible inhibitor to meeting the timeline: While the Anova team has manufacturing experience, it's possible that the iPhone app might not be ready as the hardware starts to ship.
Of course, you don't have to use the iPhone app to use the cooker -- it also has manual controls.