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Precision Cooking Fires Up the Crowd

A new crowdsourced Kickstarter project has blasted out of the gate andracked 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 massiveelectronic thermometer with a plug-in cord. It’s used for thesous-vide style of cooking, which is cooking food in sealed plasticbags inside a temperature-controlled water bath.

That’s right, you place a slab of beef inside a plastic bag then cookit in a pot of hot water.

You might be scratching your head here, but more than 6,700 earlybackers 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 preciselycontrol the temperature at which your food will cook. At the sametime, it helps your food retain moisture and cook evenly throughout.

Asteak’s interior, for example, will cook to a similar consistency asits outer edges — rather than grill cooking, which might result inthe steak being seared and overcooked on the outside while being rareon the inside.

A sous-vide steak retains great moisture throughout and has aconsistently cooked texture. But what about those fancy grill marks?Apparently high-end restaurants will cook a sous-vide steak in thewater bath, then toss it on a hot grill for a few seconds to give itthe 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 propellerblade. With a clamp system, you attach it to the inside of a large potof water. You place the food in standard plastic zip bags, which youclip to the edge of your pot. With the LCD interface on the top ofthe heating element, you set the cooking temperature and time. Thenyou walk away and do something else.

According to Anova, chicken comes out juicy and tender. Vegetables arebright and flavorful.

Of course, you need to know how long to cook a bag of carrots or cauliflower and atwhat temperature — and Anova has an iPhone app for that. Use the app tofind the food you want to cook, adjust the settings to match the sizeor amount, and tap the start button on your iPhone. The AnovaPrecision Cooker does the rest.

The Rewards

All of the early bird specials are gone, but project backers can stillget a white or black Anova Precision Cooker for US$159. For $229, youcan get two Anova Precision Cookers so you can cook multiple dishes atthe same time. Are these great deals? Anova says each cooker willretail for about $169.

The estimated delivery is slated for October.

Will It Happen?

There is more than $1 million in funding for the AnovaPrecision Cooker, and Anova team already has created and delivered asuccessful cooker, the Anova 1, which became the first affordable($199) immersion circulator for the home chef.

The newKickstarter-backed cooker is more affordable, more flexible, easier toclean, and has its touchscreen interface moved to the iPhone, whichbrings up the biggest possible inhibitor to meeting the timeline:While the Anova team has manufacturing experience, it’s possible thatthe iPhone app might not be ready as the hardware startsto ship.

Of course, you don’t have to use the iPhone app to use the cooker — it also has manual controls.

Chris Maxcer

TechNewsWorld columnist Chris Maxcer has been writing about the tech industry since the birth of the email newsletter, and he still remembers the clacking Mac keyboards from high school -- Apple's seed-planting strategy at work. While he enjoys elegant gear and sublime tech, there's something to be said for turning it all off -- or most of it -- to go outside. To catch him, take a "firstnamelastname" guess at WickedCoolBite.com. You can also connect with him on Google+.

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