Taking The Sous Vide Plunge


I try to keep my kitchen gadgets to a minimum — clutter makes me crazy, and I like the challenge of being as creative as possible within the constraints of my kitchen. Having said that, however, I have to admit that I own both a food processor and a blender, a waffle iron, a Kitchenaid mixer, an ice cream maker (!), a microwave, a slow cooker, and a kettle to boil water for endless cups of tea. So who am I kidding? I’m clearly I’m not really anti-appliance.

If you’re a regular reader of Nom Nom Paleo (and really, you should be), you probably know that she’s quite smitten with her SousVide Supreme — and she’s got pages of recipes that prove it.

What is sous vide, you might be asking? The words literally mean “under vacuum” in French. In practical terms, it means that food is vacuum-sealed in a bag, then cooked low and slow in a water bath — usually in an appliance called a water oven — to preserve juiciness and tenderness. It’s pretty great for distracted or busy cooks because the food can’t overcook, no matter how long you leave it in the bath. It’s particularly nice for tough cuts of meat, but it’s great on tender or lean ones, too. The meat slowly cooks, then when it’s done, you zap it at high heat to give it a nice crust, and you’re good to go. The food-science writer Harold McGee called sous vide “one of the most important culinary innovations of modern times.”


But still, my reaction was, “Another kitchen appliance? Really?!”

That is until a few weeks ago, when I was invited to participate in the Sous Video Paleo Recipe Showdown by SousVide Supreme and TX Bar Organics. They sent me a SousVide Supreme Water Oven and a beautiful shipment of grass-fed beef so I can cook up an original recipe for the contest. Both a panel of judges and fans will vote on their favorite recipes to crown two master paleo sous vide bloggers.

I’ve been noshing and noodling on ideas for a few weeks to come up with something special for the contest, and I ultimately decided that one of the biggest benefits of sous vide cooking is that it’s simple and lets the natural flavors of the food shine through.

But it wouldn’t be one of my recipes if there weren’t some serious spices involved.

So my contribution to the contest is going to be a Moroccan-inspired steak dinner with a comfort food twist, and the ingredients are so basic (and so good!), that most Paleo cooks will already have them in their kitchen. I’m just about to seal my steaks and plunge them into their relaxing sous vide spa. My recipe will be ready to share in a few days; cross your fingers for me!


The Other Bloggers

SousVide Supreme and TX Bar Organics selected 12 bloggers to participate in the Paleo Recipe Showdown, and I gotta say, I’m in really good company. Be sure to visit these other Paleo bloggers — tasty stuff all over the place!

Paleo Comfort Foods
Food Lovers Kitchen
Simply Paleo
Free Range Human
Health Bent
Pure Fresh Daily
Rubies & Radishes
Clean Eats in the Zoo
Cooking Caveman
Primal Smoke


The Judges

Meet the judges that will be tasting our recipes and selecting the winners of the Paleo Recipe Showdown. If you’re at all interested in nutrition, you’ve probably at least heard of the book Protein Power, and I’ve talked about TX Bar Organics before ’cause they deliver yummy grass-fed meat and give back to their community. Plus, my girl, the ever-fabulous and adorable Nom Nom Paleo.


Drs. Mike and Mary Dan Eades – Founders, SousVide Supreme
Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades are the co-creators and co-founders of SousVide Supreme. They are also recognized nutritional experts, and authors of fifteen books on nutrition and weight loss, including The New York Times Bestseller Protein Power, and their newest book The 6-Week Cure for the Middle-Aged Middle (it’s Lose Your Middle Aged Middle in the UK). You can learn more about the Eades on their site Protein Power.

Travis Martinez – Owner, TX Bar Organics
TX Bar Organics is a family-owned grass-fed, grass-finished, 100% organic beef retailer that never uses antibiotics or growth hormones. All the cattle are born and raised on their ranch in Northern California. All ranching practices are GAP certified, ensuring all the animals are treated humanely in a low-stress, open-pasture environment.

Michelle Tam – Blogger, Nom Nom Paleo
Best Special Diets Food Blog of 2012 winner by Saveur magazine, Nom Nom Paleo is all about food porn and recipes galore. With vivid photos and snarky humor, the site shows that Paleo eating is for everyone – even those with busy schedules and demanding palates.


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  • Lesli Torres says:

    I wanted to thank you for your wonderful recipes in your book and on here. My husband and I started Paleo last week but with finding your website and book I was able to make so many delicious meals that it doesn’t feel like, well a diet! You know where you are dying for all that food you can’t have! I am happy to have found your website!

    • Mel says:

      Thank YOU for your sweet comment! Congratulations on making the switch to paleo — I’m so glad you don’t feel like you’re dieting. That’s just what I hoped would happen with my recipes.

  • Heather says:

    Possibly a dumb question about sous vide-ing: isn’t it bad to heat plastic around the food? We try to avoid plastics as much as possible, especially heated up. Am I missing something?

    • Mel says:

      That’s not a dumb question at all! Nom Nom Paleo wrote a blog post about it:

      “…there are some bags on the market that are indeed safe for sous vide purposes, and pose no problems from a BPA or EA perspective. The key is to stick with vacuum bags that are free of BPA, phthalates, and other plasticizers. It’s the plasticizers — chemical additives like phthalates that increase the pliability and fluidity of the plastic — that contain EA.”

  • Tim says:

    “because the food can’t overcook, no matter how long you leave it in the bath.”

    Not really. You can’t “overcook” it in the sense that it will maintain the same internal temp but if you leave it long enough the texture will get mushy-ish.

    I know thst manufacturer sent you their water bath but another possibly more attractive option for those lacking space is an immersion circulated. The lower polyscience model is about $100 more but it’s portable, you can store it when not in use, you can use it in any (large enough pot) and it circulates the water meaning zero temp fluctuations in your bath. I have no relationship with either manufacturer.

    I recommend te single volume “Modernist Cuisine at Home” book if you are interested in this (and other “modern”) technique(s), and the big daddy 5-volume set if you really get into it. But the latter will cost you as much as a water bath machine.

  • Whoah, Melissa, this is SO cool! I had no idea that Dr. Eades had any connection to the SousVide Supreme.

    And Michelle is going to be a judge? WHAT a showdown! Very excited for you. FINGERS CROSSED!

    See you in Austin!

  • Can’t wait to see what you come up with Mel 🙂

  • You are amazing! I am so honored to be participating in this contest at all, let alone alongside YOU and so many other awesome peeps! Can’t wait to see your recipe!

    • Mel says:

      You are SO sweet… hope you’re having fun learning about sous vide. I had A LOT to learn. Yeesh! Can’t wait to see what you cook up, too!

  • Tianna says:

    “But it wouldn’t be one of my recipes if there weren’t some serious spices involved.”

    Made me chuckle a little as I just finished eating spice market kale. HOLY SPICES! It was lovely. 🙂

  • MelissaS says:

    Ooooooooooooo sous vide. I’m on a whole kitchen accessory obsession right now. I want it all until I can no longer see my counter. I’ve been using the nutri bullet for chopping which is kind of a pain in the ass but I’m dogsitting for my brother and used their 12 cup Cusinart Elite to make your chili. Hot damn–a)my home smells like a mixture of heaven and nirvana and b) I want. Which makes no sense since I live alone (unless I turn my two dogs into dino-chowers, too). Anyway, rock out the challenge! I’ll be enjoying my chili and squash (thanks to you) and rooting for the 49-ers tonight!

    • Mel says:

      Do you think the Chocolate Chili had anything to do with the 49ers victory?! I kind think it did 🙂

      • MelissaS says:

        Yes, we here in San Francisco thank you for your voodoo-for-good chili (this will be my new name for it)! I guess this means I’ll need to make it when they play next week, too. Now if only you could voodoo me up a beer which tastes like Anchor Steam but, in fact, is made from coconut aminos and cauliflower. Sigh, looks like it’ll be my signature drink of sparkling water, mint leaves, and lemon instead. Day 6 of Whole 30! Thanks to you for making the adjustment less godawful with your scrumptious recipes. Yum-yum!

  • MelissaS says:

    Tell me about it. I had a dream (a little different from MLK’s) about a pizza I ate the night before starting the Whole 30–New York style, ricotta, torn basil, Italian sausage. Chianti. sigh. BUT tonight I resolve to make Moroccan stuffed bell peppers instead (switching up your recipe to fit my old signature dish). Go, me? DAY 8 Eyes on the Prize.

  • Sharon says:

    Excited to see you make the sous vide plunge. Can’t wait to try your awesome creations. Happy 2013!