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Breville HydroPro Plus Review: Sous Vide on Steriodi

Illustration for the article titled I Love This Sous Watch On Steroids, Even If It’s Overkill

Photo: Brent Rose / Gizmodo

I often described sous vide as “the blackest way to cook a steak”. I also think that’s the best way. Or, at least, the best way to get always excellent results and have it be almost impossible to beat. Honestly, I don’t think it could be improved much, so when I heard that a new video game machine was calling the HydroPro Plus from PolyScience also added another layer of nerdiness on top of sous vide — something called delta cuisine — I didn’t see the point. And then I tasted the results and I immediately lost my mind.

A quick first vide vide for non-culinary geeks: Sous vide, translated freely from French, means “vacuum,” even if you don’t really need a vacuum or something to do it. Basically, sous vide devices are immersion heaters / circulators. They heat a water bath to a very specific temperature and keep it there. Put your food (most often meat, but there are recipes for veggies, eggs, and desserts) in a thermal plastic bag (maybe silicone), get as much air out of the bag as possible, and then dip it into the bag. bath and leave the cooking slow and low for a very long time.

The idea is that if the perfect cooking level for a steak is 131 degrees Fahrenheit, then you put the water at 131 degrees, and then the whole steak slowly reaches that temperature, so no part of it is overcooked, no part is poorly cooked, and loses very little moisture because it is all sealed here. You will then have a quick sear for just taste, and you will have the most perfect steak cooked imaginable. If you accidentally leave it for three hours too long, it will still be fine. Basically, try to idiot some serious gourmet stuff.

Oversized and Missing an App

The HydroPro Plus is a sous vide machine. It looks like most other consumer sous vide machines these days, except that it’s both bigger and thicker than your typical sous vide home, which makes them a little intimidating. My go-to sous vide, the ChefSteps Joule, is very small by comparison and easily fits in a drawer. I don’t have a big enough case for the HydroPro Plus.

The Joule needs to be controlled by a smartphone app, however, which can be a pain and sometimes doesn’t work well. In contrast, the HydroPro Plus has a large, bright touchscreen. On that touchscreen there is an app called Sous Vide Toolbox. You are asked a series of questions such as: what are you cooking, is it fresh or frozen, how thick is it, and what kind of doneness do you want. Just touch what you want, and soon, the water starts to heat up to the correct temperature, and the timers are all ready and good to go. You can also manually set the times and times, and you can also save the settings if it’s something you plan to cook again, which is very useful.

HydroPro Plus (top), Joule (bottom).

HydroPro Plus (top), Joule (bottom).
Photo: Brent Rose / Gizmodo

I will say that for such an expensive device it is a shame that it does not have a wifi connection or a complete smartphone app. This is a common feature for home cooks these days, and often gives you the ability to watch videos of various (useful) structure options as well as the ability to monitor the kitchen even if you leave the house (even more useful). ). There’s a Bluetooth radio and an iOS / Android app, but it’s only used for recording times and times for tracking and reporting food safety (more so for professional cooks).

However, HydroPro is extremely intuitive for a standalone system.

What on Earth is Delta Cooking?

There are actually two versions of this thing: The HydroPro ($ 500) and The HydroPro Plus ($ 600). Both can do all the things I mentioned above. The HydroPro Plus, however, comes with a needle-shaped digital probe thermometer, which allows it to delta cook. Consider it below next level views. With the delta cooker, insert the needle probe into the center of the thing you are cooking. Pass the plastic sous vide bag, but put a piece of foam tape (some of which is included with the HydroPro Plus) on the bag before drilling, and so water can’t even get in.

The HydroPro Plus is an upgraded immersion circulator.

The HydroPro Plus is an upgraded immersion circulator.
Photo: Brent Rose / Gizmodo

With the delta cooker, unlike regular vacuum cookers, you make the water much hotter than you would like the final internal temperature to be. It’s not quite “set and forget”. The HydroPro Plus has an alarm (a strong one), so when the needle probe senses the target internal temperature, it will sound, and then pull it out. This accomplishes two things.

1. Delta cooking is faster. With sous vide, the last degrees take the longest, because there is the smallest differential between water temperature and food. By using warmer water, your food will reach the right heart temperature 30-50% faster, which could shave hours off after dinner.

2. Delta cuisine creates variations in structure. Because the use of sous vide makes everything end up at the same temperature, if you cook something like a fatty slice of salmon, you can have a homogeneous texture that feels weird — like dying into a butter stick. With delta cuisine, there is more contrast. You can also get that perfectly sweet medium-rare one in the middle, but then it gets a little blurry as you go out of the center.

There are many different delta cooking techniques you can use, which gives you more to take advantage of and experience (this is PolyScience delta kitchen explainers). This gives you even more options to avoid it. It’s certainly not for everyone, but delta cooking is an addition to a chef’s toolbox. For what it’s worth, the HydroPro Plus is the only consumer sous vide machine that has an integrated temperature probe integration. You can also delta cook with a normal sous vide and an independent needle probe thermometer, but you should look closely.

The Results

So anyway, how does it all work out? Extremely good. The water heats up nicely and quickly, which isn’t surprising, since it circulates 17 liters per minute, and can heat up to a 45-liter bath (which would work for a small restaurant). I made several steaks using standard sous vide techniques and everything turned out to be tender and delicious as expected.

Pour the steak.

Pour the steak.
Photo: Brent Rose / Gizmodo

And “a-ha!” moment was when I delta-cooked some salmon fillets. I gave a quick peel to the skin before putting it in her bag, I added some fresh sage, salt, garlic powder, pepper and olive oil, then I sealed it and I inserted the probe into needles. I turned the water bath to 180 degrees Fahrenheit, but I set the internal temperature alarm to fire to 122 degrees F. It only took 13 minutes to reach the right core temperature. I immediately opened the bag, packed it, and oh, mine, god. It was the best salmon I have ever had in my life. It was so perfectly tender and juicy, but it also had just the right amount of shades. It didn’t have that weird uniform plot that you usually get from sous vide. I always had the urge to eat salmon, it was just the platonic ideal of what salmon could be.

Again, I would not recommend delta at all. I also tried it on a piglet (which, I was told, would benefit from a bit of structural contrast). This was a shorter / longer cook. I set the water to 151 degrees F and the temp probe alarm to 143.5. The idea was that this would give me a faster cook, and it certainly did. It was ready 45 minutes later. I quickly roasted both sides in a cast iron skillet. The results were … good. They were good, but they didn’t taste like salmon to me.

The most ambitious cooking I tried did not involve delta, but it involved a lot of patience. I tossed some short beef ribs to give them a brazier (and to pasteurize the surface), then dipped them in a bag, added some marinade I made, and cooked them at 160 degrees F for 48 hours. The result was incredibly tender and juicy. If you pick up a bone, the meat will fall off immediately. I’m glad I did, but I’m in no hurry to do it again. I mean, it can’t be. It takes too much.

Is it worth the money?

Ultimately, I love cooking with this thing. It’s powerful and intuitive, and I like the option of being able to cook delta, because it gives me more things I can experience. And for professional cooks, being able to record the internal temperatures of food for HACCP compliance makes this kind of tricky. That said, for the average home chef who just wants to dip his fingers in the kitchen sous vide, it’s absolutely excessive.

It’s nice, but at $ 500 or $ 600 (for HydroPro or HydroPro Plus, respectively), it’s quite expensive, especially when there are excellent sous vide machines at home in the $ 200 range that have apps that do a lot of work. If you have the money and desire to get uber-geeky with your food, though, this thing is fantastic.

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