This is a story about low-temp water bath cooking. Long a favorite way for chemists to precisely control their reactions, it has now been widely adopted in the culinary world as Sous Vide cooking. Recently the technology has been adapted for the home. And even more recently, the temperature control electronics have been boxed. Now those of us in tiny kitchens can attach a brain to a cheap crockpot. With very little effort or attention, we can all cook meat as perfectly as the most experienced chef.
I discovered that this cooking process can also be used to mold proteins into fun shapes. So let's do it.
Step 1: Meat the Dork
You will need some meat, cling wrap, a crockpot, a temperature controller, a culinary torch, a functional kitchen, and a healthy appetite.
This is my water bath cooker. I call it the Dork because the temperature controller is made by an outfit called DorkFood. (You can wire together your own with generic components from Amazon, but the savings are slim.) The heater is a $14 gallon-sized crockpot.
Together they use about 10¢ worth of electricity per day. Yes, I mean it will cook 24 hours for a dime. This is important in Florida because not enough heat is generated to ever make the kitchen uncomfortable. Together with the peerless results, it has become my favorite way to cook meat. If you like medium-rare roast beef, the Dork will give you beef at 132 degrees from stem to stern no matter how long it cooks. Maybe you prefer your beef at 133 degrees — you got it. Or whatever else you like. It's virtually foolproof.