Sous vide is a method of cooking popularized by Michelin starred chefs like Thomas Keller and Daniel Boulud. This method uses a small device that warms and maintains a water bath at a precise temperature to cook the food. The food is enclosed in a sealed, watertight, bag and cooked in the water bath for long periods of time.
Why do I need this?
This method of cooking retains all of the moisture within the food. It also enables the food to be cooked to, and held at an exact temperature, meaning foods are always cooked to the exact temperature that you want.
I find sous vide to be especially useful in finishing cuts of beef that have been smoked, or reverse seared. Simply cook your meat on the grill or smoker, but pull off at rare, then finish the meat in the sous vide to your desired doneness and it comes out exactly how you want it to every time. It is also extremely useful in rewarming meats like brisket or pulled pork, to keep them nice and juicy, and prevent them drying out.
Which do you recommend?
I own an Anova Nano and a Chefsteps Joule and like them both, but both have their pros and cons.
The Joule is Bluetooth and WiFi enabled allowing you to control the device from your phone. I have found it to heat the water more quickly than the Anova device and it is smaller, meaning it takes up less space in you cabinet when not in use. The negative of the Joule is that it can only be controlled with a smartphone or other device so if you are out of range of your device (or your phone dies) you can't control the device. I also don't like not being able to see the temp the device is set at without pulling out my phone and opening the app.
The Anova Nano allows control from the device itself which I like, and you are able to view the settings from the top of the device. The Anova does seem to take quite a bit longer to heat the water, though it maintains a pretty even temperature, once it gets there. It is also quite a bit larger than the Joule, meaning it takes up more of your valuable cabinet space.