Can Cinder, the World’s Most Precise Griddle, Replace Sous-Vide?

Entering the fray next year is the Cinder, a countertop cooking device that promises to deliver sous-vide-level precision without the bags and the water bath. Think of it as the world’s most precise and powerful George Foreman Grill. The question is, will it deliver?

The project got its start on the mega-incubator Y-Combinator and is currently still in the prototype and production phase. I was treated to a demo of the prototype units a few months back and was impressed with the initial concept. The ability to precision-cook foods and sear them all in the same compact device is appealing to anyone who has ever felt like searing a steak simply isn’t worth the spattering fat, or that cooking a chicken breast sous-vide requires a little too much up-front effort.

Here’s how it works: two ceramic-coated non-stick metal plates heat your food from the top and the bottom. The bottom plate is fixed (though it can be removed for cleaning), while the top plate lifts and pivots up and down, like a panini press. A temperature control dial lets you lock in any temperature from 70 to 525°F (40 to 273°C) with an accuracy of ±1.75°F.

While the final model will supposedly have computer controlled algorithms that predict internal temperature based on starting temperature and thickness (which it automatically measures), the tester unit I have requires the use of a temperature probe which I insert into the center of whatever I’m cooking.

Why that level of precision? Well, with traditional cooking, you cook at temperatures that are much higher than the target internal temperature of your food. A steak is medium-rare when its center hits around 125°F, but the pan you’re cooking it in is closer to 450°F. Let it sit in that pan too long and you end up with overcooked steak. Your window for perfection is very small.

With precise temperature control, you’re able to set your device—whether it’s a sous-vide cooker or the Cinder—to 125°F, place your steak inside it, and walk away. Once it comes up to 125°F in the center, it stays there. It becomes nearly impossible to overcook a steak (or a chicken breast, a pork chop, or a salmon filet, for that matter). Afterwards, all you’ve got to do is sear it and you end up with meat that’s is evenly cooked from edge to edge with a nice browned crust.

Can Cinder

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