You've probably seen chefs on TV cook sous vide and thought, "I could never do that."

You can. And you don't need any special equipment. You don't even need to be a very attentive cook. Let me explain.

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Sous vide is French for "under vacuum." Basically, you put food in a sealed plastic then place it in a temperature-controlled water bath to cook for a long time.

A few years ago, my husband bought me a sous vide machine for Christmas, and it's great. But a digital thermometer mounted on the side of a pot on your stove works, as well. There are vacuum bags you can buy specifically for sous vide cooking, but a storage grade zip-top bag works fine under the commonly used temperatures. Remove as much air as possible before sealing any container you use.

Over the holidays, my husband cooked perfectly tender steaks by first using the sous vide method, then searing the steaks on the grill. He says he loves sous vide because you can set it and forget about it.

Well, I certainly took that to heart when I decided to sous vide some potatoes.

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First, I let the water level get too low and the machine started howling. Then, I put the potatoes on, took a nap, ignored the timer, woke up and went directly out to drop off my daughter and do some shopping. It wasn’t until I was in the checkout line at the store — an hour after the timer went off — that I remembered the potatoes!

Guess what? They were fine!

Recipe for Coffee-Marinated Lamb Loin Sous Vide

Because of the indirect heat, they didn’t burn, although they were a bit more tender than they should have been. I do not recommend really forgetting about it — or anything you’ve got cooking.

One last thing to remember about the sous vide method is that flavors — herbs, spices, onions — will get stronger over the long cook period. So use less than usual and opt for fresh over dried versions.

Teresa B. Day is a local food writer and author of the “I Eat BR” blog. Contact her at