Sous-vide cooking is the cool-kid kitchen technique. It peaked around 2009, and has remained a fixture in a lot of high-end kitchens.
But now that Starbucks is on to it, does it mean sous vide has lost its cool-kid edge? And more importantly, how do Starbucks Sous Vide Egg Bites taste?
Here's how it works: Put a vacuum-sealed bag full of food in a temperature-controlled water bath and slow cook, anywhere from an hour to two days. The resulting product will be tender, moist, and flavorful as fuck thanks to the fact that none of the food's inherent flavor is lost to cooking oil, the pan, or evaporation.
Starbucks made the corporate decision to add the "egg bites" because so many health-fiends and gluten-avoiders were ordering their breakfast sandwiches sans bread. Since eggs are typically a thing requiring knife and fork, the company went to work tinkering on a hand-held egg product.
Sounds like a pretty horrible idea, right? Nope. These things are strangely, addictively delicious. In the course of a one-hour research mission, I managed to disappear four of them.
They’re available in two flavors: Egg White & Red Pepper, and Bacon & Gruyere. The latter is decidedly tastier, like eating whole eggs with, well, bacon and Gruyere instead of, say, an egg white omelet. The calorie difference is 170 vs. 310 per serving, and completely worth the extra flavor if you’re gonna do it.
True to the reputed cooking method, the texture is creamy, almost souffle-like in nature. You can totally taste the Gruyere, though cottage cheese and Monterey Jack appear in the ingredients list prior to the Gruyere, so there’s probably a bit of bait and switch going on here (especially since real Gruyere retails for about $14 to $19 per pound). But whatever. These little dudes are delicious.
So tasty are these little nuggets, they seem to be sparking a bit of a national frenzy, with copycats trying to reverse-engineer them at home. Based on the findings, you don't even need a sous-vide machine to do it. In fact, it's unclear where the sous-vide process comes into play with the Starbucks version. It’s possible your egg bites get the water bath back at the ol' factory, but at your local shop they simply get rewarmed in a Turbo-Chef oven.
And here’s the bad news. Consider that if one were to make eggs with Gruyere and bacon at home, the breakfast would contain exactly three ingredients: eggs, Gruyere, and bacon. Instead, these little "egg bites" (see how wily, this corporate-speak?) contain almost 30 ingredients, including stabilizers and emulsifiers like guar gum and carageenan; mono-and diglycerides to extend shelf life, plus xanthan gum, carob bean gum, and potassium sorbate. And those are just the ingredients in one of the cheeses.
While a serving may only be 310 calories, it's hardly enough to get you through the morning without feeling hungry in an hour, and that serving also contains 22 grams of fat, 14 grams of saturated fat (70 percent of a daily value), and 185mg of cholesterol -- more than half the daily value.
So think of these as a delicious treat, an easy, on-the-go breakfast. But if it’s a healthy meal you’re looking for, bread-eschewers, you’re probably not doing yourself any more favors than ordering a cupcake creme cappuccino in place of a black coffee.