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May/June 2019

ChefSteps Joule Big Clamp

You can use the sous vide cooking method in almost any container in your kitchen, from a small bowl to a big cooler—if you have the right clamp.

How We Tested

In sous vide cooking, food is sealed and immersed in a water bath set to a specific temperature. We love this cooking method because it's almost completely hands-off and it's incredibly precise. Plus, setting up a sous vide rig is pretty simple: You fill your cooking vessel with water, attach your immersion circulator to the vessel, and you're ready to go.

Our favorite immersion circulator is the Joule (which costs about $200.00), a compact circulator with thoughtful features such as Wi-Fi connectivity and a magnetic base. However, one of our few complaints about the design is that the included clamp is narrow and can only be effectively attached to vessels with walls that are less than 1 inch thick. To address this issue, ChefSteps (the manufacturer of the Joule immersion circulator) sells the Joule Big Clamp (priced at about $25.00), an attachment that replaces the Joule's standard clamp, allowing you to affix the circulator to containers up to 2.65 inches thick. We wanted to know if this accessory would make our top-rated immersion circulator even more versatile, so we decided to test it out.

Setup took only seconds: It was effortless to replace the Joule's included clamp with the Big Clamp. Also, we loved how the Big Clamp attached quickly and snugly to both the 2.5-inch-thick walls of our favorite cooler by Yeti and the 1.6-inch-thick walls of our Best Buy cooler by Rubbermaid. While the Joule's included clamp works well on almost any pot, pan, or storage container, the Big Clamp lives up to its intended purpose: It allows you to attach the immersion circulator to a large vessel, which is handy when cooking for a crowd or preparing a very large cut of meat.

Methodology

We tested the ChefSteps Joule Big Clamp by ChefSteps, an attachment designed to replace the included clamp on our favorite sous vide immersion circulator when cooking in larger containers. We tested the clamp on a variety of vessels we commonly use for sous vide cooking: 6- and 12-quart Cambro and Rubbermaid containers, a 7.25-quart Dutch oven, a 4-quart saucepan, and two coolers with 2.5-inch-thick and 1.6-inch-thick walls, respectively. To test the clamp's grip, we rattled each container and also nudged the circulator while the Joule was attached. Price shown is what we paid online.

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The Results

Winner
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Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

$33.31*

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.