The Cinder is the Terminator’s panini maker

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Come with me if you want to sear. The Cinder, which we first looked at two years ago, is now selling on Indiegogo and I had the unique opportunity to try this clever sous vide-style meat cooker.

Basically the Cinder cooks meat perfectly. You place a hunk on the internal platter, set the temperature, and close the heavy lid. The lid acts as a sort of vacuum seal that keeps in juices while a trough lets the fat drain off and into a little collector. Finally, when the meat is cooked through, it sears the meat completely. The Cinder costs $499 for early birds and ships in July.

So how does it work? I tested it with chicken and skirt steak and found it to be quite easy to use if a little bulky. The entire package is about 13″ x 17″ x 7″ inches with a large, heavy top plate. It doesn’t lend itself to storage in a small apartment but if you have lots of counter space it works well.

How does it cook? Pretty good. The chicken came out quite nicely and it was really juicy yet firm, especially after a good sear. I also ran some skirt steak through it and got back a well-seared if dry bit of meat that made for some good tacos.

To be clear I didn’t use a nice cut of meat. The skirt steak I cooked was tough as nails and the resulting meat was better than the slab I put into the machine. It took about 25 minutes – you can read a complete recipe here – and although it looks pretty overdone the sear was great and the internal meat was just fine. In short, it’s made a good steak without much fuss.

I love sous vide steaks and the Cinder, although the meat is not in a true vacuum, simulates the sous vide experience quite well. If you cook a lot of meat and don’t want to go through the rigmarole of getting out the cast iron to cook and sear your thick steaks I suspect the Cinder will work well. It is quite large and quite unwieldly so if you plan on putting in your kitchen give it a place of honor and don’t expect to move it.

The styling, the usability, and the build quality on this thing are top notch, especially for an indie hardware project. I’d recommend this to anyone who needs a meat fix and, although you can overcook stuff in this beast, I suspect with a little planning you’ll find yourself with a nicely cooked and seared piece of meat every time.