This is probably the most esoteric/nerdy kitchen appliance I own right now: the Sous Vide Supreme. It’s a “water oven” that allows you to pick an exact temperature you want your food to reach — say, 134 degrees F for medium rare steak. You then season and vacuum seal the food and submerge it in the water and it eventually reaches that exact temperature and never over-cooks. More impressively, the vacuum sealing means you can leave food safely in there, already cooked, for up to several hours, depending on what the food is and what temperature you’ve used.
The science is more complicated but I’ll post about it more later. Right now I’m firing it up to cook some more of the grass-fed meat from Tennessee. It’s great for lean and healthy proteins that otherwise might get dry or tough from other methods of cooking.
You can also use it for firm vegetables like carrots and beets. The combination of sealing and the cooking method makes them taste so intensely like themselves — like super-carrots, for instance — it’s amazing. The final result is then great to puree for intensely flavored soups and such.