I am terrified of cooking meat. I worry so much about giving someone food poisoning that I overcook my chicken or steak until it is leather. Which is why I was so excited to try out firstchop’s chef-prepared meats, and even more thrilled that it produced two of the best meals I’ve eaten in a long while.
Launched this month, firstchop is a meat-box subscription service that sends you a selection of chef-prepared, vacuum-sealed, fully cooked proteins. Store them in your freezer and when you’re ready to cook one, you simply dump the bag into a sous vide bath and re-heat. The company even sends you a sous vide wand in their starter box.
Firstchop sent me a box to try out earlier this week. Based on that experience, here’s what you can expect.
The starter box comes with everything you need: a firstchop-branded sous vide wand and a selection of four proteins. All of the meat arrived frozen (which was good because the California wildfires had caused shipping delays) and labeled. The company also offers a larger and smaller box, neither of which come with the sous vide wand.
SOUS VIDE WAND
Smart kitchen aficionados will notice that the firstchop sous vide wand looks a lot like the Anova. Firstchop’s wand, however is not WiFi enabled, so there’s no smartphone app to control it.
I was sent Spicy Green Curry Chicken, Peruvian Style Chicken Breast, Peppercorn Beef Medallions, and Boneless Osso Bucco Lamb Shoulder with Root Vegetables (you don’t get to pick your proteins). Each were in their own sealed pouch with heating instructions on the paper sleeve. The portions are plenty for two adults.
When I initially talked with firstchop, they said the meals were perfect for busy people because they could be prepared in about forty minutes. This is technically true, but there are a few caveats. If you keep your meat frozen, the reheat time is about 45 minutes, however, that doesn’t take into consideration the amount of time it takes to bring the water to temperature. So people using the service should budget in at least an hour if not an hour and half.
The firstchop wand works remarkably well. I actually cooked two proteins at the same time, one with the First Chop wand and one with the Anova. The firstchop was a little wonky in setting the timer, but it was actually a little easier to use than the Anova because of the lack of WiFi. The Anova kept buzzing my phone with temperature notifications because it wanted me to use one of its preset guides.
Once the bath was at temperature, I dropped the food in and let it alone. When the timer beeped, I pulled the bag out of the water and removed the protein. Unlike sous videing raw meat, there wasn’t a need to sear the firstchop meat after. I just sliced it up and served it to my family.
I made two proteins: the lamb and the beef, and both were remarkable. Incredible. Fantastic. The meat was tender and perfectly seasoned. At the risk of sounding fanboyish, it was like a restaurant meal from my kitchen. My whole family loved both the beef and the lamb, and we devoured it all.
My first firstchop experience made me a convert. My wife immediately wanted to know how much a box was and how big of a “problem” this was going to be for our family. I can definitely see myself ordering, at the very least, the small box to supplement our weekly routine.
My only complaints right now are around the sourcing of the meat. Firstchop describes their meat as “restaurant quality,” which means nothing to me. I eat and enjoy meat, but am also conscious of where it comes from. The firstchop FAQ says it will roll out grass-fed and organic meats in the future, and I hope they do so soon. I’d pay extra for sustainably and humanely sourced animal products.
A firstchop starter box comes with ten “servings” of meat and a sous vide wand for $79, and there’s no monthly commitment. The company is basically giving the wand away to get you to try the service. And based on my experience, you definitely should.
UPDATE: After we published this article, firstchop changed their pricing. This post has been updated to reflect that change.