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Sous vide plus smoker grill ?

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    Sous vide plus smoker grill ?

    Hi everyone, this is my first post here !

    (I really got rambling down below, the sous vide/smoker grill part is under #3 ! )

    1. I have a Traeger Junior Elite 20. It is small but sufficient for most of my needs. One thing I've noticed is that when it is cool and windy the temp tends to be a bit low. I think it is because the junior model uses a lighter gauge steel and it doesn't keep the heat in as well. I have made some awesome food on it. My favorite is probably tri tip. I used to live in Santa Maria, where they cook on red oak wood exclusively. After I had lived there a short while, I asked someone if they used gas or charcoal to grill. (This was during an ad campaign on TV that had a debate about that, in the late 90's I guess). The guy seemed somewhat offended, and answered, "No, I cook on red oak". I think the Traeger gets close to that. OK I am not selling or advertising for Traegers here. I also have managed to cook some very nice pork butt, which we ate as "carnitas". So good !

    2. When the meat shortage started, I ran up to the Costco Business Center in San Diego a few times and bought some big cryopaks of "sub-primal" cuts. Basically this is a ~20lb bag that looks like a giant blob of meat. In terms of tri tip, there might be five or six in there. For skirt/flank/flap meat, It is three or four pieces. For other cuts, trimming and cutting into usable pieces can be done. I looked on youtube for advice, and it was very confusing. The butchers are referring to the front, back, sides, and flipping the meat over and around. It looks mostly like a big blob to me and it was a challenge to figure out which side was up. Ultimately, I bought a butcher knife and two semi-stiff boning knives from a local restaurant supply knife shop, and a roll sharp to keep them keen. There were several packages and as a novice, it took me an hour or two two cut up each 20lb pack. I had a couple of "inside round cap off", a couple of packs of "flap meat", a "chuck roll", two or three pork butts, a hunk of ribeye with the bone in. That's about as much as I remember. The ribeye I just cut into sections with about three bones each. The pork butts I cut in two or three pieces each. The inside round (also called "top round") was a real challenge. One butcher showed cutting off a couple of London broil off the end going with the grain, and another liked to cut them off against the grain. Then the rest they just cut into roasts. This is a very lean piece and was tricky to cook. We have tried the crock pot with middling success and I am still scratching my head over it. The London broils came out a bit tough after a smoke on the Traeger with and without marinading, and I am rethinking that, maybe a quick sear would be better. As I mentioned the pork butt cooked up awesome on the Traeger, yum yum ! The cut that looked the most complicated was the chuck roll, so I procrastinated and saved that for last. Meanwhile, it was wet-aging in my fridge for 3 weeks. It turned out that cutting it up was pretty quick and easy, although I didn't do it quite properly. There's a fancy schmancy newer way to utilize the chuck roll and I separated it into too many parts. But I cooked a couple of small roasts on the Traeger and it was incredible. Apart from the crockpot for the top round, we have mostly been making Mexican "Torta" style sandwiches, tacos, and burritos with the meat. BTW I should mention that for most of these sub-primal cuts, I have trimmed off about 5lb of the original 20lbs. More for the pork For the beef, I have gone over the trimmings and reclaimed a pound or two of little pieces suitable for carne asada. I even rendered down the beef fat into sort of tallow (though I understand that technically tallow is from the intra-abdominal/kidney fat). Not sure what I am going to do with it all though! The whole enterprise was a learning experience and kept me a little occupied for some of the coronavirus down-time.

    3. I also have a sous vide cooker, but I don't think it gives as good a flavor as the smoker grill. Today I will cook a few pieces of flap meat. Because it is so thin, and tapers to extra thin on one end, I'm trying to figure out how to get a good smoke flavor, and a good sear, without over-cooking it. I have it in the sous vide now, set for 105F. After a few hours, I will season it, then set the Traeger on smoke (which is around 180F) for 30 minutes, then take it off and crank the Traeger all the way up to 450F. Then I will put it back on to sear for a few minutes. I'm wondering if the 30 minutes at 180F will cook it too much ? I want it to come out to 130 on the inside. I am also thinking about putting the meat into a cold water bath after the smoking and before the searing. I could also sear with my propane torch . . . Any thoughts?
    I just thought of another possible technique, which would be to sous vide it a bit higher, say 120, then cool the meat down, then smoke, then sear. Just not sure what temp and time will work best.

    PS I ordered some of those aluminum grillgrates today. Looking forward to trying those out in the future.

    Last edited by zzdocxx; June 20, 2020, 02:49 PM.

    Welcome zzdocxx. You're on the right track for the post-sous vide smoking. When you pull your roast from the sous vide bath, drop it in an ice water bath for a couple of hours. When you're ready to smoke, put it on your pellet grill and bring it back up to the temp you
    want before searing. Then finish with a good hot, fast sear - or use your torch.


      Welcome to The Pit.


        Welcome from Minnesota (where I only learned about Tri Tip and how to cook it on The Pit a few years ago) IMO just do what theroc already posted above. Good luck it will be great!


          Welcome from Maryland. Use the search box to find references to QVQ. It might give you some more information on what others are trying and achieving. The ice bath is key before any more smoking to prevent overcooking as theroc stated above.


            Welcome and greetings from South Florida.
            There are different methods and techniques. As suggested by
            Donw, do a search and you will find some really good info.
            I prefer to smoke first, then finish sous vide. I’ve found that smoke is assimilated or infused in a way that we prefer when done first, followed by sous vide. If you are looking for bark, then it’s best to reverse and start with sous vide.


              Huntington Beach welcomes you.


                Welcome from Wisconsin. Glad you could join us!

                The combination of sous vide and smoke has many different acronyms depending on what order you do things
                QV= Smoke then water
                QVQ= Smoke, water, more smoke(or sometime sear)
                SVQ= Water then smoke

                There are a lot more ways to jumble up the letters, but you get the idea. Meathead has a whole book that is either soon to be released, or is out now on the subject. And this article over on the free side covers the topic pretty well. https://amazingribs.com/bbq-techniqu.../sous-vide-que

                If you happen to have a good sized piece of chuck hanging around, then I highly recommend Clint's medium rare chuck roast. I can't seem to lay my mouse on the recipe right this second, but a little searching on your part will will turn it up.

                As a very general rule, Any meat gets smoke first, then water bath, and finish with a sear. Unless it's steaks. They get smoke to 120 internal, followed by a hot and fast sear. Time and temps vary based on what I'm looking for as an end result.


                  Thanks so much for the warm welcome and advice !

                  OK here's what I did. First I looked up QVQ and it did take a while to figure it out. (Thanks for the explanation above.)

                  I had two pieces of "flap meat". The guy at Costco Business Center in San Diego recommended it over the skirt and flank steaks. I also had one piece of "Sierra Steak", which is one of the new cuts they take out of the Chuck roll (I actually did it myself). This turned out to be a fair amount thinner than the two flap meat pieces.

                  I put them in the sous vides for three hours at 105F. Then I thought I better bump it up a bit and I turned it up to 125F, but only had time for about 90 minutes.

                  Then I put the vac packs in the ice water bath for 15-20 minutes. Then I seasoned the meat with a DIY mixture of kosher salt, ground pepper, garlic powder, a bit of turbinado sugar, and generous amounts of sage, nutmeg, and cayenne. Don't ask me why, I was just playing around with the mixture a bit. Then I stuck them in the freezer on a big plate while I got the grill ready.

                  After that, I put them on smoke in the Traeger for about forty minutes, along with some Italian sausage, also from Costco. I checked the inside temps at this point and to my surprise, found them in the range of 75-85F. I guess that was from the ice water bath? The other funny thing is that normally my Traeger runs at 180-220F when it is set on "Smoke", but it was only running in the range of 120F today. Was it the cool weather, or the fact that I gave it a thorough cleaning last week after the pellet box caught on fire, or did the fire damage the thermostat, or ? ? ? Before the pellet box caught on fire, I had gone from 180 on the dial and cranked it up to Max. After about 10 minutes it started smoking like I have never seen before and there were flames shooting up along the sides of the drip pan. That's when I figured maybe I better shut it down.

                  So at that low temp of ~120F, I figured I could let them smoke for a while without overcooking them.

                  Took them off, and set the grill up to 375F. Of course you have to realize that everytime you open the lid of that Traeger, you lose quite a bit of heat and it takes it a few minutes to get it back. I put the meat back on and let it go for twenty minutes or so, flipping it about halfway through. The thinner Sierra steak came off and it was perfect and delicious. The two pieces of flap meat looked like they needed more time though. These pieces taper down thinner at one end, so I basically trimmed them off and along the edges, and put them back in at 225F. Maybe that was not hot enough, but I figured they were seared enough and I just wanted to let them cook a little more, but gently. Ie. they were pretty red inside, more rare than I wanted them.

                  After about 15 minutes I took them off. Remember the internal temp seemed to be off and so I didn't use the thermometer again, which in retrospect seems like a mistake. I had to put the larger and thicker piece back on for another 10+ minutes, then another 10+ minutes after that, then called it done. It was still rather red in the middle but the lady who cleans my house said it was delicious so I said she could take the red parts home with her.

                  Let me just say that it all tasted quite good. My favorite part was the thinner Sierra, which was cooked more, but may also be a better cut. The flap meat was also good, and the parts I trimmed off were cooked about right for the most part. (Do you guys ever do this ? )

                  All in all I was pretty happy with the results. This is the first time I have cooked that type of cut. The smoke flavor and sear were good. The only thing I am dissatisfied about it that I missed the mark a little on cooking the two thicker pieces all the way to medium rare. I figure that when they are reheated in a frying pan or microwave, they'll immediately cook up to medium rare so no major harm done.

                  Did I set the grill too low when I put them back in? Should I have just been patient and left them in longer ? (I kept worrying I would over cook them.) Should I have made the initial SV setting 125F ? That was sort of changing the game plan in the middle of things as I was just trying to ballpark the process.

                  It turned out to be a lot of meat. By the time we had sampled all the different sections, and had a few slices of sausage, we were pretty much too full to make the tortas. So we made one for my mom (95th birthday) and later on had some tres leches cake that the lady's daughter had made for her. (Same lady that cleans my place also takes care of my mom.)

                  This nice lady also had about a half dozen gifts for my mom, including a couple of small stuffed animals, a set of large-pieces jigsaw puzzles, and a few kid's games that will be good for her hands and manual dexterity. It almost makes me want to cry to think of the kindness.

                  All in all a good afternoon and evening.

                  Thanks again for all the comments !



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