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Sous-vide, the stall, and target temperatures

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  • binarypaladin
    Club Member
    • May 2017
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    Sous-vide, the stall, and target temperatures

    I am considering doing pulled pork for a family gathering next weekend—although ribs are still in the mix too.

    Does anyone have in experience with doing sous-vide first and how it affects the stall? It seems like it has to since you're pushing out a lot of liquid. I do prefer to finish on the grill, but all of my smoke after sous-vide cooks so far have been beef cuts that didn't need to push higher than 120ºF or so or poultry that is cooked at a higher temperature anyway.

    I'm not going to try and plan around a 12+ hour cook since I simply won't have the prep time leading up to things. So, if I can cheat with sous-vide first, great.

    I suppose if I were to sous-vide for a long period at a higher temp, it might not matter though. I'd already have cooked to peak and would just need to reheat, smoke, and bark. However, when I sous-vide I usually do it so:

    1. I can have food at a lower temperature and do so safely (e.g. burgers and poultry).
    2. I can cook certain meats for very long periods at a lower temp (e.g. beef roasts).

    Is there a good reason to take something like pulled pork as high as 203ºF if it's been in a water bath around like, 165ºF for a day or two? Perhaps I don't fully understand the particular magic of going over 200ºF except that it's a necessary byproduct of traditional low'n slow.
  • EdF
    EdF
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    • Jul 2016
    • 3157
    • Atlantic Highlands, NJ
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    #2
    Nope. I SV butts at around 165F for about 18 hours. Ice bath and overnight in the fridge. 240-250 a couple/three hours to get some bark (~170 internal).

    Doneness, and in particular the rendering of the collagen, which is the point of ~203F in a smoker, is a combination of time and temp. That's why you can go lower temp in SV with longer time and get similar results for tenderness.

    Comment


    • rodkeary
      rodkeary commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks Ed. I smoked my first butts yesterday. 18 hours @ 165 then on the kettle for 3 1/2 @ 250. Trying to get to 170 I hit a stall at 167. Hence my enquiry.

    • EdF
      EdF commented
      Editing a comment
      How did it come out?

    • rodkeary
      rodkeary commented
      Editing a comment
      As it was my 1st butt so I can't compare but I really liked it. Great bark (rode the stall out), pulled easily, moist (I simmered the purge and added it back in) and nice smoke (peach). Looking forward to leftovers when I get home. Thanks!
  • SmokenInTexas
    Former Member
    • Jul 2017
    • 105

    #3
    Is it really worth using Sous Vide on a pork butt it being one of the easiest cuts to smoke?
    I am looking forward to trying out a Picanha and a Brisket using the Sous Vide method and then tossing em in the smoker.

    Comment


    • EdF
      EdF commented
      Editing a comment
      Sometimes it's a good thing; sometimes it's not! Choice is almost always a good thing IMO. But I could be wrong.

    • hogdog6
      hogdog6 commented
      Editing a comment
      Having options is a great thing. 😉

    • binarypaladin
      binarypaladin commented
      Editing a comment
      What was the total cook time in the stall?
  • binarypaladin
    Club Member
    • May 2017
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    #4
    Originally posted by SmokenInTexas View Post
    Is it really worth using Sous Vide on a pork butt it being one of the easiest cuts to smoke?
    I am looking forward to trying out a Picanha and a Brisket using the Sous Vide method and then tossing em in the smoker.
    I'm getting good at temperature control, but not good enough to leave a cooker unattended over night. As I said in the post, I also don't have the time to do the prep the night/morning before anyway. I actually would love to do a sous-vide version side-by-side with a traditional version with all other things being the same.

    Sous-vide is currently set and forget. My smoker isn't (a kettle + SNS). I have a feeling my next gadget is going to be something like the PartyQ for exactly that purpose, although if I end up finding that I enjoy the sous-vide versions more, that might be a waste. (And I can't help but always feeling like a device like the PartyQ is cheating. I know it's not. I know that inclination goes against being pragmatic but... it feels like cheating, haha.)

    Comment


    • hogdog6
      hogdog6 commented
      Editing a comment
      Think komado 🔥

    • binarypaladin
      binarypaladin commented
      Editing a comment
      Yeah. I'm thinking about those too but they're pretty pricey. I do like their fuel efficiency and like baking too.

    • vandy
      vandy commented
      Editing a comment
      I am planning on doing a butt on my new Kamado Joe Big Joe this weekend, the plan is to put it on around 10PM tonight and have it ready by around 2 tomorrow afternoon. I have the Flameboss that I need to christen.
  • vandy
    Club Member
    • Aug 2015
    • 611
    • Olive Branch, MS

    #5
    I have done 2 pork butts Sous Vide and each time I went for 155 in the water at 36 hours then into an ice bath for 1 hour then into the fridge for at least 24 hours. Both of them were pre-seasoned and injected before cooking. Both times I smoked them on my Lang for around 4 hours to get a nice bark and both times it turned out great, I had a good bark and the meat was tender and juicy but I did not have to tend a fire for 12 to 14 hours. I pulled both of them off the Lang when the IT was around 150 and put them into a cambro for at least 2 hours before pulling the meat apart. The really nice thing about doing a butt this way is you do not have to deal with a stall.

    Comment

    • binarypaladin
      Club Member
      • May 2017
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      #6
      This is all very encouraging. Thanks for the input. This makes it much easier to plan, that's for sure. One day I'll have to do a side-by-side between sous-vide and straight Q.

      Comment


      • vandy
        vandy commented
        Editing a comment
        That would be a great way to find out which you prefer or if there is enough difference to smoke one all the way on the grill/smoker. If you do it let us know your findings and preference. I may do that same thing in the future.

      • binarypaladin
        binarypaladin commented
        Editing a comment
        That would be an interesting weekend project. (Not this weekend though. Today's project has me in a bit of a pizza comma.)
    • dtassinari
      Former Member
      • Jan 2017
      • 99

      #7
      I'm currently forced to sous-B-Q only (long story), and I can confirm that the results are definitely good enough for me. Plus you can't beat the convenience.

      One thing to consider is that the higher your water bath temperature, the more traditional your pork's texture is going to be. vandy 's 68 C / 155 F is probably as low as I would go: the end result will pull beautifully after 36 hours, with moister meat and fat that's less rendered. At the other extreme of the spectrum you could cook it at 75 C / 165 F for 8 hours, and it would still pull and be more similar to BBQ pulled pork.

      As for the stall, I don't really know for sure, since once the meat is cooked I'm just looking to firm up the bark at 150 C / 300 F for a couple of hours. If you went low and slow you might get a late stall, but only if for some reason you decided to take it to 90+ C / 200+ F anyway.

      Comment


      • vandy
        vandy commented
        Editing a comment
        The reason I did not take the meat all the way to 200+ was the meat was falling apart by the time in got to around 140 so I pulled it at 150 wrapped it in foil then cambroe'd it for a couple hours.

      • dtassinari
        dtassinari commented
        Editing a comment
        Of course! It's already softened so there'd be no point in cooking it again I even pull it straight out the kettle without resting it.
    • vandy
      Club Member
      • Aug 2015
      • 611
      • Olive Branch, MS

      #8
      My thinking on doing the butt at 155 for a longer time was to get the meat really tender and it did do that, both of those cooks was with the meat coming directly out of the freezer into the water bath. I quite honestly could not tell a difference in the texture of the meat done this way versus cooking it on the smoker the whole time at 225 to an IT of 203 but I could tell some difference in the amount of smoke flavor the meat had. I do plan on trying different times and temps in the water bath on future tests, the reason I did that test twice was to find out if the repeatability was possible and it was to a certain extent. The second one did not taste as good as the first one and the only difference was the wood that was used in the Lang during the smoking phase. I used apple wood on the first cook and hickory on the second, I now know that to my taste the apple won out. You may have different results if you did the same test because no two people have the same taste buds. I plan on doing another butt tonight/tomorrow using the Kamado Joe with KJ charcoal and apple chunks so I can find out how the ceramic cooker fairs with pulled pork

      Comment

      • dtassinari
        Former Member
        • Jan 2017
        • 99

        #9
        vandy I'm absolutely not criticising your method! Just pointing out that there's more than a way to get to the same result.

        As for the difference in texture, I've never done a side-by-side so I'm speculating a bit, but I do find that the higher the cooking temperature, the better the fat renders, even if the collagen is denatured to the same extent. It seems to me that the only aspect where SV pulled pork is lacking a bit is in the lip-smacking-ness given by the extra rendered fat. That's why I add back all the fat rendered in the bag to the pulled meat

        I do agree that other cooking incidentals (rub, amount of smoke etc) make much more of a difference in the final result than SV or no SV, but I am a bit of a pedant...

        Comment


        • vandy
          vandy commented
          Editing a comment
          One of my problems is the fact that I don't cook a butt once every week or 2 so my experiments are a lot further apart than a lot of you guys. Next time I SV one I will try the higher temp/shorter time to find out if and how much difference it makes.

        • vandy
          vandy commented
          Editing a comment
          Thank you for those tips by the way, like I have always said the more tools you have in your tool box the better job you can do. If that way is better then I will certainly do it that way over lower temp/longer cook time. I am keeping notes on the cooks also.
      • binarypaladin
        Club Member
        • May 2017
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        #10
        Originally posted by dtassinari View Post
        vandy I'm absolutely not criticising your method! Just pointing out that there's more than a way to get to the same result.

        As for the difference in texture, I've never done a side-by-side so I'm speculating a bit, but I do find that the higher the cooking temperature, the better the fat renders, even if the collagen is denatured to the same extent. It seems to me that the only aspect where SV pulled pork is lacking a bit is in the lip-smacking-ness given by the extra rendered fat. That's why I add back all the fat rendered in the bag to the pulled meat

        I do agree that other cooking incidentals (rub, amount of smoke etc) make much more of a difference in the final result than SV or no SV, but I am a bit of a pedant...
        I've had some excellent results reducing the liquid from sous-vide pork—in fact, better than chicken and beef. I tend to end up with this perfect gelatin that is about as porky as it gets. I do some filtering and then reducing. I imagine adding that back into the meat after pulling would yield some very nice results. Warmed gelatin is excellent in terms of texture.

        I think I am going to do a side-by-side and a write up just for fun anyway. It'll give me an excuse to get something like a PartyQ (because who doesn't need an excuse?) anyway.

        Comment

        • abandonedbrain
          Club Member
          • Jul 2016
          • 122
          • Lower Peninsula, MI

          #11
          I hate to toot my own horn, binarypaladin, but a month or so ago I did exactly what you wish to do, and tried to jot down as much detail as my brain would let go of in the process. Take a look at this thread:
          https://pitmaster.amazingribs.com/fo...with-asterisks

          It was definitely a learning experience for me, and although specific to the Pit Barrel Cooker (PBC) the technique should work with any smoker. I'm enjoying most of what I sous vide lately; fun experiments I get to eat, always a good thing!

          The short answer is that you definitely don't need to bring that butt to 203F-ish. That's only necessary if cooking over indirect radiant heat. Since sous vide is a contact method, it's not going to lose energy to steaming the meat; you'll lose liquid, but then that liquid will still act to cook the meat! As you're holding the meat at-temp for X amount of hours, the collagen and the fats will slowly break down, normally the main reason you need to push smoker/grilled meat higher. It's a time thing, not a temp thing. If you could bring your butts up to temp even SLOWER than doing so at around 225F, you wouldn't need to top out over 200F. And that's basically what you're doing in the water bath, but with a degree of control you don't normally see in BBQ.

          And dtassinari is right on with recommended temps/time.

          Comment

          • binarypaladin
            Club Member
            • May 2017
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              Thermoworks Smoke
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              Flame Boss 300

            #12
            Right on! And toot away. I literally just picked up the pork butt at Costco and it's going in sous-vide for a while. Still debating on time and temp, but I probably have everything I need in this thread.

            Your timing is about as perfect as it can be.

            I may still do a side-by-side for fun but I don't bave time before entertaining some cousins this weekend.

            Comment

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