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May 1, 2014 08:16 AM

Combine BBQ and Sous Vide?

Has anyone cooked a pork butt with several hours of smoke in the smoker, then bagged and finished sous vide?

I just put a half of a spice rubbed pork butt in the smoker. I'm doing two hours of Applewood and three hours Hickory, at 180F. Then I'm thinking of vacuum bagging it and doing 48 hours sous vide at 180F.

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  1. Edit: Meant 150F for both smoker and sous vide.

    1. I'm might be doing that with ribs next week. What I have done many times though is pick up 3-5lbs of brisket from Big W, vacuum pack and freeze them when I get home. I dunk it in a water bath to reheat. Comes out more tender than freshly sliced.

      2 Replies
      1. re: pabboy

        One thing I read, and now know first hand. For some reason the smoke aroma seeps through the vac bags and makes the sous vide water into a smoky soup that smells up the house.

        1. re: JMF

          Funny you should say that. I've had that happen with regular sous vide marinade and I can never find a leak in the vacuumed bag. I'll take it out and squeeze the heck out of it and not find any leakage.

      2. I've done the opposite - cook sous vide, chilled, and then finish with smoke for a while. Worked out pretty well. But I cooked the pork butt sous vide at a lower temp for less time, so it wasn't falling apart when I smoked it.

        Biggest problem you're likely to have finishing with the sous vide bath is less-than-ideal presentation. Should taste good though.

        1 Reply
        1. re: cowboyardee

          Brilliant. I see absolutely no reason why, from a technical perspective, it wouldn't work. The only issue I can imagine is the patchkerai factor- why muck around with two techniques (the SV also adding hours and hours to the process) when, if you know how to use your smoker, you can get a great result with just that?

          But CB, you're absolutely right- if you're going to SV and smoke, that is the order you need to be doing it at.

        2. It's similar to the middle "2" of the 3-2-1 or 2-2-1 ribs smoking method. I think you will retain more natural flavors but still need to finish it off in the smoker or on the grill.

          1. Well, the flavor was good, but the texture was terrible. Mushy, gag. After the five hour smoke at 150F I cooked it sous vide at 150F for 36 hours. I'm glad it was an on sale loss leader piece of meat that cost me $4. Threw it out.

            8 Replies
              1. re: pabboy

                Or, smoke it for a few hours, then finish it in a crockpot.

                1. re: 4X4

                  If I have a smoker, why would I finish in a crockpot? I have a computer controlled smoker where I can control exactly how much smoke, the smokers temp. and IT temp of the meat.

                  I was trying sous vide to see if the recipe in Modernist Cuisine worked well. I had heard that there were texture issues, and there were. Sous vide's extended cooking times can make meat mushy in texture.

                  1. re: JMF

                    Dial back cooking time and/or temperature until you've got a texture you like.

                    1. re: cowboyardee

                      I don't know if I'll bother. I like the texture from fully cooking in the smoker. I do know that in the smoker I like the IT a max of 190, maybe even as low as 187.

                      Sous vide takes the meat in a different direction. I would have to reduce the time by quite a lot, but it would still be longer than finished in the smoker.

                      Even if you take into account the "stall" in a smoker, which doesn't happen sous vide. But to prevent that in a smoker all you have to do is pull the butt after the smoke is done, when the IT is in the 150-160F range, foil wrap, and put back in to finish.

                      1. re: JMF

                        Just keep in mind, when using sous vide for something like this, exactly why you might use sous vide in the first place.

                        It's not necessarily to get a 'better' result.

                        - Hybrid sous vide/smoking lets you achieve you a wider range of textures than pure smoking does.
                        - Though the cooking time is generally longer, SV cooking times are typically more predictable, which might be valuable in planning a meal
                        - You can do the SV portion in advance and refrigerate, leaving you with less cooking time and less work on the day of the meal
                        - You generally don't have to monitor it as closely as you do with pure smoking, freeing you up to do or cook other things

                        It's likely enough that you're not actually looking for any of those upsides, in which case, by all means, you should continue smoking without using SV. But mushiness is not an inherent quality of sous vide meats; you could just as easily use it to get a firmer texture than pure traditional smoking (without the chewiness or dryness of underdone smoked meats).

                    2. re: JMF

                      I assumed you wanted to use the sous vide so you didn't have to deal with the smoker. I assumed wrong. You can do that by using a crockpot. I don't do it that way - I always smoke butts (or pinics) in the Big Green Egg until they're around 190 internal.

                      What kind of smoker do you have?

                      1. re: 4X4

                        4x4- I have a Bradley electric with some modifications. An extra heating element, a circulating fan, and a PID dual probe computer controller so I can set smoke amounts, smoker temp. and IT of the meat, times, etc.