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Smoke now or smoke later?


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10 replies to this topic

#1 SmokingCrab

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 04:22 PM

Firstly, I wanted to say hi - I've been following dozens of threads on this forum for about 6 months now and decided it was about time I got involved. Some truly amazing skills and knowledge on show here!

I'm hoping to tap into some of the collective wisdom of the group...

I've just clicked 'buy' on a Bradley Digital (so very excited!), and I'm going to be using it in conjunction with SV (specifically for barbecue). I've done a lot of reading, including MC, and feel that I have a fairly decent foundation of knowledge to go off... In summary, smoke for a while, SV forever :cool:

However, I've seen occasional posts relating to pre and post SV smoking, with people favouring one over the other.... Now I may be wrong here, but I can't seem to find a dedicated thread or anything more than fairly anecdotal comments about the differences.

So perhaps this will start one off..

I'm going to try both options, certainly, but any useful tips at this stage would be greatly appreciated. I'm curious to hear about people's experiences with both pre and post SV smoking, and to see whether the recommended 7 hours is actually necessary? (I've seen an interview with Nathan M where he recommended only smoking for a couple of hours as the benefits of smoking fall exponentially over time apparently... hmmm...)

Thanks!



(p.s. this topic is unrelated to my avatar. The fact that I'm apparently a crab that smokes is purely coincidental)

#2 SmokingCrab

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 09:20 AM

I thought it would be worth revisiting this for anyone who's interested.

I've done some pretty extensive testing with both pork butt's/shoulders and briskets.

Pre smoking VS post smoking for sous vide

Pork SV 48hrs @ 63'5'c
Brisket SV 72hrs @ 62'c
Both smoked for 5 hrs @ 66'c in a 6 rack bradley digital using hickory, oak and apple "bisquettes"

Flavourwise, blind tasting resulted in people favouring post smoking, but this is very marginal. The flavour difference was hardly noticeable.

I got the annoying problem of smoke permeating the bags with pre smoking, giving me a brown water and a pretty funky smelling kitchen. Post smoking obviously avoids this issue.

5 hours seems perfect. I struggled to form a good pellicle on a couple of tests which affected the level of flavour (mainly due to high winds throwing the smoker temp all over the place). When it worked, 5 hours gave me a decent level of bark on both pork and briskets. The barky/leathery coating softened and went a bit manky when cooked in the SV - post smoking is definitely a better option for retaining the texture and appearance.

When post smoking, I advise letting the meat rest before chucking it in the smoker. I put a couple of pork butts in the smoker straight out of the SV rig and they end up a lot dryer that I would like. Cooling them in an ice bath still in the bag juices before putting them in the smoker dramatically improved the texture and moisture content.

So in summary,

Post smoking seems to win in every category. Hope that helps someone!

#3 rotuts

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 09:27 AM

just curious, how thick are the bags youve been using? Ive never had any flavor or aroma permeate the 3.5 ml bags I use. if any aroma comes through, its from the tops post sealed edge that might have a little seasoning on them

#4 lancastermike

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 09:51 AM

I am wondering if you can describe to me the reason for this procedure. Do you think it is better than if you just smoked the pork butt? I have smoked hundreds of pork butts. Never once have I soaked it in warm water for a couple of days first. It just truly baffles me.

If the pork is cooked why smoke it for 5 hours? If you are appempting to give smoke flavor to cooked pork an hour or less ought to do it.

Edited by lancastermike, 28 January 2013 - 09:51 AM.


#5 FeChef

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 11:08 AM

I got the annoying problem of smoke permeating the bags with pre smoking, giving me a brown water and a pretty funky smelling kitchen. Post smoking obviously avoids this issue.



Post smoking seems to win in every category. Hope that helps someone!


+1 on both.

I have even had the smoke smell penetrate through two bags. Also in all of my test i found that when pre smoking, as the juices draw out from the meats, it pulls out the smoke and mixes with the juices creating basicly liquid smoke. The end result was very artifical like as if you would have just poured liquid smoke in the bag before SV cooking. On top of that, when you post SV you have no bark so you have to give it an artifical bark aswell which is not the same as a bark being made by smoking.

#6 gfweb

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 02:04 PM

I've noticed smoke odor leaking out of the ziplocs I use for SV. Allspice odor from corned beef leaks out too. Vacuum sealed plastic doesn't let the odor out.

I do most of my smoking pre SV but at low temp so as to avoid bark in most dishes. There is the smoke ring of course.

#7 nickrey

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 02:54 PM

I've had both smoke and clove smell leak out of the bags. Even chamber vacuum sealed with high temperature bags.

The only advantage I can see for smoke then sous vide is when creating serves for large numbers of people (I did ribs for 50 using this technique). The process is smoke, cook sous vide, fast chill, store, reheat in water bath for service. It worked very well.

IMG_1248.jpg

Edited by nickrey, 28 January 2013 - 02:55 PM.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four.
Unless there are three other people." Orson Welles
My eG Foodblog


#8 CharlieHorse

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 06:30 PM

I'm a bit confused here. Why not just cook the meat all the way in the smoker? I've done several butts and lots of other things in mine and they turned out fantastic. Oh, and just so that you know, smoked bluefish is fantasic, smoked clams and oysters are good, smoked crabs (hard or soft) are very very bad.

#9 nickrey

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 09:12 PM

Different texture, different eating experience. The ribs above had perfectly cooked meat that retained its coherence (ie was nowhere near the stage of falling apart) yet each individual rib could be slid out of the meat.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four.
Unless there are three other people." Orson Welles
My eG Foodblog


#10 FeChef

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 10:38 PM

I'm a bit confused here. Why not just cook the meat all the way in the smoker?


Like nickrey said, its about texture, and also temperature. With SV you can obtain same tenderness at lower temperatures and less juice loss. Also you dont have to tend to a smoker for 12+ hours since most meats dont need more then 4 hours of smoke.

#11 gfweb

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 09:07 AM

I'm a bit confused here. Why not just cook the meat all the way in the smoker? I've done several butts and lots of other things in mine and they turned out fantastic. Oh, and just so that you know, smoked bluefish is fantasic, smoked clams and oysters are good, smoked crabs (hard or soft) are very very bad.


The SV approach is brainlessly easy. Never overcooked, always perfect, with a wide margin for error in cooking time.