Sous vide is not always better, especially in pork
Thanks for the detailed reply. I certainly intend to try all the cuts you mentioned - in fact, I have a 24-hour flatiron in the circulator as I type. I guess I was just surprised at the extent to which the pork chops really were just like with conventional methods. I'd been hoping that being able to cook them sous vide would make me see what I think of as a pretty bland cut in a different light. Of course, it's also possible that I was cooking them at too high a temperature!
Bland in, bland out. Pork chops are a pretty bland cut. Sous-vide can influence texture but it won't make something bland taste better. I have yet to find a cut of pork that is transformed dramatically but maybe I haven't tried enough. Many are tasty and convenient to cook sous-vide but I don't think they are transformed the way tasty, rich but tough cuts of beef are. I mean if you love pork chops, sous-vide will make it possible to reproducibly cook them to whatever degree you like them done (the way that it makes cooking perfect ribeye a no-brainer) but it won't turn a pork=chop or a chicken breast into something rich like a spare rib.
I fully agree with e-monster (and Merridith
): for tender cuts sous vide is convenient and fool-proof, but the outcome is not automatically better.
We had two identical pork neck chops a few days ago, both were bagged with spices, marinade, mustard and hickory smoked salt, and kept at 1°C for 2 weeks. One was seared the traditional way without SV, starting on low heat and increasing until the rice bran oil started smoking, the second one was done SV 75min at 51°C (for my taste pork needs lower temperature than lamb and beef) and seared in smoking hot rice bran oil. Oddly the SV chop was even more chewy and less juicy than the traditional one, and the latter also tasted better, my wife did not complain about the "sous vide taste". Both were pink inside as desired.
There is one cut of pork I should do SV (LTLT) again: pork shoulder. Some time ago I did three equal cuts of pork shoulder, bagged with marinade and spices for 9d/1°C, and cooked SV 55°C for 24h / 48h / 72h respectively. All came out tender and succulent, the fat perfectly soft; the 72h cut was softest, but with a tendency to fall apart, and the lean parts were rather dry. I guess 36h to 48h will be best.
Edited by PedroG, 05 October 2010 - 05:00 PM.