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Sous Vide Pork Shoulder


Blues_Cookin
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I am firing up the smoker to make, more or less, the recipe for Pork Shoulder in Modern Cuisine. However, once I am done with the 7 hour smoke, I will only have about 48 hours to cook in the Sous Vide bath at 150 F, and Nathan's instruction calls for 72 hours.

Anyone have experience with the timing on the Pork Shoulder? If I slice the shoulder lengthwise and leave it in the water bath for only 48 hours will i be ok?

As always, thanks for the help!

Tom

Orem, Utah

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Yeah, I've done it. You don't need smaller pieces of pork, you need a higher temperature. Using the rule of thumb that chemical reaction rates double for every 10°C you increase the temp, you could do something like 167°F (75°C) for 36 hours instead. Or perhaps 160°F-ish for 48 hours (since that rule of thumb starts to break down at higher temps anyway).

Chris Hennes
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chennes@egullet.org

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Very good, I suppose that the key issue is the length of time the collagen is at the proper temp to break down into gelatin. Assuming that process also scales per your rule of thumb, I think your right that the 161 will work.

Now to see how well I do holding my Green Egg at 149 when its 20 degrees out...

Thanks for the help!

Orem, Utah

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I've done pork shoulder many times and have settled on 150ºF as my preferred temp. IMHO, it's done in about 18 hours, but that's still with some bite. Another six hours is pretty-much-but-not-quite falling apart tender. Can't imagine wanting to cook more than 48 hours total.

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Same here, I did pork shoulder two times and though it was done after 36h at 65oC. I was probably even done before that. I just test the donneness by pressing on the meat in the bag. You will feel it when it starts yielding easily. I would not recommend cutting the meat, the gain time to reach core temperature will be marginal and you may decrease the capacity of the meat to retain it's juices.

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I disagree, I would cut it. Sous vide cooking time is directly related to the thickness of the meat. You can get a good idea of cook time from Douglas Baldwin's charts.

http://www.douglasbaldwin.com/sous-vide.html#Pulled_Pork

He has pork shoulder (butt and picnic cuts) no more than 70mm thick at 155F for 24 hours. Pork shoulder is such a fatty cut that it doesn't dry out when cut. If you don't trim the meat and leave some fat in the bag you'll be fine.

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I disagree, I would cut it. Sous vide cooking time is directly related to the thickness of the meat. You can get a good idea of cook time from Douglas Baldwin's charts.

No, Time to temp is directly related to thickness. For a long cook, Time to temp is a relatively small part of total cook time so cutting it wouldn't measurably affect total cook time.

PS: I am a guy.

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Right, what Shalmanese said. In this case the pork will come to temp in just a small percentage of the overall cooking time no matter how thick it is. It's a time-at-temp issue in this case, where you are trying to break down the collagen. Thickness is essentially irrelevant.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Right, what Shalmanese said. In this case the pork will come to temp in just a small percentage of the overall cooking time no matter how thick it is. It's a time-at-temp issue in this case, where you are trying to break down the collagen. Thickness is essentially irrelevant.

This is correct, but you should not use it as an excuse to drop an arbitrarily large hunk of meat into your circulator. A thick piece of meat can take many hours to come to temperature at the core. Along the way bacteria can create enough toxins to cause trouble. I personally would not want to eat something that took 12 hours to come to temperature even if it cooked for a total of 48.

Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

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This is correct, but you should not use it as an excuse to drop an arbitrarily large hunk of meat into your circulator. A thick piece of meat can take many hours to come to temperature at the core. Along the way bacteria can create enough toxins to cause trouble. I personally would not want to eat something that took 12 hours to come to temperature even if it cooked for a total of 48.

I'm not sure that's a valid concern: we generally assume that the interior of an intact muscle is sterile, thus it is only bacteria on the exterior surface of the meat that we need to be concerned about. The surface temperature of a roast comes to bath temperature nearly instantly, halting surface bacterial growth.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I'm not sure that's a valid concern: we generally assume that the interior of an intact muscle is sterile, thus it is only bacteria on the exterior surface of the meat that we need to be concerned about. The surface temperature of a roast comes to bath temperature nearly instantly, halting surface bacterial growth.

But isn't pork also potentially, though very rarely, contaminated with Trichinella Spiralis which do lurk in the interior of the meat?

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yes, but getting that nowadays is probably in the "most people don't get struck by lightning" category :-)

Also, I think that's something so rare nowadays that the FDA or who ever does such things just reduced the recommended cooking temp for pork to 140 degree or thereabout. If concerned you probably have to cook to higher temp, not for longer.

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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This is correct, but you should not use it as an excuse to drop an arbitrarily large hunk of meat into your circulator. A thick piece of meat can take many hours to come to temperature at the core. Along the way bacteria can create enough toxins to cause trouble. I personally would not want to eat something that took 12 hours to come to temperature even if it cooked for a total of 48.

I'm not sure that's a valid concern: we generally assume that the interior of an intact muscle is sterile, thus it is only bacteria on the exterior surface of the meat that we need to be concerned about. The surface temperature of a roast comes to bath temperature nearly instantly, halting surface bacterial growth.

I definitely wouldn't say instantly, though surface pasteurization does happen in a short time relative to an overall 48-72h cook time for a tough cut of meat. It's a fairly common misconception that surface pasteurization happens really quickly at typical long-cooking temperatures (55-65°C). Unless you are talking about an initial dunk in 85-90°C water, it actually takes a fair bit of time to pasteurize even at the surface.

Here is an example of a 90mm thick piece of pork at 60°C:

IMG_0075.PNG

It takes an hour and eighteen minutes to pasteurize at the surface. Even though the temperature starts rising rapidly at the surface, as shown by the grey line, the slope drops very quickly as it approaches water temperature. It takes a while in the mid 50's °C to achieve pasteurization, as the dotted lines show.

With a much thinner 10mm piece, surface pasteurization happens a lot faster, as shown below:

IMG_0076.PNG

But even in this case, it still takes twenty-eight minutes to pasteurize at the surface.

As for the assumption of interior sterility, I admit I often make it too, especially for beef from ranches I trust. However, I essentially never run across situations where there is some kind of presentation value that trumps cutting the meat into smaller pieces before cooking to eliminate the even the small risk that I am wrong.

Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code

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To be clear: I'm not arguing it's an invalid assumption—it is actually a very good assumption in most circumstances.

As regards surface temperature, of course you are right about pasteurization times, but in this case that's not the time/temperature that we're concerned with. Of course over this long cook the whole roast will wind up pasteurized at the temperatures we are considering. But the temperature above which we want to get the surface of the meat to prevent bacterial growth is quite low, and occurs quite quickly even for large cuts of meat. So while it takes a (still relatively small) amount of time to achieve actual bacterial reduction at 50°C, there is no meaningful bacterial growth at that temperature, which as you show above is achieved in just a few minutes, even for very large piece of meat.

Edited by Chris Hennes
Clarification. (log)

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Last night I tried an 8lb boston butt which was seasoned with a basic rub, cooked for 48 hours @ 66c (150f). I was a little concerned becuase of some very small air pockets in the bag which caused it to float slightly (but anticipating this from other long cooks, it was held beneath water level with retaining grids). After ice bathing and opening the bag, it passed the "smell test".

I finished in the oven @ 500F "Convection Roast" for 20 minutes.

Texture was fantastic, and pulled apart easily. However, as others have said, I would not go beyond 48 hours, because a very small amount of the meat nearest the bone took on the characteristic "mushiness" of overdone sous vide meat. Next time I may limit it to 44 hours. The mushy part comprised less than 1/4 ounce of the meat total, so wasn't of any consequence when mixed in with the rest.

After mixing the flavorful "skin" in with the rest of the pulled pork, BBQ flavor was lacking a bit, so I mixed in the left over dry rub for an excellent overall result.

I'm wondering if a 7 hour smoke makes any sense. Does the smoke penetrate deep into the meat, or simply sit on the surface? If it's the latter, I doubt the reletively small quantity of smoked "skin" would have an appreciable impact when mixed into the rest. Can anyone speak to the impact of smoking prior to sous vide? My experience with smoking other meats prior to sous vide it that the water develops a distinctly smoky scent (3 mil bags), but the meat itself has at best a muted smoke flavor vs traditional smoking.

Edited by GlowingGhoul (log)
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Lately, I've been smoking post SV, rather than prior because of what you talk about - in long cook times, the smoke goes through the bag and scents the water, leaving the meat with a very muted smoke flavor. I don't know what would happen if you used a retort bag, or other multi-layer bag with a metallized film layer. Those types of bags are much less permeable to gases and other small molecules.

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It is my understanding that none of the above mentioned bacteria are anaerobic, therefore unable to multiply without oxygen, Sous Vide. And there is also case in point that toxins can be destroyed by cooking just like bacteria.

The perfect vichyssoise is served hot and made with equal parts of butter to potato.

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Can anyone speak to the impact of smoking prior to sous vide? My experience with smoking other meats prior to sous vide it that the water develops a distinctly smoky scent (3 mil bags), but the meat itself has at best a muted smoke flavor vs traditional smoking.

I've done a few trials using smaller pieces of butt, around 2.5 pounds. My goal has been to make something close to pulled pork, but making only enough for a single meal, and not having to tend the butt for hours. My first attempts did the sous vide first, with the pork lightly rubbed, at 140 for 32 to 48 hours. Then, into the cooker with more rub for smoke till the meat reached 190. The flavor was O.K., but the texture was poor. The outside just dried out, rather than forming a bark.

I had better results from smoking the portion till it was about 140, which took around an hour at 250 F. Some fat rendered during that time. After 48 hours in the water bath, I found that the smoke flavor was better than the other way around, and the meat was quite pullable. Used in a sandwich, I think it is a reasonable approximation of standard PP.

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gdenby - interesting... what didn't you like about the postSV smoke flavor? Was it too strong? To be honest, I don't have a real smoker - I just have a stovetop smoker - so really, the longest smoke treatment I can give without overcooking something is about 20-30 minutes. When that goes into the SV, the result is really muted, but while it's cooking, you can smell the smoke in the water and in the kitchen as well.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've got a shoulder I'm going to do this week and am looking for some advice regarding seasonings: I don't want to smoke this one, I'm looking for something different. What sorts of things have you guys put in the bag with the pork? I was thinking of trying something with mustard, but am a little worried about the acidity over such a long cook. Any advice?

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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