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torolover

Perfect sous vide pork belly, why is the bottom part always tough?

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I'm trying to cook the perfect melt in your mouth pork belly. I've done sous vide, but still find the bottom part(dark part of meat) dry and stringy. Any tips?

I always test it without any sauce so I can check for moistness and tenderness, and always get the best pork.

I've tried 181F 12 hours, 171F 12 hours, 171F 10 hours.

Does anyone have any good temp and time recommendations?

I don't like the 135F 48 hours because I find the fat too firm and not melt in your mouth.


Edited by torolover (log)

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KennethT   

I've done MC's 140F/72 hour and it was ridiculous. The fat is very delicate at this point, and the whole thing melts in your mouth.

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First of all, I'd look into the quality of the meat you're purchasing. Maybe buy it from somewhere else just to see if that makes a difference.

Anyway, like KennT I'm a fan of Modernist Cuisine, altho' I've come to settle on the method prescribed in the 'Sunday pork belly recipe'. That is, to say, brined and then (after a good rinse and dry) 62C/40 hours without the skin. As for the skin, I scrape off as much of the fat as possible (you don't need to get it all--don't stress over the fat that smears like poop on a blanket rather than comes off cleanly) then salt it a little with coarsely ground salt and then park it, in little chunks, on a rack in a 70C oven for 5 hours. Remove it. Crank the temperature to a blistering 220C. Park the rack and a pot of water in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the skin is crisp. See my Christmas dinner from last year. The meat wasn't stringy at all.

To get it 'perfect' it's also important to trim off any excess lumps of fat. If you were slow-roasting, say, a thick layer of fat in between the skin and meat would be acceptable. When you cook it sous vide that stuff isn't going to render off and will just be a jelly. Lose that.

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I always use 10 hours at 80C and it turns out so tender that it is almost impossible to slice without shredding it. After pressing and chilling it slices better but still borders on falling apart.

I generally cook it marinated, the favourite being Vietnamese caramel.

Simon

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KennethT   

I've done the 10 hours at 80C, but find that the meat winds up drier than it does at 60degC.

I also cook it skin off, but I'll take the skin, boil it (or even better pressure cook) in salty water until it's almost falling apart tender- you have to be very careful when taking it out of the pot so it doesn't tear. Let it cool on a rack, and when at room temp, scrape all the fat off with a butter knife or spatula... then dehdrate in a 250degF oven until it's hard and looks like a shrinky-dink. At you can then put it in 375degF oil and it puffs very well.

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First of all, I'd look into the quality of the meat you're purchasing. Maybe buy it from somewhere else just to see if that makes a difference.

Anyway, like KennT I'm a fan of Modernist Cuisine, altho' I've come to settle on the method prescribed in the 'Sunday pork belly recipe'. That is, to say, brined and then (after a good rinse and dry) 62C/40 hours without the skin. As for the skin, I scrape off as much of the fat as possible (you don't need to get it all--don't stress over the fat that smears like poop on a blanket rather than comes off cleanly) then salt it a little with coarsely ground salt and then park it, in little chunks, on a rack in a 70C oven for 5 hours. Remove it. Crank the temperature to a blistering 220C. Park the rack and a pot of water in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the skin is crisp. See my Christmas dinner from last year. The meat wasn't stringy at all.

To get it 'perfect' it's also important to trim off any excess lumps of fat. If you were slow-roasting, say, a thick layer of fat in between the skin and meat would be acceptable. When you cook it sous vide that stuff isn't going to render off and will just be a jelly. Lose that.

Thanks for the tips Chris,

I'm a perfectionist, so at 171F 12 hours MOST of the meat is meltingly tender. What I'm talking about is the meat at the bottom part. Usually there is 3 or 4 layers of meat, and I'm talking about the very bottom layer that is dark colored. That's the part that is dry and stringy. Have you had issues with this bottom part?


Edited by torolover (log)

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I always use 10 hours at 80C and it turns out so tender that it is almost impossible to slice without shredding it. After pressing and chilling it slices better but still borders on falling apart.

I generally cook it marinated, the favourite being Vietnamese caramel.

Simo

Thanks for the tips Simon.

I'm a perfectionist, so at 171F 12 hours MOST of the meat is meltingly tender. What I'm talking about is the meat at the bottom part. Usually there is 3 or 4 layers of meat, and I'm talking about the very bottom layer that is dark colored. That's the part that is dry and stringy. Have you had issues with this bottom part?

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dcarch   

I always use 10 hours at 80C and it turns out so tender that it is almost impossible to slice without shredding it. After pressing and chilling it slices better but still borders on falling apart.

I generally cook it marinated, the favourite being Vietnamese caramel.

Simo

Thanks for the tips Simon.

I'm a perfectionist, so at 171F 12 hours MOST of the meat is meltingly tender. What I'm talking about is the meat at the bottom part. Usually there is 3 or 4 layers of meat, and I'm talking about the very bottom layer that is dark colored. That's the part that is dry and stringy. Have you had issues with this bottom part?

Based on the fact that (in my limited experience) I have never heard about this, and had never encountered the same situation in my pork belly cooking, I think it might not have anything to do with your cooking.

It is possible that when the meat was packaged, it got dried out. Once the meat is dried out like jerky, it is not easy to make tender again.

dcarch


Edited by dcarch (log)

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First of all, I'd look into the quality of the meat you're purchasing. Maybe buy it from somewhere else just to see if that makes a difference.

Anyway, like KennT I'm a fan of Modernist Cuisine, altho' I've come to settle on the method prescribed in the 'Sunday pork belly recipe'. That is, to say, brined and then (after a good rinse and dry) 62C/40 hours without the skin. As for the skin, I scrape off as much of the fat as possible (you don't need to get it all--don't stress over the fat that smears like poop on a blanket rather than comes off cleanly) then salt it a little with coarsely ground salt and then park it, in little chunks, on a rack in a 70C oven for 5 hours. Remove it. Crank the temperature to a blistering 220C. Park the rack and a pot of water in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the skin is crisp. See my Christmas dinner from last year. The meat wasn't stringy at all.

To get it 'perfect' it's also important to trim off any excess lumps of fat. If you were slow-roasting, say, a thick layer of fat in between the skin and meat would be acceptable. When you cook it sous vide that stuff isn't going to render off and will just be a jelly. Lose that.

Thanks for the tips Chris,

I'm a perfectionist, so at 171F 12 hours MOST of the meat is meltingly tender. What I'm talking about is the meat at the bottom part. Usually there is 3 or 4 layers of meat, and I'm talking about the very bottom layer that is dark colored. That's the part that is dry and stringy. Have you had issues with this bottom part?

A couple times, yeah. Hence my initial comment about maybe buying your meat somewhere else. Assuming you have a choice and all. Me, I can buy it from the supermarkets and most of the local butchers (basically any butcher that isn't, say, halal). So there's a fair bit of choice. I understand that pork belly isn't so readily available in other places.

If you have no choice at all, not without ordering online/driving crazy distances, see if 12 hours or so in a brine helps.

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I always use 10 hours at 80C and it turns out so tender that it is almost impossible to slice without shredding it. After pressing and chilling it slices better but still borders on falling apart.

I generally cook it marinated, the favourite being Vietnamese caramel.

Simo

Thanks for the tips Simon.

I'm a perfectionist, so at 171F 12 hours MOST of the meat is meltingly tender. What I'm talking about is the meat at the bottom part. Usually there is 3 or 4 layers of meat, and I'm talking about the very bottom layer that is dark colored. That's the part that is dry and stringy. Have you had issues with this bottom part?

Sorry but I have never encountered this sous vide. Is it some of the rib membrane left attached? I always trim mine to remove it.

Simon

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bhsimon   

Is it possible to make the skin crispy after it has been cooked sous vide?

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9 hours ago, bhsimon said:

Is it possible to make the skin crispy after it has been cooked sous vide?

 

You should be able to sear the skin to crisp it up. Works with moist-cooked chicken, salmon, duck confit ...

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KennethT   

Depending on how it was cooked SV (time/temp), the skin may not be fully tenderized.  But, if it was fully tenderized, I have seared on a very hot cast iron pan (I was doing lots of small pieces at once, so it acted like a plancha) and it seared nicely - I even got the skin to puff a bit which was nice.

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