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chriswrightcycles

Sous Vide + Smoking Indoors

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Hey all, I'm looking for some guidance.

 

I am interested in smoking meats but unfortunately have no outdoor space to build/install a smoker. I am trying to figure out how to smoke things in my apartment. I live in an old factory with a bunch of windows and am not the least bit concerned about ventilation. Should I be...?

 

I recently acquired some equipment for cooking sous vide and am wondering if I can use low and slow sous vide cooking beside stovetop smoking to obtain an acceptable alternative to traditional smoking outdoors..?

 

Here are some questions I would love to have answered...

 

When building a stovetop smoker, what are some aspects of the design that are of utmost importance? Precise temp control? Humidity control? Should the smoker be air tight or is oxygen necessary to keep the chips smouldering?

 

Let's say I wanted to smoke a pork shoulder, could I cook that sous vide in a water bath to the desired doneness and then move it to my stovetop smoker to impart a smoke flavor? Would the outcome be better if I cooked them from start to finish in the stovetop smoker?

 

I appreciate the cumulative wisdom of this forum and thank you in advance for your comments.

 

-Chris

 

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You've got a lot of questions here, let me try to address some of them:
 

I recently acquired some equipment for cooking sous vide and am wondering if I can use low and slow sous vide cooking beside stovetop smoking to obtain an acceptable alternative to traditional smoking outdoors..?

"Alternative," yes. The long cooking times in sous vide changes the flavor of smoked meats. Not in a bad way, in my opinion, but it doesn't taste like something freshly smoked. I find the smoke flavor becomes softer, for lack of a better term, lacking the sharp initial smoke flavor you get from something that has been smoked traditionally.
 

When building a stovetop smoker, what are some aspects of the design that are of utmost importance? Precise temp control? Humidity control? Should the smoker be air tight or is oxygen necessary to keep the chips smouldering?

Modernist Cuisine argues for humidity and temperature control, but I've never gone that far so can't really comment. You certainly will need the smoker to have access to oxygen, so making it airtight is not an option.
 

Let's say I wanted to smoke a pork shoulder, could I cook that sous vide in a water bath to the desired doneness and then move it to my stovetop smoker to impart a smoke flavor? Would the outcome be better if I cooked them from start to finish in the stovetop smoker?

The usual SV strategy is to smoke first and sous vide second: it's the only way I've tried it so can't say how well the reverse works. Either way the result will be different from traditional preparations. "Better" is too subjective, I think. Some people dislike the smoke-then-SV flavor: I like it.

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You can smoke after sous vide quite successfully. The key is to have the exterior of the meat dry so the smoke can penetrate. My procedure is to cook the meat to desired temp, rapid chill in an ice bath, blot the meat of all moisture and then air dry for a half hour or so using a fan. If the ambient temp is pretty warm I leave the meat uncovered in the refrigerator to dry out. In order to prevent overcooking the food should go onto the grill cool to cold. Using a heavy smoke and instant read thermometer smoke the meat until you are just below the target temp.

I finish my food on a weber grill but I'm sure an indoor rig would be easy enough to make. I was watching DDD the other night and the cook had a one gallon food can with wood chips in it with a small kettle grill balanced on top. The kettle can be purchased for around $30 and would make a great stove top smoker.

Regarding temp and humidity you goal is to produce the maximum amount of smoke with the least amount of heat. You are going to definitely need to provide good cross ventilation unless you like the cave smell a lot.

I've attached a few photo's of last weekends batch. The smoke flavor was stronger after a few days of being resealed a the flavor equilibrated through the meats. The first two photos are air dried after the bath and the second two are coming off the grill.

P1020660(1).JPG

P1020661(1).JPG

P1020664(1).JPG

P1020666(1).JPG

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I have had really good results smoking partially frozen dry aged (pellicle) chuck roasts for 4+ hours and bringing internal temp to 150F. Then slathering with a thick bbq sauce and vacuum sealing it, then SV for 24-28 hours at 158F. The partially frozen state (pellicle formed skin) allows the bark to get really thick and the thick bbq sauce absorbs any juice that expelled from the meat during the long cooking process. The texture ends up being what i describe as "chop shred" every bite is an extremely moist burnt end.

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The recommended method in Modernist Cuisine is to SV first, then cook briefly in a warm oven to dry the surface, and then smoke. This is based on a traditional German method that primes the meat to efficiently absorb smoke. Worth a try, considering Myhrvold's BBQ gold medals.

Edited to add: what Steve said. Looks like he's put it to good use ...


Edited by paulraphael (log)

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I have converted a working 4.5 cubic foot refrigerator into a hot/cold indoor smoker.

 

Attached to it is a variable volume motor driven cold pellet smoke generator which can operate with not much attention. It uses very little pellets.

 

The temperature is PID controlled. 

 

I can cold smoke cheese, salmon, hot smoke other meats, any season, any weather indoors.

 

I will try to post pictures when I am done with a very projects I am working on now.

 

dcarch

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