How to Smoke After Sous Vide for the Perfect BBQ
Your sous vide machine can't do the things that your smoker can do. But if you combine your smoker with your sous vide machine, you can do things that your smoker can't do alone. I'm going to show you how.
This article talks about one of the best ways you can add a lot of flavor to your food after the sous vide process, and that is using your smoker. This is something you can apply to almost any type of barbecue you do.
There are 2 facets to making good barbecue. The first is adding flavor and the second is tenderizing the food so it's edible.
Using the sous vide process to tenderize the food and then using your smoker to add that smoke flavor is a great way to pair these 2 cooking techniques. You can accomplish things that you can't do with either one alone.
Should You Smoke the Meat Pre-Sous Vide or Post-Sous Vide?
People are often torn on whether to smoke their food ahead of time or to smoke it after the sous vide process. Whether you smoke the food before or after sous viding, the method is actually pretty similar.
Personally, I almost always smoke afterwards, so I'm going to talk about that. But you can apply what we're talking about to smoking the meat before it is sous vided, as well.
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Basic Sous Vide Finishing Process Using a Smoker
To finish on the smoker is a slightly different process than most types of searing. It's because smoke reacts differently than trying to get a good crust on meat.
Start by taking your sous vide bag out of the water bath, then you chill it off. I like to put it in some cold water or chill the sous vide food in an ice bath to really lower the temperature quickly. Now I can put the cooled off cooked meat, which is still in the sealed sous vide bag, into the fridge for several days or even a week or two before I'm ready to use my smoker.
Whenever I'm ready to smoke it, I will smoke the sous vide meat until the internal temperature is back up. Take the cooked meat out of the sous vide pouch and put it directly on the smoker.
I am not a smoking pro by any stretch. But people who I respect, like Meathead Goldwyn of AmazingRibs.com and Darrin Wilson of Fire and Water Cooking have talked to me about how smoke adheres a lot better to both cold meat and wet meat. So this is why we chilled the meat first and now we're putting it on the smoker wet.
If you do any other kind of sous vide searing, you want to dry it off really well, but not when you're smoking it.
Put the sous vide meat on your smoker at the normal smoking temperature you would use. This is usually between 160°F and 200°F for a lot of people and then smoke it back up to an eating temperature.
The biggest key to using your smoker to bring the food back up to temperature is to make sure the internal temperature of the meat doesn't go above what you sous vided the meat at. It's critical! So the temperature your smoker might be set at is 200°F, but you don't want the inside of your food to raise above the sous vide temperature.
So make sure you still use your smoking thermometer to check the inside of the meat as you're heating it back to eating temperature.
And remember, it's already been cooked and it's already been tenderized, so you don't even have to hit your original temperature. If you only reheat it to 120°F or 130°F, it's going to taste warm and hot on the inside, and it's going to be perfect.
You don't have to get it all the way back up to where you started with depending on the size of your meat. This process can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours, especially for thicker cuts.
You can still get a lot of good flavor and good bark on the outside which will really improve your food. The inside is going to be perfectly cooked, perfectly tender and is going to be some of the best barbecue you've ever had.
So now you know, the next time you really want to impress your friends and family with some great barbecue, how you can use your sous vide machine and your smoker together to do some things you can't do any other way.
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This article is by me, Jason Logsdon. I'm an adventurous home cook and professional blogger who loves to try new things, especially when it comes to cooking. I've explored everything from sous vide and whipping siphons to pressure cookers and blow torches; created foams, gels and spheres; made barrel aged cocktails and brewed beer. I have also written 10 cookbooks on modernist cooking and sous vide and I run the AmazingFoodMadeEasy.com website.
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