Experimental Smokerless Pulled Pork Sous-Vide Style

Don’t get me wrong. I love a good slow-smoked and true BBQ pulled pork shoulder just as probably everyone else out there. And I love the babysitting (aka beer drinking 🙂 ) while the shoulder gets that incredible taste inside the smoker. But my workload for this weekend is insane high with all the university exam and grading work. My family loves that pulled pork too, and I knew upfront that I would not have the time to check and handle the smoking process for 12-18 hours (see “Easter Weekend Apple Juice Brined Pulled Pork Smoked on Beech Wood“). So I decided to prepare pulled pork the ‘easy’ way: Using a Sous Vide cooker and then use a normal oven to finish it. So it was an experiment, and the result is interesting:

Pulled Pork on Toast

Pulled Pork on Toast

How to prepare a pulled pork dinner not faster, but with less work? Use a sous-vide cooker in combination with a hot-air+grill oven, and the result is indeed remarkable.

Without further ado, here are the steps: 1 kg marbled pork shoulder:

Pork Shoulder

Pork Shoulder

The rub in a bowl: onion powder, brown sugar, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika powder, salt:

Rub

Rub

Applied rub to the meat:

Applied Rub

Applied Rub

Put it into a vacuum bag and seal it:

Vacuum Sealing

Vacuum Sealing

Here the meat in the bag, ready to put into the water:

Sealed Pork Shoulder

Sealed Pork Shoulder

Heat the water in the sous vide cooker to 72°C, then placed the meat into the bath:

Pork Shoulder in Water Bath

Pork Shoulder in Water Bath

At stable 72°C, cooking the meat for 16 hours:

Sous Vide Timer

Sous Vide Timer

Taking it out of the water and bag after 16 hours, pat it dry:

After Sous Vide Cooking

After Sous Vide Cooking

Save the juice, we will use it later.

Heat the oven to 150°C, then put the piece of meat on a grid on top of a pan:

Shoulder in Oven

Shoulder in Oven

I used the grill and hot air ventilation function of the oven:

Gill Umluft

Gill Umluft

Keep it in the oven until its core temperature reaches 92°C. For that 1 kg piece it takes 1.5-2 hours, then take it out:

Pork Shoulder Out of the Oven

Pork Shoulder Out of the Oven

Wrap it in aluminium foil and let it rest for at least 1 hour:

Shoulder in Cooler

Shoulder in Cooler

While it rests, reduce the juice from the sous-vide bag in a small pan:

Simmer Sous Vide Juice

Simmer Sous Vide Juice

Side dishes: Onions, pickles, mixed carrots and celery salad, potato salad, Alabama style BBQ sauce and the reduced sous-vide juice sauce.

Sauce and Sides

Sauce and SidesP

Pulled the pork:

Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork

It came out very well. Very tasteful, maybe a bit dry, but mostly because the meat was rather lean. And no smoking ring, but this does not affect the taste at all in my view.

Pulled Pork Detail

Pulled Pork Detail

Instead toasting buns, used toased slices of bread:

Pulled Pork on Toast

Pulled Pork on Toast

The white Alabama sauce was a perfect match again:

Pulled Pork Sandwich

Pulled Pork Sandwich

In summary: very comparable to the ‘smoker’ way, not faster at all, but with minimal efforts. What has been missing is the smoke taste. Next time I consider finishing it in the smoker, that would be a good compromise. In any case, I’m surprised how well it worked out :-).

Happy Viding 🙂

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7 thoughts on “Experimental Smokerless Pulled Pork Sous-Vide Style

  1. Love it! Always a great mix of tutorials with occasional photography. Can’t imagine how you find the time 🙂

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  2. What a great meal! I have a hint for your “missing smoke taste”: When you use your smoker next time, try to smoke salt. This smoked salt can be used for BBQ sauces or (in your case) for adding a smoke taste to dishes which were not cooked in the smoker.

    Smoked salt can also be bought on spice shops.

    Best Roman

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    • Hi Roman,
      many thanks for that hint! I was considering ‘liquid smoke’, have you used it? My thinking was that this would not add extra salt. Of course, instead using ‘normal’ salt I could use smoke salt. Or is there any other advantage with using the smoke salt?

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      • I would – as you mentioned it – use smoke salt instead of normal salt. I only saw ‘liquid smoke’ in shops in the USA. But I didn’t found a liquid smoke without food additives. That’s the only reason why I woud prefer smoked salt.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Roman,
        good news! I have found a local store which sells liquid smoke without additives, so I have to try that one out. It looks that shop imports that stuff directly from the USA :-).

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  3. Nice equipment!
    Regarding the smoke taste: we smoked our (very large) pieces oft meat after the sous vide for around 4 hours – but there was almost no smokey taste in the pulled meat afterwards! I think, either the time in the smoker was too short or smoking is simply not effective with “dry” and cooked meat…

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    • Hi Marc,
      as pointed out by others, the meat absorbes most smoke taste at the beginning. So I doubt if you would put it longer than 4 hours you would add more smoke taste. So my current thinking is to smoke it at the start (or use liquid smoke), cook it in the sous-vide cooker and then add the crust in the oven (or smoker).

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