Smoked meat is delicious, but combining it with sous vide can give you that extra level of perfectly-cooked texture you’re looking for. It might sound like a daunting experience if you are a beginner, but it’s actually quite simple to do. Combine these two cooking techniques to create smoky barbecue heaven.
You can prepare your meat in two ways to see which turns out the best. That is either smoking before sous viding or after sous viding. Let’s explore each method.
Smoking Before Sous Viding
When smoking meat, its surface temperature fluctuates between 130 °F/55 °C and 180 °F/80 °C, while the inside of the meat is around 130–140 °F/55–60 °C. During this time, smoke particles slowly penetrate your food and give it that unique flavor we all know and love.
Sous vide, on the other hand, has a clearly defined temperature range (usually between 131 °F/55 °C and 195 °F/90 °C) that is more difficult to stray from. That means your meat will come out more consistent each time.
If you smoke the meat before sous viding, you’ll need to cook it at a lower temperature.
To make the perfect smoked meat sous vide, you need to do a little bit of preparation. First, you will need to trim any excess fat off the meat and season it with your favorite spices. Then, you will want to set up your smoker and heat it to around 225 °F (107 °C). Choose your best combination of Bradley Bisquettes for the best flavor.
Once the smoker is heated, you can place your meat inside. Let it smoke for around two hours or more to absorb maximum flavor. After that, remove the meat from the smoker and insert it into the sous vide machine at 165 °F (74 °C). You can improvise and prepare a water bath if you don’t have a machine.
You can cook the meat for anywhere between 24 and 48 hours. Slow cooking is guaranteed to break down the fibers in the meat and make it tender. The texture you want is the deciding factor here.
Remove the meat from the sous vide machine when you are satisfied with the texture. Place the meat in an ice bath and chill it. That will help to seal in the moisture. You can freeze it for later use or finish it on the smoker to serve immediately. Smoke until you get a nice crust on the meat and the temperature is back to what it was in the sous vide machine.
Why smoke before sous viding?
There are a few reasons why you might want to smoke your meat before cooking it sous vide. The main advantage is that it gives the meat a great smoky flavor that can’t be replicated any other way. Raw meat absorbs the smoke more efficiently than cooked meat.
Another benefit is that smoking helps seal in the juices, preventing them from escaping during the sous vide cooking process.
However, smoking before sous viding has some drawbacks. For one, it takes significantly more time than preparing meat that was smoked after cooking it sous vide. This is because you’re essentially cooking your meat twice, which will take more time, but definitely improve flavor.
Smoking After Sous Viding
If you smoke your meat after cooking sous vide, cook it at a slightly higher temperature than if you smoked it before sous viding. Since the meat is now cooked, you’ll be just adding flavor and not cooking it any further.
To get the best out of this method, sous vide your meat for anywhere between 24 and 48 hours. Chill the meat for a few minutes to bring the temperature down. Prepare your smoker and select your best Bradley Bisquettes for flavor if you want to serve it immediately. Set your smoker at 225 °F (107 °C).
Place your meat on the smoker racks and smoke for 45 minutes to 1 hour. You can season it within the last 5 minutes of preparation if you prefer. Let it rest for 10 minutes after cooking before you serve.
Advantages of smoking after Sous Vide
A huge benefit of this method is that you can leave your meat in the water bath until it’s perfectly ready to eat. This eliminates the need to monitor it while smoking.
Be aware, that smoking after it is cooked will only impair a mild smoke flavor (if compared to smoking meat raw), as the cooked exterior of the meat will receive a smoke layer, but the flavor will probably not penetrate all the way in.
When cooking sous vide, the temperature of the water bath should be set to between 131 °F/55 °C and 195 °F/90 °C. The lower end of the scale is best for most types of meat, while the higher end is better for thicker cuts or tougher meats.
For more great ideas on how to get the most out of your Bradley Smoker, check out the awesome articles on our Bradley Smoker Food Smoking Blog for more tips & tricks.