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Smoked Sous Vide Pork Butt, Sous-B-Q™, how to design a rub

This classic barbecue specialty has applications that range from thick, steak-like slices to the so-called "Pulled Pork." In this recipe, we will describe the sous vide processing and smoking stages, to a degree of doneness best suited to service as a roast, and/or a grilled entrée. This article also explains how to design your own rub.

sous vide pork


Pork butt (boneless shoulder), 1 ea., 8lbs./3.7 Kg.

Custom Rub tutorial:
Salt, 1/2 cup/120 ml

ground pepper
garlic powder

For the entrée presentation:

One recipe Mille Feuille Potatoes
Bread crumbs, one oz./30g.
One recipe Béchamel, OR
Biscuit Bechamel
Stale Biscuit, 1 ea., 2 oz./55 g.
Butter, one oz./30 g.
Cream, two cups/450 ml.
S+P to taste.

Carrot Salad with Sweet Onion Mustard Dressing:
Carrots.2 each, peeled.

seal the carrots and process sous vide @
183F/84Cx1 hour.

Red onion 1/2 ea.
Mustard seeds, 1 Tbsp.
Sugar, 1/2 cup/90 g.
Salt, 1 teaspoon.
White vinegar, 3 oz./90 ml.
Vegetable oil, 12 oz./350 ml.

Purgecue Emulsion:

Clarified sous-jus from the pork, 1 cup/240 ml.
Ketchup, 1/4 cup/60 ml.
White vinegar, 1 oz./30 ml.
Tamarind paste , 1 oz/30 ml, OR,
Worcestershire sauce, 2 oz.
S+P or a pinch of your favorite rub.
Butter, 2 oz./60 g.

Balsamic syrup to drizzle (optional).

Equipment requirements
Immersion circulator, portable or stationary.
Heat rated container, minimum of 2 gallons/8 liters.
Heat rated sous vide bags.
Flat bottomed skillet, approximately 12″/30 cm. and 3″/90 mm deep.
Wooden spoon.
Wire whisk.
Infrared or probe thermometer.







Process the carrots @
183F/84Cx1 hour

cold shock the carrots in the bag to 70F/21C. Refrigerate at 40F/4C until you are ready to make the salad.
Sous vide process the red onion at
183F/84Cx1 hour.

Make Mille-Feuille Potatoes–the carrots, onions and mille-feuille potatoes can be processed simultaneously in the bath set to 183F/84C. 

Blend the dressing ingredients until smooth, refrigerate.

Processing the pork shoulder.

Seal boneless pork butt/shoulder roast in vacuum or Ziploc Freezer gallon bag. If you use a Ziploc bag, you may have to cut the roast in half, and that’s fine–Sous Vide is mostly indifferent to bulk, and is more dependent on thickness and, therefore, penetration time Process the roast sous vide @
135F/57Cx24 hours.

Remove from bath, cold shock in ice water to 70F/21C, refrigerate overnight at 40F/4C. When you are ready to smoke, remove the roast from bag, drain and harvest the juices. Place roast on a rack and sheet pan as shown. Harvest the juices and PROCESS as directed. Dust the roast very lightly with flour; I use one of those shakers like in the picture. Separate the egg, and reserve the yolk for later use. Paint/rub/spread the egg white over the entire surface of the pork. The easiest way is just to use clean hands, but some people find the sensation unpleasant. A pastry brush will work fine, or use gloves.

How to design a custom rub.

The roast weighed 8 lbs. raw, and lost about 1 lb. in juice. This means the roast now weighs 7lbs./3.2Kg. Seasoning standards suggest up to, but no more than: 2 teaspoons salt/lb., and it couldn’t be much simpler than that. Measure out 5 Tbsp. Kosher salt. Seasoning standards also suggest 7-10 parts salt to 1 part ground pepper, so; Measure out 1 Tblsp. Ground Black Pepper, because BBQ is typically a little peppery.

At this point, you know you can use all of your rub, no matter what else you put in it, and the roast will not be overly seasoned. I used:

Paprika, 2 Tblsp., for barbecue color.
Sugar, 1 Tblsp., sweetness, but not enough to burn.
Oregano, 2 Tblsp., flavor.
Fennel, 1 Tblsp., flavor, and exotic appearance.
Coriander, 1 Tblsp., flavor and exotic appearance.
Allspice, 1 Tblsp., aroma.
Ginger, 1 Tblsp., flavor and aroma.

After building your rub, apply it to the entire roast. You will have about half left, which has many uses. I also double smoke pork butts. I cut the roast into thick slices, and apply MOST of the rest of the rub. I do not worry about over salting because we already measured.



I use a pellet smoker, but any smoker will work. Try to achieve the lowest temperature practical in these devices at
180F/82Cx 4 hours.

While the roast is smoking…Make the Biscuit Béchamel

This simple recipe starts with a “leftover” biscuit. If you don’t have one, just make the Béchamel Sauce described on this site. Otherwise: Using the paddle attachment on a Kitchenaid type mixer, break apart the biscuit and add the butter. Meanwhile, heat the cream to 183F/84C, either in a sous vide bath set at that temperature, or even a microwave oven. This can be done in a pan, but there is a strong tendency to scorch.

Add the hot cream to the biscuit crumbs and mix. Return the sauce to the microwave container, process for 2 minutes and stir with a spoon–do not whip. Process another 1 minute. Return to the mixer and paddle slowly until smooth. Too much friction will break the sauce. Adjust thickness if necessary by adding a few drops of cream. Too thick is okay. Too thin is not okay. Let it cool for a few minutes and adjust seasonings.

The Roast:

Do not let the roast sit out longer than two hours. If you plan on serving at a later date, bag, cold shock, and refrigerate. This prevents it from becoming “leftovers.

Make the Potatoes Gratin

Cut the Mille-Feuille potatoes into serving size shapes. Distribute the biscuit béchamel over them in an oven proof dish. Sprinkle with bread crumbs,  dot with butter or spray lightly with Pam.

Bake until brown on top, keep warm.

Make the Purgecue emulsion: Combine all the ingredients except the oil. Use the stick blender to mix, drizzle in the oil to emulsify.

Carrot salad

I cut the carrots julienne on a mandolin, but they can just as well be cut into thin slices. Toss with the dressing. This brings a lot of cachet to the overall flavor profile. Do not omit it!


Despite the pink color, the pork is safe to eat because it has been pasteurized in the sous vide bath. It was also cooked again in the smoker–this is just a characteristic of the process. Even so, most guests do not find this color appealing because of outdated fears of food safety. A good chef addresses this issue with a positive attitude. For this model, Cut large thin slices from the roast, as shown below.

Heat a cast iron pan or a broiler pan or your barbecue grill and sear the slices until they have a nice mark on them. Be patient, they will not burn.

This is the appearance that clients are usually much more receptive too, and the Maillard/caramelization process adds a lot of flavor.

Shingle the slices on a plate, or just pile the Q, as they say:


Add the potatoes and the carrot salad, drizzle with the Purgecue sauce. This does not look it was served in a fancy restaurant, and it should not. Barbecue is non elitist, it is for everybody. A clean plate is where the presentation line is drawn. It can even be paper!


This dish was fun to make, the flavors are all so familiar, and yet slightly updated. My favorite part really was the carrot salad, so simple, so vibrant.

Stay Tuned. Norm.


As if generic anatomical jargon wasn't confusing enough, some cuts of meat seem to have been purposely named to confuse the consumer. In this case, the so called Pork "Butt" is actually a section from the shoulder of the animal. If cured, it becomes what is colloquially referred to as "Picnic Ham."

Even so, this is a well suited cut to hot smoke and/or barbecue.
We are also curing one, so stay tuned for our late August Picnic Post!

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