sous vide pulled pork

Sous Vide Pulled Pork, the Aftermath

Procedure:

Where we left off…

In the original RECIPEthe entire pork shoulder is sous vide processed @135F/57Cx24 hours, shocked and refrigerated to 40F/4C, coated with seasonings and hot smoked @180f/82Cx4 hours. See recipe for detailed information. At that point, the roast looks like this:

The roast is then cut into steaks and cutlets for various applications. While fully pasteurized, the pork still retains a faint pink hue. After cutting steaks from the intact end, the pieces where the bone originally occurred are shown below. They are ready to be processed for pulling.

The pork was then vacuum packed (Ziploc Freezer bags also acceptable),

and processed sous vide again @

155F/68Cx12 hours.

NOTE: Life happens! Sous vide is by far the most forgiving of methodologies, within constraints. My intention was to start the pork early in the morning, and then to serve it for dinner that evening–12 hours. Due to circumstances beyond our control, dinner plans were changed, so I reduced the heat to 129F/54C. As it turned out, the pork was maintained at that temperature for another 24 hours. 

I was confident that the pork would be safe at that temperature, but I expected the texture to be TOO tender. Much to my surprise, well, you will see in the following slides. I do not advocate this method as a standard practice. It is, however, testimony to the effectiveness of precise temperatures in cooking.

The supporting cast

Cut the corn off the cob, and cut the peppers into corn sized pieces. Melt the butter in a pan on medium low, as shown, and add the flour. Stir to dissolve. Add the corn and peppers, and stir to coat. Slowly add the cream, and it will thicken almost instantly. Season with S+P and keep warm. I keep popped corn around, I forget that not everybody does this.

Pull and Pull

Finally, I removed the pork from the tank and cold shocked it to 70F/21C in ice water. I removed the pork from the bag, and pulled it into coarse pieces, as shown below. You can see the change in color and texture. Some components of smoke are actually small enough to “leak” through the vacuum or Ziploc bags. The water in the vessel may darken somewhat. You may even smell something, although the flavorful components of smoke are too large to penetrate the bag. To me, it smells more like burning leaves or paper. It can be disconcerting the first time it happens to you. Otherwise harmless.

Using the paddle attachment of a Kitchenaid Mixer, I shredded the pork. The temperature is important, to the extent that if the pork is too cold, it tends to smash instead of shred. If it’s too hot, it is difficult to handle. HOWEVER, care must be taken to spend as little time as possible at this intermediate temperature–the pork should either be immediately chilled to 40F/4C, or heated and served.

Shred the pork on slow speed, or the shreds can easily become too small. They will dissolve some more during heating with the sauce.

Cut the stale “leftover” cornbread into small rectangles, I just put them someplace warm and then put a little melted butter on them at service. It’s almost a crouton effect.

Dice the tomatoes for garnish, set aside.

Heat the pork in just enough sauce to coat it. I like to put a little bit of butter in it too, my guilty pleasure.

PLATE:

My friends tell me that my presentations of comfort food are too elaborate, and I take that as a sort of compliment. Pulled pork looks great on an untoasted bun in a red plastic basket lined with wax paper with some very wet coleslaw and potato chips on the side. There is no shame in serving it like that, but, for me, this is the fun part.

Make a tower of pulled pork in the middle of the plate. I use cookie cutter rings that are tall, but the pork will stand up on its own if it’s not too wet with sauce.

Spoon some creamed corn around the pork, and garnish with the rest of the components:

I drizzled with a little balsamic syrup, which has absolutely no business sharing a plate with pulled pork. I apologize to all purists.

Another ironic compliment is “That’s toooo beautiful to eat.” Fortunately, I don’t hear that one so much.

Norm

Info

Pulled pork has become so popular, many people process the entire shoulder cut for that sole purpose. Boneless pork butts, as they are deceptively named, can weigh up to 8lbs./3.75Kg; even more. It's a good idea to consider devoting certain amounts of the roast to different applications. This recipe explains exactly how to do that.

Ingredients

This recipe utilizes the sous-b-q PORK SHOULDER outlined previously on this site. After sous vide processing and hot smoking as described in that recipe, some of the pork is reprocessed to achieve the desired pulled pork texture.

Additional ingredients:

Corn, as prepared in the linked recipe, 1 ear. Any cooked corn can be substituted.
Roasted Peppers, as described in the linked recipe, 6oz./175g., diced. They are also available canned, perfectly suitable.
Cornbread, stale, as described in the linked recipe, 2 oz./60g.
Butter, 2 oz./60g.
Flour, 1Tblsp./10g.
Cream, 3 oz./90ml.
Popcorn, already popped, a few pieces.
S+P, to taste.
Heirloom tomato, diced, 2 oz./60g.

Dark Side BBQ Sauce (or your favorite), as needed.

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