The Three Brisketeers: Sous Vide+Hot Smoke=The Sous-B-Q™ Solution

This comparison study shows three ways to prepare a whole beef brisket by synergizing sous vide processing with "low and slow" smoking.

Ingredients

Whole Beef Briskets, 3 each–the ones we selected weighed approximately 14 lb./6.5 Kg (each).
Note: Briskets do not have to be “whole” in order to achieve desirable results. Any section that weighs at least 2 lb./1Kg can be sous vide processed according to the same time/temperature parameters. Even the time spent in the smoker will be roughly the same.

Powdered (or fresh) egg whites as needed.

 

Herein lies the Rub–Seasonings:

Kosher salt, as needed.

Use your favorite blend or custom assemble one from our extensive list of recipes linked HERE. Regardless of all other spices, 12 g (approximately two measured teaspoons) of kosher salt per lb. of raw meat is plenty.

 

Equipment requirements

Immersion circulator, portable or stationary.
Lipavi C20 container or equivalent, minimum of 5 gallons/20 liters.
Lipavi racks or equivalent
Heat rated sous vide roll, 15″ wide.
Gram scale, available HERE.
Infrared or probe thermometer.
Back yard smoker or oven.

In The Three Brisketeers we will show three ways to achieve tenderness, flavor and bark without the brisket’s internal temperature ever exceeding 150 F/66 C. For a more detailed version of this demonstration, visit HERE.

Smoking the brisket

In methods “A” and “B,” the brisket is first sous vide processed and then shocked cold to 40 F/4 C. The brisket is then smoked/roasted until it achieves an internal temperature of 130 F/55 C–safe and “mouth hot.” Starting at 40 F/4 C exposes the roast to smoke for as long as possible without exceeding the target temperature. Typically, 4-6 hours at 180 F/80 C is long enough to achieve the desired level of bark and the safe temperature requirements. In method “C,” the brisket is smoked BEFORE sous vide processing.

Let the festivities begin

There is nuance to each method which we will discuss as we proceed. They are:

Method “A.” Sous vide processed unseasoned, shocked cold and then seasoned and smoked.

Method “B.” Sous vide processed seasoned, shocked cold, seasoned and smoked. 

Method “C.” Seasoned, smoked, sous vide processed. 

Bagging your brisket

Vacuuming a large roast can be difficult. Most heat strips are 12″ or less. If you use a 15″ sleeve, position the opening at a 45 degree angle and seal one half of it–twice. Then, reposition the opening in the bag in the other direction at a 45 degree angle. Make sure the seals intersect in the middle and double seal again. Load the bag and seal a corner at the other opening. Reposition, vacuum, seal, and reseal. If you use a 12″ sleeve, you may have to trim one side of the brisket in order to get it to fit the bag.

Method A

Set the bath temperature at 130 F/55 C.

Vacuum seal the unseasoned brisket in heat rated plastic and submerge completely in the bath. Sous vide process the package for at least 48 hours. Use the method explained HERE to verify your desired level of tenderness.

When the interval has elapsed, cold shock the sealed package in (iced) tap water until it achieves 70 F/21 C–usually about half an hour. Refrigerate at 40 F/4 C until day of service. The sealed brisket can be safely refrigerated in this state for at least two weeks.

Dip the sealed package in 110 F/43 C (tap) water or a functioning sous vide bath for two minutes to liquify the gel. Cut one end of the package open and drain the juices. Clarify the juices according to the method described HERE. Season the resulting consommé as desired–approximately 1 teaspoon of kosher salt per cup/225 ml and a pinch of white pepper. This will be utilized later as “au jus.”

‘Tis the seasoning

Finish removing the brisket from the package and pat dry. Stage the roast into a rack with the fatty side down. Dust with powdered egg white. Note: If you prefer to use fresh egg whites, combine them with an equal amount of water, beat well, and apply a thin coating to the surface of the roast. Mist with water and sprinkle with seasonings. Use the rack to stand the roast on each side. Dust with powdered egg white. Mist with water. Sprinkle with seasonings. Lay flat with fatty side up. Dust with powdered egg white. Mist with water and sprinkle generously with seasonings. Mist or drizzle lightly with oil.

Transfer the rack into the smoker set at 180 F/82 C or thereabouts. An oven may also be used, set no higher than 225 F/107 C.

Smoke/roast until the internal temperature achieves at least 130 F/54 C and the desired level of bark has been created, whichever comes LAST. Final weight was 11.3 lbs./5.2 kg.

Service:

The first slice, cut from the very tip of the flat.

About a third of the way up from the tip of the flat, the point is just beginning to appear.

From the point end, the flat has disappeared except for the lower right corner.

Method B

We removed some of the larger deposits of fat on the surface and reweighed to 13 lbs./5.9 Kg.

Lay the brisket out on a large piece of butcher paper or parchment. Apply a total of 168 g kosher salt–6 oz by weight. This satisfies the expectations of most brisket enthusiasts without being overly salty. When completed, fold the butcher paper around the brisket. This makes it easier to slide the roast into the sous vide bag.

Stage the package into heat rated plastic and remove the butcher paper. Vacuum seal and refrigerate at 40 F/4 C for 16 hours.

Set the bath temperature at 130 F/55 C.

Submerge the seasoned brisket completely in the bath. Make sure the water is high enough so the the Lipavi lid comes in contact with the water and forms a seal. Process the package for at least48 hours. Use the method explained HERE to verify your desired level of tenderness. When the interval has elapsed, cold shock the sealed package in (iced) tap water until it achieves 70 F/21 C–usually about half an hour. Refrigerate at 40 F/4 C until day of service. The sealed brisket can be safely refrigerated in this state for at least two weeks.

Day of service

Sodium free rubs are not common in local markets. Since the brisket was sufficiently salted before sous vide processing we made a sodium free rub that consisted of 0.5 cups sugar and 1 Tablespoon each paprika, oregano, basil, garlic powder and fennel seeds.

Dip the sealed package in 110 F/43 C (tap) water or a functioning sous vide bath for two minutes to liquify the gel. Cut one end of the package open and drain the juices. Clarify the juices according to the instructions detailed HERE, but expect them to be quite salty. They can be diluted and used to drizzle the final product.

Finish removing the brisket from the package and pat dry. Stage into a rack, fatty side down. Dust with powdered egg white. If you prefer to use fresh egg whites, mix them well with an equal volume of water and spread/paint a thin layer on the brisket. Spray with water to moisten the egg whites (not necessary if you use fresh). Sprinkle generously with the sodium free rub. Stand the roast on its side(s) by leaning it against the of the rack and repeat the seasoning procedure. Lay the brisket down with the fatty side up and repeat the seasoning process one last time.

Spray or drizzle lightly with oil. Transfer the rack into the smoker set at 180 F/82 C or thereabouts. An oven may also be used, set no higher than 225 F/107 C.

Smoke/roast until the internal temperature achieves at least 130 F/54 C and the desired level of bark has been created, whichever comes LAST.

A slice from the very tip of the flat.

About a third of the way up the flat, the point is just beginning to appear in the upper left area.

Carved after being held in a 145 F/62 C oven for 4 hours. Flat merged with point.

All point.

Method C

Season the raw brisket according to your custom or use one of our dedicated rubs listed HERE. For best results, 12 g/2 teaspoons kosher salt per lb. satisfies the expectations of most brisket enthusiasts without being overly salty. All other spices are at your discretion.

Stage the roast into a rack. Transfer the rack into the smoker set at 180 F/82 C or thereabouts. An oven may also be used, set no higher than 225 F/107 C. Smoke/roast until the desired level of bark is achieved–there is no need to check temperature because we are going directly into the bath. We smoked this version for 5 hours. Set the bath temperature at 130 F/55 C.

Vacuum seal the warm pre-smoked brisket in heat rated plastic. Submerge the package completely in the bath. Process for at least 48 hours. Use the method explained HERE to verify your desired level of tenderness. When the interval has elapsed, cut one end of the package open and drain the juices. Clarify these juices according to the directions provided HERE.

Finish removing the brisket from the package and stage onto parchment or butcher paper. The brisket has been seasoned and smoked but the surface is much too wet to be called “bark.” Returning the brisket to the smoker/oven can be used to revitalize the bark, but doing so may cause the brisket to exceed its target temperature and dry out. The broiler function of an oven or a propane torch can be used to revitalize the bark. This is a painstaking, time consuming practice and there is a risk of scorching.

We tried something new. We staged the “soggy” brisket into the oven set at 145 F/62 C and went about our business for a couple of hours.

Cut from the very tip of the flat. Again, the bright red color as a result of processing at 130 F/62 C. While the smoke ring is visible, there was definitely less smoke flavor/aroma than the other two models.

0Cut from the flat a third of the way up.

A center cut shows the intersection of the flat and the point.

A cut from the point end.

As we discussed, sous vide processing will remove a lot of the smoky flavor gained in the smoking process. The purge will be extremely smoky, the meat not so much. There is no accounting for preference, but I still favor Method “A” to achieve the best results in color, flavor, and convenience.

Norm King

Visit us in real time on Facebook at SVR–Sous Vide Resources; Low Temperature Pasteurization, Sous-B-Q™, | Facebook

references:

mythology, science and practice.

taste and smell

safety

crunch

fresh garlic

time and temp

safety and shocking

everything

Painted Hills

St. Helens

NickyUSA

About

Moist heat converts collagen to gelatin. This is why tough meat gets tender if you cook it long enough. Nevertheless, excessive heat destroys nutrients and removes water. While bark is an essential component of good bbq, long periods of time in a "runaway" smoker can create the unpleasant effect of "all bark and no bite." Everyone wants a nice dark crust without removing all the moisture and nutrition.

The purpose of Sous-B-Q™ is to facilitate the same results as low and slow barbecue without the internal temperature of the meat ever exceeding 150 F/65 C.
Integrating sous vide with "back yard" barbecue gives us the best of both worlds.

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