Level of difficulty 3
Is it enough to merely sink?
Do we really need racks?
Whatever rack you use, of course it needs to be water proof. The temperatures used are low enough that we don’t really worry about heat tolerance. If racks are also heat proof, oven proof and rust proof within normal limits, their potential applications increase. They should be facile in the process of hot and cold smoking without becoming permanently stained or damaged.
In the first slide below, the 3 lb./1.4Kg racks are removed from their packaging. Do not use market packaging for sous vide processing, unless you have confirmed that it was designed to withstand heat. Most market packaging is not intended to do so.
The meat is then either vacuum packaged or simply staged into Ziploc Freezer bags which are rated to withstand typical sous vide temperatures. To see how to easily remove the air from a Ziploc Freezer bag, and how to process sous vide chicken, click here. The size of the portion of meat may need to be reduced to fit into the dedicated bags but sous vide is not as weight dependent as it is thickness dependent. For this project we used extra large sleeves.
After sealing the pork spare ribs in bags, we processed via sous vide at
140 F/60 C for 24 hours,
To see how the chicken was processed, click HERE
Cold shocking is depicted in the sixth and last slide, and it is very important. After processing, all food should either be finished and served or shocked cold with iced water to 70 F/21 C BEFORE being staged into a refrigerator–whether it was prepared via sous vide or not. The typical home refrigerator is not designed to quickly cool hot food. Perishable products in the vicinity of the hot packages can also be temperature compromised by this exposure.
Cold shocking can be done in several ways, but with vessels and racks you should be able to simply remove the hot water from the vessel and replace it with tap water and ice. In this case I used a siphon, visible suspended from the faucet.
Using racks for storage.
Once your packages have achieved 70F/21C, they can be refrigerated and held at 40F/4C. Most people leave their improvised racks in the vessel, but the wire handles on each end of these Lipavi racks make removal of the whole project very easy. Simply lift out the rack, and allow to drain for a few minutes. The rack, with the food still in it, can be staged into a normal sized refrigerator, as shown below in the second picture.
Hot smoking using racks:
On day of service, remove the entire rack and submerge it in hot tap water to dissolve the gel that forms around the proteins. This product that we call Sous Jus™ can be saved for further processing. For the full explanation of this, click here. I lay out some loose racks on a rimmed sheet pan so that I can harvest the Sous Jus which most practitioners refer to as “purge.”
After the chicken and pork have drained, collect the juice from the pan and refrigerate. Lay the chicken and ribs out on parchment; this will save clean up later. Sprinkle the seasoning over the chicken and ribs on both sides and arrange on the racks. You can see that I separated the skin from the thighs and breasts and laid it out on the rack to get very crisp. This usually goes to the cook later as a guilty pleasure.
Once the racks are loaded, transfer the racks and the sheet pans below them directly into the smoker. Even though most smokers have drip pans, using the sheet pans reduces the amount of grease and debris left behind. I find it easier to clean the sheet pans than to disassemble the racks and drip pans from the smoker itself. Some people feel this limits the food’s exposure to the smoke but my experience suggests that there is no way to avoid the smoke inside a smoker! To simplify things we hot smoked the ribs and the chicken both at
400 F/204 C for one hour.
This was purposely a little bit “hot,” even for hot smoking. Since we are planning on doing a series on these tutorials I decided to start at the higher range and work our way down. Smoker temperatures as low as 180 F/82 C can provide equally excellent and probably the best results of all. You will hear Pitmasters chant the mantra “Low and Slow,” which we see also applies to sous vide!
Serving your Sous-B-Q stuff
After processing using the racks the food should be easily and safely removed from the smoker. I recommend turning off the smoker, opening the door and resisting the urge to dig in! Examine the sheet pans to see how much grease remains. The safest way to remove this is to fold and lay paper towels wherever you see grease accumulated. This prevents the grease from splashing out during transportation.
In a few moments, the handles on the ends of the Lipavi racks are much easier to handle; always use a hot pad. If you are travelling back inside, take the sheet pans with you. If you are staying outside, you can leave the sheet pans and just lift the racks out and deliver them to a covered picnic table!
Once you have arrived at your destination you will realize just how convenient racks made the whole experience. Rather than having disorganized piles of food piled precariously on your table, you are free to remove the food and the adjacent rack in a very systematic fashion.
Have some platters nearby to transfer the food to, and, once you have unloaded the racks, they are ready to wash either by hand or by machine, but definitely later!
After removing from the smoker I used my special Sous Vide Barbecue Baste, which is a robust and zesty companion for steaks, ribs, chicken, and many other things. It is an excellent alternative dip for French Fries and Onion Rings, which we also have a popular recipe for.
I applied the baste to half of the items; you can see it distinguished in the third picture of the slide. On the left, no sauce, on the right, sauce. The bottom picture on the left has sauce on it. Despite its color, it is non-tomato based–I use tamarind.
I hope you found this article interesting and helpful. I keep finding applications for racks, especially the Lipavi ones, and I think I was the first to discover that they could be utilized up side down to help keep certain types of foods submerged during sous vide processing. No matter, you may find your own applications for these extremely versatile devices. Of course, they are freezer proof too!