Pulled Pork Preeminent

One of the justifications I used to talk myself into buying the Sous Vide Supreme was that it would replace my crock pot. Now those who know me are aware that it is my intention, in just a little more than two years (781 days, but who’s counting), to move to New York City. So this rationale is no matter of little importance. I am going to have to fit a s#%tload of rooms worth of all my important stuff into a shoe box apartment in order to become happily ensconced in the Big Apple. Thus, until such time arrives, I have come up with a rule to live by: anything new which is brought into the house must give rise to the throwing or giving away of something of equal or greater volume. The crock pot, while being shorter than the SVS, definitely has a bigger footprint, i.e. takes up more space in a closet or cabinet.

I have one friend who has an SVS and when he heard this, he said “nooooo, the SVS will not replace the crock pot.” I took that as a challenge. Actually, my friend should have asked me just what I do with the crock pot. All I do with the crock pot is (1) make soup, and (2) make pulled pork. Try though I might, I have never found anything else to do with this appliance that can’t, just as well, be done on top of the stove.

“Slow cooker” you say? Oh no, that is just not so. The darn thing simmers the bejeebers out of everything. I can braise just fine in the oven and I can cook soup on the top of the range, thank you very much. But for pulled pork…well I bought the SVS and so it was time to put up or shut up.

Lets just say that something magical happens to a fatty chunk of pork shoulder or boston butt when it goes into the crock pot for 6 or 8 hours. Even my darling, adolescent, loving, sweet, wonderful, adorable brat of a  step-daughter asks for this dish regularly. Rubbed with a beautiful spice mix I have developed (mild chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, ground mustard seed, granulated garlic & onion, ground coriander seed, and salt) this relatively cheap cut of meat becomes an intensely flavorful pile of porky deliciousness that my family adores. Most often, we stuff it into fresh tortillas with refried beans, spanish style rice, sauteed veggies and other favorite condiments. I call it our “make your own fajitas” meal.

So I had to prove to myself that pulled pork would make the grade coming out of the SVS. For this experiment, I just happened to have a beautiful chunk of Red Wattle in my freezer, perfect for the main ingredient in our fajita fest. I thawed that chubby chunk-o-piggy out and rubbed my spice mix all over the surface of the roast with abandon before bagging it up with my Food Saver. Many sous vide recipes talk about how you have to use a little restraint with spices when cooking by this method but I have found this applies to only a limited range of items. This includes some herbs, especially bay and rosemary, and garlic (which I am, alas, unable to eat much of anyway). I was not worried about overdoing my pork rub. I set the water oven on 60C (140F) and put the sealed up meat in to cook for 48 hours!

 

The results were, if I may say, award winning. Better than out of the crock pot, by far, the pork was tender, exceptionally moist, just the right doneness and orgasmically flavorful. There was not a trace of dryness as is often the case with the slow cooker. The meat pulled away from the fat very easily so that in the end we were left with a much more low calorie version of our old crock pot standard. The spice rub gave the meat a wonderful, smokey, complex flavor that was exactly what we had come to love. One interesting thing is that we poured a couple of cups of spicy meat juice out of the cooking pouch. I froze this wonderful liquid figuring that it will make a delicious sauce for a chop or tenderloin in the future.

Say bye bye, crock pot!

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5 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Pork, Shoulder, Sous Vide, sous vide cooking, Sous Vide Supreme, water oven

5 responses to “Pulled Pork Preeminent

  1. Kathleen

    You make me crave porky goodness. I have a crock pot just like yours. I got it to use in the wintertime when our off-grid home is powered by a 24/7 micro-hydro turbine in our seasonal creek. That means I have a few spare electrons to use. I had the same problem as you. My new crock pot simmered, it was not low and slow. Researching I found a site called ‘Cooking for Engineers’ and a thread explaining the crock pot manufacturers make the units to never go below a certain temperature “for safety reasons”. This thread also explained how to insert a rheostat into the wiring of your crock pot for greater temperature control. This I did not do. So, my crock pot languishes on the shelf while I keep my eye out for an older, used crock pot.

    • Well, don’t even bother with the older, used crock pot. This is what the sous vide folks have learned: you can get what is known as a PID controller (more precise than a rheostat) that you can put in-line to your crock pot. The PID controller will regulate the temperature in very small increments at lower temperatures. But, by the time you do all this, you might as well just trash the whole thing and go for a real sous vide rig. They go for cheap, from time to time, on eBay. Look for something called “Fresh Meals Solutions” or “Sous Vide Magic” for the make-your-crock-pot-in-to-a-sous-vide-rig stuff. These include a circulator, a PID controller and a large, low voltage rice cooker. Me, I was willing to spend the money to get the SVS since it is a self-contained gizmo with fewer things to break. If you are interested, you can read all about it on eGullet.com.

  2. OK – you have me convinced – not that the ribs I made didn’t let me know I could be bolder with spices. Nice to know which herbs you find finicky… but I covet your spice rub. I shared mine on my rib post – it was really good… but you must have used Spanish Paprika to get that smoky goodness. And it is WONDERFUL to see I could through a whole roast in and not die. I am still so worried about correct times and pathogens… are you going to give up your spice rub? I am waiting with baited breath!! :)
    Valerie

  3. imwishing

    I used your timing for the pulled pork- it was fantastic- I rubbed mine with mustard then coated with a dry rub- put in vac bag adn in svs for 8 hrs- it was tender and juicy- cant wait to try the next thing- thanks for your posting- the hardest thing is figuring out how long to cook the food! Keep up the great work

    • Thanks for reading my blog. I have been on an extended hiatius from posting but I will be back very soon with some fun new articles. Meanwhile, if you have any specific SV questions that I might be able to help with, feel free to contact me through this blog.

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