Sous Vide and BBQ: The Best of Both Worlds

BBQ cooking is famous for using a low and slow approach to achieving juicy, tender results packed with flavor. Using your sous vide combined with BBQ is an even easier way to get those same results. This is because the sous vide eliminates the guesswork in terms of timing and temperature.

This week we’ve invited a few of our favorite BBQ-centric #Anovafoodnerds to share their tips, tricks, and recipes for how they achieve the best of both worlds.

Russel Wong: San Francisco, CA

“Smoke for flavor, sous vide for precise doneness/tenderness and texture.”

BBQ is all about low and slow cooking, but sous vide is even lower and slower due to the amount of control you have over the precise temperature. I feel I’ve been able to combine the best of both worlds to get incredible results, using my Anova in conjunction with my pellet grill. Here’s how:

  • Season before smoking
  • Smoke as low as possible, around 150°F-180°F
  • Don’t let the meat’s internal temp exceed the target sous vide bath temp when you’re smoking (either before or after).
  • SV temps depend on what you’re cooking, but a good general rule of thumb for tougher bbq meats (brisket, beef ribs, short ribs, etc) is – 132°F-165°F for 24-48 hours depending on the texture you prefer
  • Finish under a broiler to get the crust back.
  • For more smoke and a better crust, put your meat into an ice bath and chill it. This allows you to smoke it again (back to sous vide bath temp). You can also season it again before this step if you want too.
One of my favorite meats to cook sous vide and BBQ is this pastrami.

Darrin Wilson: Clearwater, Florida

“Don’t let anyone tell you that sous vide is only good for steak!”

I immediately fell in love with sous vide BBQ (including grilling AND smoking) and started experimenting and testing all kinds of meats and processes. Below are some of the “basics” of sous vide BBQ I have learned over the last three years:

  • Don’t let anyone tell you that sous vide is only good for steak! I have done many different kinds of meat, even some exotic stuff, using these methods combined.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment! Trying to make some things like pork butt or brisket at different times and temperatures. Using sous vide can totally change the way you think about barbecue.
  • Make sure you use a reputable guide or recipe to avoid mistakes. Although I encourage you to experiment, sous vide is not always great when you just “wing it”.
  • Some things will come down to personal preference. Sometimes there is no right or wrong answer, it is just preference and a matter of opinion. I always suggest trying things multiple ways until you find what works best for you.
  • You can do sous vide BBQ without a grill or smoker. Believe it or not, there are many recipes out there that can help you get very close to real bbq taste by using the sous vide and your oven!
This is how I make my famous sous vide and smoked chicken.  

Michael Audo: Iowa City, IA

“I’ll never do brisket any other way.”

So I’ve been a pretty avid electric smoker user over the last 5 years or so. Mastered the art of the pork butt, beef ribs, turkey breast, and St Louis ribs. Time and time again though, I failed in my mission to properly create the mecca of smoked meat…the brisket! After doing a little research I decided that using sous vide would help me achieve the results I was after. I got an Anova Precision® Cooker, then took the plunge and bought a 9-pound hunk of beef.

After a good coating of Oklahoma Joe’s brisket rub, I threw it in a 132° bath for 50 hours. Upon removal, I gave it a quick ice bath and a fresh coat of seasoning before tossing it in the smoker for 4 hours of hickory smoke at 235°. It did not disappoint. Everything from the taste to the texture and color was absolutely perfect. I even had some BBQ snob friends over who said it was the best homemade brisket they had ever had. Long story short…I’ll never make brisket another way.

You need this brisket recipe in your life.  

Matt Pittman: Waxahachie, TX

“Sous vide plus smoke is the ultimate combo!”

Smoking is perfect for a chuck roast because it’s so economical. A decent size chuck roast only runs you around $15 and is a much cheaper alternative to buying a whole brisket — plus the end result is very similar. I prefer to smoke the meat first for a couple of hours, then place them in the sous vide, which results in an ultra-tender texture. This also helps the smokiness permeate throughout the protein. The thing I love about this method is that I can meal prep on a Sunday and have quick and delicious meals all week. I can smoke several different types of meat, chill them in my refrigerator and then drop them in the sous vide the day I want to serve them.

My favorite chuck roast recipe is as easy to make as it is delicious. Thanks to our crew of #anovafoodnerds who shared their secrets to smoky sous vide success. Be sure to head to recipes.anovaculinary.com if you’re seeking more sous vide inspiration.

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