This Sous Vide Pork Shoulder is incredibly simple to prepare and always comes out flavorful and tender! It’s a tried-and-true recipe for the best pulled pork.
The sous vide method allows you to precisely set the temperature to your preferred doneness, with no risk of overcooking!
Pulled pork is a great protein source to have on hand. You can make sous vide pork shoulder ahead of time and serve it on sandwiches, tacos, or burritos with BBQ sauce on top. Absolutely delectable!
WHAT IS SOUS VIDE?
In French, sous vide means “under vacuum.” It’s a water bath cooking technique that involves vacuum-sealing food in a bag and then cooking it for an extended period of time at a precise temperature in a water bath.
This method is well-known for being a precise and consistent way to cook meat or fish evenly.
WHY SOUS VIDE PORK SHOULDER?
Pork shoulder is the traditional cut for pulled pork because it has less fat.
When compared to traditional methods such as the crock pot, instant pot, or oven, sous vide cooking makes the meat much more tender and juicy.
- The sous vide machine evenly cooks the pork from edge to edge, and it’s low-stress cooking because it eliminates short windows of time for perfect doneness.
- It’s actually quite simple to make, and there’s no need to brine the meat because your sous vide machine will do the majority of the work for you. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll never go back to the old way!
- It’s ideal for preparing ahead of time and then finishing in the oven or smoker before serving.
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HOW TO COOK SOUS VIDE PORK SHOULDER?
- Pork shoulder can be found in the meat section of most supermarkets. It usually weighs 4-6 pounds and has a layer of fat on the bottom. This recipe works with both bone-in and boneless chicken. I prefer bone-in for the added flavor. It’s also known as pork butt or Boston butt.
- To begin, season the pork shoulder with a dry rub. It could be as simple as salt and pepper, but I usually season with paprika, oregano, garlic, and cumin. I also like to add pineapple juice, which out the best flavors in the pork.
- Then, seal the zip-lock bag with the seasoned pork shoulder and pineapple juice using the “water displacement” technique (see recipe for details).
- The vacuum-sealed pork shoulder should then be cooked in a sous vide water bath at 165°F (74°C) for 16 to 24 hours. When the pork shoulder is done, take it out of the bag and shred it with two forks.
- I like to broil the shredded pork for a few minutes to crisp up the edges. Then drizzle with BBQ sauce and serve alongside sandwiches!
WHAT TYPE OF PORK SHOULD BE USED?
When making pulled pork, I like to use a bone-in pork butt, also known as a Boston butt. The pig’s butt cut is actually located in the upper part of the shoulder, directly in front of the front leg.
A joint bone and, more often than not, the shoulder blade will be found in the Boston butt. These bones will add flavor to the meat but will increase the overall weight of the purchase.
A boneless pork butt can also be substituted. There are no kinks to work around, and the price for this convenience may be higher. Everyone has a personal preference.
When it comes to cooking pork, sous vide cooking is unrivaled. On New Year’s Day, we serve sous vide pork and sauerkraut for good luck, and juicy sous vide boneless pork chops are a weeknight favorite, all served with a side of sous vide potatoes.
WHY SOUS VIDE PORK SHOULDER AT 165°F?
The sous vide method allows you to cook the meat to the desired degree of doneness. I’ve cooked sous vide pork shoulder numerous times, and my favorite setting is 165°F / 74°C for approximately 18 hours.
The pork is very tender and moist at this temperature, and it can be easily shredded with forks.
The texture is much more juicy than with traditional methods. If you want to experiment with different temperatures, here’s a chart:
|145°F / 63°C||24 to 36 hours||Super tender and moist, but cannot be easily shredded with forks.|
|165°F / 74°C||16 to 24 hours||Tender and moist, and shreddable with forks.|
|185°F / 85°C||12 to 16 hours||Close to traditional texture with meat easily fall off the bones (tastes slightly dry)|
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF SOUS VIDE A PORK SHOULDER?
When cooking a tough piece of meat, such as a pork shoulder with a lot of connective tissue, cooking it at a low temperature for an extended period of time will yield meat that falls apart while retaining all of the juiciness and flavors that we love in pork shoulder.
Sous vide cooking allows for precise temperature control without the need to monitor the cook.
- Meal prep: Cook the pork shoulder ahead of time and finish it on the grill, smoker, or in the oven when ready to serve.
- Cooking without stress – once the shoulder is in the sous vide, there is no need to attend to it. Without your assistance, the circulator will maintain a precise temperature. Essentially, it is a’set it and forget it’ system.
- Self-basting – The pork will baste itself in its own juices, making full contact with all surfaces. Any spice rub you use on the pork will infuse it even more.
- Choose your texture – Unlike other cooking methods, sous vide allows you to select your preferred texture based on the temperature of the water.
- Less smoker/grill time – After the first 2-3 hours on a smoker, the meat has lost its smoky flavor. You can get the amazing smoky flavor and crust by using a 2-step cooking method without leaving it on the grill/smoker for hours on end.
HOW LONG TO SOUS VIDE PORK SHOULDER?
This post’s pork shoulder was cooked for 18 hours. You can remove it after 16 hours or cook it for up to 24 hours at 165°F.
HOW TO KEEP SHREDDED PORK MOIST?
There will be some liquid in the bag from the pork as it cooks. Don’t waste the juices. Toss the shredded pork with 1 cup of the juices to combine. This will help to keep the pork moist.
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST PULLED PORK SANDWICH?
Toast some hamburger buns with a little butter under the broiler until lightly browned.
Assemble the sandwich by layering some shredded pork on the bun and sprinkling some BBQ sauce on top. You can also serve the pork with coleslaw on top.
SHOULD YOU SMOKE THE PORK BEFORE OR AFTER SOUS VIDE?
There is some debate over whether to smoke the pork shoulder before or after it is sous vide. In my opinion, it should be cooked sous vide first, then finished in the smoker or oven.
The reason for this is that the flavorful bark formed in the BBQ would be broken down if it was then cooked sous vide.
TIPS FOR MAKING THE BEST SOUS VIDE PORK SHOULDER:
- If you have a vacuum seal bag, use it to seal the bag. However, a ziplock bag can also be used. Just keep the seams above the water so the bag doesn’t pop open during the long cooking process.
- Cover the pot: To prevent water evaporation, cover the sous vide container with a lid. If you’re using a regular pot, cover it with aluminum foil. You should also check the water level several times to ensure that the meat is completely submerged.
- Plan ahead of time: sous vide cooking pork shoulder takes 16-24 hours. So begin cooking at least a day ahead of time. You can also prepare it ahead of time and then broil it in the oven when you’re ready.
- Is it possible to overcook sous vide pork shoulder? Although sous vide meat cannot be overcooked, it can become mushy if left in the sous vide water bath for an extended period of time.
- What is the best way to reheat sous vide pork shoulder? Although it can be reheated in the microwave, I recommend warming it in a 350°F oven for about 5 minutes, or until warmed through.
- Is it possible to freeze pulled pork? Yes, it does freeze well. It will keep for up to 2 months if stored in an airtight container.
Frequently Asked Questions
Place the pork shoulder in a vacuum-sealed sous vide bag. Seal the bag after adding the liquid smoke (if using). Set your precision cooker to 165°F (74°C) for more traditionally textured pulled pork or 145°F (63°C) for sliceable but tender pork.
Yes, you can sous vide frozen pork butt; however, you will need to add time to your cooking time to account for the frozen meat. Cooking time should be increased by at least 1-2 hours to ensure the pork butt is fully cooked and tender.
Pork butt is a high fat content cut of meat from the pig’s shoulder, whereas pork shoulder is also from the shoulder but has more muscle.