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I want to make Char Siew (Chinese BBQ pork). I also want to try it sous vide up to medium rare, then finished under the broiler to get that nice caramelized outside while basting. This way it ends up medium. My question is, I'm using pork butt, but it's pork butt that I've broken down into long strips about 4" wide and 1.5" thick. I was planning to cook these about 2.5-3 hours in the water bath at 135 degrees Fahrenheit.

Is this not long enough for this cut of meat, even at this thickness?

My main concern is safety, but I also want the meat to have enough of the fat rendered and meat at least somewhat tender.

  • How much tendon/sinew/grizzly bits are there? – Ming Nov 14 '14 at 2:14
  • pork butt is pretty tough meat. you might consider something more like 12-72 hours (no typo), as if it were short ribs – rbp Jan 5 '15 at 19:57
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If you're concerned about safety, then 135 degrees is definitely not "safe". The FDA recommends pork be cooked to 145 degrees farenheit, and due to the law of thermodynamics your pork will never reach that temperature. You'd need to make sure that your broiling would finish cooking your pork to a safe temperature. Of course, the FDA guidelines always err on the side of caution, but it all depends on what you're looking for when you mean "safe" :). However, according to this site (http://www.sousvidesupreme.com/en-us/sousvide_cookingtemperatures.htm), your alloted time seems safe. The nice thing about sous vide is, as long as there are no hotspots, your meat will only ever reach the temperature of the water (135), and so won't overcook, so you can err on the side of caution

Another concern I have is, at this temperature the fat will not be able to render out properly at this temperature/time. Not a huge problem, but perhaps a problem nonetheless.

Lastly, the best part of char siu is the wonderful smokey flavour and the glaze you get from grilling it for an extended period and basting repeatedly. I'm not sure how successful doing this at the end with just a broiler would be.

However, I will say I've never tried making char-siu this way, and these thoughts are only based on my own experience, so I would be very interested to hear how this turns out!

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