My sous vide pork looks funny

Anybody tried sous vide pulled pork?

I’ve been getting into sous vide cooking, doing mostly chicken and eggs but I’ve also done pork chops and hamburgers … all very good.

Found some pork shoulder yesterday for $1.49/lb so decided to try some pulled pork. I’ve had it in the slow cooker (my rice cooker is too small) hooked up to the SousVideMagic controller @ 160F for 18 hours now (recipe says 24 hours at 160) and … it doesn’t look cooked at all. In fact, it looks distinctly red, like raw beef.

Does anybody know if this a normal part of the process?

Well, it won’t get the color that a traditionally roasted meat gets, but I’ve never seen it look raw, either. Some parts of pork shoulder do have a red color to them. I don’t think I’ve sous-vided pork shoulder before, but I’ve done pork ribs, and I don’t recall them being oddly colored. Mostly, the sous-vide meat is just greyish when it’s done.

I guess if it were me, as long as the temperature seems right (can you check it with another thermometer?) and the texture of the meat seems cooked, I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

Let us know how it turns out - I love pork shoulder, never though to sous-vide it though.

Yeah, I know the grayish color … been searing things in a skillet … torch is on my list.

I don’t know if the pork chops I’ve done went through this color … didn’t really watch them – just put them in and set the timer – for a lot less time.

I did check the temperature and it’s right on.

The recipe in Baldwin’s book calls for 24 hours @ 160F OR 8 to 12 hours @ 175F so I’ve cranked up the temperature … but I don’t think my slow cooker is going to make it to 175 … it’s gaining very slowly.

This is really a learning experience; so much science involved in sous vide cooking. I assume this red color has something to do with the “no, it’s not blood” red colored protein in meat.

Interesting results to report. I left it in an extra three hours but it seems that was unnecessary. When I opened a bag the funny red color disappeared and the meat turned the familiar grayish brownish hue of sous vide meat … and the smell was incredible. It does look like the color is an artifact of the process.

I have to say that I have really never had better pulled pork – plain straight out of the bag or with some BBQ sauce on a roll. Tender, juicy, and delicious.

One odd thing I found while panicking over the redness is that Baldwin gives two different sets of temperatures in his (dead tree) book and on his website.

A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking

The book doesn’t mention lard and I didn’t use it. The book calls for 160F or 175F and the website says 155F or 176F … I don’t know which is more current. Otherwise, the recipes are identical.

Highly recommend you try this, Athena.

I wonder if maybe there just wasn’t enough oxygen in the bag to cause the color change? Isn’t it oxidation?

So how’d you end up doing it, exactly? You mention you didn’t do the lard - did you brine it?

I’m definitely going to try this soon. I do a lot of carnitas style pork shoulder on the stove, I don’t know why I haven’t thought about sous-viding it.

I don’t know if it’s oxidation or not. I only have a vague recollection that the red juice that runs out of meat that is cut too soon after cooking is not blood, it is some protein that just happens to be red. For now, I’m assuming it is that protein being brought to the surface of the meat by the vacuum. It really went from a very light pink to a very distinct red. Don’t know how long the change took; I noticed in the morning after it cooked all night.

I pretty much followed the instructions on that website with the exceptions of not using lard and using the different temperatures I mentioned – the instructions in the book are cut & paste identical except for those two differences. I didn’t brine it because the meat I bought was in a cryopac with salt solution added; figured that was the same. Just slice it thick, salt & pepper, in the bag, and wait it out. Notice that he does mention frying or searing it with a torch for Mexican style.

Next time I’ll try some dry rub, maybe some liquid smoke, maybe garlic powder. One of the nice things about the small bags is how easy it is to experiment without losing your whole hunk of meat if it doesn’t work out. But this worked. This stuff is good.

And even after it’s cooked, the red color will sometimes come back if the hemoglobin can still react with oxygen.

Nope, myoglobin,

The only time I’ve seen actual blood in meat is inside large vessels that weren’t properly removed or in poultry hearts. In those cases it’s always been in the form of a dark, almost black, clot. Never as anything you’d think of as blood!

The reaction of myoglobin to oxygen is why the color of the center of a package of ground beef isn’t an indicator of freshness, it’s reaction to carbon monoxide is why the visible color in the package is no longer very meaningful either,

CMC fnord!

I think I’ve finally perfected sous-vide pork ribs. I’ve done them for 24/48/72 hours, and I think they’re the best at about 30 hours. At least, I made some last week, and they were divine. Longer, and they tend to either stay the same, or the texture changes into something mushier than I like.

Baby back ribs, a full rack cut in half, made a dry rub with paprika and salt/pepper, chipotle powder, cumin, and garlic.

30 hours at 155 degrees. Threw 'em under the broiler for a few minutes to crisp, served with homemade very spicy vinegar based BBQ sauce.

Amazing. Just amazing, and one of the things that really can’t be done without sous-vide. It really shows off what you can do with the technique. They were nicely pink, juicy, falling off the bone tender.

Now I want more.

Yeah, myoglobin, that’s it. I knew it wasn’t blood. The carbon monoxide thing might have been a factor, too, because this particular piece of meat was from Hormel – and the color disappeared instantly upon opening the bag. I have determined that pork chops from my local butcher do not turn this bright red color during cooking. Maybe I’ll look for some Hormel pork chops and see what happens.

Added ribs to my shopping list. :wink:

Another thing that turned out to be great: Sous-Vide 101: Glazed Carrots.

I’ve made those carrots, and they are indeed great.

Sous-vide is fun. I have a pork shoulder roast defrosting right now, trying to decide if I want to make sausage or sous-vide pulled pork or traditional carnitas. Life is fun.