I am but a lowly apartment renter and, as such, do not have a backyard, nor do I have an outdoor grill. This means that all my grilling is done in other people’s yards, which is inconvenient, particularly if I wish to entertain over weekends. Luckily, I know how to make some very good-tasting food without a fire box.
Besides charred, smoky flavour, one of the main benefits to cooking things outside is that your kitchen stays cool. (Though grilling always makes me think of my late Uncle Ed, who famously said, “People have it backwards. Why would you want to cook outside and crap in the house?”) Anyway. With a sous-vide setup, you can cook up BBQ-appropriate fare without much oven action, and the results will be delicious.
If you are the kind of person who can think ahead and plan out your life, you can get extremely good results with an immersion circulator. If it’s ribs you crave, but are sadly smokerless, you are in luck. A little dry rub, a few drops of liquid smoke (shh, it’s fine) and 12 hours in a 80 degree Celsius bath produced some of the most tender, fall-off-the-literal-bone ribs I’ve ever eaten. And they were made completely in the comfort of my home. The trick is to give them a few minutes in the pan/oven grill/air fryer to form a crust.
Other cuts that take particularly well to sous vide-ing (and taco-ing) are carnitas (pork shoulder) and lengua (beef tongue).
Both break down into extremely tender versions of themselves, and need nothing more than a sprinkling of salt. For the pork, a quick fry in the pan with some of the rendered lard or a bit of grilling is all you need to get those crispy edges, but the beef tongue is ready to go straight from the bag (it is worth noting I like adding duck fat to that bag).
If you would like a large hunk of meat to eat off of a bone, please consider these four-ingredient glazed lamb shanks, which feed something primal in me. Oxtail is also a (slightly) unexpected ingredient, but similarly fun to remove from the (smaller) bones with your teeth.
If you want to get super-traditional, you should sous vide some dirty water dogs. They look very unappealing cooking in their bag, but they taste quite good.
What will you be sous vide-ing in the future? Honestly, you can’t go wrong with steak. Though the searing can get a little smoky.