Take a Cold Bag of Meat to Your Next BBQ

Photo: Claire Lower
Photo: Claire Lower

It’s almost impossible to talk about sous-vide cooking without someone bringing up the “wet bag.” “I don’t want food that looks like it just came out of a wet bag,” they say. “I just don’t find the idea of eating out of a wet bag that appealing.” These sentences aren’t absurd, but they are a little silly, as anyone with any degree of sous-vide experience knows that you have to finish sous-vided meat with some sort of other heat source. The grill works well.

In fact, if you ever get to go to another BBQ, potluck, or picnic — you know, with other people — I suggest you bring one of those wet bags of already cooked meat, bonus points if the wet bag is also cold. Doing so may seem like social sous-icide, but trust me, it will make you the belle of the BBQ ball.

You just have to be slightly thoughtful about the meat you choose. Pre-cooked hot dogs don’t make any sense, but extremely tender ribs that have been cooked for 12 hours at 80 degrees Celsius? Those are glorious. Just brush them with sauce and throw them on the grill until a bark develops and they’re heated through (barely 10 minutes). Those who mocked your wet bag of cold meat just moments earlier will pivot to apologies. “We are so sorry for mocking your bag of meat,” they will say, mouths full of meat. “We didn’t know rib meat could fall from the bone this cleanly and easily!”

Ribs are not the only meat you should sous-vide before the BBQ. Very thick burgers (60 degrees Celsius for 45 minutes for medium) work well, as do massive bone-in ribeyes (54 degrees for two and a half hours). If you’re looking for something a fun and exciting and different, give pig’s feet a whirl. Anything that’s large, or full of connective tissue, or large and full of connective tissue is a good choice. (If you need cooking temps and times, Anova has them for almost any meat you can think of.) A long, low-temperature spell in a precisely controlled water bath means that the collagen and fat have the time to properly melt and mingle, and — as is the case with all sous-vide cooked food — you get a piece of meat that is cooked evenly from end to end.

Also, you can cook your meat a couple of days ahead of time, then chill it in the fridge until your BBQ. (Meathead says that can even improve the flavour.) Then, once you’re at the BBQ, remove your cold meat from the wet bag and blot it with paper towels to remove any excess moisture, season with a rub or sauce, then throw it on a super hot grill to get those grill marks/crust/whatever kind of browning action you are going for. I can’t guarantee your friends and family will never make fun of you again, but they’ll think twice about bagging on your cold, wet bags of meat.

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