Sous vide is often used for cooking meat, particularly steak. But, the technique is so much more versatile than many people think. As a result, it can be used for many different types of dishes, including Sous Vide Mexican meals and dishes that use Mexican flavors. For that matter, many Mexican-inspired dishes use ingredients that naturally work with a sous vide cooker, including pork and beef which makes Mexican food made with the Sous Vide method perfect.
If I had to list my favourite cuisines, it would be a long list and span most of the world. In short, it is difficult for me to pick just one favorite cuisuine. Always on my list, however, Japanese, Thai, Caribbean (Afro, Indo, Latin, Creole) and what is one of my favorites-Mexican cuisines.
I used to love taking trips to Mexico. I grew up just 15 miles from the Mexican Border so you might say I grew up on Mexican food. Take a trip to Mexico with these easy and healthy Sous Vide Mexican family meals in this article. Slow cooked beef steak brought to tender perfection by 36 hours in the sous vide cooker, served up on corn tortillas with some guacamole, salsa and sour cream and voila.
Sous vide cooking is a great way to get the best out of cheaper, more flavourful cuts of meat. Mexican food in Mexico often uses cheaper cuts and get away with it by long cooking times which we can emulate in a sous vide cooker. Flank steak is often used for Carne Asada but making Sous Vide Mexican food you can also use chuck steak or brisket which would work equally well.
This is a healthy, nutritionally balanced meal that will feel like a feast and is also suitable for gluten-free diets if you are careful with the tortillas. First up is a Sous Vide Mexican Barbacoa
Sous vide is a foolproof way to get perfectly tender carnitas every time. The precision cooking method cooks the meat slowly and keeps it at an even temperature so the meat never overcooks or dries out. Use this big-batch recipe to meal-prep—the carnitas are perfect for burrito bowls, tacos, breakfast skillets and more.
Carnitas are the undisputed king of the taco cart in Mexico. The Mexican answer to American pulled pork, at their best they’re moist, juicy, and ultra porky, with the rich, tender texture of a French confit, and riddled with plenty of well-browned, crisp edges. Myself I like it crunchy. Traditionally, it’s made by simmering chunks of juicy pork in rendered lard inside a large copper vat until tender and crisp. For Sous Vide Mexican Carnitas you don’t have to heat up a oven, or worry about leaving it on all afternoon. Using a sous vide cooker like an Anova Nano, there’s also no real chance of overcooking.
Pork shoulder is one of my favorite cuts of meat, so I had to try this recipe. But, after the pork shoulder was sealed in the vacuum bag, I had an idea. What if, instead of steaks, I cut the pork into cubes and made carnitas?
In Mexico, carnitas are made by frying cubes of pork shoulder in lard. (Yes, lard.) The pork is simmered in lard until it is golden brown on the outside and tender on the inside. The ChefSteps Joule technique gives me tender pork; a quick sear gives me golden brown. Not that I have anything against lard per se, but… wow, I need a LOT of lard if I want to deep fry a pork shoulder.
With a slow-cooking, extra-forgiving cut like pork shoulder, which is high in both connective tissue and fat, even if you overshoot by half a day, your results are still going to be incredible. I know: I tested it to find out! The other great thing about cooking sous vide is that, because the pork is sealed inside a bag, there’s no need to add any extra fat whatsoever. The fat that renders from the pork shoulder as it cooks gets distributed around the bag, essentially allowing the pork to tenderize in its own juices. AKA Confit cooking. The result is extra-moist carnitas, time after time.
Combine pork, onion, garlic, cinnamon stick, and bay leaves spices in a large bowl. Split some orange or limes into quarters and squeeze juice into bowl before adding rest of fruit. Season generously with salt and toss to combine.
Transfer contents to a vacuum bag and seal. I like to leave overnight.
When ready to cook, set sous vide cooker to desired temperature-anywhere between 145 and 185 degrees and let it cook for between 8 and 36 hours. The choice is yours. Make sure to top water up occasionally as it evaporates, and keep bag completely submerged.
When meat is cooked, remove from water bath and transfer contents of bag to a large bowl. Pick out chunks of meat with a set of tongs and transfer them to a rimmed baking sheet. (Discard aromatics and excess liquid, or reserve liquid and blend it in with your salsa.) When it is cool enough to handle, shred meat roughly using 2 forks or your fingers. It should fall apart easily. Spread evenly over baking sheet. Pork can be prepared up to this point and refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 5 days before serving.
Serve carnitas with warm tortillas, lime wedges, chopped onion and cilantro, and salsa
Just as with American-style barbecue pork cooked sous vide, the temperature at which you cook the meat can have an effect on both the finished texture and the overall cooking time. The goal is to break down tough connective tissue—mainly collagen—into rich, velvety gelatin. This takes both time and heat, and the hotter you cook, the less time it takes. In Mexico they do this is open pits for hours on end.
On the flip side, the hotter you cook, the more moisture the pork will expel. Sure, that moisture gets trapped in the bag, but as soon as the bag is opened and the pork removed, it’ll drain away. In Mexico they wrap the meat in Agave leaves to keep it from drying out. Pork cooked at higher temperatures will come out drier, but this is not necessarily a bad thing: Cooking sous vide at a higher temperature still produces pork that is plenty moist, and it will have a more traditional texture.
Sous Vide Mexican Chili Colorado is a traditional Mexican dish of beef or pork stewed in a bold, rich sauce made from dried chiles and spices that is juicy and flavorful. Some recipes call for using pre-ground chili spices, but it’s well worth the effort to track down high-quality whole dried ancho chiles, which provide a far deeper, smokier finished flavor.
For this recipe, we used well-marbled pork shoulder, but beef chuck (or even beef short ribs) would work just as well. Thanks to the even cooking of the Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker, the pork here is perfectly moist and tender in every bite, with a sauce just as good, if not better. Serve warm with fresh corn or flour tortillas, pickled red onion, cilantro, avocado, limes, and a side of rice. If you like a little extra heat, serve with slices of fresh jalapeño.
Now, Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat. What we’re making here has little to do with traditional Mexican barbacoa, a method in which whole sheep are slow-cooked in pits covered with agave leaves. We’re not even making the more modern form of barbacoa, made with the head of a cow or chunks of cow, goat, lamb, or pork meat. Barbacoa originated in the Caribbean as a style of cooking large cuts of meat or whole animals, barbacoa is renowned as the filling for exceptional tacos and burritos. Our take on the sauce is loaded with fragrant ground chilies—chipotle, pasilla, and guajillo—and cinnamon to lend a warming boost. Cumin brings earthiness and adds depth to a rich chicken stock, which balances the sauce’s heat. Any protein works here, but we’re partial to pork and beef and not the more traditional animal parts that were used.
With traditional barbacoa, the meat is likely to be cooked in a relatively bland broth, then subsequently removed, gently pulled, and mixed with a salsa or other seasonings. You should get yourself a good pulled pork shredding tool such as the Arres Pulled Pork Claws on Amazon to help you shred the pork is The broth can then be served as a hot soup to accompany the meal. But what we’re making here is a delicious the other way around: in our version the meat broth is what adds flavor to the meat, not the other way around. This means starting with a flavor packed base, and using much, much less of it so that its flavor is concentrated in the plastic cooking bags.
Sous Vide Carnitas – DadCooksDinner
ChefSteps.com’s Cooking Sous Vide: Beyond the Basics class has a lot of great ideas. The one that grabbed me was Tough Cuts: Transformed, where the ChefSteps guys sous vide a whole pork shoulder for 24 hours, ice it down, slice it into steaks, and sear the steaks. Also, check out their amazing Map of Sous Vide Cooking. I’m a habitual map looker, so this is perfect for me.
I upped the heat a bit in my water bath, aiming for a shreddable texture, then plunked in the bagged pork shoulder. 24 hours later, I was ready to go. An ice bath, some slicing and dicing, a quick fry in my cast iron skillet, and I had a taco night that the kids are still raving about.
Adapted from: ChefSteps.com, Tough Cuts: Transformed
I think I have a soft spot for Mexican food, because a lot of it reminds me of food from my childhood – the ingredients and preparation, in particular. Carnitas, by that name, was not a part of my childhood, but whole pigs roasted over a spit or in a pit were. There is nothing quite like food cooked over open flame, or enjoyed in the place of their origin!
There is open flame involved in the preparation of this Succulent Sous Vide Carnitas, but most of the cooking is done low and slow, under vacuum in water. Not as dramatic as a spit or pit, but it yields flavourful, fall-apart pork, with very little effort, all while you sleep or work.
Depending on your preference, you can adjust the temperature and timing to produce a texture just right for you. Want your carnitas sooner, crank the temperature up to 85ºC and you and your crew will be digging into tender, tear-apart carnitas in 8, instead of 12-24 hours.
Increasingly affordable and easy to do, sous-vide immersion cooking has become trendy among food nerds who want precise control over the doneness of their meats. Anova, Chefsteps and Wancle are the most popular Sous Vide cookers, We love the Anova Nano for its ease of use and price and the ChefSteps Joule for its bells and whistles.
Sous vide, which means “under vacuum” in French, involves sealing food in an airtight bag and giving it a hot-water bath. The Sous Vide cooker gently circulates and heats the water to a precise, consistent temperature, allowing the food to reach the exact temperature the cook desires without the risk of overcooking. Its advocates say the method is the key to attaining a piece of meat that is uniformly tender and juicy inside.
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