Making Pulled Pork in an Apartment (Sous Vide Pork Shoulder)

One of the things I dislike about living in an apartment is not being able to use my smoker. Thankfully I can still make some decent BBQ indoors, even if it takes a full 24 hours. It is worth the wait. The key is using a sous vide, liquid smoke, and sodium nitrate.

J Kenji Lopez-Alt over at The Food Lab did the heavy lifting on figuring this out. His method is what I use, so go over and check it out.


  • If you want it for dinner, start it just before dinner the day before. Then pull it out of the sous vide after 23 hours and finish it in the oven around dinner time the next day.
  • Double bag the pork shoulder, and if your vacuum sealer has a Moist mode, use it. Nothing is worse than the seal on your bag breaking overnight.
  • I use triple the amount of liquid smoke because I couldn’t really taste it with the amount The Food Lab recommends. I also use smoked salt and smoked paprika in the rub.
  • The sodium nitrate really does the trick for making a faux smoke ring. Be careful with this stuff, though. Measure it by weight and don’t overdo it. Never eat it directly. It IS NOT regular salt. It is dangerous stuff in large amounts.
  • This saves for at least a week in the fridge. If you want to eat it after that, freeze it. If you freeze it in a vacuum sealed bag, you can just drop it right in the sous vide for 30 minutes at 165F and it will be ready to serve!
  • We love eating this with coleslaw and Martin’s Potato Buns (unless we are avoiding carbs, then we just eat a platter of it.)

For my dry rub, I use a blend of thyme, black pepper, smoked salt, onion powder, cumin, chili powder, turmeric, garlic powder, smoked paprika, rosemary, mustard powder, and cayenne pepper.

For my sauce, I prefer a take on an Eastern Carolina vinegar-based sauce. I mix up a small batch in a squeeze bottle:

  • 1 TBSP ground black pepper
  • 1 TBSP crushed red pepper
  • 1 TSP roasted garlic powder
  • 2 TBSP Frank’s Red Hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup pepper vinegar (white vinegar that hot peppers have been aging in for 9 months)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

Prep Your Corned Beef Now for St. Patrick’s Day

I’m not Irish or that into parades, so I don’t go crazy about St. Patrick’s Day. To me it is a chance to overindulge in quality cured meat. Some people get excited about green beer, others get excited about corned beef.

Just Say No to that grocery store corned beef. With a small amount of effort, you can do much better. Have you ever brined a chicken? Curing your own corned beef isn’t much different. I’ve made it twice and I’m always surprised at how easy it is.

Curing your own corned beef at home

I use Michael Ruhlman’s recipe for the pickling spice and his method for curing the corned beef. If you don’t have all of the spices needed for the pickling spice and need to go buy some anyway, Penzeys’ is a good alternative. Don’t go for that stuff in the grocery store. Head over to his site and follow his curing instructions. Then check back here for cooking instructions.

The process takes about five days, so you’ll need to plan ahead a little bit, get your ingredients now, and make some room in your fridge, but the result is more than worth the effort. I’m going to start curing mine about a week before St. Patrick’s Day, but if you need to make yours earlier, it should keep in the fridge. You’ll still want to remove it from the brine after five days, though.

Cooking the corned beef

How to cook the corned beef is where I depart from Ruhlman. Simmering it for a few hours produces okay results, but cooking it at a lower temperature for a longer period of time keeps it tender and succulent instead of dry and flaky.

The best way of doing this is vacuum sealing it in a bag and cooking it in a sous vide water bath for 10 hours at 180F.

If you don’t have a sous vide circulator, the second best way of achieving this is with a slow cooker/crock pot. If yours doesn’t have a temperature setting, the “Keep Warm” setting will get you close to where you want to be, but you’ll also need to monitor it throughout the day with a thermometer and adjust the heat as necessary. You still want to aim for a cooking time of 10 hours.


You’ll notice above that I don’t cook potatoes, carrots, and cabbage with the corned beef. While boiling them all in one pot is simple, the trade-off is that each individual item isn’t as good as it could be. Since you are probably still craving potatoes, carrots, and cabbage for your St. Patrick’s Day meal, here is how I recommend cooking them:


If you have leftovers, make my Corned Beef Hash for breakfast on Saturday!


Sous Vide Asparagus

Asparagus is so easy to make in the oven, so why should you make it in a sous vide circulator?

  • More intense asparagus taste.
  • Easier clean up.
  • Same length of prep and cooking time.

Sold? Here’s what you need and what to do with it:

Just looking for time and temp suggestions?  175F (79.44C) for 15 minutes will give you asparagus that is still firm with a bit of bite left in it.


  • 1 lb of fresh asparagus
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Zest from one small lemon (or half a large one)
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Trim the tough bottom part off of the asparagus stems.
  2. Put the trimmed asparagus in a bag with the olive oil, lemon zest, salt, and pepper.
  3. Seal the bag (vacuum seal or ziplock with the water displacement method).
  4. Cook in the sous vide water bath at 175F (79.44C) for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the asparagus from the bag and serve immediately.
Asparagus in the sous vide circulatorsous vide asparagus with lemon zest

Sous Vide Turkey Breast for Sandwiches

If you have a sous vide circulator, making your own turkey for sandwiches is incredibly easy and the result is tastier than the stuff at the store.

N.B.: You’ll notice that in the photos I left the skin on the turkey breast. That was a mistake. I highly recommend that you remove the skin and as much fat as possible before cooking it. I attempted to sear it before slicing, but I ended up removing the skin from what I actually ate.

Just looking for time and temperature recommendations for turkey breast? 145F (~63C) for 2.5 hours.


  • 1 Whole Turkey breast, bone-in and skin-on
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cooking Instructions

  1. Remove the skin and as much fat from the turkey breast as you can.
  2. With a sharp boning knife, remove the breast meat from the breastbone. Save it for turkey broth.
  3. Season both halves of the breast meat with salt and pepper to your liking.
  4. Vacuum seal each half individually and save one in the freezer for later. Seal the bag twice to avoid leaks. Or, if you don’t have a vacuum sealer, put each in a ziplock bag and use the water displacement method to remove the air before sealing them.
  5. Set your sous vide water bath to 145F (~63C) and put one of the halves of turkey breast in. If you used a ziplock bag, make sure to clip the zipper part to the side of the container to avoid leaks.
  6. Let the turkey cook for 2.5 hours. (If you are cooking the frozen one you set aside and it is still frozen, cook it for 3.5 hours.)
  7. Remove the turkey from the water bath. If you like warm turkey sandwiches, open the bag and slice the turkey immediately and assemble your sandwiches.
  8. If you prefer cold turkey sandwiches (as I do), plunge the bag of turkey into an ice bath to cool it down, then leave it in the fridge for three hours. After it is properly chilled, open the bag, remove the juices and congealed fat, then slice for sandwiches.


Assemble sandwiches.

Enjoy! Om nom nom.

Sous Vide Corn on the Cob

Do you want incredibly easy, delicious, self-buttering, minimal clean-up corn on the cob? If you have a sous vide circulator, look no further.

  1. Take 2-4 shucked cobs of sweet corn and seal them in a bag with a few tablespoons of butter. Or, if you don’t have a vacuum sealer, put them in a ziplock bag and use the water displacement method to remove the air before sealing it.
  2. Cook them in your sous vide water bath for 30 minutes at 182F (83.3C).
  3. Take the bag out, cut it open, and serve!
Fresh cornCorn sealed with butter
Corn in the sous vide water bathSous vide corn!

Chuck eating corn

“Apartment-style” Sous Vide Pork Ribs

I haven’t had access to my smoker for about a year now and I miss it. I’ve been experimenting with things I used to make in the smoker to see if I can make another tasty version with the equipment available to me in the apartment. I tried a few oven and crockpot versions of ribs, but I could never get the consistency I’m looking for.

Oven/crockpot ribs were always either too tough or too tender. I couldn’t hit the sweet spot I was looking for with juicy tenderness and still firm enough to bite. I think I finally hit the jackpot with the sous vide this weekend. These ribs were exactly what I’ve been looking for short of smuggling a smoker onto the apartment complex’s roof.

Apartment-style Sous Vide Pork Ribs

Total time: 8.5 hours
Active time: 30 minutes

  • 1 full rack of meaty baby back ribs
  • 4 TBSP of your favorite dry rub
  • Salt & Pepper to taste (if your rub doesn’t have any)

Warm up the sous vide water bath to 167F. Remove the membrane from the ribs, put half of the dry rub on the ribs (both front and back). Vacuum seal the ribs to put them in the sous vide. I cut the rack in half and packaged each half individually to make this easier. Double seal the bags to prevent leaks. If you prefer to use the ziplock bag method, it might be helpful to double bag this batch since the cooking time is so long.

Put the bags in the sous vide and cook them for 8 hours. When they are finished, preheat the oven to 400F. Drain the liquid from the bags and pat the ribs dry with paper towels. Put the remaining half of the dry rub on the ribs, then put them on a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Put the pan with the ribs in the oven for 5 minutes to form a bark. After 5 minutes, pull them out of the oven, slice into individual bones, and serve.

Ribs seasoned with dry rubVacuum sealing the sous vide ribsRibs in the Anova Sous Vide
Drying off the ribs after the sous videRe-seasoning the ribs before the ovenRibs ready to get a crust in the oven

Apartment-style sous vide dry rub pork ribs

I started this process before work on Friday and I had delicious ribs by the time the work day was over. All I had to do was put them in the oven for 10 minutes and make the sides.


  • If you want some faux-smoke flavor, you can make a glaze with liquid smoke and molasses to put on the ribs before the second round of dry rub before you put them in the oven.
  • If you prefer sauce on your ribs, omit the second round of dry rub and replace it with your favorite sauce before you put them in the oven.
  • If you have a smoker and are short on available time, cook the ribs for about 5-7 hours in the sous vide, then smoke them for an hour at no higher than 167F in your smoker.

Ideas for sides:

  • Coleslaw
  • Baked beans
  • Salad
  • Cornbread muffins