How Long Do You Sous Vide Odd Meats and Proteins? – Ask Jason

I get a lot of great questions from my readers. In order to help out everyone else I'm answering some of the most popular ones here on the blog. Have something you need help with? You can ask me on Facebook, contact me directly, or view all of the Ask Jason questions!

Moose ribs are challenging.

- Cody Lee

Jason: I can imagine but I have not cooked moose ribs. I picture them being these big yabba-doo style Flintstones ribs that you need to cook in a hot tub.

"Jason how do I cook beef back rib, rib fingers? I want to sous vide them today, any clue?"

- Penny Ann

Jason: I have never heard of "beef back rib, rib fingers" before.

In both cases, I have no personal experience with those exact meats, but that's ok.

Note: The following article is an edited transcript from the video.

I talked about this a little bit in my Sous Vide Time and Temperatures article about how to cook red meat. Most red meat and pork tends to behave the same. Some might be tougher, and some might be more tender but in general moose shoulder behaves similar to bear shoulder, to cow shoulder, to pork shoulder. Since they are tougher cuts of meat, they're going to need to be broken down over longer periods of time. I'm sure there's exceptions to this but in general you can look at reputable time and temperature charts for like beef and then apply it to other animals.

I'm pleased with our time and temperature recommendations. We have a bunch of cuts that thousands of people who have bought our books, used our Time & Temperature Ruler and are in the Facebook Group have validated. I can't guarantee that every single one is 100% correct, but we have tweaked and fine-tuned them over the last decade as issues, questions and suggestions have come up.

Serious Eats also generally has good stuff. I know some people use and like the Anova app. I assume it's accurate since Cole Wagoner (from Anova) knows how to cook really well and is in our group. So I assume he makes sure that Anova's times and temperatures are good. But find someone you can rely on their time and temperatures and then you can springboard from there.

Sous vide boar tenderloin cherry rect

So How Do I Start?

The first question I asked when confronted with something weird like moose or bear, or any of these other animals I don't cook very often "Is their meat generally tougher or more tender than beef?"

You can figure it out with a simple Google search. You're not looking for sous vide specifics. Is moose shoulder traditionally prepared braised with longer cooking times because it's considered a tougher meat? If so, then try bumping up the beef times by 20% or 30%, or maybe even 40%, to get you in line with some of these more unusual cuts of meat. That's where I always start.

For example, for the beef back rib, rib fingers I did a Google search, not for sous vide but just to see how these are normally cooked. I discovered they do come from beef ribs and they are normally braised. So my recommendation was to look at my beef rib temperatures, and depending on the end result texture you are trying to reach, select one from my guides and start there. Depending on your personal preferences, you may decide to up or lower the time or temperature next time to dial it in, but in the meantime, you should have a tasty beef back rib, rib fingers meal to enjoy. For something like moose ribs, you use the same process, but you might try bumping up the beef rib or pork rib times a little for the difference in animal toughness.

Chef Justice Stewart, who is part of our Facebook Group does a whole lot of exotic cooking. I'm sure he can answer some of these questions more specifically. That's how I always approach it and I've generally been pretty happy with it.

I wouldn't buy an exotic piece of meat and cook it for a party where I was really trying to impress everyone my very first time. I would cook it ahead of time and pull it out along the way the see when it actually got tender enough for what I was looking for. A good thing with sous vide is you could do it 2 days in advance, keep it in your fridge, then reheat it really quickly when people come over. By doing that, you would already know they were cooked perfectly.

This process is what I not only do for exotic meat but also for any cut of beef or pork that's new to me. I look at my own Time & Temperature Charts and make an educated guess. When people ask me, I just look it up in my book or on my website where I have times and temperatures I trust. Then I Google for basic cooking differences between animals and give them a solid answer to start them on their sous vide adventure.

Sous vide boar tenderloin sear

Remember, Most Meats Have a Lot of Variation in Them.

For example, someone will ask "how long do I cook a chuck roast for?" Another person will respond "131 for 24 hours". A third person will say, "well I did that, and it was so tough I had to do 48 hours". And then a fourth chimes in with "I did 12 hours and it was mushy after 12 hours". I'm sure you've seen this occur. The reason for the variation in responses: no one's giving enough information to make an accurate judgment.

A select piece of chuck roast that came from a factory grown cow that was raised on the feedlot is going to have a very different texture, tenderness and toughness than if you have a Wagyu chuck roast from a high-end Japanese cow or a prime cow or a grass-fed cow or some of those raised on a farm all with differing amounts and intensity of exercise. All these animals will have very different characteristics and will need to be cooked at different times. It's why people start to run into these issues when asking for advice.

Wrap Up

I recommend going to your butcher, even if it's at your grocery store, to find out what type of meat they generally sell so you can determine what you are actually getting from there. Armed with this knowledge you can start to really hone-in what time and temperatures work for you with the type of meat you purchase in your own area.

We forget that all meat is not created equal and they behave really differently during cook times. This is true whether it's sous vide or grilling or pan frying or however you're cooking your food.

Looking for a few good sous vide recipes? Here are 2 of my favorites:

If you like this you can get more than 85 inspiring recipes to get you on your way to sous vide success. It's all in my best selling book Modernist Cooking Made Easy: Sous Vide - Get Your Copy Today!

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Jason logsdon headshot This article is by me, Jason Logsdon. I'm an adventurous home cook and professional blogger who loves to try new things, especially when it comes to cooking. I've explored everything from sous vide and whipping siphons to pressure cookers and blow torches; created foams, gels and spheres; made barrel aged cocktails and brewed beer. I have also written 10 cookbooks on modernist cooking and sous vide and I run the website.
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