For The Best Sous Vide Pork, Use A Light Hand With Aromatics

Pork tends to be quite bland, so it's not uncommon to be a little heavy-handed with the seasonings. After all, tender pulled pork and fall-off-the-bone ribs come about after hours of cooking and a healthy amount of herbs, spices, and sauces. However, sous vide pork works a little differently. Sous vide involves vacuum-sealing food in a bag and cooking it in temperature-controlled waters. To get the best flavor from sous vide pork, use aromatics sparingly.

While the juicy texture and consistent results are major benefits of sous vide, be aware that this method of cooking heightens the flavors of your pork. This means that you should be more mindful of what you put in the sous vide bag alongside your meat. In more traditional forms of cooking, you can add a little more herbs here, or some more sugar there, ultimately balancing the flavors to get your desired result. With sous vide, every flavor is enhanced and fully present. 

Rather than the herbs blending together and the spices intermingling in one accord, each ingredient is pronounced, creating an overall flavor that can be overwhelming. Instead of featuring multiple types of aromatics, choose one from each category: acids, herbs, and spices. In this sous vide pork chops dish, recipe developer Ting Dalton relies on thyme, garlic, and a lemon peel to flavor the pork chops, with salt and pepper rounding out the dish. With this method, the zesty tastes of lemon and savory thyme are able to enhance the pork without being overpowered by other aromatics.

How to choose which aromatic combo to flavor your pork with

If you have an affinity for well-flavored dishes, choosing only three aromatics to season your pork with can seem like a difficult feat. Thankfully, we're here to make things easier. To determine what aromatics to go for, think about what would complement the flavors of the side dish you're serving with the pork.

For example, sweet and spicy Hasselback squash with Fresno chile agrodolce deserves a warming, nutty spice like cumin to flavor the pork. For the herb, sage is the choice. Not only does it have a natural minty flavoring that helps uplift the earthiness in the squash, but it's commonly paired with butternut squash. For the acid, opt for apple cider vinegar rather than citrus. The tangy liquid is mellow enough to not overwhelm the pork, with a hint of sweetness that brings out the meat's natural honeyed edge.

For something more savory, garlicky Cuban-style yuca requires pork that's bright and herbaceous. A squeeze of lime juice or a twist of the peel uplifts the pungency of the garlic-flavored yuca. Paired with peppery parsley, the pork is sure to bring the zing to the fragrant root vegetable. For the spice, spring for peppercorns to slightly ground the meat.