Today we got this question about sous vide pork belly where the OP has explicitly said they're not looking for recipes, just times/temperatures.

Of course, times/temperatures are often given as part of recipes, but they can also exist independently of recipes. So, can we take things like this, with some clarification to explicitly request only the time/temperature, and not associated recipes?

I had a quick discussion with rumtscho in chat, arguing for allowing this sort of thing. She at least partially agrees!

My overall view is that we should take questions like this, and clarify that they are asking for time/temperature ranges with descriptions of the results and not recipes.

As a simple example, the table in this Serious Eats article for salmon provides 5 temperatures with quick descriptions of the resulting texture. (It also warns that they're below the pasteurization temperature, another thing that'd be helpful in answers to questions like this here.) While I've found things like that for some common things, for other things it can be difficult to find anything beyond single recipes (often without a clear description of the resulting texture).

So, there's very useful information to be had here, and I think it can be fairly objective and focused rather than a broad recipe poll. We can always flag and handle answers that try to provide recipes instead of sticking to what was actually asked.

If it's possible to create a table for it, it might be better served by having something similar to our canonical How long can I store a food in the pantry, refrigerator, or freezer? question. This gives users some basic time/temp guides - and could include other methods other than sous vide - without needing many questions for each food.

For example, the question could have links to each "answer", which could each be a type of cooking - sous vide, roasting, slow cooking, etc... These questions come up often enough that we could work together to create a canonical post that lists types/cuts of meat, temperature and cook time (per lb, if it affects the outcome).

If users have more specific questions than this, such as adjusting cooking time for multiple foods, or they're looking for a specific outcome from the cooking time/temp they can be their own questions, but if the question is simply "which cooking time/temp should I use... there are often a variety of "correct" answers, which result in slightly different products.

  • We have a canonical question with a good answer including a chart, at least for meat - cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/36854/…. The temperatures are not different between types of cooking, and giving times would be counterproductive for many methods, especially times per lb. – rumtscho Apr 9 at 18:02
  • That post specifically doesn't relate to most of the things people are looking for in long, slow roasts... It's also a lot to read for someone who just wants to know "how long to I need to bake my precooked ham and at what temperature?". Nearly every recipe I see for roast beef or turkey or any other large roasted meat includes roasting times/lb. – Catija Apr 9 at 18:05
  • Strange, because for me, it absolutely relates to those roasts. Also, I know that it is common to suggest roasting times per lb, the problem is simply that the variation is so high that the recommendations frequently lead to bad results. If you have a thermometer, you are better off disregarding any recommendations for time. If you don't, you are better off trying other methods to check for doneness. Just because people are looking for it, it doesn't mean it is of any use - and the lots of text explains why, and what to do instead. – rumtscho Apr 9 at 18:11
  • And that's fine... but that post doesn't do what the people asking for cooking times/temperatures want... which is to do the Googling work for them... or because they can't even read the packaging that came with that ham they bought. I completely understand not wanting to give that info to people because it doesn't necessarily produce the best results but we can't force everyone to buy a meat thermometer and the people often asking don't have one. Heck, if they're asking "how long at what temp should I do X", they're clearly not even bothering with a recipe... – Catija Apr 9 at 18:15
  • I would be reluctant to try to make a canonical, for a couple reasons: one, there's enough dependence on type/cut of meat that a canonical is going to have to be long and possibly an imperfect answer for a lot of specific cases, and two, it's a lot of work and realistically we're not gonna do great at it any time soon, while we can probably do all right with more specific questions. – Cascabel Apr 9 at 19:01
  • As for a variety of correct answers: yes, that's part of the point of my answer. If we can say, here's a range of temperatures (and/or times) and how the results will vary across that, then that's quite helpful, while searching for recipes (what we tell people to do when we refuse questions like this) won't necessarily include that kind of information. – Cascabel Apr 9 at 19:02

I see that we have provided time and temps for sous vide in the past. Just search "sous vide time and temp". You will find a few examples. I am on the fence here, primarily because there are some well known, and easily accessible sites that provide this information (serious eats...chefsteps...). The canonical question referred to above by rumtscho is applicable, but would need too much deciphering for someone who just wanted to know how to cook pork belly sous vide. It's certainly possible to produce the kind of table that Cascabel is calling for...but then do we do that for other items and methods as well?

....What are all of the possible time and temperature variations for cooking a pork butt in the oven? ...on the grill? ...sous vide? ...in a pit?

Sorry...not sure how meta works...maybe this should have been a comment.

  • This is totally fine for meta, thanks for the input! Part of the reason I'm suggesting this is that I haven't always been able to find what I'm looking for out there - I tend to end up finding a bunch of different recipes, some with descriptions of resulting texture of the meat, some not, so it's kind of difficult to really pick out what I'll like. As for other items/methods... I guess if people ask, then sure. We get a lot of relatively basic questions, not sure I want to disqualify this kind just because it's basic and sort of recipe-adjacent. – Cascabel Apr 9 at 20:24

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