I want to quickly go over tough cuts and how you can achieve something pretty unique using the sous vide method. I’m a medium-rare meat eater and although I love tough cuts cooked traditionally which in most cases requires temperatures nearing the boiling point, like in the case of braises and stews, there’s something magical about a tough cut served medium rare, juicy and extremely tender. If you’re wondering how is this even possible…. there’s a bunch of food science involved but the short answer is: The connective tissue that makes muscles tough can be broken down at low temperatures if enough time is given. This way, meat that I would usually use for shredded beef can be turned into something arguably better than prime rib. It just takes a long time and like we say in my home country: “Lo bueno se hace esperar”. Let’s go.
Controlling Texture with Sous Vide
The longer meat cooks for in the sous vide bath, the more connective tissue is rendered and the tenderer the meat becomes but keep in mind that if you go too far you will end up with a very unpleasant result. Meat eventually becomes pasty, mushy and dry because there’s no structure to hold any liquid. The good news is… actually it is pretty great news… if you know when to stop, you will be rewarded with the best medium rare steak you’ll ever have. Chuck, short ribs, those cheaper cuts have a meatier flavor. Full of character in my opinion and when cooked this way can some times be superior to more expensive tender cuts like prime rib for example.
Ok, let’s get back to Chuck.
Like pretty much every sous-vide recipe, the process is extremely simple. A few ingredients, time, low temperature and sometimes a ripping hot pan to finish things up. If you own a vacuum sealer, good for you. Mine is in storage at the moment so a ziplock bag and the water displacement method to get the air out is how I’ve been rolling for a while. I don’t miss using my vacuum sealer btw. Most of the time it seems overkill.
That’s right… the ingredients:
1 Chuck roast 3 to 4 pounds.
Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste.
As a rough guide use about 1 tsp of salt per every pound of meat.
Get the meat in the baggie with the salt, pepper and garlic powder. Distribute the rub well and remove as much air as possible by submerging the open baggie in the water bath. Zip the baggie (I’m the king of stating the obvious). Set the water bath to 55C or 131F and cook for 48 hours. Not all cows are born equal. Some cooks will need to be longer. It’s no big deal. if you find that the meat still on the tough side after 48 hours, return it to the baggie and cook for another 12 to 24 hours. If you vacuum-sealed the meat, then doing this is a bit of a hassle. You will have to vacuum pack the meat again and continue cooking as mentioned before. Stating the obvious again…I can’t help it!
What’s in the bag???
As time goes by you will start to notice the accumulation of meat jus in the bag. As a matter of fact, the meat is getting smaller. Collagen and water, myoglobin, etc.. have been pushed out of the muscle. This liquid is basically beef stock and it’s pure gold and after 48 hours… you’ll have about a cup of it. If you seasoned the meat correctly, the stock shouldn’t be too salty. I never throw this liquid away and you shouldn’t either! Add some cream, butter, fresh herbs… and you have yourself an amazing glaze.
How to properly sear this beauty.
Ok, I turned to solder tools this time… it’s been on my list for a while now. I have tried many different approaches to searing sous-vide cooked meat and my favorite methods thus far are deep frying and torching. I’m using a Bernzomatic TS4000KC Trigger Start Torch fitted with a MAP-Pro canister (I won’t remember any of this after 20 seconds…trust me… Bernzo whatie what??). Burns super hot and super clean. This torch is a bit scary to be using in your kitchen (I have but set off every smoke detector in the house) so I rather use it outside on my grill… and yes… the grill is also going on its hottest setting. If you don’t have a soldering torch and a grill or prefer a more traditional approach, get a good skillet, a good high smoke point neutral oil, get that skillet super hot and sear the meat on all sides until golden awesome.
Edge to edge perfection.
This chuck meat has been transformed into something otherworldly. Tender like prime rib but with the flavorful personality of a tough cut. A perfect crust. All for a fraction of the price of an expensive cut. Because chuck can be fatty as well… you’re experiencing not only the tenderness of the meat but also mouth watering fatty marbling. I can’t explain how good this is with words (I suck as a writer too). You’re gonna have to try it yourself.
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