Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sous Vide Chuck Roast

I've cooked short ribs of beef sous vide and am pleased that the result tastes like very good roast beef. But having done it, it seems a little pointless to take days of cooking to make one expensive cut of meat taste like another expensive cut. So I decided to take an inexpensive cut of meat to see how sous vide cooking might transform it.

I read several blogs of others' experience cooking various beef cuts sous vide. Beef round roasts and steaks appear to be too lean to cook well sous vide, but chuck has enough fat and connective tissue to benefit from the cooking method. So I bought a supermarket boneless chuck roast and looked for a recipe.

I found a recipe entitled "24-Hour Melt-in-Your-Mouth Beef with Mushroom  Sauce" by Hillary Nelson and tried it. Her recipe provides good background information, photos, and detailed instructions.

I followed the recipe fairly closely, trimming the fat and silver skin from my 2 1/2 pound chuck roast. Removing the silver skin involved cutting into the roast and I ended up with 3 thick pieces, which I sliced in half, resulting in 6 pieces each about 1 1/4 inches thick. I put 2 pieces into the bottom of each of three 1-quart Ziploc freezer bags and added 3/4 cup of marinade into each bag, saving the unused marinade for the sauce. I sucked most of the air out of the bags using a straw, but wasn't concerned about the little bit of air remaining, since the beef was totally covered with the marinade. Cooked the chuck in my Sous Vide Supreme at 135℉ for 24 hours.

Continued with the recipe, making the mushroom sauce (the recipe says to "add onions to the pan" but didn't say how much onion, so I sliced and cooked one medium yellow onion). It took about 20 minutes to reduce the liquids down in a large frypan to a sauce-like consistency and didn't need any further seasoning.

Dried the beef pieces with paper towels and seared them in a hot pan with oil, as instructed, for 30 seconds on each side.

Although the pieces weren't very pretty, given their odd shapes from cutting the silver skin, they were reasonably sized servings.

The meat came out an appealing medium-rare and the taste was terrific! Texture somewhat like a beautifully tender strip steak and the marinade gave it a delicious sweet taste. I was so happy with the results that I decided to write up this experiment to share it immediately. The sous vide preparation turned my $3/pound chuck into a $12/pound steak; quite a deal!

Thank you, Hillary Nelson, for your recipe! My next trial will be with grass-fed beef from my Amish beef purveyor, now that the farmers market season will soon be starting.


  1. Hi Rod - It's Jodi from the Meat Tour. I finally got around to reading your blog and it's terrific! Thanks for sharing the site.

    Good luck with the sous vide. That looks like it takes more patience and time than I could usually muster. But the food looks delicious!



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