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Sous Vide Chuck Roast: The Topic

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#1 Joe Blowe

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 11:05 PM

Perusing sous vide threads and blog entries here at eG and elsewhere, one is quick to note that chuck roast (also referred to as chuck steak) is usually one of the first cuts of beef prepared by the owner of a new SV rig. No wonder; its fat content and connective tissue makes for a tasty cut!

Please feel free to add notes and results from previous cooks, and tips or suggestions for future preparations.
So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money. But when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness."

So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

#2 Joe Blowe

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 11:05 PM

So, after years of research and bookmarking :rolleyes:, I finally broke down and bought a SideKIC. The next step was to get a smaller cooler than what I already had on hand. (An 8-quart Cambro has also been converted and put to use).

With everything in place, I jumped right in and picked up a 3 lb. chuck roast. As I was excited to get started, I skipped the trimming and removal of silverskin and such. I just lightly coated it with salt, pepper, and a little garlic powder, and put it in at 131F/55C for 24 hours.

(I had read that salting meat before a long cook might have a “corning” effect, but it wasn't noticeable.)

At the end of the SV cook, I slid it right under our infrared broiler for 2 minutes per side. It was great! But, there's room for improvement.

Here's my next project: My sister-in-law has volunteered to host Christmas dinner at her place, and the guest list has grown to about 35 people! She's in desperate need of extra mains now, i.e. any type of roast meat, and I said I'd bring three chuck roasts to the party.
  • I'm thinking of taking the temp to 132F and cooking for 48 hours this time. There were some gristly parts on the last roast that could've used a bit more time in the bath. I'll season with some type of rub, less salt.
  • At the end of the cook, chill in an ice bath then refrigerate overnight.
  • Next day, open the bags and reserve liquid to make a jus.
  • Vacuum pack the individual roasts again, this time with salt. Put back in the fridge until drive time.
  • Before leaving the house, fill my larger cooler with 130F water, toss the bagged roasts in, and drive an hour to their house.
  • Upon arrival, fire up their grill and put some color on the roasts. Heat the jus, slice the browned roasts, and arrange in their chafing dish.
It sounds like a great plan on paper, but of course I'm worried about the second vacuum packing and water bath. I know it's pasteurized at this point, but is there any cause for concern? Maybe I should just keep them chilled until arrival, and then bring them up to temp when it's closer to dinner time?
So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money. But when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness."

So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

#3 rotuts

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 10:41 AM

as your studies of "Chuck" continue, you will note that there are several muscles in this lump of meat, and indeed different places or at different times they may not be all the muscle groups.

they behave differently, and indeed taste different.

Ive done 130 x 72 and 130 x 48 +

some of these muscle groups became 'mealy' after 72. some were astonishingly good and tasty and folk tender.

good luck! keep a notebook on your studies and try to define the various muscles included in the "Chuck"

#4 Robert Jueneman

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 11:20 AM

So, after years of research and bookmarking :rolleyes:, I finally broke down and bought a SideKIC. The next step was to get a smaller cooler than what I already had on hand. (An 8-quart Cambro has also been converted and put to use).

With everything in place, I jumped right in and picked up a 3 lb. chuck roast. As I was excited to get started, I skipped the trimming and removal of silverskin and such. I just lightly coated it with salt, pepper, and a little garlic powder, and put it in at 131F/55C for 24 hours.

(I had read that salting meat before a long cook might have a “corning” effect, but it wasn't noticeable.)

At the end of the SV cook, I slid it right under our infrared broiler for 2 minutes per side. It was great! But, there's room for improvement.

Here's my next project: My sister-in-law has volunteered to host Christmas dinner at her place, and the guest list has grown to about 35 people! She's in desperate need of extra mains now, i.e. any type of roast meat, and I said I'd bring three chuck roasts to the party.

  • I'm thinking of taking the temp to 132F and cooking for 48 hours this time. There were some gristly parts on the last roast that could've used a bit more time in the bath. I'll season with some type of rub, less salt.
  • At the end of the cook, chill in an ice bath then refrigerate overnight.
  • Next day, open the bags and reserve liquid to make a jus.
  • Vacuum pack the individual roasts again, this time with salt. Put back in the fridge until drive time.
  • Before leaving the house, fill my larger cooler with 130F water, toss the bagged roasts in, and drive an hour to their house.
  • Upon arrival, fire up their grill and put some color on the roasts. Heat the jus, slice the browned roasts, and arrange in their chafing dish.
It sounds like a great plan on paper, but of course I'm worried about the second vacuum packing and water bath. I know it's pasteurized at this point, but is there any cause for concern? Maybe I should just keep them chilled until arrival, and then bring them up to temp when it's closer to dinner time?


The biggest concern that I would have regarding your plan is the time required to reheat the roasts.

Because you didn't say, let me guess that your roasts are 40 mm thick. Then according to Sous Vide Dash, it would take about 1:30 to chill in an ice bath (shorter if you use my chilled vodka technique), then 4:00 hours to reheat to 131F in a 132F bath. If they are even thicker, the time would increase with the square of the thickness.

So I think it might be better to delay the start of your cooking to two days before Christmas (if you really believe that 48 hours is required -- I've always been happy with 24 hours for chuck), then throw them (still hot) in your cooler filled with 132 water, and drive to your sister-in-law's.

Then you can pour off the jus, dry the meat, and sear the roasts under the broiler per your original plan.

Alternatively, cook the roasts sous vide, sear them, and then slice them into smaller portions and package and chill them. Then the various slices can be reheated much more quickly. Maybe this wouldn't be quite a sexy as slicing a huge roast in front of everyone, but it would be a lot easier to serve 35 people.

#5 Joe Blowe

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 11:45 AM

So I think it might be better to delay the start of your cooking to two days before Christmas (if you really believe that 48 hours is required -- I've always been happy with 24 hours for chuck), then throw them (still hot) in your cooler filled with 132 water, and drive to your sister-in-law's.

[...]

Alternatively, cook the roasts sous vide, sear them, and then slice them into smaller portions and package and chill them. Then the various slices can be reheated much more quickly. Maybe this wouldn't be quite a sexy as slicing a huge roast in front of everyone, but it would be a lot easier to serve 35 people.

I like the idea of cooking until departure, but I was concerned about the drop in temp over the ensuing hour-long drive (or two, if we make stops). If I pull the roasts out of the transport cooler and see the water temp was in the 120s, would there be cause for concern?

The other option occurred to me last night, but I did get caught up in the idea of "unveiling" SV roasts to the crowd and transforming them before their very eyes! However, usually everyone is either uninterested or distracted, and they just want food NOW! I'll make my life easy and go with that!

Question regarding initial cook temp: Any perceptible differences between 131 and 132 over the course of 36 to 48 hours?
So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money. But when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness."

So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

#6 gfweb

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 11:57 AM

FWIW I usually do not talk about the cooking method to guests. Most don't care and the one who does usually asks questions I'd rather not answer. Like stuff about safety/new-fangled technique etc etc.

#7 rotuts

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 12:38 PM

I'm as usual at this hour confused:

who is the guest? guests cant post?

???

#8 nickrey

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 01:43 PM

...
Question regarding initial cook temp: Any perceptible differences between 131 and 132 over the course of 36 to 48 hours?

For a large group of people with varying tastes and not much experience with sous vide cooked food, I'd be cooking at around 57C (135F) rather than 55C.

I also agree with Bob. You've already pasteurised the meat after cooking and you will not be over four hours below 55C on your trip. Plus you avoid chilling and reheating.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

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Unless there are three other people." Orson Welles
My eG Foodblog


#9 FeChef

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 04:37 PM

Question regarding initial cook temp: Any perceptible differences between 131 and 132 over the course of 36 to 48 hours?


I cook mine @ 132F for 24-26 hours. It comes out tender with the texture of a good prime rib. I use choice grade chuck roast. That is the sweet spot for my SV setup. I found anything over 26 hours and it starts to go from tender to mushy. I would imagine 48 hours in my setup would turn to mush.

#10 Joe Blowe

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 08:05 PM

Thanks for the bump -- I forgot to report back!

It just so happens that I did 26 hours at 132F. I also did a post-sear, sliced and trimmed, and made a jus. There were no leftovers that night!

I do plan on coming back to this thread, once my new gear is up and running...


P.S. Today is my 10 year anniversary on eGullet. I may not be the most active poster, but I've learned a lot and use this website as my default reference guide. Thanks to everyone!
So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money. But when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness."

So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

#11 jrshaul

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 01:01 AM

What's the best bet for getting choice grade chuck roast? An experience with buck-a-pound chicken cooked too low gave me quite the upset stomach, so I'd rather not take additional risks cooking at just 132.

#12 FeChef

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 03:50 AM

What's the best bet for getting choice grade chuck roast? An experience with buck-a-pound chicken cooked too low gave me quite the upset stomach, so I'd rather not take additional risks cooking at just 132.


You can get choice grade at any supermarket. It will always say "choice" on the package. I get mine at wegmans since its always 3.69/lb there and they come vacuum packed. There boneless chicken breast are always 1.99/lb and come 12 portions individualy vacuum packed. There pork butts are always 1.29/lb....love that place. Now there more popular beef cuts are kinda pricey.

#13 Syzygies

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 09:09 AM

If a little voice in your head wonders whether the sous vide movement and raw food movements are converging, listen. This may be blasphemy, and read to those who know as an uneducated palate, but I'm finding that higher temperatures taste better sous vide than they ever would by conventional means.

One should treat the sous vide tables as safety guidelines only, and rediscover what tastes best by extensive experiment. Painting the territory above 132 F as cowardice serving yahoo guests is really stacking the deck against an objective appraisal.

Of course, I love the more challenging cuts, like hanger steak.
Per la strada incontro un passero che disse "Fratello cane, perche sei cosi triste?"
Ripose il cane: "Ho fame e non ho nulla da mangiare."





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