Sous Vide Roasts
I have a Sous Vide Supreme and, while I know I can make 48h tender short ribs, I want to try to maximize flavor/texture in some less expensive roasts. My question basically is whether there's any advantage to cooking a large, tough roast (like a chuck or rump) to 130-134 for any longer than it takes to get fully cooked to rare-medium rare.
I can see cooking a ribeye or tenderloin for an hour or two to 132F, and I can see going to 140-160F with a brisket for two days, but has anyone experimented with going long at 130-140F with a medium tough cut or roast?
Any help would be appreciated.
My husband sous vides roasts all the time and it has been a great success. For chuck or rump be does 135ish for about 8 hours. We haven't experimented longer with that. We have two homemade sous vide set-ups and I honestly think it is indispensable for the meat eater. Also makes a killer budino...
I agree with coyboyardee about using a hot bath before long slow cooking, plus I would minimize handling. Just to see what would happen, I recently cooked a pork shoulder at 140 for 72 hours, then brought it to 150 (to eliminate all of the pink)for three hours. I used a rub to start, and halfway through drained fat and juice and re-rubbed. Then at the end, I used my usual sauce and gave it 30 minutes at 300 degrees. It was planned for pulled pork, and it was exceptionally tender and very moist.
In order to avoid the temperature drop problems mentioned above, I use a very large water bath (3.5 or 5 gallon) so that the meat does not drop the temperature much when it goes in. I have been working on a home chamber vacuum packer, and hope to have a first prototype soon.
Large roasts are problematic due to how long it takes to bring them up to temperature. Most sous vide water baths drop off in temperature dramatically when something large is introduced to them. Also, the temperature of the center of a thick cut of meat may take most of the day just to reach cooking temperature (increasing meat thickness increases the time it takes for heat to penetrate to the center exponentially) - problematic from a microbial standpoint. I certainly wouldn't try this without searing the meat first, or better, dipping the sous vide bag briefly in boiling water to kill anything on the surface of the meat.
That said, I have done many semi-tough cuts of meat sous vide and the effect can be very worthwhile. I've done a decent amount of beef chuck (try 137 deg F 30 hours). Pork shoulder (143 F, 20 hours) is one of my favorite things to cook sous vide. I should note that I cut both into 1.5-2 inch thick 'steaks' first, and would never serve either fresh outta the bag without some finishing.
Stuff like london broil doesn't work quite as well cooked for a long time as it gets sorta grainy. Collagen is key. Like with many things sous vide, you'll have to experiment a lot with meats and times and temperatures.