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Apr 23, 2013 03:08 PM

London broil sous vide

I made my first london broil using the SV. Following Baldwin, did 2.75 lbs at 132 for about 30 hours. Beautifully pink and flavorful, but the fibers had really broken down too much, and it was dry. I have run into this before with other cuts where I think Baldwin recommends way too long. I am going to repeat at the same temp for about 10 hours.

Are others finding that the times are too long in the Baldwin recs?

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  1. London Broil is flank steak so I'm not sure why you're using such a long bath temp for this particular cut as it's not exactly full of fat or connective tissue. it's also not that thick, so perhaps a couple of hours rather than even 10.

    I don't use Baldwin's recommendations for cooking times.

    13 Replies
    1. re: wattacetti

      I'm talking top round LB. Thanks, I'm finding the cooking times ridiculously long.

      I would never use SV for flank steak either.

      1. re: law_doc89

        I was under the impression that London Broil is a technique for cooking flank steak.

        1. re: c oliver

          It can also be a top round. But along the same lines, "London Broil" is a method of preparation, so I would consider a different method to NOT be a London broil. I would call this sous vide top round.

          1. re: wyogal

            Thanks for the clarification, wyogal.

        2. re: law_doc89

          Well, top round isn't exactly fully of connective tissue and fat either so there's nothing really to break down to make the end result juicier.

          I'm assuming that the piece you purchased is similar in thickness to flank, so dropping down the time to a couple of hours should still be more than adequate.

          SV flank is feasible but you'd want to use a ceramic (IR) burner or a konro grill to quickly color/char the outside after it comes out of the bag.

          1. re: wattacetti

            No, about 2 inches thick, a little less.

            You all are confirming, however, that some of the Baldwin times seem screwy, so I am wondering whats up?

            I have had some professionally done SV, and know when done right this stuff can define perfection. Still learning.

            Found this link:


            and think maybe this is too much also.

            1. re: law_doc89

              I'm not sure if Baldwin fully took into account the cuts of meat he was using.

              For the link provided, the temperature and timing are quite high. 131ºF and 4.5 hours is what I use for a well-marbled côte de boeuf that's around 3 inches thick. The only reason for me to go up that high is to give a chance for the internal fat to melt, but it provides a medium-rare.

              Top round and flank should be rare, so perhaps 125ºF for 2-3 couple of hours for the cut of meat you had.

              1. re: wattacetti

                Thank you. I am learning this technique.

          2. re: law_doc89

            Really? SV flank steak is amazing.

              1. re: law_doc89

                Marinade in a mixture of equal parts white wine and soy sauce, a touch of EVOO, chopped rosemary, S & P. SV at 134 for about 10 hours. Sear w/torch. Really good -- tender and juicy.

              2. re: pikawicca

                Since you're my queen of SV, I bow to you, p.

            1. re: wattacetti

              "London Broil" is a technique for cooking cheaper beef cuts, and has been used on a variety of different fabrications.

              London Broil" when sold as a cut of beef is a roast cut from the top round, which is a sub primal of the round (the hip for geographies sake)

              The Flank is its own singular primal that would be the abdominal muscles on a human.

              We use the term as both a way to cook, and a particular cut of meat. Makes for lots of confusion.

            2. As many others have said, you should not be cooking the top round for that long. There is no benefit to it, only negatives, as you have experienced. As wattacetti mentioned, 45 minutes to 2 hours (dunno if it's thick or long to be 2.75 lbs)...the quickest way to get it to 120 or 125 would be perfect imo

              1. I would limit the use of sous vide to cuts like shank, oxtail, short ribs, or brisket. These tough cuts become very tender when cooked in this fashion.

                Cooking already tender cuts this way detracts from their texture .

                9 Replies
                1. re: Brandon Nelson

                  "Cooking already tender cuts this way detracts from their texture ."

                  Only if held long after the time they're ready to eat. I've done Berkshire pork chops and ribeye steaks and they were better than those done by any other method. Especially the steaks,which were a perfect medium rare from sear to sear. Try and do that on a grill.

                  1. re: grampart

                    I have done it on the grill actually, but I have some professional cooking under my belt, some schooling, and I am a butcher by trade. It is my job to know meat product, and know it well.

                    Most folks following this SV craze are using a thermometer for the first time. That is the tool that insures spot on results.

                    1. re: Brandon Nelson

                      I find it hard to believe you can cook a steak on a grill that looks like this photo.

                      1. re: grampart

                        I get closest to that by starting on the cooktop in a CI skillet and finishing in a hot oven.

                        1. re: grampart

                          Is that a pic of your London broil that was "dry" with "broken down fibers"?

                          I cook for eating quality, not for porn shoots.

                          1. re: Brandon Nelson

                            Not sure what the London broil comment means, but I believe you're changing the subject.

                            1. re: grampart

                              I use SV a lot, but I have to say that I can get the result of that photo with SV + sear... or with sear + roast and rest. Both will produce that outcome if you do it right.
                              On a grill?...pretty tough to get that photo..but you probably can if you work at it. Grill + indirect heat roast + rest.

                            2. re: Brandon Nelson

                              "I have some professional cooking under my belt, some schooling, and I am a butcher by trade. It is my job to know meat product, and know it well."
                              You should probably research sous vide better before you invoke your professional reputation. Your original statement is inaccurate, and grampart's response is right on. Any damage to the texture of tender cuts of meat comes from cooking them too long, not from the sous vide process itself. Plenty of world class chefs use sous vide on tender cuts - Thomas Keller's book on sous vide is full of examples.

                        2. London Broil used to refer to flank steak only. Now it's a catch all term that supermarkets use to market lean, less tender beef cuts like top round steaks. I'm currently cooking sous vide my second top round steak within a week. It was on sale for $2.50 so I bought a couple thinking I would give it to my dog if inedible. I cooked the first one for more than 48 hours because we decided to eat out @ the last minute. I was planning on a 40 hour cook at about 130.The meat had a weird spongy consistency almost like bologna but I liked it. I used it in a low carb tortilla to make a taco. I also used the purged liquids in the bag to make a sauce(I added soy & Worcestershire sauce to the cooking bag before cooking) that I thickened with a package of Knorr Brown Gravy Mix. I served my wife the meat sliced like pot roast. Because the top round is so lean this extra long cooking time improved the finished product. Not short ribs but not bad either. Cheap & easy always works for me.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: zackly

                            "Because the top round is so lean this extra long cooking time improved the finished product."
                            You should try a sous vide cook only to the point of being cooked through to compare. Leanness has essentially nothing to do with whether a piece of meat benefits from a long sous vide cooking time - that's all about connective tissue and the kind of muscle fibers involved. Most people would describe the results of top round cooked quickly sous vide as superior to the results of sous vide cooked for 40+ hours; the benefit you attribute to the long cooking time might actually just be the effect of very even doneness without a ring of overcooked meat near the surface of the steaks. Though the spongy texture was probably attributable to the long cooking time.

                            1. re: cowboyardee

                              I pulled the second one @ 30 hours. Was a bit firmer but still tender. Either cooking time would yield a cheap piece of usable beef protein, rare (no pun intended) these days. I often sous vide bottom round of beef for 30 hours and that yields a very nice "roast beef", much nicer than the top round but it's rarely sold cheap any more.

                          2. I'm currently running an experiment: Threw a 4.5 lb chuck roast, frozen, into the water bath at 140 degrees. Plan to serve it Wednesday evening (total of 72 hours) to some of my son's friends. Have no idea if this will work, so have a back-up plan in place. Will report back. Oh yeah, it's a beautifully marbled piece of Wagyu beef.

                            23 Replies
                            1. re: pikawicca

                              If it's not too late, you'd likely benefit from a dip (~ a minute) in near boiling water. For really long cooking times with beef at low temperatures, off flavors can develop if you don't kill the surface bacteria really well at the outset. Wagyu would be a shame to waste.

                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                I think it probably is too late. However, I know the producer and processor, and believe this meat to be very "clean." Will keep my fingers crossed, and will try the dip treatment in the future.

                                1. re: pikawicca

                                  It doesn't happen every time anyway, and 140 is getting close to the point at which it doesn't seem to be an issue. OTOH... it's wagyu. Fingers crossed for ya.

                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                    Thanks. The guests are huge meat eaters, so it will be a disappointment if it doesn't work.

                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                      Okay, this was fab: tender, juicy, flavorful. The roast came apart in large chunks, along muscle delineations. No problem, as this made a large piece of meat easier to sear. There was some remaining collagen, but my guests declared it to be very tasty. I warned everyone that I was not 100% sure of the safety of consuming a piece of initially frozen meat tossed into a water bath, even after careful searing. They were game, and consumed a lot of the roast. If there are untoward consequences, I'll report back. (I did a lot of research, but could not find much information on cooking large cuts of meat from the frozen state sous vide.)

                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                        Glad it worked out.

                                        AFAIK, the frozen thing shouldn't be a problem, as long as you're cooking a whole unpierced muscle and not, like, a huge meatball. Douglas Baldwin has cooking times from frozen on his cooking charts, for example.

                                        The only problem comes if you're cooking a really thick hunk of ground meat or a very thick roulade or something, where the center of the meat might have some bacteria, and the very long time to fully heat the center of the meat gives those bacteria time to do their nasty business.

                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                          I will check out Douglas Baldwin. Not going to be cooking large meatballs sous vide any time soon:) Next I will try a conventional chuck roast to see how it stacks up to the Wagyu.

                                        2. re: pikawicca

                                          Cooking it from frozen is no problem at all. I have a big process for cooking meat and then freezing it to reheat later. I always do the following:

                                          1. Freeze piece of meat for 10-20 minutes
                                          2. Sear it hard in a hot pan on each side quickly (do not season meat)
                                          3. Freeze it for 15 minutes (mostly because I don't like to seal foods with my chamber vacuum if they are warm, freezing it also helps it keep shape)
                                          4. Seal/bag meat with fat of choice, herbs are optional (I blanch them first)
                                          5. Cook in bath at desired temp/time combo.
                                          6. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes
                                          7. Plunge into ice water and leave for 25 minutes or so
                                          8. Place in freezer for however long you want
                                          9. Cook sous vide until meat is warmed to temp
                                          10. Unbag, season, and freeze for 15 minutes (freezing really helps dry the surface of the meat)
                                          11. Give a final sear in a screaming hot pan

                                          Seems like a lot of steps but it's actually simple. I'll batch book chicken, pork and steak like this (lamb is a little different, mostly in that it doesn't take well to a pre-sear) so I have food on hand for nights I'm feeling lazy.

                                          As far as cooking meat from frozen it is really no different than cooking straight from the fridge without a sear.

                                          1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                            Hey EFGM,

                                            Why do you do steps 1 and 6? The temp may drop 3-5 degrees in step 1 and will only benefit one side when you sear and my understanding is to go from machine to ice bath immediately. Having the bag hang out at room temperature for 15 minutes sounds like a bad idea.

                                            Another thought since your freezer is a big tool. Have you thought to freeze the fat before adding to the bag before freezing? this limits the liquid pull through when you seal it and creates a better seal.


                                            1. re: jfood

                                              Step 1 drys the surface out and cools it down. I only do a quick sear and the freezing seems to prevent overcooking. This step is not crucial but I find that it slightly improves the final product. I also think I get more than a 3-5 degree temp drop. I'll check with my thermapen next time though, you may still be correct. As far as only benefiting one side, I typically flip the steak halfway through the freezing process, or more recently, put the steak on its side (the fat side of a thick NY strip is perfect for this) so it freezes the outside faster.

                                              6 is a step I'm still working on. I used to chuck it straight in an ice bath immediately after cooking SV but I've been working on a better chilling process (there may not be one, still doing research). I forget where I read it but somebody developed a great process to chill things down and IIRC it involved not immediately freezing the proteins or putting them directly in an ice bath. I imagine this is due to the muscle fibers contracting and forcing juices out of the meat.

                                              90% of the time I use duck fat and it's already hard when I bag it up. Also, I have a chamber sealer and they can seal bags even with a little oil or debris around the seal. They can also easily seal liquids too, which I absolutely love. However I still like to clean the area around where the seal will happen before I seal the bag just to be safe.

                                              I'm still a n00b, I've only had my modernist type gear since like December, but I seem to be on the right track to taking over the world...err making delicious food. I'm mainly working on step 6/the chilling process right now.

                                              In the meantime I'm impatiently (been impatient since June) waiting for the arrival of my Searzall. That'll definitely be a game changer for sous vide. Anyone else here fund it on kickstarter?

                                              1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                I have not seared pre-bagging and was going to try on the next go-round. Glad to hear it works. It also give a nice overall color to the meat.

                                                If you find an article on a different cooling down approach, please post. I understand that the 20 minutes would be a bad thing for the bacteria growth.

                                                Another trick to save the smokiness in the kitchen is to place your cast iron skillet on the BBQ outside to to smokin'. Then when you place the meat to sear before serving all that smoke stays outside.

                                                Try baby back ribs at 150 for 20 hours. Cool down, fridge. Then remove and grill until crusted. About as good as it gets.

                                                1. re: jfood

                                                  Definitely give it a sear before bagging, sous vide temps still let the Maillard reaction continue as long as it has a nice start to it. It is also going to get rid of any potential surface bacteria and is preferred to blanching imo. Just still make sure you still sear again after cooking, as I'm sure you are well aware.

                                                  I'll try to dig up that article. I used to always shock straight in an ice bath but when I let it rest a little I noticed it being more juicy. Will have to do more tests. Definitely a potential food safety issue though, I've done a fair bit of research on botulism.

                                                  I actually don't have any cast iron, need to get some. My apartment smoke detector can't be taken offline, only covered and that doesn't always work. I do have carbon steel pans, should work fine though. I'll have to use my Searzall outside only haha.

                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                    j, why fridge and then grill please?

                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                      So you don't overcook I imagine. Also, they will be almost falling apart if you take them out of the bag warm. Same goes for stuff like pork belly, best to chill after cooking, ice bath, fridge, etc.

                                                      1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                        I learned my lesson on that in a different batch. I thought I would slice through each rib about 3/4 before sealing, SV'd, removed. It was similar to performing appendectomy surgery when I removed the ribs, trying to keep them all together. It was a great idea going in but a bad idea coming out.

                                                      2. re: c oliver

                                                        It was serendipity.

                                                        I can fit 2 slabs in the machine at a time. Last month I made 2 slabs for my daughter to take with for a weekend trip and the group loved them so asked that I make 4 slabs 2 weeks later for a pool party. The first batch was SV'd on Wed night, cooled and placed in fridge, vertically. When I removed them the fat congealed in one corner so when I removed each they were much drier for the BBQ, I did not need to use paper towels to remove the excess moisture and the dry rub was really adhered to the skin = great crust.

                                                        Hope that helps...ciao

                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                          It does. I got an Anova a while back but life has interfered so I haven't used it much.

                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                            ?What's your exact recipe for ribs I've actually never done SV ribs and want to try it. Not sure I'll be able to fit a whole rack in my polycarbonate container, might have to cut them in half.

                                                            1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                              1 Remove the silver skin from a whole rack of BB ribs;
                                                              2 Cut in half
                                                              3 Season with dry rub and all sides
                                                              4 Place each half in a separate bag and seal
                                                              5 Place in the fridge for a few hours to allow the meat to absorb the rub
                                                              6 Remove from the fridge and place in the SV at 150 for 20 hours
                                                              7 Immediately plunge into a bowl of ice water
                                                              8 Once chilled place vertically in the fridge
                                                              9 When ready to cook, remove from the fridge, remove the rack from the bag without the congealed fat and bring to room temperature, about 30 minutes
                                                              10 Cover with BBQ sauce and grill on the BBQ until a crust forms on the exterior
                                                              11 Cut into ribs and serve


                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                Word. I think I'm going to make these on Sunday to eat on Monday.
                                                                I'll freeze half a rack too, see how they do with a cook-chill-freeze-retherm.
                                                                I'm going with Meathead's Memphis dust with a few very minor tweaks and some homemade cider vinegary sauce.

                                                                My only concern is the ribs being too dry due to all the fat staying in the bags. Though it's probably a good tradeoff for the crust, ribs have a good amount of fat I suppose.

                                                                1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                  too dry is not a concern at all. promise

                                                2. re: pikawicca

                                                  Sounds yummy! At 140 it wasn't super rare, right? But pink?

                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                    Correct. Would have used a lower temp, but wanted to get rid of as much connective tissue as possible. I'd do a flank steak between 125 and 130.