So, define “CHUCK”…

Beef Chuck Roast, or “Beef Chuck Underblade” is part of a much larger, subprimal cut generically referred to as the “Chuck.” Chuck comprises about 30% of the total weight of a steer’s carcass. This large collection of hard working shoulder muscles requires the most tenderization of any cut, with the possible exception of shanks.

There is more flavor locked into the dense array of muscles than there is in tender cuts.  The challenge is making this cut tender enough to enjoy.  Sous Vide  is just about the only to do that without achieving that “well done” appearance.

This post is a root article for Sous Vide Resources. All root articles feature a specific Sous Vide preparation of meat or vegetable that will form the basis of another finished dish.

Preparation for Sous Vide Processing

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This 4 lb cut of Chuck is the perfect size for a Ziploc 1 gallon freezer bag.
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Which I loaded it into, using the medium sized Lipavi L10 rack .

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I lowered the rack into the Lipavi medium sized vessel filled  half way with water, preheated to 129F.

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The rack is designed so that the sealed end of the bag can be hung (or pinned) to prevent it from submerging.  Ziploc bags rarely fail UNLESS they are overfilled.  I still prefer to see that seam just very slightly above the water line.  The object should occupy no more than 75% the volume of the listed size of the bag.  Make sure the edges of the bag aren’t getting stretched.  If they are, cut the meat smaller.

Another of the many benefits of SV is that size really DOESN’T matter.  Thickness governs cooking time more than actual weight.  Smaller pieces of a particular cut come out the same as if the cut had been processed whole.  In the case of this particular cut of meat, you could separate the individual muscles and process individually.  You would get the same results, using the same time, and the same temperature.

Time and Temperature Tips

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In Sous Vide, temperature dictates “appearance of doneness.” Time dictates tenderness.  The higher the temperature used, the faster collagen is converted to gelatin.  That process is really what tenderness is all about.  If you process a 4 lb cut of meat @129F (medium rare) for 6 hours, there will no appreciable difference in appearance from processing it @129F x 24 hours.  There will, however, be a significant difference in tenderness.

Time results may vary (temp results do not), but this cut was processed for 24 hours, and would satisfy the most discerning of texture sensitive diners. Not falling apart; really, just about the texture of filet.  Hard to believe, I know.  If you want “shreddable” meat, you merely increase the temperature to achieve the desired appearance of doneness, and manage your processing time using the Pinch Method to measure texture.

Searing After The Sous Vide Process

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I staged the roast from the bag into a cast iron frying pan (cold), and lightly seared with a basic propane torch.  Many people believe that the gas used in these torches imparts a flavor.  The science does not support that claim.  A smoking hot cast iron pan or charcoal BBQ grate can also be used.

Variations on Portioning the Chuck

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I cut the Chuck Underblade Roast into a few different shapes and sizes to demonstrate the versatility.  For a larger group, you could slice the whole cut in one fashion and feed about 7 hungry guests. You can see that the color is consistent from end to end, edge to edge, and top to bottom–another feature unique to SV–quine sanguine, too.

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These slices would be suitable for a sort of “London Broil” presentation.

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This modified cube shape will be used to create the effect of a steak.

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Brochettes, and myriad other models can be achieved using the more random cuts.
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In future articles we’ll use this preparation to make:

  • Fennel Crusted Beef with Blue Cheese, Sauce Foyot, Spinach Saute
  • BBQ Beef (sliced, chunked & shredded)
  • French Dip Sandwich
  • Roast Beef Hash