London Broil – The part of the steer not on any map. You can get French Toast in Paris, if you can find a restaurant that caters specifically to American travelers. The “Chinese” food we get in this country is a far cry from the food they serve in China. The same is true of Mexican and many other ethnic foods. So, I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise to discover that “London Broil” is little more than a marketing ploy contrived to sell inexpensive cuts of meat at steak prices. There is no part of a steer’s anatomy called “The London,” or anything even close.
Marketing is everything–or is it?
When you see a cut of meat with that label in your butcher’s case, it may be anything from bottom sirloin to tri-tip, top round, to eye of round, to bottom round, to flank, to brisket point. None of these are inherently tender enough to serve “London Broil” style. Meaning cooked quickly and sliced thin on the bias. Marketers will try to convince us that a marinade, more specifically, THEIR marinade will replace toughness with tenderness, but there is really no science to support that claim.
Thankfully, Sous Vide is the perfect application to make most, if not all, of these cuts tender, yet still “pink,” as it were. In this article, we are going to use a generic, run of the mill, center-cut inside (top) round steak that I picked up on sale and a chuck roast as well. Inside round is from the hind leg, chuck from the shoulder, both hard working collections of muscles. This is one of the greatest benefits of Sous Vide processing. While expensive cuts of meat come out great when prepared Sous Vide, INEXPENSIVE cuts can really be made to resemble the much more highly valued cuts.
So Let’s Broil Us Some London (Sorry, Couldn’t Resist)
- Beef Round, Top Round or London Broil labeled cut of meat (around 4 lbs in this case for each item)
- Immersion Circulator (We’re using a Nomiku)
- Lipavi C10 / 3 Gallon container
- Lipavi L10 rack
- Ziploc Gallon bags
Selecting The Beef
- And, there it is, cleverly marked “Top Round London Broil.” Top round is top round–basically two muscles, a flap section and a solid block, very lean. There is no “London Broil” section of the cut. Still, less than $4/lb
- And the chuck roast–not as lean as the top round, but, a bargain at just under $3/lb.
Preparing For Sous Vide
- Both cuts are processed the same way–I used a gallon Ziploc Gallon bag, with a Lipavi L10 rack.
- Lipavi L10 / 3 gallon container.
- and the Nomiku WiFi circulator
No Chamber Vacuum or FoodSaver? No Sweat
- Remove as much air as possible, using the immersion method–lower the whole package into water, which will force out excess air, and then seal the top just before it goes below the water line. Make sure your package stays fully submerged.
After 24 hours @129F, your meat will look like this.
- Pinch it gently through the package to make sure it is tender to your liking. The juice is colored by myoglobin, the protein that supplies oxygen to muscles. Myoglobin is heat sensitive, and is the reason that rare steaks are red–not blood.
- Remove the meat from the juice, which can be saved and clarified to make stock, sauces, etc. After drying with a clean towel, the top round is sprinkled with a blend of equal parts of salt, black pepper, paprika, fennel, and nutmeg, but your own recipe or any of the popular proprietary brands of rubs are satisfactory.
- Searing the top round in a very hot cast iron broiler pan–approx 500F, I use an infrared thermometer. You want it VERY, VERY hot.
- It will come out looking like this.
- As you can see, it’s a good idea to have an open window in the kitchen. Most home hood fans don’t lead outside, but merely filter and recirculate the air.
- The pan should be hot enough so as not to cool off noticeably during the searing process. Searing does not seal in juices, but the longer the meat is in the pan, the more juice will escape.
- This one I did with just salt and pepper.
- Then, I cut it down before I seared it, shocked cold, and saved the rest for another project. This piece is about 12 oz., plenty for two people.
- Even though it has rested for a few minutes, you can see that very little juice has drained out.
- Slices of the Chuck, only lightly seasoned with salt.
- After shocking, the chuck (pictured) and the top round are both excellent for sandwiches and deli plates. Very easy to slice and perfectly cooked from one end to the other.
- You can see the consistency of the color, even though the camera does not capture red (when I give in to using the flash).
- The crusted top round carries that nice contrast.
Plating and Serving Your London Broil
Plating can be very simple, when the entree looks this good. See other sections of the site to get the procedure for the thickened demi glaze, the crispy fried corn on the cob, Sous Vide grilled carrots, and Sous Vide Mashed Potatoes.
- A sprig of Italian parsley, just like they do it downtown–only better!
So, don’t let the phrase London Broil throw you. It’s just a marketing term. Now you know the right cuts to select and the best way to prepare them using Sous Vide, a few spices and a very hot pan. Let them call it London Broil all night long.