Sous-B-Q: Beef Chuck Roast, “Brisket Style”

Somewhat less unwieldy than its neighboring brisket, Sous-B-Q chuck roast rivals pitmasters' signature cut in characteristic.

Ingredients

Beef chuck roast/steak, approximately 2 lbs./1 Kg.
Powdered egg white, as needed, or one fresh egg white mixed well with 1 oz. water.
Preferred seasonings of your choice–salt not to exceed 2 teaspoons/lb. of meat. Check out our assortment of seasoning blends HERE.
Vegetable oil, as needed.

 

 

 

 

 

Equipment requirements:

Immersion circulator.
Lipavi C10 heat rated container with lid.
Lipavi L10 rack or equivalent.
Heat rated sous vide bags.
Paper towels.
Dredge/shaker (for the powdered egg white).
Spray bottle (for water).
Pellet smoker or back yard BBQ.

Above: Lipavi C10 container, N10 polycarbonate racks. Lipavi C10L-UNIR lid.

Actual prep time: 1 hour
Level of difficulty: 2.75
Serves 4+

Procedure:

Preheat the sous vide bath to 140 F/60 C.

Vacuum seal the roast in heat rated plastic, load into a rack and submerge into the bath. Process at 140 F/60 C for 30 hours or “until it’s tender.” While time (at a given temperature) functions to achieve the practitioner’s texture requirements, a clock cannot accurately measure tenderness. The interval required to achieve desirable results may vary even from one package to another in the butcher’s case. This chuck roast was tender after only 30 hours. In other circumstances, it may take considerably longer–up to 60 hours.

The good news is that since the pasteurized/preserved roast is quick chilled after processing, the 5 hour smoking/finishing process can be executed at your convenience over the next 2 weeks.

Make it so

Once the desired level of tenderness has been achieved, remove the bag from the bath and submerge in iced tap water until the package achieves 70 F/21 C. Refrigerate at 40 F/4 C until you are ready to proceed to the next step.

Day of service

Submerge the package in hot tap water (110 F/43 C) or a working sous vide bath to melt the gel in the package.

Remove the roast from the package–be sure to reserve the juices. Pat the roast dry and place on a clean surface. Next, we want to create an adhesive surface for the benefit of creating a seasoned crust.

Use a dredge/shaker to sprinkle the surface with powdered egg whites. A fresh egg white beaten with an equal amount of water will achieve the same result.

Use a spray bottle filled with water to dissolve the powdered egg white–skip this step if you are using fresh egg white.

Sprinkle with your choice of seasonings. Today’s version was simply kosher salt, sweet paprika, hot paprika and home dried parsley. A little oregano and fennel may have found their way in there as well!

Mist with spray release or drizzle with oil.

Turn the roast over onto a rack with the unseasoned side up. We used a Lipavi L10. These stainless steel racks are intended for sous vide processing, but are great for smoking, roasting, and even refrigerated storage–water proof, dishwasher proof and smoker/oven proof.

Sprinkle this side with powdered egg white as well.

Mist with water.

We have a wide assortment of easy to make rub/seasonings linked HERE. Lipavi #3 with a little extra sugar is also a good choice.

Spray with oil again–this prevents the herbs in the seasoning from scorching. Set aside to give the coating a few minutes to attach itself.

Juices

Clarify the bag juices according the method explained HERE.  Add a pinch of your seasoning mix and either keep warm or refrigerate and reheat at service.

Smoking is not a random act

Set your smoker between 180 F/80 C and 225 F/107 C. Smoke until the desired appearance and an internal “mouth hot” temperature of at least 125 F/5 C is achieved. Exceeding this temperature will not negate the benefits of the sous vide processing other than slowly removing a little more moisture and rendering a little more fat.

On the platter

A word about the “smoke ring”

Conventional wisdom asserts that the smoke ring will not occur in meat at temperatures above 140 F/60 C. There is SOME truth to that. The chuck roast was sous vide processed at that very temperature, but the smoke ring is clearly visible. The cold shocking process after sous vide processing sets the smoke ring clock back to zero in a manner of speaking.

The visible rosy lividity was always prized by competition pitmasters and judges. I say “was” for a reason. Modern science tells us the smoke ring is not an indication of smoke penetration. It contributes no flavor in itself. Read on!

The smoke ring is the result of a reaction between nitric oxide (NO), carbon monoxide (CO) in the cabinet and the myoglobin present in meat. The gasses are colorless and flavorless. NO and CO are created by the incomplete combustion of wood and fossil fuels, etc. If those two chemicals sound familiar, that is because they are the same “greenhouse gasses” emitted by automobiles and hydrocarbon burning power plants, etc.

On the plate

Mashed potatoes, green beans, the clarified and seasoned juices round it all out. The cherry tomato confirms that the picture was not overly photoshopped.

Angles and altitude.

Plate centering was a big thing for a while. The more things change…as long as it all stacks up eventually…

Those familiar with my work know I have a thing for parsley.

Norm

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About

This cut from the shoulder of a steer/heifer dominated the pot roast category for longer than most of us have been around. With the introduction of the crock pot, the old-fashioned Dutch oven (or electric frying pan) was ultimately supplanted. Even so, without frequent monitoring, there was a fine line between unchewable toughness and shredded "taco meat."

Now that sous vide is here, the cut can be transformed into something with more predictability, flourish and flair than just another plebian, weeknight "blue plate special."