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30 Hours Until Dinner


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30 Hours Until Dinner

Caroline1 | | Mar 11, 2012 11:58 AM

Seems to me sous vide is the ultimate in slooooooow cooking. Thirty hours for this roast beef. I could roast a whole pig in a pit in less time! But it did have a delicious outcome. And one benefit is that once you put the roast in the water bath, there is no worry about ruining your appetite by snacking!

I'm still a newbie with this technique but willing to share what I did and how/why I did it in hopes the information might be useful to someone else.

THE BEEF: A grass fed dry aged (21 days) shoulder roast of Charolais (breed) beef from Baldwin Beef. You can look at their cattle and read about their beef here:


The only thing I did to the shoulder roast before prepping was remove the bone and stick it back in the freezer with the bones that are waiting for the stock pot. Once the bone was off, I transferred the beef to a plate and gave it a rub with evoo and a light sprinkling of dried thyme and rosemary. I *thought* I had gone light on the rosemary, but it seems it is an herb that jumps in and takes over in a warm moist environment, so next time I will go even lighter. The end result was not bad, but the rosemary was talking a lot louder than I had intended! Anyway, I rubbed the herbs and evoo into the roast and allowed it to rest while I prepared a small amount of wine in stock to go into the sous vide bag with the roast.

A common complaint on the web about wine in sous vide cooking is that it's "problematic." The problem seems to be with the alcohol not cooking out. So I cooked it out before putting it in the bag. Easy! But first I crushed about 8 fairly large freeze dried morel mushrooms and put them to soak in a small amount of chicken broth. I did not soak them all the way to "soft" because with 30 hours in a Jacuzzi ahead of them I didn't think I needed to. I soaked them in the saucepan with enough broth to barely cover them. Then I added a full glass of prime vintage "Black Box" cabernet sauvignon to the pan and simmered until reduced by half. Hey, I am NOT going to open a whole bottle of wine unless the recipe calls for the whole thing. Meantime, "Black Box" cabernet sauvignon works just fine. It sits right next to my bottle of Noilly Pratt, my other cooking wine! '-)

When the wine sauce was reduced, I tasted for balance, but NO SALT in the broth. I added a few bits of kosher salt to the tasting spoon instead. It was good. The wine was not "alcoholly." I was good to go. So I slipped the herbed and oiled roast into the cryovac bag, added the wine/stock reduction and every last bit of morel and sealed the bag.

SOUS VIDE TEMPERATURE FOR ROAST BEEF: This is very difficult information to come by on the web. The most mentioned temperature (though there was nothing as specific as temperature for a beef shoulder roast) was 131F for about 30 hours. So that's what I went with. When the thermostat said the water was 131F, I sent the roast for a long swim! Next time I think I will drop it down to 129F. Grass fed beef cooks lower than grain fed and I would like it just a tad bit more rare.

A day and a quarter later, it was time to reap the bounty. The first thing I did was clean and chunk a large baking potato, chunk a small onion, and wash some baby carrots. I put them in a steamer and steamed them for nearly twenty minutes; which was when all were just barely fork tender. Next the potatoes and onions went into a stainless steel bowl where they were tossed with evoo, salt, and a little thyme. The carrots were gently kissed with butter and kosher salt. I oiled the inside of my roasting pan and set my oven for 550F convection and let it warm up.

Finally, the roast came out of the water oven. Lovely! Nice amount of liquid with it. For stability sake, and so I would not lose any of the cooking juices, I put the whole thing in a ss bowl, then cut the top off the bag. With tongs I gently removed the roast and placed it in the waiting oiled roasting pan. I did NOT dry it, as many sous vide recipes suggest you do to promote browning. I wanted those lovely juices to dry roast right into the surface of the beef, so no patting with paper towels or anything else! And now, salt touched the beef for the first time. I sprinkled it with Fusion black truffle salt, but not in an overwhelming amount Then I put the potatoes at each end of the roast and the carrots on each side and into the oven for twenty minutes Nothing was browned the way I hoped so I gave them about a minute under my oven's industrial strength broil. Perfect!

While the beef rested (though I'm not convinced resting is required with sous vide beef, but it did give me time to do the sauce) I tipped all of the juices from the cooking bag into a saucepan, then used a spoon to scrape the "fond" (joke) from inside the bag, making sure I got all of the morels. Now I added kosher salt and tasted. Nice, but I wanted a bit more wine, so I added it and reduced. Nicer... I thickened with a small amount of corn starch slurry, then floated in some unsalted butter off flame and tasted. Lovely!

FINAL STEP: I took a picture for you guys. I diagonal sliced the beef. I plated it all. Took a picture of the plate for you. And finally, I FEASTED! The beef is magnificent! Yes, I would unhesitatingly serve this to company. BUT.... Next time I will count the needles of rosemary I add and be stingy. That is one bossy herb!

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