Sous vide is a predictably excellent way to cook tough cuts of beef. The slow, gentle cooking breaks down stubborn sinew and leaves you with buttery, rich, juicy meat. So of course we’ve developed recipes for sous vide brisket and heartier cuts like beef chuck. But we also think sous vide can be the perfect cooking method for steaks, burgers, and even tongue.
While it can be intimidating to those of us more comfortable with roasting and grilling, learning the basics of sous vide cooking is really quite straightforward, and with the right sous vide machine on hand, you’ll be ready to attack any of these recipes with ease.
Beef chuck is an ideal alternative to brisket when you’re barbecuing or, in this case, sous vide-ing. It’s a cheaper cut of meat that’s easier to find, and it cooks with more consistent results. Here, we sous vide the chuck until it’s tender and moist, and then we move it to the grill to impart it with the smokiness and char of classic barbecue.
Good brisket is really, really good—magical, even. But finding the perfect brisket, one which balances between juicy, tender meat and a charred, flavorful bark, is difficult. Making this smoked meat with a sous vide machine takes a lot of the guesswork out of fantastic brisket. Just as we do with the smoked chuck, the brisket starts in sous vide, and right when the meat is on the brink of falling apart, we move it to the grill to take on both color and smoky char.
Making something as fast-cooking as burgers using the sous vide method may seem counterintuitive, but really it makes a lot of sense. The slow and exact cooking means your burgers will be cooked evenly all the way through—no brownish-gray circle around the nice medium-rare meat. And cooking the burgers sous vide right up until they’re finished on the grill ensures they retain as much moisture as possible. You’ll never want to make them another way again.
We’re not saying there’s anything wrong with pan-searing or grilling steaks. In fact, we think those methods render some really beautiful meat. But for truly foolproof steaks, we always side with sous vide. The gentle heat and total control over temperature means you don’t face a gradation of doneness throughout the meat. If the center is medium-rare, the edges will be, too. To achieve a nice crust (necessary for both flavor and texture), finish the steaks in a cast iron skillet or on the grill.
While we’re talking about the benefits of cooking steak with the sous vide method, we’d be remiss not to include this dry-aged sous vide ribeye. With a good amount of fat to keep the meat moist and an impressive bone to add flavor and centerpiece value, this is a perfect dinner-party main dish. The cherry on top? We finish this steak by blasting it with a propane torch to give it the perfect crust.
We know tongue isn’t for everyone, but give this sous vide tongue a chance and you may well have a change of heart. The tongue, seasoned with salt and pepper, is vacuum-packed with cilantro, onion, tomato, and duck or pork fat. After being cooked sous vide for at least 24 hours, the tongue is ready to be pulled apart, scooped onto corn tortillas, and garnished with your favorite taco toppings.
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