Sous vide is the perfect method for preparing a cut of meat like chuck roast. Not only does it turn the beef into mouth watering morsels of tenderness, it’s also super flexible in that you don’t have to decide how to season it until you’re done. That means you can grab a big chunk of roast, cook it up, and then decide how you want to serve it – pot roast, shredded bbq, chimichurri, or all of the above.
Which is pretty much what I did. (I don’t like making decisions!) So the same cut of meat served as three very different meals in my house. Four, if you include the steak I cut off of it after just 24 hours. Which you should also try, because damn. Who knew a pot roast could double as steak?
Another thing that makes this recipe so amazingly flexible is that you can determine the time and temps for yourself. For a roast cooked medium, you’ll set your bath to 140F (60C). But part of the lure of sous vide cooking is how exactly perfect you can cook your meats to medium rare or less, so really, you can set your bath as low as 130F (54.4C) to get a medium rare roast all the way through. Above 140, meat will release too much juice, shrink, and become chewy. But allowing the meat to cook for extended periods of time allows the collagen (the tough connective tissue) to become very tender without losing the moisture.
Check out this great visual temperature guide from J.Kenji at Serious Eats for more info.
Even though you don’t have to have a plan for how you want to serve it yet, if you have some ideas for seasonings, you can rub the roast before you put it into the bag. I opted for one of my favorite seasoning blends, which I’ve spelled out further in the recipe below.
And as for timing – as I mentioned, you can be done after 24 hours and have wonderful steaks. I mean, just look at that meat.
Or you can leave it in up to 72 hours and have fall-apart pulled beef. I took mine out somewhere between the 48-52 hour range because that’s when it was most convenient for me to serve it.
Either way, you’ll want to sear it first in a hot cast iron pan or with a torch to give it the wonderful flavor that comes with Maillard (the insanely complicated chemical reaction that gives meat wonderfully complex flavors). It was so tender after the 48 hours that I had a hard time keeping it together in the pan!
Then I pulled it apart and separated it into batches. The first I served up as bbq sandwiches, the second went into carnitas. And I may have eaten a bowl of it just right then without any sauce at all. . .
Whatever you don’t eat right away, you’ll want to drop into an ice bath to chill and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
- 4-5 pound chuck roast
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon celery salt
- 1 teaspoon dried garlic
- 1 teaspoon dried onion
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Preheat water bath somewhere between 130-140°F (54.5-60°C) I chose 136°F (57.8°C).
- Season roast on all sides with rub.
- Seal roast in vacuum bag.
- Cook for 24-72 hours (see note above).
- Remove from pouch, sear on all sides, and serve.