Sous Vide Smoked Beef Chuck

(150)

J. Kenji López-Alt is the Managing Culinary Director of Serious Eats, author of the James Beard Award-nominated column The Food Lab, and a columnist for Cooking Light. He lives in San Francisco. A New York native, Kenji cut his cooking chops the old-fashioned way by wo ...

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Recipe Temp 155 F / 68.3 C
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Beef chuck is an excellent alternative to brisket for barbecue. It's easier to find, cheaper, and more foolproof. Cooking beef chuck sous vide takes all of the guesswork out of traditionally attention-intensive barbecue. Combining sous vide cooking with actual smoke from the grill makes for beef that's moist and tender yet still smoky, with a great bark.


I recommend cooking at 155*F/68°C for 24 to 36 hours.

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Ingredients for 8

  • 1 / 2.25kg beef chuck roll (4- to 5-pound piece)

  • 2 oz / 55g coarsely ground black peppercorns (about 1/3 cup)

  • 2 1/4 oz/ 65g kosher salt (about 1/4 cup)

  • —OPTIONAL—

  • 1/2 tsp / 3g liquid smoke

  • 1/4 oz / 10g pink curing salt

  • Dill pickles, sliced yellow onion, and white bread, for serving

Directions

  • Step 1

    Grind black pepper in a pepper mill or a burr grinder to a coarse consistency. Combine it with equal parts kosher salt, then rub all over the surface of the roast.

  • Step 2

    Chuck roll has a tendency to slump down as it cooks. Tying it with butcher’s twine can help it keep its shape. Cut off several lengths of butcher’s twine that are at least a few inches longer than the circumference of the roast. Tie the roast at 1-inch intervals using granny knots and trim off the excess twine.

  • Step 3

    Place the chuck inside a vacuum sealer or resealable zipper locking bag. (Fold over the top while you add the meat so that no juices get on the edge of the bag, which can weaken the seal.) Add 1/2 tsp/3g of liquid smoke to the bag if you're using the liquid smoke method. Don't worry about distributing the liquid smoke evenly over the beef; it'll spread around during cooking.

  • Step 4

    Seal the bag using a vacuum sealer or resealable zipper locking bag. If using pink salt, let the beef rest for three to four hours in the refrigerator before proceeding.

  • Step 5

    Set the temperature on your sous vide cooker to 155°F/68ºC and allow the water bath to preheat. Use hot water when filling the pot for a shorter preheating time.

  • Step 6

    Drop your chuck into the water bath at 155°F/68ºC, set the timer for 24 to 36 hours, and relax. For extended cooks like this, it's a good idea to cover the top of the container with foil or plastic wrap to prevent excessive evaporation that could lead to the circulator shutting down.

  • Step 7

    Once the beef is cooked, you can chill it and refrigerate for up to a week before continuing, or just continue straight into the finishing steps. 

    • Finishing Steps - Smoker or Grill

    • Step 1

      Remove the chuck from the bag and remove excess moisture by patting it down thoroughly with paper towels. If desired, you can take the juices in the sous vide bag, discard the fat, and add the juices to your favorite barbecue sauce, reducing it over the stovetop to give your sauce extra meaty flavor. Re-rub the chuck with another coating of salt and pepper before continuing.

    • Step 2

      To finish your chuck over live fire, light up a smoker or ignite a half chimney of coals, and spread them out over half of the coal grates of a kettle grill. Close lid and adjust vents to maintain 300°F. For a gas grill, light up half of the burners and leave the other half switched off. Cover and adjust heat to maintain 300°F.

    • Step 3

      Add a few chunks of hardwood (no need to soak) directly to the coals on a coal grill or on in a foil boat on top of the grates of a gas grill. Place meat over cooler side of grill. Cover and cook, adding new wood every 30 minutes or as necessary, and adding coals or adjusting gas as necessary to maintain a temperature of 300°F. Cook for 3 hours.

    • Step 4

      Tent the chuck with foil and allow to rest for 30 minutes. The grain of the chuck runs top to bottom which makes slicing against the grain difficult. To make it easier, start by cutting the chuck in half top to bottom, slicing through the twine as well.

    • Step 5

      Remove the twine and discard.

    • Step 6

      Rotate the two halves so that the freshly-cut side is facing down.

    • Step 7

      Slice into thin slices and serve with pickles, sliced onions, and white bread.

    • Finishing Steps - Oven

    • Step 1

      Remove the chuck from the bag and remove excess moisture by patting it down thoroughly with paper towels. If desired, you can take the juices in the sous vide bag, discard the fat, and add the juices to your favorite barbecue sauce, reducing it over the stovetop to give your sauce extra meaty flavor. Re-rub the chuck with another coating of salt and pepper before continuing.

    • Step 2

      Place the chuck on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet with a wire rack placed in it. Set it in a preheated 300°F oven and cook until the exterior achieves a dark, mahogany bark, about 2 hours. If your oven has convection settings, turn them on and set the oven to 275°F. Remove from the oven.

    • Step 3

      Tent the chuck with foil and allow to rest for 30 minutes. The grain of the chuck runs top to bottom which makes slicing against the grain difficult. To make it easier, start by cutting the chuck in half top to bottom, slicing through the twine as well.

    • Step 4

      Remove the twine and discard.

    • Step 5

      Rotate the two halves so that the freshly-cut side is facing down.

    • Step 6

      Slice into thin slices and serve with pickles, sliced onions, and white bread.

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155 F / 68.3 C Recipe Temp
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