Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Chuck Roast Reconstructed

The Holidays are approaching fast and everyone is buying Prime Rib or a Standing Rib Roast but not me. Thinking outside the box I decided to go with a Chuck Roast which is more or less a budget cut from the shoulder. The Chuck is loaded with fat and marbling which should make it tasty. Last year I made two Reconstrucked Prime Ribs which were out of this world. Unlike most I prefer to change things up often which is why I decided to go with a Chuck Roast for the Holidays and not the traditional Prime Rib. 

As stated above the Chuck comes from the shoulder which is a muscle that moves a lot. Because of this the cut can be very chewy and tough. Conversely of course is the Prime Rib and since they move the least it's more tender. It's worth mentioning the Shoulder is the complete opposite of the Beef Tenderloin. The Tenderloin is an underused muscle which makes it very tender but flavorless. 

Doing my by weekly shopping at Costco has made me somewhat popular with most of the workers. I am always there. The guy that works in the meat department is always nice and helpful. We often chat about what concoction and I gonna do this time but this time it was a little bit more challenging to describe this endeavor. Anyhow I asked the Meat guy at Costco to give me the smallest chuck roast they had and as you can see from the picture this baby is anything but small. Looking at this muscle gave me some other ideas for Charcuterie.

I wish I had a video camera to show you what I did instead of trying to describe it here. The whole Chuck Roast is huge and has many separate muscles connected by connective tissue and lots of silver-skin. I separated the muscles and removed all the silver-skin and hard fat. Without going into much detail (because I can't) it's very easy to break down. As you push away the different muscles it becomes easy to identify where the muscles connect. The extra fat you see in the picture will be used for sausage, salami and hamburgers. Nothing will go to waste. In the end you end up removing about 30% which is made up of fat and connective tissue.

 Here's a pretty picture of the chuck broken down into the pieces I will glue together. What's not included in this post is my preliminary attempt to create a cylinder shape. Based on what I see it's going to be beautiful. 

Prior too gluing the meat together it will be dry-brined. I use .50% salt by weight to use for the dry-brine. All this means is I sprinkled salt all over the meat. What's .50% mean? The meat weighed 12 lbs and 12 lbs = 5443 grams and 5442 grams X .50% = 27 grams of salt. Pretty simple if I do say so myself. Anyhow sprinkle on the salt and place in the refrigerator for at least a day. Mine sat in the refrigerator for 36 hours. 24-40 hours is all you need in this application. Adding salt provides flavor and moisture retention while it cooks. Don't forget the only thing that will penetrate the protein is salt and nothing else. Everything else is mostly surface treatments. 

In this next step I used Transglutaminase Activa RM to bind the meat together. I wanted the Muscles when rolled up to become one solid cylinder. I applied the Activa by sprinkling it on every connection point which means everywhere. It's kind of a meat puzzle so before you begin sprinkling on the Acitiva have an idea how it's going to fit together.

Transglutaminase, also called meat glue, is an enzyme that can be used to bind proteins to make uniform portions of fish filet, tenderloins, etc. that cook evenly, look good and reduce waste. Transglutaminase can also be used for creative applications in modernist cuisine such as making shrimp noodles, binding chicken skin to scallops or even making checkerboards with different types of fish.  How can you do such a thing? Simply apply some transglutaminase on each side of the protein to bind, press the sides together and let it rest refrigerated for a few hours. I like 24 hours but you can go as little as 6 hours but the bonds will not be as strong.

Transglutaminase ‘meat glue’ was introduced into the modernist kitchen by Heston Blumenthal and is currently being used by some of the world best chefs such as Wylie Dufresne to:- Make uniform portions of fish filet, tenderloins, etc that cook evenly, look good, and reduce waste. 

Parsley, Rosemary and Thyme
This next step is mostly a surface treatment but it's an essential step in my opinion. Most people toss herbs in a Sous-Vide bag with the hope that the herbs will somehow make a difference. It's a romantic notion that is a full on bust in my opinion. Most people toss in a sprig of rosemary and or thyme or both with the hope of magic but the only thing that happens is a concentrated flavor on one spot. Having done this many times before I have developed a better technique.

Here's what I do and it works every-time. Whether you are rolling up a a hunk of meat or not it works the same. If you are not rolling up a hunk of meat place the herbs in a large plastic sachet that is not sealed but is folded only. Depending on the size of the meat you might a need few of them (sachets are place in SV bag). If it's a large cylinder you can use my procedure outlined below. This technique ends up perfuming the meat because the juices intermingle with the herbs and spread all over the roast. The meat ends up with an all encompassing aromatic scent. I like to use Parsley, Rosemary and Thyme. Toss in what every you want there are no rules. If you want a garlic flavor toss in some granulated garlic or roasted garlic. Don't use raw garlic!!!! Raw garlic and the temps used during the cook could produce botulism. Ahh but if you want you could roast the garlic which will neutralize the possibility of botulism. 

This is where the shaping of the Chuck Roast takes place. Starting out with a very large and long piece of food grade plastic wrap (I use a 24 inch wide version) I start rolling the Roast very tight using a lot of pressure. I want to form a perfect cylinder. After rolling it twice I sprinkled the herbs directly on the plastic wrap. Again, I used thyme, parsley, and rosemary but you can use whatever you like. 

After the Roast is shaped into a perfect cylinder and is nice and tight I tied both ends off with string. Note: I probably made about 20 evolution's to make this ultra tight. 

 I pierced the plastic wrap with a sausage pricker everywhere. I probably had about 50 injections when I was done. The piercing serves two purposes. It allows for a tighter cylinder and as the roast cooks the herbs perfumes the meat with Herby flavors (yes that is a made up name). I know what you're thinking....How about rolling up the herbs on the outside of the meat? This is also a no no because the herbs will overpower the meat. My indirect approach will allow for subtle fragrances to permeate the roast.

Double vacuumed sealed. I don't trust bags. If you have ever had a bag break while SV'ing you know what I am talking about. It's worth a double bag to avoid the mess and to preserve your SV'd project. Note: this baby is 17.25 inches long and weights a little over 12 lbs. Make sure you have a large cooking vessel.


Ahhh.... the jacuzzi has commenced. Time,Temp and cut are all interconnected not to mention personal preference. So what to do? Yes this is a rhetorical question. 

Surprise surprise over the years I have formed many opinions on this very subject so let me get on my soap box for a moment. If the protein has a lot of connective tissue and lots of fat low temps won't accomplish much at all. Very little fat will be rendered and the connective tissue will not break down. Where you source your meat is also important too? If you have crappy or tough meat this can throw a monkey wrench in the the cooking process.

With that in mind given enough time the fat and connective tissue will render and break down but at what cost? Moisture loss goes up the longer you cook the protein. If you're into tender but dry meat disregard what I wrote. 

Here is an example- Rib-eyes are notorious for having lots of fat (an amazing flavor too) and at times depending on the sourcing lots of connective tissue. My favorite temps for Rib-eyes are 133-135 f and if it's a high quality steak and at least 2 inches thick I might go for a 2 hour cook time which will not sacrifice moisture but will render the fat. If my sourcing was poor I may SV up to 4 hours. Many like low temps and very rare meat and so do I but to render the fat and breakdown connective tissue you would have to SV at 128 f for 16-36 hrs. That long cooking time would dry out the protein in my opinion. Momentarily off my soap box

Personal Preferences For Meat

For the New York Steak with good marbling and very little connective tissue I like 128 f for about 90 minutes depending on thickness but usually nothing more than 2 hrs. For a Fillet 125 f for about 45-60 minutes. Do you see the trend? If the protein is leaner and tender less time is needed. For the Flank-Steak and Flat-Irons I like 133 f for 6-9 hours (if I Warm Age I go for 6 hours). Prime Rib Roast 128 f for 8-16 hours depending on diameter and sourcing. Ahhh.... the magnificent Rib-Eye needs to be cooked at 133-135 f. The Rib-Eye although extremely flavorful has a lot of connective tissue and lots of fat and needs to be cooked at higher temps..... see above. Here is one more example..... Flatiron steaks cooked at 133 f for 6 hours might work for texture and flavor but at 128 f it might take 18-24 hours to achieve the same thing but rest assured it will be dryer. Again these are my personal preferences. 

Along came Chuck......aka the mighty flavorful, connective tissue very fatty Chuck Roast. After reconstructing Chuck I had to come up with a temp. Based on past experiences 136 f was an optimum temp and depending on what texture you desired a minimum of 24 hrs was needed. I SV'd the Roast for exactly 24 hrs and it was awesome. You could go as long as 30-36 but at the 36 hour mark the meat would become to soft in my opinion. I might try 30 hrs next time just to compare but 24 seemed about right for me. 

When the meat came out of the bath I cooled slightly with cold tap water before I proceeded. You could cold shock and finish on another day too. Anyhow this is what it looked like after the the bath. Plastic wrap still on meat. Note: there's going to be a lot of liquid in the bag. This is called the purge. More on this later.... see below.

Some pretty pictures of the reconstructed Chuck Roast. Looks like the meat gloo worked very well. 

I was concerned with the meat unraveling during the next phase so I tied it up just in case. Oh and the meat was dried off with paper towel. If you want the meat to brown (maillard reaction) it has to be dry. Note: to ensure complete drying I placed roast in front of small fan for about 30 minutes.

Next step is the easy one. Come up with a rub or use a bunch of fresh herbs or both.

 You could use fresh herbs or nothing at all. I decided on a rub containing a plethora of seasonings. I used a little butter and a touch of brown sugar to coat the roast and than I sprinkled on the rub. I placed the roast in a smoking hot oven for about 10-12 minutes and it was done. See pictures and review below. 

This is the purge. Place contents of the bag in a microwavable dish and microwave at 45 second intervals until a raft forms. This will be the coagulated proteins clinging together. Strain through cheese cloth, Chinois or a simple paper napkin. Use the strained liquid for gravy/sauce. This is a very concentrated liquid so use accordingly. I would suggest making a traditional sauce/gravy using wine, stock and a roux than tossing in this strained purge as an added bonus. 

Update: you could also Faux Age and Warm age this roast with great results too. If you Warm age I would suggest SV at about 21 hours instead of 24. I would Warm age at 3 hours.