Hello, my friends, and welcome back to Will It Sous Vide?, the column where I usually make whatever you want me to with my immersion circulator. This week we’re using our precisely controlled water bath to transform something somewhat pedestrian into something quite special.
Earlier this week, when we were discussing what to sous vide next, prime rib won the popular vote. I was all set to sous vide one, but then I realised that a prime rib roast was going to set me back at least 100 bucks. I’m not saying that’s an unreasonable price for such a glorious hunk of flesh, but I thought it might be more helpful to take the slightly tougher chuck and, through the power of sous vide, make it taste like its fancier cousin – a roast that my very clever managing editor dubbed the “prime fib.”
I grew up eating my grandmother’s chuck roast, which I loved, but it was cooked pot roast style, smothered in cream of mushroom and garlic salt, without a hint of pink in sight. This would be different.
So one night, walking back from the gym, I bopped up to the butcher counter at my local overpriced grocery store, and purchased a 2.25kg chuck steak for around 35 bucks which, you must admit, is much easier amount of money to part with. The butcher handed mine to me all trussed up without me having to ask, which was real chill of him because I hate making any sort of request that could read as “difficult.” If, however, your roast does not come pre-trussed, just know that butchers are usually very nice people, and will be happy to truss it for you.
Once I got my glorious meat cylinder home, I attacked it with a whole bunch of salt, then let it hang out in the fridge for 24 hours to season the meat deeply and draw out some moisture. After it had time in the fridge to sit and think about what it had done, gave it a good rubbing with a whole mess of herbs.
Look at that mess.
You don’t need to measure too precisely here, just grab a handful of your favourite fresh herbs – I got sage, rosemary, thyme, and marjoram – remove the tender leaves from the stems, saving the stems for stock, and chuck ’em in the food processor with at least 10 cloves of garlic.
A few stems won’t hurt.
Next, I grabbed a couple of tablespoons of duck fat, threw it a very hot pan, and gave Chucky a good pre-sear to help develop all those delightful Maillard reaction-induced flavours. I then deglazed the pan with about a cup of ruby port, scraping the pan enthusiastically with a wooden turner, and poured that pretty liquid into the food processor with our plant parts.
This was given a good pulsing, and then rubbed all over Chucky.
Finally, it was time to sous vide the sucker. I went with 133℉, because I wanted my prime rib to be just south of medium-rare. If you like a slightly firmer, but still pink slice of glorious red meat, up it to 58 degrees Celsius. Once the bath reached its relatively low temperature, I bagged the ol’ Chuckster up and let him hang out in there for a full 24 hours.
Sleep well, sweet prince.
After a full day of bathing in the warm waters of a circulating bath, Chuck was ready for his primetime debut. I freed him from the suffocating plastic bag – I don’t know when this roast became a “him,” but I’m going with it – patted him off with some paper towels, and seared him yet another time.
Once a nice crust had developed, I transferred our meat loaf of (white) lies to a cutting board, took a deep breath, and sliced.
Listen, cats and kittens, I’ve eaten a lot of prime rib in my life, some good, and some disappointing. This was better than roughly 70 per cent of the prime rib I’ve ordered in various establishments. (It was also 70% cheaper than a true prime rib.) The meat was tender, with the slightest chew, and the fattier regions melted in my mouth. The salt rub had permeated the meat without giving it a corned flavour, and the herbs provided a nice counterbalance to the rich, decadent cut. I strained the juices from the sous vide bag through a sieve, and wouldn’t you know, that was some mighty fine jus. I was pleased, to say the lest.
You don’t need all that jus.
I piled on the horseradish, scooped some mashed potatoes from my Instant Pot, and completely forgot about the carrots I had roasted in an attempt to create a balanced meal. I then ate what some would call “too much red meat,” but I’m pretty comfortable with it.