24-Hour Melt-in-Your-Mouth Beef with

Mushroom  Sauce   

    Sous vide cooking allows the meat proteins myosin and collagen to gradually transform and soften (or “denature” as the chemists say) without getting hot enough to denature another protein called actin.

    When actin denatures at 150 ℉, as when meat is braised, beef gets dry.  But a tough piece of beef cooked sous vide between 130 and 140 ℉ for 24 to 48 hours comes out juicy and pink from one end to the other, actin still intact. Beef chuck roast is transformed into something that tastes a lot like prime rib. All it needs is a quick turn in a very hot pan to brown the outside before slicing and serving with the juices that have accumulated in the bag during cooking.

    It’s important to get whatever you are cooking sous vide heated all the way through to the desired temperature within two hours of placing it into the hot water, otherwise, bacteria may have time to create dangerous toxins before they are killed by the heat. For this reason, don’t sous vide frozen beef, or a piece of beef more than 3 inches thick.

    Harmful pathogens ultimately die at the temperatures recommended for sous vide beef, between 130 ℉ (rare beef) and 140 ℉ (medium beef). To prevent pathogens from growing post-cooking, you must consume sous vide food while it is still hot, or quick-chill it in an ice bath and refrigerate or freeze it immediately.

For the Beef:

  1. 2 lbs (approximately) tough beef, i.e., short ribs, chuck roast or steaks, etc., not more than 3 inches thick.

    Trim the meat of silver skin and large external piece of fat. Discard the fat, but reserve any other trimmings for the marinade. Short ribs can be cut into individual ribs, if desired. When the meat is trimmed, cover it and refrigerate while making the marinade.

For the Marinade:

  1. 2 cups water

  2. 1/2 cup soy sauce

  3. 1-1/2 cups apple cider, or apple sauce, or pear sauce (if using apple or pear sauce, make sure it is well-pureed and pourable)

  4. 2 Tbs. mirin

  5. 1 Tbs. cider vinegar

  6. 1Tbs. roasted sesame oil

  7. black pepper, about 4 or 5 turns of the pepper grinder or a large pinch

  8. 2 minced cloves of garlic

  9. 1 small onion, chopped

  10. 1 small carrot, chopped

  11. trimmings from the prepared beef

    Mix all the ingredients together in a pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for ten or fifteen minutes, until the marinade thickens a little. Remove from the heat, strain the marinade into a bowl and discard the solids. Cool the marinade by setting it into a larger bowl of ice water and stirring occasionally.


Cooking the Beef:

  1. salt and pepper

  2. heavy Ziploc plastic bags

  3. 1/2 cup marinade (per bag)

    Fill the sous vide pot halfway with hot water and set the thermostat for 140 ℉ (60 ℃). Bring a kettle of water to a simmer.

    Sprinkle the beef with a little salt and pepper (not too much), then put it into a large heavy-duty Ziploc bag. If you are cooking short ribs, you may use two smaller bags. Pour 1/2 cup of the marinade in with the beef per bag.

    Expel the air from the bag by submerging it in a bowl of water (as described above). Place the sealed beef into another Ziploc bag and expel as much air as possible from the outer bag, too, before sealing it. This step isn’t strictly necessary, but adds an extra layer of protection in case there’s a hole in the first bag.

    Put the beef into the sous vide pot and add simmering water to bring the thermostat back to the proper setting. I like to trap the the top of the bag under the edge of the pot lid, making sure the Ziploc seal is above water level. This prevents any water from getting into the bag, but do make sure all the meat is submerged.

    Over the course of 24 hours, check the thermostat temperature occasionally and move the package of meat around a little every now and then to make sure no hot spots develop in the pot.

    When the meat has cooked for 24 hours (more or less),
remove the bag from the pot. If you are not going to eat it immediately, plunge the still sealed bag into a bowl of ice water to cool it rapidly and then refrigerate. The meat may be refrigerated for a few days at this point. Return it to a sous vide bath of 140 ℉ water until it is heated through before proceeding with the recipe.


To Finish the Beef:

  1. 3 tsps. oil

  2. 8 ounces mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

  3. 1/2 of a 12 oz. bottle of good dark beer such as porter or stout

  4. the remaining marinade

  5. the juice from the cooking bag

  6. 1 Tbs. unsalted butter

  7. salt, pepper and cider vinegar to taste

    An hour or so before the beef is done, heat a heavy saute pan over a medium-high flame, add 2 tsps. of the oil and then saute the mushrooms until they are golden on both sides. If necessary, cook them in two or three batch, otherwise they won’t brown properly.

    Put the cooked mushrooms aside in a warm spot and add the onions to the pan, sauteing them until they are soft but not brown, then pour in the beer and let it bubble for a minute before adding in the rest of the marinade. Let the mixture cook for a few minutes to reduce and thicken, then turn off the flame and set the pan aside until the meat is ready.

    When the beef is removed from the pot, pour the juice from the bag into a large measuring cup and place the meat on a cutting board. Put the pan of sauce back on medium heat and pour the juice from the bag into it. Allow the mixture to simmer and thicken while you sear the beef.

    Heat a cast iron pan over very high heat until it is smoking. Pour the remaining oil onto the pan and tip to spread it around. Add the beef to the pan and sear it quickl
y, just long enough to brown the exterior but not long enough to heat up the interior (if you raise the internal temperature too high, you will toughen the meat).When the beef is seared, set it aside in a warm spot until the sauce is finished.

    Strain the sauce into a pan, bring to a near simmer and whisk in the butter to thicken. Taste the mixture and add salt, pepper and a splash of cider vinegar if you like. Stir in the mushrooms to warm them through and then pour the sauce into a serving bowl.

    Place the sliced meat (or arrange the short ribs) on warm plates and serve covered with the mushroom sauce. Serves 4 - 6.