48-hour sous-vide top round beef

Seared and sliced 48 hour top round  1

When choosing meat, not all cuts are created equal. Depending on what part of the animal that a piece of meat comes from, there will be varying amounts of fat, different types of proteins, and, most importantly, different textures when cooked. That’s why some cuts of meat cost more than others. The most succulent, tender cuts, such as the tenderloin or rib, are most expensive.

Consequently, if you want a really great steak, you would normally have to invest in a pricey cut of beef. Thanks to sous-vide cooking however, it’s possible to turn even the toughest, cheapest cut of beef into a soft, delicate steak. If you don’t know what sous-vide cooking is yet, visit this post for a brief overview.

I decided to test the limits of sous-vide by buying a cheap, tough cut of beef—the top round—and cook it sous-vide for a really long time, just to see how much the meat will soften.To compare sous-vide cooking to traditional methods, my dad incorporated part of the top round beef into a stew (see below). The beef was cooked by light boiling.

Top round asparagus romaine potato stew

Run-of-the-mill Korean spicy soup


Boiling severely dried out the meat, but gave an impression of what the beef would feel like cooked traditionally. While the stew itself packed a mild, delectable flavor, the beef felt expectedly tough and dry.

48 hour top round cooking sous vide

Earl's DIY constant temperature water bath, sous-vide setup

Cooked sous-vide for 48-hours at 133ºF, the top round beef melted into an extraordinarily soft slab of meat. I could easily pull pieces of the beef off, and the meat succumbed effortlessly to the pressure of my mouth. Admittedly, the beef felt a tad dry, though nowhere near the amount of the boiled meat. The taste was impeccable. Being packed with seasoning for 48 hours causes the beef to soak in the flavor of the seasoning like a brand new sponge.

48 hour top round pre sear

48-hour top round fresh out the bag

48-hour top round beef, due to its extreme—almost mushy—soft mouthfeel, works well as a component of salads, sandwiches, and wraps as long as you sear them beforehand for a nice crust. The picture immediately above depicts the beef fresh out of its sous-vide bag, pre-sear.

Seared and sliced 48 hour top round

Seared and sliced 48-hour top round

Un-seared, the beef looks unappetizing, but seared, the beef looks like a fine piece of steak. Below is a picture of the top round before it’s cooked but while it’s in a vacuum sealed bag.

Vacuum packed top round beef with hand

Size comparison of top round with my hand

As you can see by my hand, the slab of meat I used was huge.

Recipe: 48-hour top round beef

  • Top round beef
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  1. Set water bath between 130-136ºF. The lower the temperature, the redder the meat.
  2. Season meat liberally with salt and pepper.
  3. Vacuum pack meat in single layer.
  4. Place in water bath once desired temperature has been reacher. Let sit for 48 hours.
  5. Take meat out of vacuum sealed pouch. Pat dry with paper towels.
  6. Blowtorch or pan sear.

About Earl

Hi, my name is Earl. I am a student who loves to analyze food and eat healthy. My careful eye for food has caused me to become interested in the science behind food and cooking, and I write about my explorations into food on my website Toastable.com. While I believe in sticking to whole, natural foods, I'm not afraid to work with avant-garde ingredients and equipment such as constant temperature water baths and sodium alginate. I also love photography, technology, and journalism.

20. June 2011 von Earl
Categories: Molecular Gastronomy, Recipes, Reviews | Tags: , , | 1 comment

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