Best Cheap Meat To Sous Vide

So, you are asking yourself, what meat is cheap anymore? Understanding that “cheap meat” is relative to the times and fads, there are meats that are considered “cheap”.

But this is generally due to their toughness and taste, not due to their quality or ability to be cooked well. Depending on the cooking methods used, less desirable cuts can be turned into yummy, juicy, tender meat to add to your dinner tonight.

There is a fantastic little machine that works brilliantly in your kitchen. It is called a Sous Vide. Maybe you already have one, or perhaps you just got one and are new to Sous Vide cooking. No matter what your situation, this article is for you! Cheap meats can be turned into gold with a Sous Vide.

When I first acquired my Sous Vide, cooking prime steak sous vide was all I could think of. I went to the store and purchased so many excellent steak cuts like tenderloin and Filet Mignon. I walked out of the store excited but short a chunk of change. Most people can’t always buy the prime cuts that they would like, but that doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice taste or tenderness.

You just need to be aware of the cuts of meat you are cooking and ensure that you follow the ideal cooking time and temperature for that meat.

Let’s take a moment to talk about several different cuts of meat that may be a bit cheaper to purchase than the more tender cuts of beef. Many of these cuts are excellent steak sous vide way.

Skirt Steak

Generally, when steak cooked Sous Vide, we are looking to purchase a cut of beef that is at least an inch thick. This steak definitely requires this. The thickness will help prevent it from turning rubbery and leather-like, especially with a naturally tough piece of meat like this. This cut also has a lot of connective tissue, adding to its toughness. But, the cool thing about this steak is the strong taste of beef it is known for. Cooking Skirt Steak at a low temperature for an extended period of time helps break apart all those fibers and gives you a great piece of meat that is ready for anything!

The other great thing about this steak is that it needs little flavoring. The natural beefy flavor only needs some salt and pepper in the bag with it, prior to going through the vacuum sealer process. You can also add some aromatics like Rosemary or Thyme. If you are looking to really infuse your meat with some intense flavors, this meat can be marinated for short amounts of time to achieve this.

Ideally, you want your steak to be a medium rare cook, so the cook time on an inch cut would be a temperature of 135 degrees for 1 to 3 hours. Just keep in mind, the longer the steak cooks, the more the texture of the meat will dissolve.

Strip Steak

Strip steak is commonly cooked on the grill or in a skillet and is a more tender cut of meat than some of the others I mention. But, it can be excellent for Sous Vide cooking. The strip is usually a thinner piece of meat that doesn’t take a lot to prepare. These steaks are great if you want a steak that chews and tastes like a steak.

They are usually boneless and should have some marbling. You can see this by looking at the steak and finding small, white pieces within it, almost looking like lines. That is the marbling. When the steak is cooked, the marbling will meld into the rest of the steak, creating the steaky beef flavor that you are craving.

This steak is cooked at 135 degrees for 1 to 3 hours. This is for a medium rare steak. These cuts of beef are ideal for adding to dishes such as a steak salad, stir fry’s, or my favorite…fajitas!

Chuck Roast

Chuck roasts? Absolutely! Chuck roasts are perfect for sous vide cooking. Chuck roasts are known to be tough cuts of beef, and what better way to soften someone, I mean a piece of meat up, than with a Sous Vide. However, this is not a cut of beef that you will cook in an hour. To get great results with this cut, you must cook it for several hours, meaning right around 24 hours at a temperature of 136 degrees. This will allow for the meat to tenderize. It needs this time to break down the muscle fibers and connective tissue, allowing for soft, tender meat.

Chuck roasts have marbling that will add to their flavor.

As with the cuts above, place the meat in a bag and season. Again, salt and pepper will do fine for this cut, but feel free to season with garlic and rosemary to add some more in-depth flavoring. Whatever you season with, be generous. The seasoning will only enhance the flavor of the meat. Once you season, vacuum seal the bag and either let it marinade for a few to several hours or get it cooking.

Short Ribs

Finally, my last mention and what is for dinner tonight at my house…ribs. I love short ribs. Are they really ribs? No, it is from the meat in between the ribs, and they are cut into strips to resemble ribs. This cut is the fattiest of my choices and probably the most flavorful of all.

These ribs are a cut that, like the chuck roast, needs many hours to cook to reach its full potential. By the time I get home for dinner tonight, mine will have cooked for about 30 hours. The cooking time and temperature will depend on how you want your ribs to turn out. Do you want them to be more of a braised rib or more like a steak?

A steak-like rib will need a cook time of about 48 to 72 hours to cook at 131 degrees. For the fall-apart braised texture of these ribs, you will want a cook time of about 12 to 24 hours at 176 degrees.

The amazing thing about these ribs is that after the cook, you can use the juices as a sauce over the meat and side. I will be having mine with rice tonight. Yum!

A note about cooking over long hours:

Since the Sous Vide relies on the temperature of the water to cook the cut of meat in an even and thorough way, keep an eye on the water levels. There will be some evaporation of the water, and depending on how much evaporates, you could hear alarms from your Sous Vide in the middle of the night.

You don’t want that water level to get below the ideal level line. Once that happens, the heat doesn’t circulate around the water correctly, which could lead to your meat being cooked unevenly.

To avoid this, use a water bath container that is well insulated and has a well-fitted lid that comes with it. If you don’t have a lid, use aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Not only will this reduce water loss, but it will keep your Sous Vide machine from working harder than it has to.

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