So you got your first sous vide machine, and you are ready to copy all the great chefs on your next dinner party. You’ve chosen the sides, invested in good wine, and now you just need to decide on the evening’s star: the perfect cut of meat to sous vide. This should be something thick and juicy, cooked to a perfect medium rare, and releasing its sweet aroma all around your sun porch.
Clearly, this is not a task for the meat on the clearance section!
So what is the best cut of meat to sous vide? The answer is filet mignon because of its tender fibers and medium fat content. However, you can also get outstanding results if you sous vide ribeye or New York strip steak.
Best Cuts of Meat for Sous Vide Cooking
What makes for tender steak? In addition to precise cooking, the key is on getting a cut of meat that has long, soft muscle fibers. These are usually better at keeping their moisture rather than drying up. Plus, the longer fibers generally keep their texture better.
Below, we have ranked each different cut of steak according to the quality of the result. We have also included the suggested time and temperature to help you cook it to perfection.
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Usually considered the tenderest cut of meat, filet mignon or beef tenderloin comes from the psoas muscle. This is located towards the back of the spine. It is a relatively lean part of the co that doesn’t hold much weight, which keeps the muscle from becoming excessively hardened. This is why it’s also one of the most expensive cuts out there.
To cook a filet mignon, set the water temperature at 132° F for two to three hours. This should still leave the center rare and will not overcook the exterior.
Ribeye steak comes from the area between the shoulder and the start of the tenderloin. This is a greasier part of the cow, which makes it smell buttery when grilled or seared. It is also a superb cut for sandwiches, as the extra fat will provide you with abundant juices in which to soak your bread.
Ribeye steak should be cooked at 129° F for just two hours.
New York Strip Steak
Sometimes also known as Kansas City steak, the New York Strip comes from the short loin section – right behind the more prized filet mignon.
This is a marbly cut of meat, and while still quite a tender cut, it is also larger than the filet mignon. Because of this, it can be cut into different shapes and thicknesses. When deboned, it is usually about an inch and a half thick and should be cooked at 130° F for two hours.
Its close cousin, the porterbone or T-bone steak, is essentially a strip steak still attached to the bone. It can be up to two inches thick and may need up to three hours to cook at the same temperature.
The cuts mentioned above are simply the most prized and delicate ones, but they are not the only options for your sous vide experiments.
Short ribs are also a popular choice, although they require you to plan in advance: full of fat and connective tissue, their best version is when they are tenderized and full of moisture. However, this requires cooking them at 145° F for up to 36 hours.
For quicker dinners, more modest sous vide flank steaks are also a readily available choice. It will only need an hour and a half for 132° F. As flank steak can get unpleasant if cooked beyond medium, make sure the cooking times don’t exceed two hours.
Pro Tips for the Perfect Medium Rare Steak
If you are investing in a premium cut of meat and need to impress your guests, then it’s best to take every precaution to ensure you don’t waste it. There are two more skills required to master sous vide steaks.
Before you start cooking your chosen cuts of meat, you need to ensure there is no air around the meat. The easiest way to do this is with a vacuum sealer: simply surround the beef with the plastic and let the machine do the rest of the work.
If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, you can use the immersion technique to replicate the effect. For this, you will need Ziploc plastic bags and a large container of water.
- Place the meat inside the bag
- Press most of the air out of the bag
- Partially close the bag, leaving a thumb-sized corner open
- Hold the bag by the open corner
- Slowly, start immersing the meat inside the water container, so it pushes the air out
- As you approach the open corner, continue immersing the bag and close the bag right before it goes underwater.
The tricky part is to ensure no water gets inside the plastic bags. It may take a few goes, and you will need to pat the meat dry after each failed attempt. If this is too complicated, consider any of these chamber vacuum sealers.
After you have finished cooking the steaks, there is one more extra step before they look just like grilled steaks: searing. This will lightly burn the top of the meat and release those sweet meaty aromas that everyone is expecting.
Before you sear the steaks, let them rest for at least 10 minutes, so they are at room temperature. Then, place them on a hot iron skillet for 30 seconds or less per side.
Perfectly cooked sous vide steaks are actually pretty easy to make – or at the very least, much easier than grilled ones. If you are eager to explore what sous vide has to offer, check out the best sous vide machine out there.