Sous-vide Rib Steak finished on the BBQ

 

Once a year Kees throws an overnight party on our boat with about 25 friends, which involves a BBQ, a lot of beer, and a lot of fun. This year I decided to tag along (drinking wine rather than beer) and had a great time as well. I brought along 5 kilograms (11 lbs) sous-vide pre-cooked beef that was finished on the BBQ that was a big hit. All of it was devoured in five minutes. It was good quality marbled Irish beef, but since it was a cut that can usually only be prepared as a braise or a stew, it was inexpensive. I believe this cut is called prime rib in the USA, but I’m not completely sure. It may also be the rib end of chuck. It’s called “riblappen” in Dutch. Towards the sirloin, the center of a “riblap” is a ribeye steak.

Since it is Irish beef, there just had to be a gratuitous beef shot in this post. And this is it: 5 steaks of nicely marbled prime Irish beef, about 1 kilogram (35 oz) each.

 

Each steak was seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper and then vacuum sealed.

 

My sous-vide water bath was filled to maximum capacity! I cooked the beef at 39.5C/103F for one hour, 49.5C/121F for one hour, and 55C/131F for four hours. The first two hours are to activate the enzymes in the meat to make it more tender, a process that I call “warm aging“. Different types of enzymes are most active just before the meat reaches 40C/104F and 50C/122F respectively. The latter four hours are not only to pasteurize the meat and cook it perfectly medium rare throughout, but also to tenderize it a bit more.

 

The steaks do release some juices when cooked this way. These juices can be used for a sauce or soup.

 

I patted the steaks dry with paper towels, let them cool off for half an hour to avoid overcooking them, and rubbed them lightly with olive oil for better browning.

 

The steaks were then seared briefly over very hot charcoal. I used grilling grids because this made it much easier to turn the steaks without letting them fall apart. Since they were already cooked to a perfect medium rare throughout, only visual inspection from the outside was needed to decide when to finish grilling.

 

I carved the meat with a sharp knife, seasoned with a bit of salt, and passed it round. It disappeared within minutes.

 

11 thoughts on “Sous-vide Rib Steak finished on the BBQ

  1. Pingback: Paella made with Stock from Rotisserie Chicken Leftovers | Stefan's Gourmet Blog

  2. It’s reassuring to see that I’m not alone in my struggle to figure out the American names for Dutch cuts of meat. I thought it was a brisket steak, but those are in the 24 hours at 80c to 72 hours at 63c range. I guess that would turn out bad?

    If you would skip the “warm aging” step, how would you cook “riblappen” sous vide?

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    • Hoi Gerben,
      Brisket is called “puntborst” in Dutch. It is not usually displayed by butchers, but if you ask for it you should be able to get it. It is great sous-vide for 48 hours at 57C. See also https://stefangourmet.com/2012/12/23/smoked-brisket-sous-vide/ The temperatures you mention are more suitable for “stooflappen” (called chuck in the US), but even then you would be overcooking in my opinion.
      24 hours at 80C or 72 hours at 63C would definitely be overcooking for “riblappen”.
      It depends a bit on the quality of the riblappen, but I would try 4-8 hours at 55C first. If the meat is not tender enough, you can always go 12 hours at 55C or even 24 if needed. The warm aging will work very well, give it a try.
      The inside piece of riblappen is actually the ribeye. What you can do is trim away the outside and use it for another dish, and then serve the inside ribeye as a very tasty tender steak. That would only need 2 hours at 55C or even 50C if you like it on the rare side of medium rare.
      Good luck and let me know what happens.

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      • Hi Stefan,

        I actually tried at 56c for 7-8 hours today and then salted, peppered and seared in clarified butter. I wasn’t too impressed, the taste wasn’t bad but it certainly didn’t have a lot of flavor to it. Some of the connective tissue was still rough. And if there is a ribeye in there, I don’t understand the fuss – to me there seems to be a lot more flavor in a biefstuk than a ribeye.

        I tend to prefer beef on the rare to medium rare side (50 to 53c) which I don’t think I can get away with on the fattier cuts anyway, so I’m going to try some leaner Dutch cuts (which I seem to prefer over the fattier ones) and see what I can get from those. Bieflappen is next, which according to http://slagerijlotgering.nl/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Waar-zit-wat-Rundvlees.png would either be a chuck eye roast or a flank steak I think.

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        • Hi Gerben,
          The quality of the beef makes a bigger difference than the cut. Usually a fattier cut has more flavor and usually ribeye has more fat (and thus flavor) than a sirloin steak (“biefstuk”). But “biefstuk” is not a well defined cut that can come from different parts of the cow. And of course supermarket meat will usually have less flavor than the same cut from a reputable butcher.
          You are right that you can’t get away with 50 to 53C on the fattier cuts — those cuts also have more connective tissue that will need a longer time to become tender and you can’t go above 3-4 hours at temperatures below 54.5C (for food safety reasons). 48 hours at 57C seems to work very well for many beef cuts with more connective tissue.
          “Bieflappen” are not a very well defined cut — in the picture you linked, the number “1” is shown twice in very different spots. I think that bieflap in general means a low-fat cut that is not as tender as steak but does not need to be braised (i.e. not draadjesvlees).
          I think bieflap would definitely benefit from warm aging.
          Good luck!
          Stefan

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          • Hi Stefan,

            I will definitely try your method this week!

            As for temperatures, if you look at Modernist Cuisine page 192 of volume 1 it points out for steaks and roasts that temperature should be held at time specified in Extended and Simplified table. That table actually starts at 52c (which is the Extended part). In Vol 3 page 79 in the part about collagen, cooking below 55c is also mentioned but it would obviously take more time. On the next page 52c is mentioned as the minimum temperature to start the transformation.

            So far my best steaks (biefstuk) were done 52.7c between 2.5 to 5 hours; now those were simple lean cuts that were seared on all sides, but I am thinking that if core temperature is held at 53c for 3.5h it will still be fine for any type of beef as per the Extended table. Add 1 hour at 39.5 and 1 hour at 49.5 as per your warm aging method and it should work out great. For beef I think this is still well within food safety limits, though I don’t know how the fat in fattier cuts will come out with this temperature.

            Thoughts? Thanks! 🙂

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  3. Hi Stefan,

    Tried this also according your suggestions and it was great!
    Interesting how simple and cheaper meat like riblappen can feel like ribeye.
    The grilling needs some attention, because the Maillard effect starts very quick and tends to black soon.
    That’s a pity, because I would have liked to have is a little bit more crispy. What would you suggest to get this?
    Without getting the meat to dry of course, which was almost a fact.

    Best regards,

    Frans

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Frans,

      For a bit more crispy it is probably better to use a very hot frying pan with clarified butter.
      To prevent the meat from drying out or ending up overcooked, allow it to cool a bit first. You don’t want the core temperature getting higher than 55C. You could even allow it to cool completely and then cook like a regular steak (over very high heat, and then allow to rest). That way you do get the crust and tenderness of a regular steak, with the additional flavor from using riblappen. However, you will get a thicker layer of overcooked meat on the outside. So this works best with a thick steak of at least 2 cm.
      Let me know how it goes.
      Best regards,
      Stefan

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