Beef shoulder, also known as the top blade roast, has great marbling (intramuscular fat) and therefore great flavor. It has a drawback, which is a thick central muscle sheath that is very tough. If that sheath is removed then the resulting cut is called flat iron steak (in the US; butlers’ steak in the UK, oyster blade steak in Australia/NZ), but that steak is tougher because it is not cut against the grain. When cut across the grain, the resulting cut is called (top) blade steak and that is what you see in the picture. In the Netherlands this is known as sukadelappen, because when you braise this cut then the sheath will end up with a texture that reminds one of candied citron (called sukade in Dutch). Although blade steak is more tender than flat iron steak because it is cut across the grain, it does have the thick and tough muscle sheath in the center that doesn’t make it very suitable to be served as a steak. Unless of course you cut out the muscle sheath and glue the meat back together with transglutaminase. And that is exactly what I did 🙂
I wrote already how you can save money with sous-vide by buying cheap tough cuts and turning them into a tender juicy steak by slow and precise cooking. The sukadelappen shown in the first picture were on sale for only 8 euros per kilo (US$ 4.50/lb). Notice the great marbling? Cooked sous-vide for only 12 hours at 55ºC/131ºF it became just like a rib eye steak (or perhaps even better) that would cost 30 euros per kilo. Notice how nicely pink the meat is all the way to the edge? Here’s how I managed that.
I seared them very briefly (less than a minute per side) in clarified butter over very high heat. Clarified butter gives better flavor, better browning, and less splattering than oil and it doesn’t burn like regular butter would.
The browning after sous-vide cooking has three purposes: it looks better, it adds flavor, and it heats up the outside of the steak so it won’t cool off as quickly. (This is important with meat that is cooked sous-vide, as it is only 55ºC/131ºF to begin with, which is not that hot.)
I wrapped the meat in aluminum foil to let it rest, and I poured most of the fat out of the frying pan. Then I deglazed the pan with red wine, scraping with a wooden spatula to get the nice brown bits from browning the meat into the sauce.
…it was a nice and thick sauce. Since I was aiming for a thick and dark sauce, there was no need to worry about adding the sous-vide bag juices to the sauce.
Beef with such a full flavor and strong sauce can handle a pretty hefty red wine without a lot of oak from new barriques such as a Shiraz/Syrah, a Bordeaux, a Barolo or a red from the South of Italy.
This ginger and honey ice cream is Kees’ favorite homemade ice cream flavor, so I keep making it. The candied ginger that is required for it is available in every Dutch supermarket, but may be more difficult to find elsewhere. I should probably try to make my own candied ginger and post the recipe…