One of my favorite things about going to a good barbeque joint or smoking my own meat is the crispy pieces around the edges. A common restaurant appetizer is “burnt ends” made from smoked brisket. So far my own smoked brisket has been less than spectacular and I have been looking for a way to make the beef consistently good.
I wanted to try a combination of sous vide cooking and smoking to get the best of both worlds with a more predictable outcome. The idea was to use sous vide to cook the meat, break down the connective tissue with the smoking for flavor and caramelization. However, a search turned up only a few recipes of this sort with huge variability of cooking technique. So I decided to experiment on my own. This recipe was an absolute success. It yielded succulent tender beef with a nice smoke flavor (and smoke ring) and caramelized exterior.
Ingredients and prep
- 3-4 lbs beef chuck roast, slit along fat lines and cut into 2″ pieces
- 1/4 c Chili powder
- 2 tsp Colmans dry mustard powder
- 1.5 tsp Turmeric powder
- 1 Tbsp Granulated garlic
- 1 Tbsp Dried onion, freshly crushed (I don’t like onion powder)
- 1/2 c Brown sugar
- 4 slices Bacon cut to 1″ lengths (bacon ends and scraps work well here)
Mix the above ingredients and rub into the beef pieces.
Place everything into a bag ready for sealing for sous vide cooking including the left over rub.
- Add 1/4 c Worcestershire sauce and toss (adding it earlier makes a mess)
Vacuum seal the bag
Cook in the hot water bath at 155F for 24 hours. Cover the pan or add water every 8-12 hours as there will be significant evaporation.
Remove the pieces and cut the biggest ones so nothing is more than 1″ thick. Smoke on indirect heat at 200F for 4 hours . I use a Big Green Egg and put the conveggtor down under the grate. Keep the pieces away from the direct heat at the edges or they will burn.
Chill the juices and skim the fat. Then reduce the liquid until it is about the consistency of BBQ sauce. This took about 1 hour in a large glass baking dish at 350 in the oven (stir once or twice).
Remove the pieces from the smoker and cut down to max 1″ pieces per side. Lightly stir them into the reduced liquid and the brush with your favorite BBQ sauce (we use Sweet Baby Ray’s). Bake at 350 convect or put on the grill again for another 30 min. This will caramelize the sauce and meat edges. Be careful this will burn easily at this point.
The reason for incrementally cutting up the meat was to have it neither dry out or crumble to nothing. Chuck roast is really a mixed bag of meat muscle types all rolled into one and it is hard to have the leaner portions and fatty portions get done nicely and all stay together if you immediately cut to 1″ pieces.
At the start, I had wondered if there would be a visible smoke ring on the pre-cooked meat and there was – nice bright pink. Plus the smoky flavor came through nicely, which was probably helped by the sweet rub. I used several chunks of cherry wood 3″ diameter branches for the smoke (well soaked due to the rain).
Serve and enjoy
Having some of the candied jalapenos to go with them just adds to the sweet and tangy flavor. Some fresh baked bread (I did a sourdough whole wheat / rye combo) is great to sop up the sauce.