Butchers! Get Behind Sous Vide.

Butchers should love sous vide. They should be actively promoting the cooking method. They could, if they had the wit, see that the saving of their dying craft is tied to innovation. Domestic sous vide is such an innovation and could help on a path to profitability. Using sous vide, one can turn out a spectacular steak in just over an hour. I can turn out a spectacular steak in a lot less time without sous vide. Granted, the SV steak may be a bit tastier and a bit more tender. But, this is not where Sous Vide really shines.

The sous vide cooking method allows home cooks turn cheaper cuts of meat into outstandingly tasty, tender, juicy joints. It makes “awesome” both possible and affordable. That should be great news for independent butchers.

The proof of the sous videing is in the eating, if you will pardon the metaphorical mashup. To demonstrate, I cooked a Ball of the Round joint (ask your butcher) sous vide for 24 hours at 54°C (130°F).

The joint needed a bit of tying too.


  • 3 kilo (6lb) Ball of the Round joint
  • 3 teaspoons of sea salt
  • 3 teaspoons of mixed peppercorns
  • A handful of fresh thyme

Pat the joint with the salt and peppercorns.  Place the thyme all around the joint.

There’s lots of flavour in that mixture.

Vacuum seal the joint. I like to double seal. Place the joint into a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds or so. Then place the joint in the sous vide for 24 hours.

Double sealed to be on the safe side.

The joint looks pretty awful before de-bagging. Remove it from the bag, being careful to save the juices. Pat dry, remove the thyme and brown the joint on a frying pan.

How can something so awful looking taste so good?

You can make a delicious sauce by frying a couple of shallots, adding some beef stock and a glass of red wine. Reduce this down a little before gently adding the bag juices and seasoning. Happy days!

All you’ll need for a lovely sauce.

Carve the joint and serve with your favourite vegetables. This tasted about as good as any rib roast I have ever eaten.

The joint tasted as good as it looked. You’ll agree it looked great!

This is a budget joint that tastes as good as it gets. This part of the beast would traditionally end up in burgers or as stewing steak. Promoting both these joints and sous vide can add sales and margin for hard pressed butchers. By having a more educated customer base, any butcher worth their salt can generate interest in more parts of the beast. That becomes a self sustaining and sensible business strategy. Oh, it tastes great too.

Winter parsnips and some floury potatoes make great partners for this beautiful beef.

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Latest comments
  • It virtually demands in-store demonstrations, doesn’t it? Prepping, flavouring and sealing, and then the ‘here’s one I prepared earlier’, followed by the final browning and sauce making…. I bet the smell alone would bring the passing trade in.

  • Great point about the Sous Vide and steaks. I agree that Sous Vide makes a great steak, but I think what puts most people off is the cost of the device, the time (as you said, you can make a great steak much faster), and that people aren’t used to the interior consistency. I grew up eating all my meat with a more cooked exterior and a lesser cooked interior (unless my mother was cooking it and then it was done all the way through!). I served my brother a Sous Vide steak and I could see the conflict within him. He like the flavor, but was having trouble understating how the meat was the same doneness all the way through. That’s why roasts are perfect for Sous Vide as you said (and yours looks great!). Anyone that was turned off by dry roasts in the past, will surely come to love again after trying one prepared this way!

  • Awesome post! Now, what is the rationale behind dropping the bag in boiling water for 30 seconds? I am intrigued….

  • That looks delicious!

  • Conor – this does look beautifully cooked and very moreish indeed and I do hope you can get that conversation going with ‘the butchers’ . . . . Well, my ‘excuse’ this time around is my lifelong disinterest in roasts, so that beautiful meat would end up in a curry or a tagine out this way . . . 🙂 !

  • thnaks for the post.

  • Hi Conor, season’s greetings (excuse the pun)! Definitely my last .

    Quick question what bags and pot/container are you using for the bigger cuts? Are you asking your butcher to vacuum seal? Guess this wouldn’t allow for the seasoning in advance .



  • Your Ball of the Round roast looks amazingly good. I’ve now gotten my Anova (at your recommendation) and made a few cooks and I’m looking to make a long one. This looks to fill the bill, but I don’t think my Swedish butcher will know the cut of beef. Is this the portion of the round around the hip to leg joint?

  • Well Ron asked and you answered the question on the cut of meat. We get an eye of round here that looks similar to a tenderloin cut. It must be just part of the joint you cooked. Happy New Year and I’m looking forward to more wonderful sous vide recipes from you.

  • hi.
    since names and cuts are different buy country ,if i may ask i add a link beef cuts , http://omgbeef.com/IsraeliBeefCuts/israeli.html , can you say what is your cut .thanks

  • I guess I will never understand the fascination with cooking meat in a plastic bag, but your roast is no doubt spectacular!

      • I have tried it, when I worked in restaurants. It definitely has some advantages for commercial kitchens, though in too many cases it makes people lazy and cut corners. Still not convinced enough to get one for home use. Guess I’m old fashion! But to each his own. 🙂

  • thanks

  • thanks . that clear now

  • great way to cook beef

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