I’m always looking at improving what I cook and how I cook it. In some cases, there are only so many ways you can do things…like scrambled eggs. That’s a pretty cut and dry cooking technique. However, other foods, like beef for example, have unlimited options when it comes to creating culinary masterpieces.
With beef you can grill it, roast it, pan fry it, slow cook it, sear it, broil it, smoke it, boil it, and so on. Different cuts turn out better if prepared in certain ways but in general, you can pretty much cook beef however you please.
Earlier this year I invested in a side of beef. It filled my entire upright freezer. I stared at some of the cuts wondering how I would prepare them. I typically stuck to cuts I knew and loved so I was really in for an adventure with various roasts and steaks which I knew nothing about.
Things were going well in the beef preparation department until I got to the chuck steaks. They were thin cuts so I figured pan frying would be ideal. Nope – the meat turned out tough even though I only cooked it to rare. Same thing on the grill. And when it was smoked. And when I tried slow cooking the steaks. That darn chuck steak was determined to make me loose some teeth in it! I never once made it through an entire steak because my jaw started hurting.
I had 20 pounds of chuck steak and another 15 pounds in chuck roasts. I just knew I HAD to do something with them, but what?
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Enter, the Sous Vide.
What? You have no clue what I am referring to? Well, neither did I just a few short months ago. While I had heard of the technique, I didn’t know that this was the official name of a cooking method basically involving an extended water bath for foods.
Sous vide (pronounced soo-veed) is a French phrase that is often translated as “under vacuum.” Essentially, you are cooking food in vacuum-sealed pouches, submerged in a water bath held at a precisely controlled temperature. The end result? Perfectly cooked food. And yes, it really is that simple.
In fact, there are only four steps to achieving some of the best food you have ever made and eaten. You season your meal, you seal it up, you submerge and simmer it in the water bath, and you serve it.
Some dishes are slightly more complicated than that. Some meats requiring pan searing at the end to brown them. Some recipes require a bit of work on the front end to create a sauce or marinade. But in general, there is only about 30 minutes of hands on work.
Puerto Rican “Sofrito” Chuck Steak
Ok – onto this recipe. I think you will love it, especially because you can pretty much use any cut of beef for this. However, I chose to use chuck steak since it is a tougher piece of meat that can benefit from sloooooooow cooking.
My Puerto Rican Sofrito Chuck Steak turned out divine! See that picture up there? Talk about TENDER chuck steak. My word! It was melt in your mouth. I have never had that with a chuck steak before.
Sofrito is simply a bold Puerto Rican seasoning blend. Once you have it, you won’t forget it. It is very flavorful but not overpowering. It won’t burn your insides either. 🙂
So let’s get to making this tasty Puerto Rican Sofrito Chuck Steak shall we?
Puerto Rican “Sofrito” Chuck Steak
Yield 4 servings
Chuck steak and it's finest! This slow cooking chuck steak emboldened with the flavors of Puerto Rico will soon become a family favorite.
- 2-3 pounds of chuck steak either in roast form or in 2-3 individual steaks
- 1/2-3/4 cups sofrito
Sofrito Marinade Ingredients:
- 1 large red bell pepper
- 1 large green bell pepper
- 1 large yellow onion
- 1 head of garlic
- 20 recao leaves (optional since they can be hard to find. Most Latin and Asian markets carry them though.)
- 1 bunch of cilantro
- 1/2 cup olive oil or coconut oil (if using coconut oil I would opt for the refined version. Traditional sofrito doesn’t have that coconut flavor.)
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon sea salt (I love this one)
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- Juice of one lemon
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Slice the peppers into four parts. If using the aji dulce peppers, cut them in half.
- Peel and slice the onion into 8 parts.
- Peel and pull apart the garlic.
- Place peppers, onion, and garlic on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
- Chop up the recao leaves and cilantro.
- Place ALL of the sofrito ingredients in a food processor or high powered blender and process until it looks like chunky salsa.
Puerto Rican Sofrito Chuck Steak Directions:
- Rinse your chuck steaks or chuck roast under cool water and pat dry with paper towels.
- Using a sharp tipped knife, make about a dozen tiny little punctures in the roast/steaks. You do not want a through-and-through puncture. Just barely nick the meat.
- Rub both sides of the meat with the sofrito mixture, using about 1/4 cup per pound of meat.
- Vacuum seal as per the directions on the Sous Vide vacuum sealer.
- Set your Sous Vide Supreme to 138 degrees F.
- Once the water has heated, place the roast/steaks in the Sous Vide Supreme. Let them have a nice water bath for 24-48 hours. I typically take mine out around the 36 hour mark.
- You can pan sear or quickly (1 minute per side) grill the steaks to get that nice “steak” color. This isn’t mandatory but most people aren’t used to the pink steak color.
Please note that this is the family friendly version. I left out the super-hot, fire in your mouth Aji dulce peppers. If you would like to use them and increase the heat, go right on ahead. This recipe makes enough sofrito for about 6-8 pounds of meat. I freeze the leftovers to use later.