New Member...Cooking an Inside Top Round Beef

Hello, I am a new member. I apologize in advance if this is not the correct forum, it seemed it was from the menu of options. Also, happy to find this community, thank you!

I own a restaurant and we specialize in roast beef sandwiches, very rare and cut thin and served on a bulky rolls. The beefs weigh about 10-12lbs each. Since my cooker isn’t big enough, I cut the beef in 1/4’s. I then use a ziplock bag and vacuum seal via the water method.

My queston is, I am not too sure if I’m cooking it correctly as far as time goes and how do I find the answer to that? I first tried 125 for 4 hours, but it seemed too rare. I am cooking another one now for 3 hours at 135.

The issue is, i can’t find any advice for beef this thick (about 4"). All the information for beef cuts seems more geared toward your traditional cuts.

Any advice as far as cooking time and also if you have any suggestions for bigger sous vide cookers knowing what I’m trying to achieve.


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What are you using for your cooker?

Should not be an issue cooking that size in a cooler or steam table.

125F for 4 hours is not safe.

What is your goal? Short cooking time, correct results, extend shelf life?

Get yourself a good needle probe. Should not take you long to determine your time based on your average typical cut at a consistent starting temp. Just test for internal temp.

Look at Baldwin for details on thicker pieces of meat

It is not safe to cook below 130° for longer than 2 hours. For rare I stay in the 130°-133° range.

Beef Master, Welcome to your SV Community Forum.

Excuse my bluntness. You should not be serving the public without attaining a high degree of culinary competency and food safety knowledge. You could be exposing your customers to serious health risks. A 4" thick piece of meat will not be completely cooked at 135ᴼF in 3 hours

Please stop what you are currently doing, take John’s advice, and using Baldwin’s tables replan your sandwich beef production technique.

Fundamental elements of successful restaurant operation include attention to details and equipment use knowledge. You need to acquire more of both and i want to help you.

You are experiencing difficulty finding advice for SV cooking 4" thick cuts of beef because it’s not recommended. Please refer to Baldwin.

You might consider breaking down the beef into 3-inch thick pieces along seams in the muscle group whenever possible. All pieces should be of the same thickness. Lengths don’t matter as long as the pieces fit in your cooking vessel. Remove any visible connective tissue to improve your guests’ eating experience. You can get the same size slices as before by thinly slicing the 3" thick beef on the bias.

If you don’t want to vacuum seal your meat be sure to use the high quality large or extra-large Zip-Loc Freezer Bags. Storage bag seals are unreliable for cooking. Many commercial SV cooks use large Cambro storage containers or convert insulated cooler chests for SV cooking. Both are approved for foodservice use. The Coleman 48-can Party Stackers are particularly successful. There are ample details with pics here in your Forum.

Quality is always what your guests say it is. How tender do they like their beef? I recommend discovering optimum tenderness by cooking four or more 3’ thick pieces of meat together at 131ᴼF (Medium-Rare) and sequentially removing single pieces at 6 hour intervals. Before cooking identify each piece by writing the numbers 6 - 12 - 18 - 24 - 30, - and so on with a wide permanent marker to identify cooking times for each respective piece. Remove each piece and ice bath chill ( see Baldwin ) and refrigerate each test piece. When ready to evaluate get some helpers to assist you in taste testing each sample and arriving at a consensus of the ideal doneness and its associated cooking time. A few willing frequent customers participating would be useful. You supply the beer.

I suggest to avoid waste you can repack and cook the 6 and 12 hour pieces to completion. Be sure to re-label them for consistency.

I have posted here many times on advance SV cooking techniques for foodservices. You might find some useful ideas by following my past contributions.

Please advise us on the outcome of your tests to provide guidance to others. Thank you.

Stay safe and keep well.

Thanks for the feedback. I am def going to get that book. The cuts I am using are actually 3”, I didn’t measure the cut first time around. See picture attached.

Could you elaborate on this: “Quality is always what your guests say it is. How tender do they like their beef? I recommend discovering optimum tenderness by cooking four or more 3’ thick pieces of meat together at 131ᴼF (Medium-Rare) and sequentially removing single pieces at 6 hour intervals.”

Are you saying to cook a 3” cut for up to or more than 6 hours?

Also, in order to know the internal temperature has hit the safe zone I am going to need to probe it, correct?

By the way, full disclosure, I have no intention of serving to public until I have mastered the techniques including all safety measures. I should have said that before, my apologies.

Obviously if I probe I need to repackage if it needs to cook longer…assume this is how everyone checks internal beef temperature? Thanks.

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Beef Master, Doug Baldwin’s book (2004) is a solid piece of work that’s still relevant. Or avail yourself of his website material.

Ok, the meat is 3" thick in the centre. I won’t mention the importance of details again. Nice looking cut of meat by the way.

This is a SV cooking forum, not a consulting assignment, and there’s folks here that become upset with tangential discussions. So all i’ll say is that Quality starts with your understanding of your customer’s expectations. How can you systematically exceed them if you don’t know them? Customer loyalty is fundamental to business growth and success. Loyalty is derived from their comfort and satisfaction by your meeting or exceeding expectations. Guesswork and hope won’t provide a solid foundation for your business.

It’s easy to say don’t serve your customers tough meat. Your challenge is achieving an understanding of their expected degree of doneness and tenderness. Do the work to be successful.

In my experience, 3 or 4 hours’ cooking at 135ᴼF is barely sufficient to diffuse heat uniformly through that piece of meat. I would want to cook it longer to develop some tenderness, even if it is being thinly sliced for service. You will discover some cooks here will cook that cut for as long as 24 hours.

Incorrect on determining safe internal temperature. No probe required. In SV cooking heat always diffuses through a piece of meat at a scientifically determined rate. You will know the precise internal temperature everytime you cook from the details on Baldwin’s time and thickness Table 2.2.

One more item. You will discover that your transition to successful SV cooking will be easier if you disregard all your experience in conventional cooking techniques. Leave your probe in the drawer when SV cooking. Thickness, time and temperature are all you need to know. The heat from the water in your vessel will penetrate meat at about an inch per hour. The meat can’t become overdone because it can’t exceed the water temperature. It’s simple.

The point of the test cook i suggested is that as a result you will never have to probe the meat and potentially repackage it because you will always know when it is precisely done to your standard. And every batch you cook will be precisely done to your standard because you are using your systematic SV cooking technique. It’s easy.

Do well, and stay safe.

I just did a rib roast last night for dinner (without the ribs in the bag). The rule of thumb is 1 hour per 1" of meat. If you have a 4" roast, the minimum it has to cook is 4 hours. The picture above is measuring the height of the meat. You have to measure the thickness of the meat from end to end, not top to bottom. Any time in addition past the 1 hour / inch is just helping to tenderize and maintain the temp. It will not cook to any temp beyond that. Now, the temperature of the water will depend on the how you want the meat done. 125 degrees is rare, 130 is medium rare and I never go past that because my family doesn’t like it too well done. For those who do, a quick visit to a hot cast iron is perfect for them. I did the roast last night at 127 degrees, knowing that I was going to put in a 500 degree oven to sear the outside of it. It was a perfect medium-rare. Mine turns out perfectly every time when I follow these guidelines. Hope that helps.

Wow thanks for the info! Appreciate you all taking the time to help.

Bschildt when you say the thickness is end to end wouldnt that just be measuring the length? For example my top round beef could be 16 inches end to end but the most “thickness” at the top end is about 3” while the other end could be 1” or less…could you elaborate why we woildnt want to cook it based off the thickness top to bottom where the most thickness is?

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In a cut like that, I would go with the length where it starts to diminish but I would add more time. I push a tenderloin together to get a good consistent length, the best I can. It’s how I was taught to calculate and maybe I misunderstood, but that’s how I keep it in mind. My brisket cooks based on the length, not the thickness. A 1-2" thick brisket won’t be cooked well after just 1 or 2 hours, but a 16" brisket done 16 hours overnight is perfect.

Beef Master, please pause for just a moment and consider what’s happening when you SV cook and you will realize heat diffuses into meat evenly from all around it, not along its length.

Thickness is the thickness, length has nothing to do with the time heat energy requires to reach equilibrium in meat. It’s the shortest distance to the product’s core that is critical. That’s why thickness is always critical to SV cooking times.

You also need to consider the nature of the meat you are cooking. Is it tough or tender? Tough cuts, - like brisket, require considerably more time than tender cuts like a well aged Rib Roast.

How much longer?
Well, like most things in life, - it all depends.
That’s why we do the suggested testing. It’s the method used to discover the best enjoyed degree of doneness and tenderness to arrive at the standard for your restaurant. For consistency, successful restaurants have standards for everything they serve.

If you don’t already practice this, consider doing so. Keep a detailed Kitchen Journal, or record of everything you cook. Don’t trust your memory because restaurants have far too many distractions.

Consider recording the date, the menu item by name, its thickness, cooking temperature and time, and the outcome. That’s the qualitative assessment of the item. How was it? Great? If not, what should be adjusted to improve the result? Write it in your journal. That way you have a system for standardizing your menu items, or for making continuous improvements. This works for home cooks too. Who doesn’t want to be ever-better?

Do the work, and keep well.