Sous Vide Brisket Steaks

Hi! First post here, but probably won’t be the last considering how much and how long I’ve been cooking sous vide. I confess I don’t actually have an Anova brand specifically but I hope that doesn’t matter as I can’t seem to find any other sous vide forums like this.

I’ve been recently looking into cutting my own steaks from cheaper cuts of meat as sous vide can really bring out the best in it, and I’ve seen that even tougher cuts like beef brisket can be made into pretty decent steaks if prepared properly, but I just had a couple of questions before I try this for the first time.

Does it matter if I cut the steaks before placing in the bath (which I’d prefer to do), or is it better to cook the meat in the bath in as large pieces as possible to allow the connective tissue to break down in a tough cut like this before cutting the steaks? If I cut them before, does that affect (reduce?) how long it’s best to cook them for? I plan on cooking it for 2-3 days as per the normal course for things like brisket, but I’m not sure if that might be too long for smaller pieces already cut from the joint. There’s also the question of when seasoning and/or dry brining etc is most appropriate for either scenarios.

Thanks in advance.

Hi ya @SubjectDelta

I take my sous vide principles from Douglas Baldwin’s A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking Free On-line

My rationale for SV is similar to yours, make cheap cuts as nice as expensive meat. I have recently been cooking beef and venison at 130ºF for six hours.

Temperature is doneness. Time is tenderness. Doneness is subjective. Meat is very tolerant of excess time, but 30 hours is getting up there.

I seldom brine, only when a specific recipe requires it.

In your circumstance, I would cut the individual steaks from the sub-prime cut first. Seasoning them and vacuum bagging them individually.

Hi Douglas,

Thanks very much. I have a fair bit of experience with sous vide cooking but not so much when it comes to butchering my own steaks from larger cuts (I only know to cut against the grain and that’s it lol).

In that case I’ll cut the steaks first before cooking which was what I was preferring to do, but will that in any way affect the time required for less tender meat like brisket (often 2-3 days for whole joints)? I guess my question can be generalized to whether the size affects the influence that the tenderness has on the ideal cooking time.

Size, thickness determines the time to desired core temperature. Size here is a three dimensional function - slab, cylinder or sphere.

See Table 2.2 of ‘A Practical Guide’. See Appendix A for the calculus.

Cool, so from that I gather that size/thickness only influences time in regards to getting it to temperature (which is only relevant to shorter cooks), but doesn’t affect the time in regards to doneness for longer cooks.

Thanks especially for telling me about Douglas Baldwin’s guide. I’ve never come across such a fully encompassing one before so will definitely be referring to that a lot in future.

Time beyond minimum has little to do with doneness.

Temperature is doneness. Time is tenderness. Doneness is subjective. Meat is very tolerant of excess temperature.

Be sure and read his bibliography and references.

I do steaks out of the sirloin cap or Pichana and I cut my steaks with the grain so, when I eat it I’m cutting against the grain. Both cuts have long strands of muscle unlike most normal steaks. I have never done a brisket steak but I would imagine it would work the same way.

That’s an interesting point. Guides and forums seem to just vaguely give the reasons for you to cut against the grain, and they’ll say to cut against it whether they’re talking about cutting a steak or cutting steaks from a joint, but you’re totally correct that if you want your final cut on the steak to be against the grain you’ll need to cut the steaks from the joint along the grain in the first place as you’ll be inevitably cutting across two different dimensions.

Have you tested the difference between cutting along on the joint and against on the serving, and cutting against on the joint and along on the serving?

I cut most of my steaks against the grain. The only one I cut with the grain is the sirloin cap. I was told this is the traditional way by friend from Brazil. I have never made a brisket steak but, in many ways the grain of the point reminds me of the sirloin cap so I would think it would work the same way.