Beef: Sous Vide Top Sirloin

Posted by johngl

I’ll admit it: when I began this adventure, I didn’t know a whole lot about sirloin. I never paid much attention to it since my favorite cuts of beef were ribeye and porterhouse steaks, in that order. These “favorite” steaks come from primal cuts located mid-cow.  Sirloins hail from an area behind the short loin (where porterhouses call home) and in front of the “round” portion at the back end of the cow.

This is a representation of a cow!

Notice that tenderloin strip (white) whose big end (sometimes called the “head”) rests between two hunks of sirloin. The Top Sirloin (light green) rests directly beneath the “head” end of the tenderloin primal.

Below is seven and a half pounds of prime grade top sirloin. It cost me less than $5/lb, so I had no problem doing some experiments with it. It’s not easy to find a prime grade of anything at that price. My first run at it was a nine hour sous vide at 132°F.

Top Sirloin sous vide

I just love that edge to edge color that sous vide cooking brings.

Sirloin steak showing different muscles

Looking at this cross section, salted, peppered, and ready for grilling, you can tell this hunk of meat is made up of several different muscles with grain running in different directions.

I grilled off the meat, then cut it into relatively thin strips, serving it with beans and amaranth.

Sirloin strips with beans and amaranth

The sirloin strips were incredibly beefy tasting and bites here and there were amazingly tender while others were quite chewy. The beans and amaranth were quite good, though I did determine I like the flavor and texture of quinoa more than the flavor and texture of amaranth. Nothing like conducting several experiments at the same time.

Round 2

I trimmed up that hunk of meat and cut some steaks at a slightly different angle, hoping to get more “across the grain” tenderness out of it.

Slightly different cut

These are some pretty nice looking steaks with good marbling. Note that “lightning bolt” piece of gristle.  Not good eats, but easily avoidable. After grilling, these babies looked like this:

Grilled top sirloin

These were looking (and smelling) mighty tasty. Coupled with some baked potatoes and using BaaS (Bacon as a Seasoning), we were good to go.

Steak and baked potato

Definite progress here! There was much more tenderness and lots less chewiness.  The gristle I mentioned earlier was getting in the way though and areas of meat around it were still more chewy than tender. The potato was laden with home made crème fraîche, a Marsala compound butter (Marsala, heavy cream, basil, garlic, oregano), and BaaS. Topped with fresh chives, it was awesome.

Round 3

I fired up the sous vide rig again and dropped the remaining hunk of meat (easily three pounds yet) back in for 24 hours.

After another 24 hours in the water bath

Here we are again, seasoned and ready for the grill. Notice that the gristle has dissolved away? And even after a total of 33 hours in the sous vide rig, we’re still at a perfect medium rare. All the juices that came out of this round were boiled (to coagulate the proteins), strained, and made into a bordelaise sauce.

Sirloin and hash browns

This time, the steaks were served with some hash browned potatoes.

And after all that time, still edge to edge pink

Still edge to edge pink. I used a serrated knife to cut this, but it really wasn’t necessary. This was some seriously tender meat. I mean literally fork tenderness throughout. After a few bites, most glorious spousal unit suggested that perhaps it was too tender. Is such a thing possible? Yes, in fact it is. This steak had some magnificent beefy flavor, but the texture was off a bit. Even so, we didn’t have much trouble eating it. Next time, and there will be one for sure, I’ll shoot for say an 18 hour sous vide.  That’s enough time to break down all the connective tissue and still preserve some “chew”.

Round 4

Yep, we still had some meat left. Since this was so tender, almost like a burger, I had an idea.

Sirloin burger!

Cutting off a small hunk, grilling it, then searing it off in bacon fat (BaaS again), I think I may have discovered burger nirvana.

Sirloin Slider

This is my latest creation: Sirloin Sliders! Tender, juicy, bacony, cheesy, lordy-lord goodness. People would definitely line up for these little beauties. It makes my mouth water just looking at it.

Coup de grâce

There I was, with that bacon fat seared sirloin idea. What to do? What to do?

Duck eggs, bacon fat, and sirloin steak

Yep, enter duck eggs!

I seared off that superbly marbled prime sirloin steak in the bacon fat, forgoing the grilling step.

Sirloin, Seared in Bacon Fat!

The slider experiment taught me the benefits of a super hot pan creating a seriously wonderful crust. I grabbed my small cast iron skillet, got it smokin’ hot, added a few dollops of bacon fat, and seared off the seasoned steak.

Steak and Eggs

Decadence on a plate. This one is going to be hard to top.

One thing is for sure, I know a lot more about sirloin…and I like it!

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About johngl

A bit of a wildman, John hails from the Midwest: A land of corn, cows, pigs, and a host of other healthfully meaty pursuits.

Born on a dark and stormy night in late Fall, John grew up as the son of a meat cutter. There was always plenty of meat at hand. While not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, his family certainly ate well. According to his father, that was the whole point.

9 thoughts on “Beef: Sous Vide Top Sirloin

  1. I will definitely have to look for that cut of meat – it all looks wonderful, but I have to think that the slider might be my favorite – yum!!

  2. It all looks wonderful! After my sous vide success with the lobster and shrimp, I think the time has come for me to get the controller and try some marathon sirloin experiments of my own. Once again, inspired and motivated. Thanks for sharing.

    • You bet sir! I’ve had the controller for a couple of years now and it’s functioned perfectly with my little old Rival roaster.

      After reading your link on that home made immersion circulator, I grabbed the pump out of a disused tabletop water fountain in my back yard. Though it made things a bit noisier (the Rival and controller are completely silent), the pump did circulate the water nicely making for a little less overshooting of temp. Once the roast came up to equilibrium temp (a few hours) I turned off the pump and everything was all quiet again.

      My overshooting problem wasn’t that severe. Temps might go to 135 or 136 when set to 132 due to the side heating of the rival. With the pump going, overshooting was cut down to less than two degrees.

      So, thanks for the pointer. I didn’t think those little pumps would work very well in hot water. Turns out it works fine!

        • By the way, I took the last tidbits of my sirloin experiments and made a Beef Stroganoff (with home-made egg noodles). I hope to get a post out on that, but I appear to be way backlogged on things to write about. The things I’m doing “now” tend to bump things I did “yesterday” though.

          • I know exactly what you mean – I have a garlic powder post and a few others from December, but I’m doing ribs today, three different ways and have figured out how to incorporate tequila in a way other than just a beverage to be consumed during the long slow smoke. (grin)

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