One day in a meeting, Nathan Myhrvold came up with an idea for a beef jus cooked rare. By cooking the meat sous vide at a low temperature, he reasoned, one ought to be able to create a jus that is just as tasty as traditional brown beef jus, but much brighter and more appetizing in color.
Figuring out the temperature to cook the meat was easy enough: we knew that tough beef comes out nice and rare when cooked to 53 °C / 127 °F. But it took a bit of experimenting to work out the best way to prepare the meat for the water bath. We tried grinding it, pureeing it, and cutting it to various size, but we found that when we cut the beef very finely, too much myosin came out, and the meat actually congealed into a sausage-like texture, at which point it became next to impossible to extract any juice. On the other hand, when we left the meat in large cubes, we couldn’t extract much of the jus from the center of the cubes. The optimal size seems to be cubes about 1 cm on a side.
—Grant Crilly, Development Chef
We cook the meat sous vide because this method yields a bright, rare jus, which is delicious. But it occurred to us that we could apply another Modernist method–centrifuging–to refine the recipe even further. We found it works well to transfer the meat and extracted jus from the sous vide bag into centrifuge vials after the cooking is complete. (Divide the weight evenly into at least two vials, so that the rotor is balanced.) Spinning the mixture in the centrifuge for about 1 h at 27,500g enables the fat to congeal, as shown in the video below. If you don’t happen to have a centrifuge in your kitchen, a grape press, fine sieve, or even a strong kitchen towel works well, too. Press the meat and jus and shake the sieve for optimal results. While this won’t yield quite as much jus as using a centrifuge, you should be able to press out most of the jus. Even after you centrifuge, you will still want to strain away any bits of meat and fat.
- The jus will keep in the refrigerator for a day, and in the freezer for about a month if you vacuum seal it before freezing.
- To reheat chilled or frozen jus, make sure it has thawed completely, and then reheat it in a water bath. But take care sure to keep it below 53 °C / 127 °F, or it will no longer be rare!
- Trim all fat from the meat before cutting it into cubes. Fat just takes up space in the bag, and you’ll have to strain it out later anyway.
- Allow the jus to “bloom” before straining, sieving, or centrifuging.
- If you don’t have a centrifuge, we recommend using a wine press, fine sieve, or even strong kitchen towels to separate the meat and fat from the jus.
- Spread the cubes of beef in a single layer inside the bag before you seal it. If the cubes clump together, the heat won’t penetrate the innermost cubes.
- Save any leftover suet, and use it for cooking or even as a spread on toast.
- You can use the leftover meat cubes to make a stock like pho, which is reinforced with spices other spices or flavorings. Other stocks that rely solely on the beef for flavor may not work as well, as you have already extracted as much flavor as possible.
- We used the eye of an aged rib eye steak (also called Spencer steak), which yields an excellent flavor and lots of liquid. For a less expensive jus, buy a cheap rib eye and age it yourself!
- Because the jus is so potent, dilute it with water at a ratio of about 3:1, depending on your preference.
- When diluting the jus, avoid using faucet water or other water with additives, which can change the color.
In volume 5 of Modernist Cuisine, where this recipe appears, we suggest serving the jus as a simple accompaniment to steak. But there are many uses for this versatile liquor.