Sous vide barbacoa beef will send your taste buds straight to Flavortown. And we don’t say that lightly…
Thanks to cooking sous vide, we can easily transform a chuck roast into tender, juicy shredded beef. Then we create a delicious, Mexican inspired barbacoa sauce and smother the shredded beef.
Top the barbacoa beef with fresh onions, cilantro, pickled red onions, avocado or whatever toppings you want and you’ll be in heaven!
An essential part of cooking sous vide is putting ingredients in an air-tight bag or container. The two most common techniques to package your ingredients are vacuum sealing and using the water displacement method.
A vacuum sealer removes all the air and seals the contents of a plastic bag through a vacuum. Ensuring the food is airtight and properly sealed prevents the bag from floating, which can result in uneven cooking. If you are in the market for a vacuum sealer, I’d recommend the Anova sealer.
The displacement method is a technique where you first place your food and marinades in a sous vide bag. Next, submerge the bag in a container of water, and allow the pressure to force all the air out of the bag. Once all the air is out, zip up the bag and you’re all set!
Both of these methods work for this barbacoa, so use whichever you feel more comfortable with!
Shredded Beef Time and Temperature
Through loads of experimentation, we’ve found that cooking the chuck roast sous vide at 79.5C/175F for 24 hours is the perfect combo. Leaving the roast in for 24 hours breaks down the connective tissue (collagen), which is the sweet spot for extremely juicy barbacoa. Also, cooking the chuck roast at a temperature of 175F ensures the meat is tender and easily shreddable.
Just make sure you have a reliable sous vide that accurately regulates the temperature of the bath or your results may vary (check out the Anova or Joule). For other time and temperature options, check out our cooking guide.
Best Way to Sear Chuck Roast After Sous Vide
Searing is the most critical step in the sous vide process. Getting a deep, rich sear can make your food look like it is Michelin star quality. Failing to do so will make your dinner guests wonder why they let you cook again.
If you want to get an amazing sear on your roast, you’ve got to:
1. Pat the meat completely dry with a paper towel
2. Season generously with salt and pepper or seasoning of your choice
3. Sear at extremely high temperatures.
First, pat the meat completely dry using paper towels. After the meat is dry, lightly brush the roast with olive oil then season generously with salt and pepper or a seasoning of choice. Note that brushing with olive oil is optional, but will allow the seasoning to stick to the meat better and results in a deeper sear.
At this point you want to determine the best searing method. For barbacoa, we suggest pan searing, grilling or using a searing torch. The trick is getting the pan, grill or torch extremely hot, then searing for 1 to 2 minutes on each side. This results in a quick, high-quality sear without overcooking the roast.
Sous Vide Machine – To cook sous vide, you’re going to need a device to precisely regulate the temperature of the bath water. The two best sous vide machines in the game right now are the Anova Precision Cooker and the Breville Joule.
The main difference between the two is that with the Anova you can control the device both manually and with a mobile device, and with the Joule you can only control the device by using your mobile device. Either way, both sous vide machines are top class and you can’t go wrong with either choice.
12-quart Container – Although you can use a basic stockpot for your sous vide cooking needs, I highly recommend buying a large plastic container. They are inexpensive and spacious, so you won’t have to worry about cooking a big roast in a small pot. I recommend a 12 quart Rubbermaid container, as it is BPA free, sturdy, and large enough for just about anything you will be cooking.
Container Lid – If you are going to buy a plastic container, I highly suggest buying a compatible lid for it. When you sous vide for a long duration, the heat of the water causes evaporation. With a lid, it eliminates a majority of the evaporation so you can cook for 24 hours care-free.
Cast Iron Skillet – If you are looking to take your searing game to the next level, we recommend investing in a cast iron skillet. By using a cast iron in this recipe, you’ll achieve a deep sear on the protein. Cast irons are also extremely handy for searing just about any and all sous vide meat. Lodge offers the best quality and price, which is why it is our favorite cast iron brand.
Interested in more sous vide essentials? Check out our full list of recommended gear.
Sous Vide Barbacoa Beef Recipe
- 1 3 lb boneless chuck roast
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup beef broth
- 3 chipotle chiles in adobo
- 2 Tbsp adobo sauce (from the chipotle chile can)
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1 Tbsp ground cumin
- 1 Tbsp dried oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
Preparing the Beef
Set sous vide machine to 79.5C/175F.
Lightly season the chuck roast with salt. Put the roast in a sous vide bag, and remove the air through a vacuum sealer or the displacement method. Drop the bag in the bath for 24 hours.
Preparing the Barbacoa Sauce
In a food processor or blender, pulse together chipotle chiles, adobo sauce, garlic and beef broth until well blended.
Pour chipotle mixture into a mixing bowl. Add in cumin, oregano, lime juice and apple cider vinegar and whisk ingredients together. Once mixed, add in bay leaves and let the mixture sit overnight in the fridge to emulsify the flavors.
Remove bag from bath. Carefully take chuck roast out of the bag and pat dry with paper towels. Brush a thin layer of oil on the roast, and season the entire roast to taste with salt and pepper.
Heat up large skillet on high and add oil. Sear chuck roast for 60 seconds on all sides, or until browned. Remove from pan, and place on a plate to rest for 5 minutes. Once rested, shred the beef using two forks.
Heat up large skillet on medium low and add a touch of oil. Pour in barbacoa sauce and let warm for 1 minute. Add in shredded beef and toss until the beef is evenly coated in sauce. Let the beef simmer in the sauce for 3 minutes. Remove barbacoa from pan and use this delicious beef for the world's greatest tacos!