This has been my most frequently used protein for sous vide since I got my Sous Vide Supreme, and the reasoning is quite simple. Chuck is cheap, flavorful, marbled, and did I mention cheap? You can turn a $2.99/lb cut of meat into something that you would mistake for prime rib, for a tiny fraction of the cost, and you can do it EASILY!
Just bag with salt, pepper, and whatever MILD seasoning you want (everything intensifies over 48+hours) and wait for the metamorphosis. I like to use some smoked salt, and just a scant 1/8tsp dried thyme and garlic powder. You will of course debag, dry well, and blast on a hot cast iron pan with a blow torch to finalize the crusty details, right?
Braised chuck is great, but medium (140/48hr) or medium rare (130/72hr) is a whole new experience. Try it with eggs, over salad, with mashed potatoes, or my favorite: a French Dip Sandwich.
Now as for which cooking time and temp is better, I would have to say that for just eating straight up with au jus, I prefer the medium rare version. It is luscious and decadent. But for general use, and actually for sandwiches too, I could not tell the difference. This sandwich was done with the 48hour version, and boy was it good.
Which brings me to another point. The jus. You will get a whole lot of accumulated meat juice in the bag over 48+ hours. DON’T WASTE IT! Oh the things you can do with that. Try adding some water and soy sauce to taste, boiling, skimming the protein scum that collects, and using as a basic jus.
You can also get a little fancier, mix the bag juice with some red wine reduction and butter, and use as you see fit. You can even reduce it all the way down to make a super concentrated demi-glace of sorts. Just don’t throw it away. If you are really lazy, just slice the meat and put that liquid all over the slices.
One last point I will make is how you butcher the roast. These things are usually pretty big. You want to find one that is as well marbled as possible. But moreover, you want to find one that has a fair amount of meat to either side of the central fatty rift. That rift, and all the other hard fat bits, makes the best burgers ever.
I love fat more than most people. And that hard thick fat does turn very nice and soft after 48+ hours. But the marbling is really what gives the meat its flavor, and I find I appreciate that mass of fat more when its oozing out of a ground burger than when dominating 20% of a slice of meat. Plus H won’t go near it.
So, as you can see in the pic below, I trim the fattiest bits for burgers, and save the nicely marbled stuff for sous vide or braising. It is a win/win that uses the whole roast in the best possible ways. Good luck!