Episode 2: “Old School vs. New School”


Hi everyone!

Chef John here and on this episode of Cheap Date I’ll be showing you how to braise a cheaper cut of beef called "chuck roll,” the shoulder of the cow, which is a great cut for many recipes, but especially this one!  

I will also give you a recipe for my perfect mashed potatoes and we get into using the sous vide for precision cooking.

This recipe is a little more advanced than Episode 1 but don’t worry. You’re smart! You can handle it!  


This story might embody a heterosexual relationship but I wanted to take the time to say that who you love is up to you no matter their gender and/or orientation, we support your choices. That is what freedom is about and here at Cheap Date we support freedom!


This story is certainly not meant to normalize heterosexual relationships because all relationships between consenting adults are normal, even if it’s not your cup of tea!

Please enjoy the story!

So, here’s the scenario:

You messed up! You really, really, really messed up!


So, you were several vodka sodas deep at the casino, dancing it up at the club. You had that dress on: the one that’s been in your closet for months, the one you’ve been working out for every damn day, hardly eating, all because you wanted to look perfect in that damn dress . . . you were looking good . . . you were in control . . . Everything was fine and dandy until your fiancé walked into the club while you were grinding up on his best friend Billy!


It wasn’t your fault. Not really. It was late! The bartender had a heavy hand! It’s the damn casino! And the dancing with Billy . . . it was all “over the cloths”! But for some reason your fiancé is not buying any of it!

You need to do something to get his mind off of this situation fast and remind him that you are the one for him . . . not his (fit, buff, uber-handsom, masseuse-to-the-stars) buddy Billy (with the three Porsches and the time share in South Beach)!

But alas! You blew all your money on that irresistible dress, a casino hotel room you didn’t even use, a couple bad bets at the casino tables, and of course those 4 (actually 8) vodka sodas!

But have no fear! Chef John has a recipe for you and your budget that will make your fiancé feel like he’s at an expensive French bistro. They say the way (back) into a man’s heart is through his belly, and you’ll be filling that with a delicious beef bourguignon and tall glass of big red wine!  

And, oh yea, we sneaked a perfect Manhattan recipe in there too just in case he needs some extra convincing!


Now, hop in your car and get to the market, you are not going to waste any time! Cheaper cuts of beef are great for making delicious dishes on less dime but take a little more preparation and cooking time! 

Let’s go!


Braised Beef



1 Chuck Roll (15-20 lb.)

2 shallots

8 cloves of garlic

2 sprigs of rosemary

4 cups red wine

4 cups of demi-glace

¼ cup salt & pepper

¼ cup of olive oil


1. Set up your cutting board and trim the fat off the top of the chuck roll. On some chuck cuts, they will leave a small section of the cow hide on the top of the cut. Trim that off first and discard it. The rest of the fat you trim, save, cut into strips and set aside for another recipe. This also goes for any meat you trim as you break down the chuck roll.

2. Once the chuck roll is trimmed of excess fat, cut the end off to reveal the center cut of the meat. This center cut of the chuck roll is great meat for braising, some people even use these center cuts to make steaks. They are often referred to as cowboy, Denver, or flat iron steaks.

3. Cut the beef into 2 inch x 2 inch cubes, saving any trim for another recipe as stated previously. Take the trim from the beef, cut it into strips, mix equally with fat trim, vacuum seal in bags and save for later in the refrigerator or freezer.


4. Heat your oven to 400F. Heat up a cast iron pan on medium to high heat. Season your beef cubes with salt & pepper and sear until browned on each side. Lower the heat in the pan to low and remove your now browned beef cubes and place them into a deep ½ pan or some braising pan you have at home.


5. In the cast iron pan you just used, on low to medium heat, add garlic, julienned shallots, rosemary and brown. Once browned set on-top of browned beef in the braising pan.


6. Add demi-glace, red wine and wrap the top of the pan tight with plastic wrap, then cover the plastic wrap in aluminum foil. Place in oven for 3 ½ hours.


7. Once out of the oven, remove the tin foil and plastic wrap, then carefully remove beef cubes from the braising liquid using tongs and a sheet tray. Once all the beef and the large stems of rosemary are removed from the pan, blend together using your immersion blender, strain through a strainer into a pot and let reduce about half way to make your sauce.


8. At this point you could take your now braised beef, once it has cooled to room temperature, and vacuum seal it into portions, 2 cubes each. Once they are in these vacuum sealed bags you can reheat the beef without browning it any more by putting the sealed bags into a pot of boiling water and bringing them up to temperature, this takes 5-7 minutes. It also allows you to freeze any extra for later meals or simply refrigerate for another meal later on in the week or the week after.

9. If you are serving more than two and just want to serve it up and not worry about any vacuum seal nonsense, just put your beef into a deep pan and top with your reduced sauce, heat your oven at 350F and reheat for 5-10 minutes.

Chef’s Tip

Wrapping the braising pan in plastic first helps to seal in any moisture and helps prevent the braising liquid from evaporating too quickly, reducing your sauce too much and burning your meat! I know it seems a little weird but when you top it with tinfoil the plastic will not burn!

Chef’s Tip

The vacuum sealer when used correctly with cooked food should extend its shelf life from 7 to 14 days or more depending on what it is. When sealing food in the bag, it is important to try your best from spilling food on where the bag is sealed. I suggest rolling the edge of the bag over before you put your food inside. You don’t want a botched seal, that ruins the entire exercise!

Mashed Potatoes



6 GPOD or large Idaho potatoes

¼ lb. of unsalted butter

1 bunch of minced scallions

1 tsp. ground white pepper

2 tbsp. of salt

2 cups of heavy cream


1. Peel the potatoes. Cut in half. Cut the half in half and then into small squares.


2. Put cut potatoes into a small pot. Fill with water. Add a tablespoon of salt and heat on high. Once the water is boiling let cook for 10-15 minutes or until fork tender.

3. While the potatoes are cooking, trim the ends off the scallions and discard, then mince the remainder of the scallions very fine and set aside. When the potatoes are done cooking, strain away water and set into a mixing bowl.


4. In the large mixing bowl use your food grater to finely grate the cooked potatoes. Add the remainder of the ingredients and mix thoroughly with a whisk to combine all ingredients. Your mashed potatoes are good to go!


Chef’s Tip

While your cutting up your potatoes throw the finished cuts in a bowl of cold water, this will prevent them from oxidizing (turning brown) before you cook them!


Chef’s Tip

If your mashed potatoes seized up while you were waiting to plate your dish, add a little heavy cream and reheat in a pot on the stove!

Chef’s Tip

Always peel veggies over a bowl! Never peal over a garbage can! This way when you drop what your pealing, it does not go into the garbage! Eew, gross!

Sous Vide Carrots 



2 sprigs rosemary

6 each heirloom carrots

½ cup butter

salt & pepper to taste

1 tbsp. olive oil


1. Put 3-6 carrots, a pinch of salt & pepper, ¼ sprig of rosemary and 1 small tab of butter into the vacuum bag and vacuum seal closed.


2. Set up your sous vide in the water bath to 183 F, put the carrots in the bath and let cook for 3 hours.

3.  When they are done, turn off sous vide, remove from the water and remove the carrots from the bag.


4. Heat a pan on high heat, add olive oil, add a raw sprig of rosemary and then the carrots. Cook until carrots are golden brown, add a pinch of salt & pepper while finishing the carrots in the pan.

Chef’s Tip

Always cover whatever you are sous vide cooking. If you don’t have one of those fancy lids with a cut out, using plastic wrap or tin foil as a make-shift lid works as well!

Chef’s Tip

When you are done using your sous vide and whatever you cooked is cooled down in an ice bath, if the seal looks broken or the bag looks bubbled up at all, discard that bag! It could be a sign of a rare bacteria that can survive low oxygen environments! Don’t worry this is very rare!


Plating and other stuff…

Plating is more and more important in the world of Instagram, Facebook, snapchat, twitter, tumbler or any other social media platform you can think of! Anyway, here are some easy tips on how to plate this dish so it looks sexy!

1. Use scoops! I love using scoops to create distinct shapes on the plate. In this case it is an 8-oz. scoop for dishing the mashed potatoes onto the center of the plate. It makes the dish look more precise rather than doing it lunch lady style with a large spoon. Scoops are cheap and useful, buy a few different sizes to add to your culinary arsenal!

2. Give it some height if you can. This dish lends itself to adding some height just based on how we prepped our ingredients! Gently stack your braised beef cubes against the mashed potatoes on top of each other and your carrots up along the backside of the beef resting once again on your scoop of mashed potatoes.

3. Use your sauce spoon to artistically drizzle your reduced sauce over the beef, allowing it to pool up in the bottom of the bowl. Chefs love sauce spoons and you look like a pro when you use one! If you’re feeling daring, use your sauce spoon to garnish the plate at the table for your guest’s aesthetic pleasure!

4. Mind your edges! Food should most of the time be centered in the plate or at least centered in the area of the plate where you selected. Be mindful to clean up any drippings of oil or sauce that might have hit the edge of your dish. If you step into most kitchens, chef’s will have a cleaning rag to polish edges of plates before they go out. It’s that extra attention to detail which boost your dish to that next level.


5. Garnish with what you cooked with. For this dish, I decided to sauté a sprig of rosemary to use as a garnish. You do not have to add additional garnish to the plate, it just adds a little something special. I like to remind my guests of prominent flavors in the dish, something you used in the technique of the dish or something that really might pair well and increase the look of the dish. Contrasting colors make for great pictures and you know what they say about people eating with your eyes first!


What to drink?

Franzia Burgundy Wine

Franzia: boxy but good (enough)

Franzia: boxy but good (enough)

Before you say I’m crazy let me make my case! Yes, this wine is cheap. Yes it comes in a box. That’s the point! You can also use it for the wine required in this recipe. And if you drink one of the Manhattans first, you and your dinner partner won’t even notice you’re drinking subpar boxed wine! As always, I suggest decanting the wine to bring out any natural flavors it might have. If you’re feeling adventurous and you happen to have a bottle of red wine already open, mix it up with the boxed wine in the decanter and make your own meritage!

Perfect Manhattan Recipe


2.5 oz. of Pinhook rye

.5 oz. Carpano Antica sweet vermouth

4 dashes of Angostura bitters

1 orange swath garnish


1. Chill the cocktail glass in the freezer hours ahead of time if you can.

2. Add a few cubes of ice to your cocktail mixing glass, measure ingredients and pour them in.

3. Stir ingredients together with spoon and use your Hawthorne strainer to pour into cocktail glass.

4. Use a peeler to take off a nice orange swath, squeeze it in half over the cocktail, place in glass as a garnish and serve!

What to listen to?

For this recipe, I am going to suggest a little music to get you in the mood! Upload Al Green’s 1972 hit album Let’s Stay Together and enjoy some soulful tunes that are sure to set this dinner in the right direction!

Chef’s Closing Notes:

The interesting thing about this recipe is the braising and sous vide cooking techniques can be interchanged. For example, you could put your seared beef and small amounts of braising liquid into individual vacuum seal bags, seal and cook with your sous vide at 170F for 24 hours to create a similar product. You could also braise your carrots in butter or duck fat, known as the confit cooking method for one to two hours at the same temperature, 400F, to achieve a similar mouth feel and flavor to the sous vide method. Hence the reason why this episode is called, “Old School vs. New School” because it shows off traditional and new age cooking techniques. I hope you enjoyed this episode and feel free to follow us, comment or post pictures of your completed dishes or just say hi on Facebook and Instagram @cheapdateblog!

Stay tuned for Episode 3 when I show you how to use the scraps from your chuck roll from this recipe to make the best burger in town, or at least in my opinion

Things You Might Want to Need…

Reduced Brown Stock

Steam Table Pan

Pan Grate

Sauce Spoon

OXO Good Grips Food Mill

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Sous Vide Precision Cooker

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Vacuum Sealer Bags

Vacuum Sealer

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Cage Free Duck Fat



Mixing Glass

Michael Sivak