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[Recipe] Filipino Beef Morcon (experimental sous vide version)

Think of the Filipino beef morcon as the Filipino cuisine's version of the beef roulade. It is usually served during fiestas and similar special occasions. Although not a complicated dish to make, it does consume more prep time than your average normal fare. The recipe could vary significantly with some versions incorporating local sausages and other produce popular in the region. Interestingly, the Filipino incarnation of the beef morcon has evolved from the Spanish Morcón dish (the latter being more of a chorizo than a roulade). This version has a distinctly Chinese influence twist with the incorporation of chorizo Macau instead of the more traditionally used chorizo de Bilbao (a common ingredient in a lot of Spanish influenced dishes in the Philippines but is now not that readily available in the grocery stores). Of course, the red hotdogs are an iconic Filipino ingredient (admittedly I am a Tender Juicy hotdog diehard) and can be incorporated in pasta dishes, kaldereta, and Filipino menudo.

Filipino Beef Morcon

The idea of cooking the dish sous vide was inspired by watching instructional videos on cooking beef roulade sous vide style. This ensures that the beef is not overcooked and the ingredients in the filling are properly cooked (my concern was primarily on the carrots).

See the full video demonstration here:

1 Kilo Beef round (cut into wide sheets about a quarter inch thick
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup all-purpose flour 

For the marinade:
1/2 cup soy sauce
lemon juice, from 1 lemon (alternatively you can use calamansi)
2 teaspoons paprika
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

For the filling:
2 pcs. hotdogs, sliced lengthwise
1 big carrot, sliced into quarters lengthwise
2 pcs. chinese chorizo (sausage), sliced lengthwise
2 eggs, hardboiled and sliced in 2
2 pcs. dill pickles (sliced lengthwise)
Cheddar cheese (optional, originally I included this in the recipe but it melted away during cooking) 

For the sauce:
2 pcs. medium-sized onion, diced
1 head of garlic, minced
1 small packet tomato sauce (90 grams)
1 cup beef stock
1 can liver spread
2 pcs. bay leaves
the leftover marinade from above

Lay out the sheets of beef on a flat surface and pound with a meat tenderizer to even out the thickness. Marinate the beef sheets in soy sauce, lemon juice, paprika, garlic powder, and freshly ground pepper for an hour.

While the meat is marinating, prepare the filling as instructed above. You want them to be thin enough to distribute the ingredients in the morcon so that you get a good balance of the ingredients once the morcon is sliced later on. Lay out the sheets of beef on a clean work surface with a slight overlap. Arrange the filling and wrap the beef sheets into a log shape. Tightly tie up the beef log with cooking string/butcher's twine to form a compressed log of stuffed meat. This will help keep the filling together later on when cutting and I found out that the egg actually fuses the ingredients that it is in proximity with. Lightly dredge the entire log in flour and fry in oil until brown on all sides.

Filipino Beef Morcon Ingredients
Prepare the marinade by sauteing onions and garlic in some of the oil used to brown the meat. Once the onions start to caramelize, add in the beef stock, leftover marinade, tomato sauce, and bay leaves and let it simmer. 

Traditionally, the meat is then slowly simmered in this sauce until cooked. This is where I have chosen to deviate from the traditional recipe. Instead of slowly simmering the meat, which in my opinion could be a hit or miss depending on the thickness of the roll, the thickness of the meat, the type of ingredients incorporated, and even on how densely packed the roll is, I have instead thought about using the sous vide precision immersion cooker to thoroughly cook the dish without overcooking the outer beef layer (and ensuring that the carrots are tender inside). For this version, set aside the sauce for now in the refrigerator.

Place the meat rolls (I have opted to cut the roll in 2 for easier handling) in food-safe vacuum sealed plastic bags. Set the sous vide precision immersion cooker for 69.5 degrees C and cook for 20 hours.

When the cooking time is done, finish the sauce by incorporating chopped fresh herbs or greens of your choice (I just so happen to have celery leaves and didn't want them to go to waste), and thicken the sauce with the canned liver spread.

Cut the cooking strings and cut the log in 1 inch thick disks. Pour the sauce on top.

Filipino Beef Morcon

Additional notes:

  • My first attempt had a too thin beef layer. If I will make this again, I will correct that.
  • When I first cut the morcon right after coming out of the sous vide, the log tended to break apart (probably related to the first point above). I was only able to achieve the cleaner cut (pictured above) when I sliced the second piece as a leftover meal (having spent overnight chilling in the refrigerator).
  • The egg whites had a much firmer texture after cooking for that long at that temperature. It is not exactly off-putting but definitely noticeable.

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