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Breaking Down the Roasts

Two weeks ago I explained a little about the chuck and how I am seaming it out. Since then, we’ve had a lot of questions about what are the different cuts and how to prepare them.

The chuck is the front shoulder of the steer.  It is complex with a lot of muscles, some worked harder than others, and a decent amount of connective tissue and fat woven between the muscles.  Braising tends to break down those tissues and make the cross-muscle cuts more enjoyable. To have quick cooking, high-dry-heat cuts, I have to peel away the connective tissues and membranes.

The chuck has ribs going from the neck down to the brisket, and a shoulder blade running from the front arm up towards the neck.  Beneath the shoulder blade are tougher cuts that are great braised.  Boneless short ribs, the chuckeye roast, and boneless chuck roasts (sometimes called cross rib or English roasts).

On top of the shoulder blade is the shoulder clod.  It can be thought of as similar to the boston butt (upper shoulder) on a hog.  It is well marbled but made up of several muscles.  Together as a whole clod, this can be braised or even smoked like a boston butt.  However, when it is seamed out, it yields some very beefy, nice roasts.

This is where the mock tender and clod heart roast come from. They make exceptional roasts. To roast them, season the meat with salt and pepper on all sides.  Sear in an oiled cast iron skillet.  Remove the roast from the skillet and transfer to a sheet tray in the the oven at 350 degrees and roast until an internal temperature of 130 degrees.  Allow the roast to rest on a warm (not hot) plate and prepare your sauce.

While the roast is cooking, prepare your sauce. Drain the fat from your skillet and deglaze with red wine or beef stock.  Scrape up any meaty goodness and reduce by half.  Add some demiglace and 2 tablespoons of butter.  At a soft simmer, melt the butter while continually stirring or rotating the sauce in the pan.  Reduce down by half and serve over the roast.

Also from the shoulder clod are the flat iron and petite filet. For a more steak like experience, the flat iron steak and petite tender can be seared off on the stove top and served medium rare.  – Adam