Beef Chuck Cuts


Boneless Beef Chuck Roast

     Also known as  an “English Cut Roast” or “Blade Roast”, nothing says Sunday dinner like this sumptious pot roast!  This and other cuts from the beef shoulder area are consistently tender without requiring a lot of TLC.  The boneless beef chuck roast has long been a favorite of slow-cookers and crock-potters alike, but did you know.. chuck meat is also your classic stew meat?  So if you’re planning a nice beef stew, you can really save some dollars over buying already cut stew meat by learning the simple way to chunk this piece up for your own custom-sized beef stew meat.

meatshop101 Shoppers’ Tip:

If shopping for a boneless chuck roast at your local
grocery store – especially if you are having company or preparing a special  

dinner – I highly recommend requesting it be cut while you wait, even if there are a number already on display in your butcher’s meat case.  Why?  Most meat cutters make a practice of displaying the most attractive side of any cut upward in its package, effectively hiding the least  attractive side, usually the fattiest.  Although it is true for most cuts of meat, it is certainly true with chuck roasts that – depending on which end of the subprimal (whole piece) the roast is cut from and its overall fat content - a given cut may display much more visible fat on one side than the other.  Requesting a ‘special’ cut while you wait also gives you an opportunity (and a right!) to ask that you view the cut before it is wrapped!  Inspect both sides to be sure you are satisfied.  *Remember though that some fat will help make the most flavorful roast.  When it comes to fat content, ‘not too much but not too little’ is the rule of thumb if the greatest tenderness and flavor are desired; in my experience, most of you are good natural judges of the difference.  And isn’t it nice nowadays that some of the best quality, grass fed beef is available without even leaving home?!  After having a bird’s eye view of the supermarket experience for 20 years, even I get a litte tired of rolling the dice on quality and hoping for a good cut from the grocery store meat counter.  I think it’s a treat to have the option of buying an all natural, grass fed boneless pot roast, guaranteed to be portioned by real butchers and having it come right to my doorstep!  A lot less supermarket finger-crossing.

 

 
Beef Chuck 7-Bone Roast.  

         This cut is simply the same as the boneless chuck roast above, before the bone and a couple of peripheral muscles are removed. Many beef pot roast fanatics, though, will swear by the bone!  And they do so with good reason.  As does fat, the bone imparts amazing flavor to the meat during the cooking process!  With slow cooking and the right amount of moisture, you can truly achieve tenderloin tenderness with the 7-Bone beef chuck roast. And more good news.. this ‘with-bone’ version of the beef chuck roast is relatively painless to prep and cook.  Generally you may use the same cooking methods as with the boneless variety. Drop in on the video chef (below at left) for ideas; you may just discover your perfect pot roast recipe AND be surprised how easy it is
to wow your family and guests with this classic cut of beef!

    meatshop101 Shoppers Tip: 

    When shopping for the best 7-Bone beef chuck roast, look for cuts on which the bone in the shape of a 7 (yes, this is where the 7-Bone roast gets its name, not because it has seven bones, thank goodness!) is most pronounced and well-defined.  If the 7-Bone is distorted or connected to other visible areas of bone, then chances are there is even more of it
 on the other side that you can’t see!  This is important because, as with fat, some bone can be your best friend in the quest for the perfect pot roast.  But be cautious of too much bone because of course, well…you can’t eat it!  And one other thing .. because this is a ’full-face’ cut, meaning it is a full cut off the chuck subprimal – a fairly large piece – it can be a little intimidating for many shoppers in its right out of the meatcase form.
Some 7-Bone cuts may be too large for the pot or slow-cooker you intend to use for cooking.  This can be a disappointing discovery after you’re already home with it because the bone may prevent you from cutting it into smaller portions, household knives being unable to do the job.  For this reason, I recommend asking the butcher to cut it in half for you on the meat saw and double-wrap the pieces for you separately.  This way, you can prepare one half of the piece (still a fairly large roast) right away, and the other half is ’freezer-wrapped’ for later use.

 

         Boneless Beef Chuck Steak. 

         Depending on where you call home, you may know this cut as a “bottom chuck steak” or “blade steak.”  Simply said, the boneless chuck steak is a thinner version of the boneless chuck roast, covered above.  It is typically cut around 3/4 inch thickness, ideal for braising.  The boneless chuck steak is classic pot/pan meat, loves seasoning and shallow oil.  It is not unheard of, though, to throw this cut on the grill over a low flame and tease it with some slow cooking.  As with other shoulder meat, it is not difficult to create something very tender with this cut of beef, but easy-does-it should be the guiding practice – the slower the cooking the better.  A classic dinner cut, the boneless beef shoulder chuck steak is right at home on a bed of mashed potatos and under a blanket of mushroom gravy!  Pay a visit to the video chef (below at right) for a quick tutorial on braising boneless chuck steak.. it’s really a snap, as you will see.  She’s heating the oil as we speak…

   

     meatshop101 Shoppers’ Tip: 

     It is common for supermarket meat shops to run sale prices on boneless chuck steaks and their boneless chuck roast counterparts.  When they do, it is a real opportunity for indirect savings!  How?  This and other shoulder cuts are the very meat used to produce ground chuck and beef stew meat.   It is very reasonable to select a couple pounds or more from the meat case and ask the butcher or other meat market personnel to grind it for ground chuck or cut it up for some outstanding beef stew meat!  Regular price for ground chuck and stew meat is more than three dollars per pound on average nowadays, but it is common to find a sale price of half that or so for these boneless chuck cuts.  Getting the picture?  Select a few pounds, have it ground or cut up for stew meat, and portion it out in resealable freezer bags for later use.  Just watch your local newspapers’ supermarket fliers for such opportunities.. they come along often.  But a word to the wise:  you may encounter some resistance to such requests in many supermarkets during the evening hours, when meat market personnel have cleaned the machines already and don’t want to dirty them again.  You will have more success with such requests during the daytime and through the afternoon hours.  As a career guy in meats, I don’t mind telling you I have really come to appreciate the opportunity nowadays to get a superior product – all natural and grass fed – without worrying over the grocery store rat race.  Many of the supermarkets I have worked in are surprised if they get two visits from the health department in a year.  I like being able to get a delicious shoulder chuck steak  and other all natural products that are still rare in the grocery stores – free of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics and produced in facilities with onsite USDA inspectors – and have it come right to my door!  Who could blame you for wanting the same for your family?!

 

 

     Boneless Beef Chuck Eye Steak.

        Truly one of beef’s best kept secrets, the boneless chuck eye steak, in this career butcher’s view, rivals the excellent flat iron steak or even the great ribeye steak for their flavor and tenderness!  Untold times over my years as a butcher, when introducing one of you to the somewhat obscure but wonderful beef chuck eye steak, I would declare that, “If it’s done right, it’s like a little ribeye!”  And truly it is.  Many of you may have noticed, when enjoying a full-cut boneless chuck steak (see above), that a portion of it is  noticeably more tender than the rest.  That, my friends, is the chuck eye!  For those who are interested, the chuck eye is a loose-standing muscle that spans the entire length of the boneless chuck subprimal.  At the front of this subprimal, where butchers begin portioning its steaks and roasts, the piece is tapered and smaller, so from this area, butchers normally extract a few beef chuck eye steaks and trim away the fat and muscle around them.  Thus only a few chuck eye steaks are brought forth from the entire subprimal, making them very special!  But for those who are saying, “Can you please skip the butcher talk and just give me a good cut of steak?!” .. well, you’ve found one in the boneless beef chuck eye!  Got a couple minutes?  Step up to the video butcher’s block (at right), and watch as he demonstrates breaking down a boneless chuck roll and extracts the chuck eye ‘muscle’ as he goes.  This one’s a silent film, but you know what they say..a picture is worth a thousand words!  The chuck eye steaks are the last items he cuts.. you will notice the two smaller, round steaks he creates near the end of the short clip. And for a last bit of great news.. this gem of a beef steak, that I feel gives the ribeye steak a run for its money, is priced well below it!

meatshop101 Shoppers’ Tip..

Many supermarkets, when offering a special price on a certain cut, also reduce the prices of other cuts that are produced from the same beef section.  Why?  Because they themselves have purchased these subprimals (sub-sections of a major beef section) at a great deal, and this is how they are able to offer you reduced prices on the various cuts that come out of them.  This is not always the case but is common.  The point, for this example, is that when a supermarket offers a sale price on boneless beef chuck roasts, they have likely also reduced the price of chuck eye steaks because they are produced from the same piece as the roasts.  So when you’re ready to throw a few of these best-kept-secret beef steaks on the grill, do it when boneless chuck roasts are on sale to get a deal almost as tasty as the steak itself!  Happy grilling!

 

 

 
Boneless Beef Shoulder Upper Blade Steak and ‘Flat Iron’ Steak.

Also known as “top blade” steak, “petite steak” and “lifter steak” among others, this is perhaps one of beef’s more misunderstood cuts. It is in fact rather versatile and not at all short on flavor, although I am sure a great many of you would say you have never tried it and don’t feel any particular reason to start now. But are you perhaps more familiar with upper blade meat than you think?

The fact that beef beef chuck shoulder upper blade meat has become trendy and popular is owing mainly to another meat cutting ‘invention’, if you will.



3 thoughts on “Beef Chuck Cuts

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