Tuesday, December 15, 2009

On A Beef Chuck Roll

The beef side is divided into the rib and chuck between the 5th and 6th ribs. The cut is made right through a series of muscles one of which is the longissimus dorsi, otherwise known as the main muscle of the rib eye steak. In the rib it is our popular Delmonico and cowboy steaks, or "prime" rib roasts. In the chuck it becomes the chuck eye roll. This cut is actually a number of layered muscles that vary in toughness somewhat. The chuck roll is the larger section containing the chuck eye roll and is often cut for retail stores as chuck steak. It can be grilled but is not a fine dry cook steak. More typically it would be slow cooked as a pot roast or BBQ.

A few months ago we had Jeanne O'Toole from the NY Beef Council to the school to conduct a demo on the chuck roll and she showed how it can be separated into some palatable steaks. They are being marketed as the Denver Cut, Sierra Cut and the mock Delmonico. These cuts run some risk of being tough and benefit greatly by Jaccarding or marinating them. If considering them for dry cook, choose higher quality beef such as prime or CAB. If the meat is Select, low Choice, or even leaner grass fed, braise/slow cooking is probably best.
The photo here shows the typical chuck roll cross section with all of its many sections and textures. The top part would be the chuck eye which is a continuation of the rib eye and is quite tender. The bottom section is a bit tougher.

The price of the chuck roll remains a little more expensive than beef top round and shoulder clod this time of year due to buying habits. Those cuts rise in the summer when they are sold as London Broil type steaks. The chuck roll is often used for stew or braise so the price of it goes up when it gets cold out. But it remains fairly reasonable at nearly half the cost of the rib eye or striploin.

I remember back to when we used to buy whole arm chucks for our store. Some would age for about a week or so. These would always be better than the fresh beef with more flavor and tenderness. I'm thinking about aging a bone -in chuck to see the result on the chuck roll. I suspect if dry aged for about 3 -4 weeks it would roast like "prime" rib and make a great carving plate presentation. I'll keep you posted with the result once we try it.

Here is a link to the Beef innovations group web site explaining alternatives for the cut. But realize they may need some tenderizing. http://www.beefinnovationsgroup.com/chuckroll1.aspx


  1. Hey Chef - I'm really enjoying your blog. thanks for all the great information for us butcher neophytes out there. I recently purchased a chuck roll from Sam's Club as it seemed to be the only thing even close to a shoulder clod. What is the primary difference? Is a chuck roll essentially the beef clod minus the flat irons? Or am I way off? Anyway, my intent is to slow smoke it in my grill for many more hours than I have time for... Thanks again for your great blog!

  2. I love these posts. Many thanks for the excellent information that is helping me with nutrition analysis of recipes for my clients. Mindy Hermann, RD

  3. I have a question. We usually buy 6-up or higher grade sliced rib eye for bbqing (grilling on a frying pan) for our restaurant. We then marinate the slicec rib eye and grill it to serve. For some reason, the market we usually go to gave us chuck roll today. I am pretty upset because I don't know how the quality would be when we barbecue chuck roll. My understanding is that chuck roll is less tender than better grade beef. But instead of returning it, is there a way for us to marinate it or do something to it so our regulars don't notice that we used different part of a cow?

  4. Hey chef , I was in your class at CIA . I stumbled upon this page as I was researching chuck roll BC I starting buying them at my restaurant for a braised beef dish. I realized after cutting one I could get one or two "rib eye" steaks out of each.