There are dozens of different cuts of beef, distinguished by exactly where on the animal they come from; the large primal cuts are cut from the carcass first and then separated into the smaller subprimal and portion cuts. Boneless chuck roast, also called chuck pot roast, is one of these cuts.
The chuck cut comes from the shoulder of the cow; in fact, some cuts from this region are called shoulder cuts, such as the shoulder steak. The area behind the chuck is the rib, while the brisket and shank, below the chuck, refer to the upper part of the animal's leg. The chuck is one of the largest primal cuts on a cow.
A cow's shoulders contain large amounts of muscle tissue used to move the animal's heavy weight around. Because these muscles are in constant use, the chuck is filled with tough, dense muscle fibers, making it one of the toughest cuts of beef. As a result of the large size of the chuck and the toughness of the meat, chuck roast is one of the less expensive cuts of beef. Cooking boneless chuck roast requires taking this toughness into account.
Cooking Chuck Roast
As the name implies, boneless chuck roast is usually roasted. Because of the high levels of fat and connective tissue in chuck roast, dry heat tends to make this cut too tough to be really enjoyable. The most common recipes for boneless chuck roast involve braising it in beef stock or red wine; slow cooking in liquid helps to make the meat tender.
Although most U.S. butchers include the whole of the neck and shoulder region in the chuck, different names exist in other countries. In Britain and Ireland, for instance, the chuck refers only to the rear part of the shoulder, with the neck and lower part of the chest considered to be separate cuts. However, the chuck roast is still included within this region.
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Dr James Holloway has been writing about games, geek culture and whisky since 1995. A former editor of "Archaeological Review from Cambridge," he has also written for Fortean Times, Fantasy Flight Games and The Unspeakable Oath. A graduate of Cambridge University, Holloway runs the blog Gonzo History Gaming.