A member of the square-cut chuck primal family, the chuck roll is really two cuts in one! And while it’s not as recognizable as a T-bone or a New York strip, the chuck roll has a wide variety of kitchen and barbecue applications compared to other cuts of beef.
If you’ve never tried using a cut from the chuck, you’re in luck: Because in this article, I’ll lay out the basics of what a chuck roll is, how to make the best of its two cuts, and three ways to cook it to tender, delicious perfection.
Chuck Roll’s Two Main Cuts
The beef chuck roll is a large, boneless cut that’s taken from between the backbone and ribs. This means that the meat will have a mix of tough and tender. This makes it perfect for splitting into two more specific cuts: The chuck eye roll, and the under blade. Let’s take a closer look at each of them, before moving on to recipes that use both cuts.
Chuck Eye Roll
Also known as a mock ribeye, the chuck eye roll is an exceptionally tender cut with a strong, beefy flavor. Because it’s taken from right next to the ribs, the chuck eye roll is ideal for barbecuing in “country style” (aka boneless) ribs. It’s also quite good for roasts, and especially well-marbled pieces can even be turned into chuck eye steak.
Also known as a chuck flat, the under blade has generous marbling, a tender texture, and a gentle flavor. It’s often cut into Denver steak, or used as part of a Denver chuck roast. More rarely, the under blade will be broken down into Sierra steaks — a dead ringer for the flavor and appearance of flank steak!
For a full look at how the chuck roll parts fit together, check out this video showing how to break one down:
What is Chuck Roll Used For?
The Chuck Roll is a cut used to make beef roasts, such as Standing Rib Roast and Beef Tenderloin. This section includes all of the muscles found in the front half of the cattle. There’s not too much fat present on this cut, which makes it very tender and flavorful. It also tends to be rather chewy, so it’s best cooked with moist heat methods.
Is chuck roll good for steaks, though? Some people might think that the Chuck Roll is good for steak, because it’s sometimes used this way (see recipe below). The reality is that it needs moist heat because it can be chewy, which isn’t what you want when you want a tender bite of meat.
How to Cook Chuck Roll
Now that you know about the sub-cuts of chuck roll, it’s time to learn a few chuck roll recipe options that will let you use them well! Let’s cover three recipes that, put together, will let you use the whole cut: Country style boneless ribs, a basic chuck roll roast, and Sierra steak tacos.
Country Style Boneless Ribs
With much of the same flavor as a rack of ribs, but much more meat per rib, cooking country style is a great way to feed a crowd. Ask your butcher for boneless ribs from the chuck eye roll; many butchers will cut them into even ribs for you, making it even easier to start cooking.
You’ll want to roast these ribs in a slow cooker for about 8 hours, covered halfway with beef broth to keep them nice and tender. After they’re cooked to tender perfection, toss them into a super hot pan or on the grill to give a final crispy sear. Serve with mashed potatoes and gravy, using the reduced beef stock from the slow cooker to make a rich and flavorful brown gravy sauce.
Chuck Roll Roast
Because they’re all relatively tender and have good marbling, any cut from the chuck roll can be used to make a delicious roast. The chuck eye roast and center-cut under blade roast definitely are definitely the best value for the money, though.
Once again, your slow cooker or crock pot will come in very handy here! I always start my roasts by sautéing a couple of diced onions and cloves of garlic in a separate pan; this will give a nice base for all of your other flavors. Once you’ve transferred this onion and garlic base to your slow cooker, go ahead and place your chuck roll roast right on top. Fill in any extra area in the pot with other vegetables; fingerling potatoes and roughly chopped carrots are a good go-to. Cover the roast nearly to the top with beef broth, and cook for 8 to 12 hours. It’s slow cooking, but you can leave it be and you’ll have a dinner ready in no time!
Sierra Steak Tacos
Though it’s probably the least common cut fabricated from the chuck roll, the under blade’s sierra steaks are a hidden gem. It has a robust beef flavor with decent marbling, but it also has a fair bit of connective tissue & muscle fibers. That can make it exceptionally tough — unless you use a marinade first! And what better way to use marinated chuck steak strips than in a quick and easy steak taco?
First, make a marinade with orange juice and just a little bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder. Rest your Sierra steaks in this marinade for 4 to 6 hours, but don’t overdo it; the acid in the orange juice will start to “cook” the steak after about 6 hours.
Once you’re ready to start cooking, heat your grill or skillet to a high heat and splash in a tablespoon of oil. Sear the marinated Sierra steak for 5 to 7 minutes on each side, then remove it from the heat and let it rest for another 5 minutes. Slice it thinly, making sure to go with the grain to get the best texture out of it. Serve that sliced steak on corn tortillas, with sides of sour cream, guacamole, diced onions, cilantro, and limes.
Where to Buy Chuck Roll
If you’re looking to buy a full chuck roll, you may have a hard time of it. Most butchers and grocery stores will break down the full chuck roll into its component parts, so you’re better off asking for individual cuts. You can also buy these individual cuts online, like these chuck eye steaks from Whole Foods!