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Chuck Roast


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Can this meal be saved?

I recently attempted Cook’s Illustrated’s slow-roasted beef (September 1996) with semi-disastrous results. I used a chuck roast, ~ 1/2 of a 4lb roast - removed the strip of fat, tied, browned and seared, and dry roasted in a 250 oven ‘til internal temp reached 110. Then, I increased temp to 500. The recipe calls for a final internal temp of 130, supposedly obtained after an additional 15 minutes.

Several observations/questions:

It took more than 15 minutes for the oven to reach 500 (from 250) temp. I removed the roast when internal temp reached 130; oven temp had probably gotten up to 400. How do I quickly increase the oven temp?

After letting the roast rest for 20 minutes, I had a hard time slicing the meat. It seems that it was nothing but hard, non-chewable stuff. However, the next day, I sliced another piece. It was tender and favorable. I then realized that the tasty piece was smaller and came from the other side of the fat vein.

I’m guessing here: although the larger piece reached the 110/130 internal temp it hadn’t had enough time to allow the connective tissue to break down. (I should have guessed something was up when I had a tough time inserting the thermometer.) How do I correct this when I have (tied) two different sizes of meat?

Also, this was a dry roasting method. I have braised beef roasts before but this dry roasting method was new to me. In fact, I read the recipe several times, thinking I had missed something. I have another chuck roast in the freezer. Given that the smaller piece turned out quite well, I’m tempted to try this method again and dry roast the other chuck roast as well.

Finally, if I run into this problem – being fooled by the internal temp; connective tissue not having enough time to break down – again, is there anyway to correct this after the roast is removed from the oven? Could I have braised, after roasting, the tougher piece until tender? [The internal temp will be greater than 130.] Or: marinated it prior to roasting? Or: once it’s cooked, is it cooked?

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First of all--check the recipe to see if they are recommending this method with a chuck roast. Shoulders (called chuck when discussing beef) are generally cooked in liquid. For dry roasting, unless you are doing pricey cuts like rib, loin or sirloin, you want rump or round--either top or bottom, sirloin tip or tri-tip. Eye round looks pretty, but is an inferior cut both flavor and texture-wise. There is one muscle in the chuck or seven-bone roast that is tender enough to use as a steak--it is called the "chuck eye"--if you look at a chuck roast, you can often identify a distinct, round piece of the meat. This may be the one piece of your oven roast that was tender enough to chew. Merle Ellis, in *Cutting Up in the Kitchen* suggests that you separate out this piece and save it for the grill, and cut the rest up for stew.

As far as whether the meat can be re-cooked in liquid to make it more edible--you can certainly try. Just barely poach in flavorful liquid for a couple of hours. The other possibility is to grind the leftover meat in a Cuisinart or meat grinder and use for chili or bolognese sauce.

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According to the CI website recipe, you were ok with your choice of cut and Zora's recommendations are spot on. CI also goes on to say that if you allow your roast to rest/age in the refrigerator for 4 days, on a wire rack over a plate with a paper towel, it will yield a more flavorful, tender roast. Cut off any dried out parts before proceeding with cooking so you don't get leathery meat. CI also says that this is fantastic for roast beef sandwiches.

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