An Illustrated Guide to Beef Roasts by zct32043


									An Illustrated Guide to Beef Roasts
Supermarkets carry many kinds of roasts, often with confusing                                                                                     CHUCK ROASTS

labels. Here’s how to know what you are buying, and how                                                                                              Top Blade Roast

best to cook it. BY SHANNON BL AISDELL
                                                                                                                                            Alternate Names: Chuck Roast First Cut,
                                                                                                                                                 Blade Roast, Top Chuck Roast
                                                                                                                                                       FLAVOR    ★★★★
Choosing a beef roast can be an exas-         to Christopher Radley, sales manager             generally come from heavily exercised                       $$
                                                                                                                                          BEST WAY TO COOK Braise
perating and confusing endeavor. To           of John Dewar & Co., and Mike Lewis,             parts of the animal, such as the shoul-
help make this job easier, we identi-         butcher extraordinaire at Star Market.           der and rump, respond best to brais-
fied the roasts most often found in the       These meat experts helped to guide us            ing (being cooked in a relatively small
supermarket (as well as their aliases),       through this process.                            amount of liquid in a closed container
cooked them in the test kitchen, and              By definition, a roast is a thick cut of     for a long period of time). The primary
evaluated each on a range of qualities,       meat that is suitable for cooking by dry         goal of braising is to melt the colla-
from tenderness to fattiness. We also         heat (roasting) or moist heat (brais-            gen in the connective tissue, thereby
rated each roast for flavor (★★★★★            ing or pot-roasting). Tender cuts with           transforming a tough piece of meat
being best) and cost ($$$$$ being             little connective tissue respond well to         into a tender one.                        This broad, flat cut was far and away the
most expensive). Our thanks go out            dry-heat cooking. Tougher cuts, which                                                      best chuck roast we tasted—flavorful,
                                                                                                                                         juicy, and tender. Its connective tissue is
                                                                                                                                         unattractive but not unpleasant to eat.
                                     CHARACTERISTICS OF PRIMAL CUTS
                                                                                                                                                 Chuck 7-Bone Roast
                                                                                                                                            Alternate Names: Center-Cut Pot Roast,
                                                                                                                                                    Chuck Roast Center Cut
                                                                                                          RO U N D
                                 CHUCK/SHOULDER                             S H O RT L O I N
                                                                                               SIRLOIN                                                 FLAVOR    ★★★★
                                                                                                                                                         COST    $$
                                                                                                                                          BEST WAY TO COOK       Braise

                                                                                                                                         A bone shaped like the number seven
                                                                                                                                         gives this cut its name. We enjoyed the
                                                                 PL ATE             FLANK
                              BRISKET/SHANK                                                                                              deep flavor of this thin cut, which needed
                                                                                                                                         less liquid and less time to cook than
                                                                                                                                         other cuts from the chuck.

                                                                                                                                                    Chuck-Eye Roast
                                                                                                                                            Alternate Names: Boneless Chuck Roll,
                                                                                                                                                      Boneless Chuck Fillet
Butchers refer to the first, basic cuts made to an animal as          distinct cuts. Both are very tender, very expensive, and
primal cuts. In a cow, there are eight primal cuts, and beef          generally cooked by dry heat.                                                    FLAVOR    ★★★
roasts generally come from five of these, listed below.                                                                                                  COST    $$
                                                                      Short Loin This part of the cow is usually cut into premium         BEST WAY TO COOK       Braise or Roast
                                                                      steaks. The tenderloin is the most common roast from the
Chuck The chuck section includes ribs 1 through 5 (the                short loin. It is very tender and is usually roasted.
ribs are numbered from the head to the tail) as well as the
shoulder blade bone. Roasts from the chuck contain a lot of           Sirloin The sirloin is sometimes referred to as the hip area.
connective tissue and generally require moist heat cooking            The meat from the sirloin is not as tender as that from the
to become tender.                                                     short loin, but these cuts are still generally roasted.

Rib The rib section contains ribs 6 though 12. A full 7-bone          Round Cuts from the steer’s butt and leg are tender
rib roast, or a whole standing rib roast, can tip the scales at       enough for roasting (though not nearly as tender as the cuts
more than 16 pounds, so butchers divide the rib into two              from the rib or the short loin), but they are often braised.       This boneless roast is cut from the center
                                                                                                                                         of the first five ribs (the term eye refers to
Illustration: John Burgoyne
                                                                                                                                         any center-cut piece of meat). It is very

                                                                               COOK’S          ILLUSTRATED

tender and juicy but was criticized for   closer to the loin of the animal. It                                                         roast, with good flavor, texture, and
its excessive fat content.                contains the large rib-eye muscle and                      Top Sirloin Roast                 juiciness. We like the top round roast
                                          was judged to be extremely tender                        Alternate Names: Top Butt,          sliced thin because it can be overly
       Under Blade Roast                  and flavorful. The clearest way to indi-                      Center-Cut Roast               chewy if sliced thick.
 Alternate Names: Bottom Chuck Roast,     cate what you want when you order                              FLAVOR    ★★★★
            California Roast              a rib roast is to ask for “the first four                           $$
                                                                                                           COST                         Bottom Round Rump Roast
             FLAVOR    ★★★                ribs from the loin end.”                           BEST WAY TO COOK Roast                        Alternate Names: Round Roast,
               COST                                                                                                                    Bottom Round Pot Roast, Bottom Round
                                                                                                                                                     Oven Roast
 BEST WAY TO COOK Braise                       Rib Roast, Second Cut
                                                 Alternate Name: Large End                                                                          FLAVOR    ★★
                                                       FLAVOR     ★★★★                                                                                   $
                                                          COST    $$$$$                                                                 BEST WAY TO COOK Braise or Roast
                                           BEST WAY TO COOK       Roast

                                                                                            This cut has big beefy flavor. Aside
                                                                                            from the vein of gristle that runs
We found this roast’s flavor to be                                                          through it, which we found slightly
quite similar to the 7-bone roast, but                                                      unpleasant to eat, the roast was ten-
it had a bit more connective tissue.                                                        der and juicy.
It also had a fair amount of fat, which                                                                                                For the money, we think this cut
enhanced the flavor but made the                                                                   Sirloin Tri-Tip Roast               makes a juicy, relatively beefy roast. It
meat fall apart when carved.              The large end of the rib roast is cut                  Alternate Name: Triangle Roast        was slightly less tender than the top
                                          from ribs 6 though 9. Though it is still                       FLAVOR    ★★                  round roast and should be sliced thin
     Chuck Shoulder Roast                 an excellent roast, we thought this                                 $$
                                                                                                           COST                        for serving.
  Alternate Names: Chuck Shoulder Pot     cut was fattier, a little less tender, and         BEST WAY TO COOK Roast
      Roast, Chuck Roast Boneless         slightly more irregularly formed than                                                                 Eye-Round Roast
             FLAVOR    ★★                 the first cut rib roast.                                                                       Alternate Names: Round-Eye Pot Roast
               COST    $$                                                                                                                           FLAVOR    ★
 BEST WAY TO COOK      Braise                  SHORT LOIN AND                                                                                            $
                                                SIRLOIN ROASTS                                                                          BEST WAY TO COOK Braise or Roast

                                                       Tenderloin                           This cut is popular out West, but
                                                Alternate Name: Whole Filet                 butchers on the East Coast usually cut
                                                       FLAVOR     ★★★                       it up into sirloin tips or “steak tips.”
                                                          COST                              This small, triangular roast is moist
                                           BEST WAY TO COOK Roast                           but has a strange, spongy texture and
                                                                                            mild flavor.
Our tasters thought this roast had an                                                                                                  This boneless roast had mediocre
unpleasantly chewy, almost bouncy                                                                  ROUND ROASTS                        flavor and was considerably less juicy
texture and relatively mild flavor.                                                                                                    than any other roast.
                                                                                                    Top Round Roast
           RIB ROASTS                                                                        Alternate Names: Top Round First Cut,           Bottom Round Roast
                                          The tenderloin sits just under the                         Top Round Steak Roast                      Alternate Names: None
       Rib Roast, First Cut               spine of the steer, so it gets no exer-                        FLAVOR    ★★★                                   (no stars)
  Alternate Names: Prime Rib, Loin End,   cise and is the most tender piece of                                $
                                                                                                           COST                                          $
               Small End                  beef you can buy. Our tasters found                BEST WAY TO COOK Braise or Roast           BEST WAY TO COOK Braise or Roast
             FLAVOR    ★★★★★              its flavor to be pleasantly mild, almost
               COST                       nonbeefy. Unpeeled tenderloins,
 BEST WAY TO COOK Roast                   which come with an incredibly thick
                                          layer of exterior fat still attached, also
                                          come with a tremendous amount of
                                          waste (the fat should be removed)
                                          and cost more (in both time and
                                          money) than peeled roasts, which
                                          have scattered patches of fat that
                                          need not be removed. Even peeled                                                             This cut was the tasters’ least favor-
                                          roasts, however, usually come with                This affordable roast is the most com-     ite. It was essentially devoid of flavor
                                          some silver skin, a sheath of thin,               mon choice in supermarkets. Our            and had a rubbery, chewy texture.
This cut consists of ribs 9 through 12,   opalesque membrane that must be                   tasters liked it, commenting that it       This roast is not worth even the little
toward the back of the rib section,       trimmed.                                          was very similar to the top sirloin        that it costs.

                                                               NOVEMBER          &     DECEMBER         2002

To top