Chuckie Meat Selection Help Needed

Discussion in 'Beef' started by freshmeat, Dec 5, 2009.

  1. freshmeat

    freshmeat Smoke Blower

    Newbie bugging you guys again.

    I have only done one chuckie with great results, (200*, then wrapped in towels for an hour before pulling). I had plans of this technique again with different rubs including; The Dude Abides, EVO + Montreal Steak, and an Italian rub I saw on here while doing a search which I can't find again at the moment.

    I am also WAY jacked sideways about trying PignIt's pastrami out of chuck idea.

    One of my local grocery stores (Harris Teeter) has beef chuck roasts on sale for BOGO (Buy One Get One). Obviously I will take advantage of this.

    I have a relationship with butcher at this store. [Disclaimer, I do not know if he is a butcher or a meat cutter. I do know, he treats me well, and I try like hell to treat him well.] Today I can go and have him cut me chuckies to whatever I desire.

    What thickness would be best?
    Can a chuck roast be too lean for a low and slow method? (He told me he would give me any cut I wanted including the marbling.)

    Thanks again.
  2. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Yes, you can get chucks that are too lean; i.e. no marbling and no interspersed fat between tissue layers - usually these come from 'no-roll' (select) grade beef vs. choice. Too lean should be avoided as well as too-fat (almost white it's so heavily marbled - you'll end up with a piece about ¼ it's original size). Here's a good - looking seven-bone chuck roast:

    Good marbling but not excessive. This is known as a 7-bone chuck, a little further into the chuck than the first cuts. This is a blade chuck:

    and this is a first cut chuck roast at the start of the chuck when cutting it:

    As you can see, you want to get between the center cut chuck roast and the seven bone chuck roast for best meat-to-bone ratio and leanness; too close to the first cut and it's too wasty and too far past the seven bone and you're into the neck of the steer (tougher - there are neck-cut chucks, but only really good for stew, not roasts).

    Variations from this are simply merchandising the parts of the chuck. If you look at the 7-bone chuck, you have the 7-bone towards the top and the chine, or backbone, along the bottom. Remove both those bones and you have
    top blade chuck (front of the 7-bone, with the gristle line thru the center of it)
    chuck mock tender (round piece on the back side of the 7 bone)
    underblade chuck (strip just under the 7-bone to the first seam)
    boneless chuck roast (to the chine, including the lower round piece which is the eye of the chuck, similar to the rib-eye, same vein of meat)

    By seaming out a chuck into it's various parts and merchandising each part as a separate cut, you can get a profit yield far higher than just stab'em and slab'em whole chuck roasts whacked out of each chuck and chop the neck into neck roast for stew. Even if you pull back and grind half the merchandized cuts you're making more profit than stab'em and slab'em.

    The two cuts I buy the most often are the chuck-eye steaks, thick cut for grilling,

    and whole chuck mock tenders for roasting (I tie them up first for rounder conformity):

    Chuck for pulling you'd probably want to get the boneless chuck roast, which is under the blade, looking like this:

    Hope this helps understanding all the differences with blade chuck!
  3. oneshot

    oneshot Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Pops, I love it when you get technical !!!!!! [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
  4. rivet

    rivet Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Pops, I've learnt more from your posts than from any meat-books or surfing. You are one great instructor!

  5. freshmeat

    freshmeat Smoke Blower

    Thanks! I completely dig / appreciate your posts; and hopefully I will have the ability to put both hooved critters back together from the parts I see in the meat department.

    I must be blind or dense. I do not believe I have ever seen a whole chuck mock tender offered in a store...that looks killer. I also must be blind or dense regarding the avaliability of chuck-eye steaks...if this is same vein of meat as the rib eye, I want in (if I am constructing this correctly in my mind

    The chuckie I did before (and what is on sale now) is like your last photo, a boneless chuck roast.

    My guy made it sound like he had a huge boneless chuck roast that he will cut to my desired thickness, (and give me the best cuts from it). The packages he has out normally are approximately little less than an 2" thick, and an understandably varying amount of fat / marbling.

    What would be a good thickness for pulling; and curing a chuckie pastrami?
    Can this specific cut get much leaner than your photo / too lean ?
  6. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Really alot of knowledge in that head of pops for sure. I have learned alot from his meat talk. I would get a chuckie about 2" think and like pops said look for the marbling after all fat is where the flavor is at.
  7. fire it up

    fire it up Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Pops, you never cease to amaze with your wealth of knowledge.
    I have to give you points for a perfect explanation!
  8. rivet

    rivet Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I've had my meatcutter cut me 4-5 inch chucks lots of times before and they have been excellent. Used them for braised roasts, never for pastrami though. I think if yu get them that thick you end up with a bit of everything POPS talked about and may be the ideal size for a guess anyway.

    Good luck to you on your project and keep us posted.
  9. scubadoo97

    scubadoo97 Smoking Fanatic

    Pops, first thanks for the detailed explanation on chucks. Your knowledge is greatly appreciated and thanks for sharing.

    I agree that a boneless under blade chuck, one of the most common ones you see at the supermarket, is excellent for smoking and pulling. I recently did a large 7 bone chuck which also came out really good. It was pulled and made wonderful sandwiches
  10. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thanks y'all! I'm just glad to have a venue to be able to share and explain about meats, it's really not good cocktail conversation, lol!
    For pastrami, you may want to consider shoulder vs. chuck, it is more like brisket flat but more tender, and has more whole muscle groups that lend to slicing, like this:

    Also known as English Cut or Boston Cut, it's still part of the chuck but lower than the chuck roast, it's to the rear of the arm bone, i.e. a full cut arm bone shoulder roast:

    You just separate the arm bone roast from the shoulder roast; the arm bone roast can be used for pot roast or also makes a great, meaty soupbone!

    Anyways, a shoulder roast cut might work better for pastrami if you want to slice it; a chuck roast would have more varigated seams that would make the slices fall apart more.

    Either one is going to be gooooood, though!
  11. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    There are atleast 7 types of chucks. I have had some pull, some not and some pull partially. I seem to have the best luck with Underblades and 7 bone chucks. I think another real good point is to go to atleast 205* internal if you plan on pulling it. Just did two tonight, took alittle longer than 5 hours at 225*. One marinaded in Mojo, one in Zeisty Italian. Mojo one got Jeff's rubb and the other Hallman's. Absolutely some great pulled beef. [​IMG]

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