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Beef Roasts: Selection and Processing

All roasts described in here are most likely best cooked medium rare, 130° - 140° F, with the exception of flat chuck blade or flat chuck arm roasts, which are cooked best to 190° - 210° and shredded.

 

 

Beef Round Roasts:

 

 

 

This is a whole beef round with sirloin tip attached on right.  The beef round is comprised of the Top Round, Eye Round, and Bottom Round, and Sirloin Tip (normally in breaking the beef, the Sirloin Tip is removed along the center vertical line of the round femur bone, seamed out):

 

 

 

So let's concern ourselves with the 3 major pieces of the round:  top, bottom, eye.

 

Top Round:

 

Whole COV Top (Inside) Round:

 

 

This is the way you see it in the COV (Cry-O-Vac) bag as a whole piece.  It is called sometimes as the Inside round as it is on the interior of the back cheek of the steer:

 

 

 

The top round, as a whole piece, is great for roasting - when I modified a haywagon into an 8' BBQ spit, I'd put on 4 or 5 whole top rounds and let them slowly turn over a huge wood fire.  People would stand there for hours waiting for them to be done, watching them go around and around, frosty beverage in hand (had the beer tap close by, lol!), heads all turning in unison.  Then, I'd take out my 12" cimeter and chunk off a good sized piece, toss it on the slicer, and roast beef on a Wick is served!  It is the largest whole muscle of the entire steer.  Also can be cut into steaks or for london broil, but the thinner you cut it the more chance the tougher it will be.

 

It can be rolled into roasts; whole, halves, thirds, etc.  For a roast, it is 2nd tender, 1st most tender is a sirloin tip roast:

 

Beef Sirloin Tip Roast:

 

As shown in the first graphic, the sirloin tip roast is right next to the round.  It is not used as much as the round is for locomotion, so it is more tender.  

 

Whole COV tip:

 

  

This cut is also referred to The Knuckle as it has the knuckle bone cap on it when removed from the steer

 

 

As you can see in the grey'd area, the sirloin tip is removed along the femur bone, taking the kneecap off when removing it, thus the nickname "knuckle".  

 

A trimmed sirloin tip looks like this:

 

 

Muscle is finer grained than round, makes a great roast to smoke!

 

Smoked rare and delicious!  130°:

 

 

Makes great sandwiches!

 

 

To keep going, on the top graphic under the top round and to the left of the sirloin tip is the Bottom Round and the Eye of the Round.   These, together, as a whole piece, is known as a Gooseneck:

 

In COV:

 

 

out of the bag:

 

 

 

The beef gooseneck is comprised of 4 primary muscle groups:

 

1.)  Eye of Round

 

2.)  Bottom Round

 

3.)  Rump

 

4.)  Heel of Round

 

 

 

1.)  Eye of Round

 

The first is seamed out lengthwise off the right side of the gooseneck:  

 

 

Whole Eye of Round:

 

 

This can be cut into appropriate sized roasts, crosswise into thick, regular and thin cut steaks, or cut in half and the two pieces tied together into a wider, half-sized roast.  You can get fancier and cut lengthwise and into a unrolling pattern, stuff and roll back up and tie.  The grain is coarse but fairly tender, better medium rare to rare, 220° to 130° internal.  

 

 

The second cut would be to remove the Heel of the Round:

 

 

With the excess fat removed, it looks like this:

 

 

The identifying muscle in the Heel is the tight rope of muscle in the center, which is very tough and sinewy.  The rest is striated with 'silver' membrane which is sinewy also.  Best used into grinds.

 

This leaves the main core of the Bottom Round.  It is divided into 3 primary sections:

 

 

 

The 3 sections, Beef End Cut, Beef Center Cut, and Rump look like these:

 

End Cut:

 

 

End Cut: 

 

 

Center Cut:

 

 

 

Flat Rump  (note the angled end)

 

 

Some of you may remember back when the meat cutters tied the rump like this:

They left a little bit of top round when they cut off the rump and tied it into a larger roast.

 

 

 

The bottom round section is in that order for tenderness:  end cut - least tender, center cut -better,  rump - best. 

 

 

Although you can roast a whole Top Sirloin Butt:

 

 

This section is primarily cut into boneless sirloin steaks.

 

The next roast section would be in the forequarter:

 

 

 

On the left, you have the mighty rib!  You split the from the plate like this:

 

 

Then you zip off about 2½" off the ribs for short ribs, leaving a whole 7 rib rib roast:

 

 

7 rib - rib roast COV:

 

 

7 rib - rib roast unwrapped:

 

 

The chine and feather bones on the top of the roast were removed by the meat cutter for ease of carving.

From this, you or the meat cutter can cut the roast into 1 or more rib sections; use part and save part as you wish!  

The larger end (in the first photo, with the plate attached) is the least desirable of the rib, the opposite end is the most desirable; more eye, less waste.

Of course, the entire rib can be cut into thick, medium and thin steaks, and also boned out, rolled and tied:

 

 

Boneless:

 

 

 

 

 

From the Chuck:

 

The Chuck is composed of several parts:

 

 

The first section is to split the chuck from the shoulder along the long line, leaving those two pieces.  Set the arm shoulder aside and work with the blade chuck.  The 'old fashioned - stab/n/slab' cutting method was straight cutting the chuck into steaks or roasts, bone - in:

 

1st cut chuck roast:

 

 

Center cut chuck roast:

 

 

7-bone chuck roast:

 

 

 

Like I said, this is the old stab/n/slab method of meat cutting, 1960's and before.  Then, the Beef Council figured out you could merchandise The chuck cuts into smaller portions, giving names to every part'n'piece.  I won't go into them unless asked; suffice it to say they now merchandise to the max to provide more cuts from less meat and higher profits.  Such as semi-boneless and boneless steaks and roasts; where you are paying the meat cutter to remove the bone and charge you more than the bone is worth.  This is all verified with weekly, sometimes daily, cutting tests on all parts of the animal to know precisely how much gross profit you're getting from every cut.

 

From there, you get into the neck, which is tough.  But, I have seen cutters slice it into neck roasts - cook it all day and night....

 

 

 

 

The neck is also trimmed out, digging out the little pieces of meat between the vertebrae, into trimmed neck bones:

then sliced (like above, minus the meat) for soup bones or dog bones.

 

The meat from the neck usually goes into ground round (now 93/7) as it is very lean, tough, and makes great lean grinds - very flavorful!  

 

 

Arm Shoulder Chuck Section

 

That brings us to the 2nd part of the chuck, the arm shoulder.  Typically, the piece is split in half, leaving a short arm steak or roast:

 

 

 

Of which there are two sections, the beef short arm shoulder:

 

 

 

(couldn't find a graphic of these - had to modify my own!)  and,

 

Beef Arm Shoulder section:

 

 

 

The 'straight cutting' method was to cut the arm shoulder full cut;

 

 

then split the roast into two pieced, the left being the english (sometimes known as boston) roast, and the right half being the short arm roast.

 

You could get 2 or 3 of these, then the bone on the right got too big, a huge knuckle, and the roast on the left too small, cutting it up into stew or cube steak material and for grinds, discarding the fat.

 

Today, the piece comes boneless as the shoulder clod in box beef:

 

and merchandised into many of the chuck cuts, such as english steak, flat iron steak, top blade steak, and so on.  The chuck mock tender is now sold as a separate roast or can be merch'd into steaks:

 

 

Flat iron roast:

 

 

Steaks from the blade chuck:

 

 

 

Arm Shoulder Roast:

 

 

 

Arm cross rib roasts:

 

Beef long ribs from cross rib roasts:

 

 

Beef flanken (long ribs cut into strips):

Beef standing ribs, trimmed:

 

 

 

Beef arm shoulder roasts:

 

 

 

The arm shoulder roasts are a good choice for smoking medium rare; they compare to sirloin tip roasts.

 

 

Another roast is the blade chuck roll, not often seen.  It is the entire blade chuck section boned out, the top blade/mock tender/flat iron removed.

 

 

Usually prepared for larger gatherings, smoked low and slow, it can be totally delicious!

 

 

 

 

These are the major roasts yielded from beef fore and hind quarters.  Of course, there are an abundance of varieties, trying to put a new spin on an old wheel, cutting into stranger and stranger cuts.  But, these are the basic cuts. 

 

Comments (3)

POPS, all I can say is wow...! thank you for the detailed school on roasts. You are a real teacher.   I have learned a lot by following your posts. There-fore, by the power invested in me by the Order, I now declare you to be the "Roast-a-Meister" and entitled to all privileges thereof.  Thanks. Who ever said we can't have fun?
Phenomenal insight here, thanks for sharing such specific content. I can actually follow along and form ideas on my past shopping trips reflecting on the titles and names of the various cuts.  I plan to use this preparing roasts & menus going forward.  THANK YOU
Great instruction I have California Roast I will smoke Sat in my home built smoker ! Looking for some help as how it's done right, thanks. I will post a pic and how it came out.
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