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Helpful Tips for Choosing a Roast

January 13, 2021

Choosing the right roast for a recipe is often easier said than done. Would you agree?

We're right in the thick of "roast season" so let me help you make the right choice so the next roast you prepare is the best roast you've ever made.

A roast is a large cut of meat that needs a long cook time because of it's size. Today we're looking at roasts that also need that long cook time to break down and become tender. 

These cuts come from the Chuck (aka shoulder) and Round/Rump (aka butt) of the animal. Muscles used for daily movement are strong so cuts from these areas are by nature tougher and leaner with less fat. Cuts from the Chuck and Round shine when prepared in the pressure cooker, slow cooker, or braised in the oven.

If you're out in the grocery store, look for cuts with "Chuck," "Shoulder," "Rump," or "Round" in the name. Next, notice the quantity of white fat. Remember, fat = tenderness and moisture. Lean roasts with less fat will shine in recipes with extra moisture/liquid added, especially in the slow cooker or pressure cooker. 

Just because a cut is a "roast" doesn't mean it's tough.

Take the Tri-Tip Roast, for example. As a cut butchered off the end of the Sirloin primal, the Tri-Tip a roast of Sirloin Steak, complete with that tender, steak-like texture. There's also the Prime Rib Roast and Filet Mignon Roast in the category of roasts cut from steak primals.

These are delicious specialty cuts in their own right, but today I want to compare the pot roast-style roasts that we carry: Chuck Roast, Pikes Peak Roast, Arm Roast & Small Rump Roast.

The Chuck Roast

The roast with the most marbling/fat of any roast we carry, this cut will make an excellent traditional pot roast braised in the oven. With extra fat, it doesn't need extra liquid or a pressure cooker to stay juicy. Size is usually right around 3 lbs, shape will vary.

The Pikes Peak Roast

A leaner roast cut from the lower leg of the animal, this cut shines when cooked with extra liquid and shredded before serving. It's flatter and slightly triangular which can be a challenge to fit in a pressure cooker, though that's the preferred way I like to prepare this roast. Because it's flatter, it thaws quicker than a more compact shaped roast. Generally, its one of the largest roasts we carry coming in around 3.2 lbs.

The Arm Roast

A compact, rectangular-shaped roast cut from the Chuck, the Arm Roast has great flavor but is leaner than a Chuck Roast. It benefits from extra cooking liquid, but works well in any preparation method - slow cooker, pressure cooker or braising. I personally love the size and shape of this roast, making it easy to prepare and serve. Similar to the ones above, size is around 3 lbs.

The Small Rump Roast

Cut from the hindquarters of the animal, this is the leanest roast we carry. Most notably, it's cut in a smaller size, making it a good choice for smaller households or budget-minder shoppers who want to butcher it down into stew meat. This cut would fit well in the pressure cooker and will benefit from extra cooking liquid. 2 lb size.

No matter what cut you choose, allow about 5 hours of thaw time in the fridge per pound of roast. Thinner roasts will defrost faster than thicker roasts. Generally, for the roasts we carry you'll need to thaw overnight in the fridge to be ready to cook the next day.

Kassi Glassman

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