Me and the guys at work were talking about the perfect pot roast the other day. As it turns out we all agreed that the boneless chuck roast is hard to beat. They are cheap and very flavorful. I however, even though I agreed that the chuck was hard to beat, was not ready to crown them champion of all the pot roasts.
In the old days we used to have a pot roast that is rarely seen anymore. I remember it was very tasty and tender. As I recall it was the first choice of all the experienced shoppers. You couldn't find a granny worth her salt that didn’t know all about them. We called it a round bone or arm roast.
Now a days they are all but forgotten. The younger generation has never even seen one let alone eaten one. What happened to them?
You see about twenty years ago the big wholesale beef processors started boning out the cross rib section of the chuck and breaking it down into more manageable cuts. They cut off the ribs for short ribs and cut the meaty section off and called them clods and shipped them out to us. The clod has the meaty portion that is left after all the bones are removed. It includes the boneless cross rib section where we get cross rib roasts and the flat iron.
To be honest I hadn’t tried the cross rib. Even though the cross rib is the meaty section of my generations, and generations before me favorite pot roast, I had lost interest. So after the guys and I were talking about what makes a good pot roast I decided to do a little experiment.
I cut myself a real nice boneless chuck roast and a real nice boneless cross rib roast. As it turns out they were both on sale for the same price.
I took them home and on my next day off I fixed them for dinner. I placed them both in my large new roasting pan. The old one developed a hole in it. Once every ten years or so I lay down about 13 bucks for one of those very large enamel covered roasting pans. They work great and I figured if I buy one those every ten years I still won’t have spent as much as one of those really nice multilayered stainless steel ones would set me back. Besides maybe someone will get me one for Christmas sometime.
So I placed the roasts in a large roasting pan with enough water to almost cover them completely and then I added a few shakes of worcestershire sauce a little Beef Bouquet, onion powder, garlic powder, a dash of vinegar, salt, pepper, an onion quartered, chunks of fresh carrots and small potatoes with the skins still on. I placed the lid on tight and shoved it into our oven at 325 for about five hours.
I drained off the liquids into a sauce pan, added my favorite beef gravy mix and thickened with corn starch for a very nice rich brown gravy. I had also prepared a large batch of mashed potatoes to keep the kids happy and one of my girls made up some nice rolls. Of course the carrots were outstanding cooked in all that good juice, as was the meat.
I served myself some of each roast. The first thing I noticed was how meaty and lean the cross rib was compared to the chuck. I remembered the old round bone roast were nice and meaty too. Then came the ultimate test. I tried a hunk of the chuck first and it was very flavorful but the meat was kind of stringy. The cross rib roast was much more tender. The meat is a finer textured than the chuck and it still had that great chuck flavor. You could cut it with a fork.
So there you have it. Our old round bone roast of the past in the shape of the modern day cross rib roast won going away.
Now the cross rib is usually priced somewhat higher than the chuck roast. I don’t know that I would purchase a cross rib over the chuck if I had to pay more for it. The chuck is still pretty darn good and if you would like it to be more tender just cook it a little longer.