Chuck Roll: What is It and How is It Cooked?

November 25, 2022

The chuck roll is taken from the front half of the cow in the neck region and around the shoulder blade. From this cut of meat, you can derive the chuck eye roll and the under blade. What makes it so special? Well, I must say the beef chuck roll is heavily marbled, flavorful, and wonderfully juicy. All this without a lot of fat content! By slow cooking it in moist heat, it results in a delicious roast or the famous pulled beef

The chuck roll is not tender but ends up flavorful anytime I braise or smoke it low and slow on my grill. Would you like to try it out? I must have prepared chuck rolls one thousand and one times since I came out of cooking school. I’ve learned the different ways it’s prepared as well. So read on as I put a chunk of chuck roll under the knife once again!

chuck roll

What is a Chuck Roll?

The chuck roll is also known as the chuck roast or chuck eye roll. The eye here – like the rib eye – refers to the largest muscle in the cut, which comes from the neck. 

You can also call it a beef neck steak. When all the neck bones have been removed, you will have the boneless chuck eye roll.

Chuck eye roll beef is streaked with marbled fat, but it has less tender fibers. It is, therefore, perfect for juicy roasts, portioned for grilled skewers or steaks

Profile of Chuck Roll

  • Origin: Taken from the neck, backbone, and ribs area of the cattle.
  • Alternative names: Chuck eye roll, beef neck steak.
  • Appearance: Coarser meat structure with a generous marbling.
  • Meat structure: Tender to tough mix of meat with muscle fibers moderately inter-grown with connective tissue.
  • Taste: Very flavorful.
  • Preparation: Braising or low-and-slow cooking (smoking or grilling) because it’s not tender.

What is in a Chuck Roll?

Chuck roll is a cut of beef with a lot of fat, connective tissue, and muscle fibers. That’s why it ends up less tender to the bite. However, the neck end is often a lump of tough meat best prepared as stew meat.

It has an intense and juicy taste strongly related to its intramuscular fat. You can have it in different cuts of beef, known as the chuck eye roll and the chuck under blade.

The chuck under blade is taken from the chuck eye roll. You can slice it into Denver steaks or Denver roasts. You can also cut it into boneless country-style ribs.

The under blade can also be broken down into a sierra steak, which looks like a flank steak. But you can cook this in high heat on a grill.

Boneless chuck roll, on the other hand, is the neck piece carved from the bone. The structure is coarser and more streaky than the loin of beef. This is not surprising because this area has to bear the entire headload. On the other hand, chuck eye roasts have a very intense and juicy look.

The meat from the chuck eye roast is considered a healthy food. In particular, it has a high proportion of B vitamins – essential for many metabolic processes in our body. 

The beef chuck roll makes a wonderful roast on the smoker. It is also ideal for steaks.

With the steaks, however, I must say you need to be careful not to cut them too thin, as you may overcook them. In addition, thicker steaks from the chuck roll hold their shape better.

Related Reading

Black Angus prime beef chuck roll steak

Cutting the Chuck Roll

Most grocery stores today have the boneless cut after all the bones have been removed. What do you get after all that exterior muscles have been removed? You get what they call a center-cut chuck roll.

The first thing I do is take and flip it over to the bottom side. Then I take off as much skin or as much extra fat, cartilage, or anything on there that’s not very appealing to eat. 

Go ahead and trim that off until you get a nice clean piece of meat. Onto the next thing; what I always do after I trim the bottom off is take like the first four or five inches off. These include the rib eye and the end that connects to the large end of your rib eye right where they break. 

Start by cutting the conical muscle down off the fore shank bone, scraping the meat away in the process. 

What is Chuck Roll Used for?

The chuck roll is often used to make beef roasts like beef tenderloin and Standing Rib Roast. It’s also used for making pulled beef sandwiches. 

The beef chuck roll is perfect for pulled beef because of its optimal fat content. Here, the piece of meat is gently cooked in the smoker or gas grill at very low temperatures for many hours. It’s then additionally refined with a smoky aroma.

How Do You Prepare the Beef Chuck Roll?

You can make chuck roll recipes by turning them into a chuck steak, stew meat, cube steak, and more. It’s a pretty versatile type of beef. The most common ways it’s done include:

Braising the Chuck Roast

I often use a Dutch oven or crock pot to braise or make it into stew meat. You can use red wine or beef stock for braising. 4 to 5 pounds of chuck roll takes about 2 to 2.5 hours.

Whether you marinate or season the cut is up to you, but at least pepper and salt are simply part of the beef chuck roll – regardless of the preparation method. 

If you’d like to marinate it, a marinade for chuck roll is easy to make. Vinegar, oil, soy sauce, and wine are great bases for a good beef marinade.

Marinating the meat not only makes it more tender, but it also gives it a lot more flavor – if you season it correctly.

Recommended spices include thyme, onion powder, cumin, garlic, ginger, and other vegetables.

Smoking the Chuck Eye Roll

If you prepare the chuck eye roll in the smoker and don’t want to do it without a marinade, it is best to marinate the meat the day before. This lets the liquid distribute well.

In addition, you should at least use a grill tray, so your smoker doesn’t get dirty. Then you can add fluid if necessary. 

As soon as the smoker has reached a temperature of 210 to 250° F, place the meat inside and close the lid. Incidentally, the preparation of pulled beef takes quite a long time, and the cooking time in the smoker can take up to 20 hours.

It is important that the smoker’s temperature remains constant and does not exceed 250 degrees. It’s best smoked low and slow because it’s not a tender cut.

Once the desired internal temperature has been reached, the beef neck must have now taken on a smoky aroma, and you only have to let the meat rest for a short time before cutting and dishing. 

Note: If you want the beef done medium, I recommend an internal temperature of 135 to 145 degrees, while you should aim for a significantly higher core temperature of 150 degrees for well done.

Cooked chuck roll steak on wooden board

Conclusion 

The chuck roll, also known as the boneless neck, comes from the animal’s shoulder area near the neck or shoulder blade.  

This cut is lean, filled with muscle, less tender, and doesn’t contain too much fat but has a beefy flavor. However it’s quite tasty and versatile. You can slice it into a chuck underblade and further into Denver steaks, sierra steaks, and more. You can barbecue it on your smoker, bake it in the oven, pan sear or prepare it using the sous vide method. 

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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