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VALUE ALERT! A HACK FOR AFFORDABLE ROAST BEEF

Updated: Dec 16, 2023

Wagyu (the breed) is very expensive, and

Chuck (the cut) is rather tough. But the marriage

of the two makes an utterly fabulous roast.


Wagyu "Black Grade" Boneless Chuck from Snake River Farms...

the constrained optimization of flavor, tenderness, and value.


For the past year I've been exploring the parameters of making the most delicious prime rib possible, and I dare say that I've pretty much figured it out... I've identified the best breed and sources; I've mastered the variables of temperature, cook time, and doneness; and I've even come up with a home-made gravy turbocharger I call "faux jus." But great prime rib, even simply good prime rib, is expensive... certainly cheaper to make at home than restaurant versions of equivalent quality, but still expensive. Is there a hunk of beef somewhere betwixt nose and tail that delivers prime rib's fantastic flavor and tenderness more affordably?


Dear Reader, it has become my personal purpose in life to answer such questions... and the short answer is... YES!


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As indicated in the chart above, the Chuck primal cut doesn't even make the Top 4 of "best cuts," and yet ranks first in toughness. (Notably absent is a third category– flavorfulness, for which it is hard to top Chuck.)


Chuck– the bovine equivalent of the human shoulder muscle– is laced with connective tissue and also gets lots of strenuous exercise... which, taken together, make it both very tough and very flavorful. We have therfore become accustomed to giving Chuck meat a quick browning followed by a long, slow braising that liberates the silky collagen in the connective tissue, leaving us with meat that is flavorful AND tender, as in pot roast or traditional beef stew. But no right-minded chef would ever dare cook a piece of Chuck as one would Tenderloin or Ribeye, right?


Enter Wagyu Chuck Roast.


While placing a recent order with Snake River Farms, I needed to pad my basket with enough goods to qualify for a discount AND cheap shipping. I saw that they were now offering a new product– "Black Label Wagyu Chuck Roast." For $48 a pop, it would essentially pay for itself with my accumulated discounts... and oh, how I was suddenly dying to experiment with this piece of meat!


I gave this 2.8 lb. cut a generous coating of kosher salt and let is sit for a few hours. I gave it a good scorching in my largest iron pan and then a slow roasting at 275ºF until it reached an internal temperature of 130ºF. The result?


It was as tender as any prime rib I've ever made... and it was MORE flavorful than any prime rib I've ever made. And a day later, when we re-heated a pair of slabs for a dinner of leftovers, it was better than any leftover prime rib I've ever tasted.


I think we might be onto something new and wonderful and AFFORDABLE here.


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NOTES:


Under no circumstances should one attempt this dish with anything but Wagyu beef.


Never pay full price at Snake River Farms. Get on their mailing list and everything will be on sale at some point.


12/16/23-- I made a correction to the original text: this cut as offered from SRF is "Black Grade" (richer than Prime) and not "Silver Grade," the Wagyu equivalent of Prime.



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