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Chucked

One of the side benefits of my new (well, six months old) job is that the hour or so that I used to spend commuting to and from the office is the make or break hour for planning ambitious meals. Not that we’ve been ambitious, mind you, but we certainly do more eating at home now and there are far fewer “I don’t want to cook, let’s order a pizza” nights than there used to be.

(Also, in case you’re the nosy type, I along with a few of my fellow Double Income No Kids friends are tracking all of our nightly dinner adventures on the Twitter feed DINKdinners.)

It’s also prime Farmer’s Market season, so every Saturday, Esteban and I are waking up early and scurrying down to the big market where we scope out the produce, and then we typically head out to what I call “the good meat place” to get some kind of animal protein for the week.

This week, I was in the mood for skirt steak. Oooh, marinated with cilantro and garlic and lime and maybe a little Vulcan Fire Salt for the hell of it? Yeah, that was just about perfect. Unfortunately, skirt steak isn’t terribly popular here in the land of Hamburger Helper and cream o’mushroom soup chuck roasts in the crock pot, so we headed over to one of the other meat counters that is reputable and doesn’t give me the vapors. They were out of skirt steak, but of course the almighty chuck roast was on sale and actually looked pretty good.

You should know that I’ve been fooled by chuck roasts before, so many times, and yet, I keep going back for more. Come on, baby, look at all of this marbling! they call out to me. They are like that ex-boyfriend who you know is a cheating asshole but you keep taking him back because he smells so nice and looks so adorable when he smiles and shows those dimples. I know better and yet, I just keep setting myself up for disappointment.

I had random delusions of turning it into burrito filling, but of course, didn’t follow through and ended up making your run-of-the-mill boring ass pot roast. And even after putting extra effort into it, applying all manner of flavor-building spices and aromatics, it STILL tasted super pedestrian. I mean, it was tasty, but tasty in a Swanson’s dinner kind of way.

Why do I do this? No, the question is why do I keep doing it? Even as pot roasts go, the chuck roast will never be as good as other cuts of meat in the same application. As far as I can tell, chuck roast exists for one purpose only: to be ground up and turned into meatloaf or braised with a bunch of cumin and chiles to later become an ingredient in burritos.  I even once followed Thomas Keller’s pot roast recipe to the letter which involved wine and a mirepoix and kitchen twine and a slow braise in my French oven — even after all of that, it was so underwhelming that I think I actually heard snoring coming from the carrots on the plate.

So tell me, commenters, what are your no fail super exciting and oh-so-delicious chuck roast recipes? Save me from another boring dinner! Tell me what I’m missing because generations of housewives and church lady cooks before me cannot possibly be wrong!

Also, you have until July 15th to enter to win a Wendy Bix 16×20 photo print! Details over on this post!

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10 Comments

  1. Beth wrote:

    My husband is the dinner maker and the two delicious chuck things I can think of that he’s done are:

    1) burgers, but if you do the meatloaf route you’ve probably already done this too. Delicious and randomly expensive when combined with sirloin, or even better with short rib.
    2) sliced reasonably thin, marinated in something Asian-y like soy/chile/ginger/garlic and then grilled.

    I didn’t know about DINKdinners – will have to follow!

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011 at 11:43 am | Permalink
  2. ak wrote:

    Oh, girlfriend…You must Embrace the land of cream o’ mushroom soup and use it to your advantage. Marinate meat with a cuban spice rub (God Bless Target and Archer Farms.) Brown meat whilst dribbling with Worchestershire and A1. Once browned, throw in some onions, sliced thinly. Sprinkle on a packet of Lipton Onion Soup mix. Add cream o’ mushroom soup. (Seriously.) And follow with anything else that looks tasty in your fridge ‘sauce’ department. (I’m partial to jerk marinade/seasonings, some Korean bbq sauce and a couple of shots of Tobasco.) Finish with a splash of wine and throw it in the oven. Still best in winter, though.

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Permalink
  3. beth wrote:

    I am not a big cooker of the cow since my teenager will not eat cow, however, give a look over at americastestkitchen.com. I have had excellent success with nearly everything I’ve tried from them.

    I did a quick search and yes, there are 4 jillion recipies for pot roast, but there were some other things as well.

    Now, if you have issues with pork butt or pork shoulder we could talk for days. I love me some piggy.

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Permalink
  4. mel wrote:

    The meat itself should be stabbed like you’re a mass murderer, for tenderizing. Or needle it, if you have a needler.

    Dynasty Chinese Brown Gravy Sauce. Do whatever you do to pot roast, but ALSO massage said roast generously with the sauce, straight from the jar. This will turn your meat and veggies nearly black, but make it insanely delicious. Also–try cooking a pork roast and a chuck roast together–the flavor is amazing.

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Permalink
  5. Melissa Heckman wrote:

    Ditto to what Beth said about americastestkitchen.com. I swear up and down and left and right by Cook’s Country magazine.

    Back when Cooking Light actually published light recipes, they did one called Yankee Pot Roast. You can look it up on cookinglight.com. I think I left out the rutabaga. I liked it in particular because the vegetables didn’t come out as complete mush. Which is exactly why my husband didn’t like it. Whatever, I just take some vegetables out when they are at the consistency I like and cook the rest until he’s happy.

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink
  6. mandy wrote:

    It makes a good carne guisada, even in a crock pot (but you have to brown it first).

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Permalink
  7. mandy wrote:

    Of course I didn’t look for a recipe until after I’d posted. This looks yummy, though I’ve not tried her recipe: http://homesicktexan.blogspot.com/2009/01/carne-guisada-tex-mex-stew.html.

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Permalink
  8. Monique wrote:

    I have nothing to add to this, but I am gleaning good hints. Just wanted to comment on the photograph – it took me until NOW to realize that it was radishes and scallions and not radishes and some really cool looking white flowers – I was on the verge of asking you what kind of flowers they were! So much for my mad obsevancy skills…

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Permalink
  9. Wendi wrote:

    I actually love chuck roast for my pot roast — it’s the only type of meat I use. I alternate between Pioneer Woman’s recipe (in warmer weather) and the Autumn Pot Roast recipe from Allrecipes.com for winter (love the gravy!)

    I also use chuck roast to make beef tips & noodles and beef stew (I use a recipe from Tasty Kitchen — it’s fantastic).

    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 11:12 am | Permalink
  10. Justine wrote:

    I have no recipes for pot roast (I think we must call it something different or else it’s a very US-ian thing) but your post hit a nerve because I have the exact same thing with lamb shanks. Everyone tells me how lovely and delicious they are blah, blah and every single time I cook or eat them I think “erk, tastes like fatty, gristly lamb”. And yet I too get sucked in time and again and think “maybe this time it’ll be different”. It never is. Although, the sauce they get cooked in is always tasty so I guess I could just see them as a way of ensuring a really delicious sauce and give the shanks to the dog.

    Tuesday, July 26, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

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