What the Cut?: Know Your Roasts

by Kyle Cooper
Posted on

There are a lot of choices when it comes to roasts. Not even considering the different choices of animal varieties, there are several different types of roasts with unique characteristics. Depending on where you are in the world or even the US, each roast could be called or cut differently.

Fatty or lean, shreddable or sliced, here is a quick introduction to the roasts we offer at Buy Ranch Direct.

BEEF/BISON

Chuck Roast

Chuck Roasts are built for pot roasts. Tough muscle fibers from supporting the animal's locomotion is complemented with some intense marbling that also comes with a lot of connective tissue. The working muscles give a deep beef flavor and the marbling keeps it juicy. Long slow cooks do their job in breaking up the connective tissue that allows the meat to fall apart.

  • AKA: Chuck Pot Roast, Chuck Eye Roast, Chuck Roll Roast
  • PrimalChuck
  • LocationShoulder
  • Shreds
  • Best cooked:  braised or slow cooked.

Cross Rib Roast

Cross Rib Roasts are another popular cut for pot roasts. It's located lower down the shoulder as it connects with the rib portion of the animal. This location makes it a little less tender but its lack of shredability is made up by its deep beef flavor and the addition of ribs 2-5 gives a braised dish like pot roast a beautiful silky broth. It's best when cut into cubes and slow cooked as it slices better than it shreds.  Also available as a boneless roast.

  • AKABoston Cut, Bread & Butter Cut, Cross Rib Chuck Roast, English Roast, English Roll, Thick Rib Roast. 
  • Primal: Chuck
  • Location: The lower part of the shoulder behind the arm.
  • Slices well and shreds some.
  • Best cooked: pot roasts, braises, slow-cookers and stews.


  • Rump Roast

    Rump Roasts shine as roast beef. It has a tighter muscle structure with less marbling that causes it to dry out when over cooked. It's not going to shred like a chuck roast, so it's not a good choice for a pot roast but is a great choice for a roast beef dinner or sliced thin for deli-style roast beef.

    • AKADiamond Cut Roast, Manhattan Roast
    • Primal: Round
    • Location: Above the hip
    • Slice
    • Best cooked: Roasted/Baked

     

    Ball Tip Roast

    Ball Tip Roasts are often over looked due to their extremely low fat content. This of course means that they have a tendency to dry out but they work well as a deep braised roast beef (fully submerged). Slice for sandwiches and the like.

    • AKAPetite Sirloin
    • PrimalSirloin
    • Locationbetween the loin and the round. The "waist" of the animal.
    • Slice thin
    • Best cookedRoast/Bake, Deep Braise

     

    TRI-TIP ROAST 

    Tri-Tip roasts are a California original. Cut from the bottom sirloin, they are a great mix of beefy and tender and take marinades very well. For best results, cook more like a giant steak than a roast.

    • AKATriangle, Bottom Sirloin
    • PrimalSirloin
    • LocationBottom Sirloin
    • Slice
    • Best cooked: Indirect Grill, Roast/Bake, Broil.

     

    BRISKET

    Briskets have long been an economical choice when wanting to roast a large piece of meat. The recent surge in hobbyist smoker enthusiasts has created a new demand for the juicy and flavorful roast. Synonymous with Texas BBQ, briskets are also used for pastrami. There are two pieces for briskets, the point and the flat. The point is intensely marbled and juicy. The flat is a leaner cut that is similar to a flank steak in appearance. Both cook well over long periods of time, choosing between the two comes down to personal preference of fat content.

    • AKAWhole Brisket, Brisket Point, Brisket Flat
    • Primal: Brisket
    • Location: Lower front. The "breast"
    • Slices
    • Best cooked: Smoker, Roast, Braise, Slow Cooker.

     

    SIRLOIN CAP

    This is the hidden gem. Like the tri-tip, this roast presents more like a giant steak and is one of my personal favorite cuts due to it's versatility. It can be cut into steaks and cooked as such or can be treated as one big piece. If you ever been to a Brazilian steak house and have seen the spits full of half-moon shaped steaks with a thick fat cap stacked end-to-end, that's a sirloin cap. Unique enough to impress guests but priced well to have a couple stashed away in the freezer, they are awesome.

    • AKABeef Loin, Coulotte, Picanha
    • PrimalSirloin
    • LocationTop Sirloin
    • Slices
    • Best cooked: Roast/Bake, Stir Fry, Indirect Grill.

    PORK

    Butt Roast

    The Butt Roast is the pig's answer to the chuck roast. Located in the shoulder, it's called a Butt roast because of the barrel container called "butts" that were used to transport them. Wonderfully flavored with delicious fattiness, this is what southern pull pork is made from. That's all I have to say about that. Available bone-in or boneless.

    • AKAShoulder, Boston Butt, Boston Shoulder
    • Primal: Shoulder
    • Location: Top of the shoulder away from the arm
    • Shreds
    • Best cooked: Smoker, Braise, Slow Cooker

     

    Picnic Roast

    Similar to the Butt Roast in location but just a little lower on the shoulder and includes the very top of the arm. Less "fall apart" tender but just a flavorful, maybe even more so. This is a great alternative to the standard. Available bone-in or boneless.

    • AKAFresh Picnic, Shoulder Arm Picnic
    • Primal: Shoulder
    • Location: just above the arm/shank.
    • Shreds or slices
    • Best cooked: Indirect Grill, smoker, roast, braise.

     

    Loin Roast

    Pork Loin roast are juicy and tender, perfect for a traditional roast dinner. They are located in the front portion of the back, just behind the shoulders. Available as bone-in or boneless and is generally tied into a round shape for roasting.

    • AKACenter Cut Roast, New York Roast, Top Loin Roast, Ribeye Roast
    • Primal: Loin
    • Location: Above the ribs
    • Slices
    • Best cooked: Roast

     

    Tenderloin Roast

    Tenderloin roasts are often confused with loin roasts because the names are similar. Tender and juicy like the Loin Roast, that's where the similarities end. The long, narrower shape of the tenderloin causes it to cook much faster, but also makes it a better fit for marinades and rubs, sometimes even wrapped in bacon and cut into filet medallions. Just sayin'.

    • AKA: none
    • Primal: Loin
    • Location: On the back behind the loin and ribs.
    • Slices
    • Best cooked: Pan Seared, Roasted, Grilled, fajitas or stir fry.

     

    Ham Roast

    Behind bacon, ham might be the most recognizable cut of pork. Located above the rear legs -- should be called the butt, but whatever -- hams are roasted for holidays and lunchmeat or cured and prized by foodie cultures around the world. Available bone-in or boneless. Pictured is a cooked ham.

    • AKA: Fresh Ham
    • Primal: Leg
    • Location: Upper portion of the hind legs
    • Slices
    • Best cooked: Roasted or Cured

     

    LAMB

    Lamb Shoulder

    If there is such a thing as an everyday lamb roast, this is it. Tender and juicy with that wonderful lamb flavor, a shoulder roast is the perfect choice for a lamb stew, braise or roast. Available as bone-in or boneless. 

    • Primal: Front 
    • Location: upper portion of the front leg
    • Shreds
    • Best cooked: Roast, Slow Cook, Stew, Braise

     

    Frenched Rack Roast

    A lamb classic, these beautiful roasts present well after being trimmed of the fat and meat around the tip of the bone. With 8 bones per roast, one rack makes a perfect dinner for two or can be cut into individual ribs to make kid friendly "lollipops." Fancy can be made fancier by tying two racks together and forming them into a ring and roasted as a "crown." Great when marinated with lemon, garlic, thyme, rosemary or mint. Don't forget the EVOO.

    • Primal: Loin
    • Location: on the upper portion of the back above the ribs.
    • Slices
    • Best cooked: Roasted, Grilled, Pan-Seared

     

    Leg Roast

    If the shoulder is the everyday driver, a Leg Roast is the show car. The rear leg roast presents well with the bone-in but is also available as boneless. This is the Christmas Roast. Pictured boneless.

    • PrimalLeg
    • LocationRear Leg
    • Shreds some but slices well
    • Best cooked: Roast, Slow Cook, Stew, Braise

     

    So there we have it. A crash course in grass-fed & finished roasts. While there are plenty more roast variations, these are the ones that we regularly carry or can easily get. Don't see something you want? Check our pre-order section of our website. Still don't see what you're looking for? Send us an email at info.buyranchdirect@gmail.com and we can try to work something out.

     

     

     

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