BBQ FAQ: Chuck Roast

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[I have a seven pound chuck roast. Can I barbecue it?]

Dave Crawford--

A little while ago I got some chuck roasts on sale at Albertson's for $.99/lb. I chose what I thought were the best 3 roasts in the case when I was there--each about 7 lbs., 3 inches thick, and fairly well marbled.

I took one out of the freezer the day before early in the morning and let it thaw on the counter for a couple hours, just enough so the frost was gone off the top but the bottom was still hard as a rock. I moved the meat into a 2 gallon Ziploc bag, added most of a can of Dr. Pepper, most of a can of beer, and several healthy shakes of Tapatio hot sauce (my favorite all-round sauce, hotter than Tabasco with less vinegar, and cheap.) I let it marinate on the counter until mostly thawed, then moved it to the refrigerator overnight, turned it once in a while until I went to bed.

Fired up the Hondo about 7:30 a.m. with most of a chimney of mesquite lump charcoal. Took the meat out of the refrigerator as soon as the fire was lit. Dumped the chimney of charcoal into the firebox when it was hot and added a split log of ash-wood. Once it was burning I closed the firebox, made sure the dampers were open, waited for the grill temperature to come up to about 200F, and put on the meat. These roasts have plenty of fat through them, but no fat cap like a brisket or a butt so I put a layer of thick bacon on top.

About 4:30 p.m. the meat was about 150F internal temperature. Sure takes a long time to get the meat up to 160F. I moved the roast into a Dutch oven in the kitchen with the oven set to a little over 250F for the last hour and a half. Took the meat out of the oven 5:45 p.m. and let it rest in the Dutch oven until 6:10. Then I cut it off the bone to serve. I've cooked plenty of beef on my smoker, always with mixed reviews. This is the first time I've used the Dutch Oven. My wife raved about this one. She rated it as one of my top 3 Q's ever.

Wayne Scholtes--

Just did a boneless rump roast yesterday after putting Bear's rub on it Saturday. It took 7 1/2 hours at a door thermometer reading of 215F to reach an internal temperature of 150F. The smoke boxes were filled with dry hickory chips surrounding one onion per box. Boy, did that smoke smell good! The meat was so good--nice smoke flavor, tender, and juicy. I'd say Bear is onto something with that rub. I do think that I'll take the next roast out when it hits 145F, because I like it a bit less done than what it ended up this time. (I still ate half of it after that first warm slice.) I will definitely stock up on these the next time they're on sale.

Danny Gaulden--

Here's another kind of beef that is barbecued at some joints--"shoulder clods". They are cut a little ways down from the shoulder (more on the leg), and weight about 20-25 pounds. Kind of looks like a goose neck bottom round, but are fatter. They need to be barbecued slow and easy, and can be quite tasty. This cut of meat is for a larger crowd. On larger roasts you need to cut them up into sections so the smoke can penetrate.

Bill Wight--

I did a beef tri-tip roast in my NBBD the other day. It was 2 lbs. and had about a 3/8" fat cap on one side. I gave it a rub the night before with some Willingham W'HAM dry rub and smoked it fat cap up for about 2 1/2 hours at 270F. I used the Polder probe and took it out of the smoker at an internal temperature of 145F. It was still juicy-red inside with a nice smoke ring. It was excellent. So add those tri-tips to your list of barbecue meats. Tasty, tender and quick to smoke.

[Just what is a tri-tip roast?]

Alex Baker--

From a recent issue of "On The Grill" magazine:

"The tri-tip is one triangular shaped muscle from the bottom sirloin section of the beef carcass. Until recently, most butchers cut sirloins with the bone in and a small piece of tri-tip was a non-descript part of the sirloin steak. Since boxed beef has become the norm, the entire carcass is boned out at the packing plant and individual muscles are cut and shipped in vacuum packages. "


My Boy, come sit at your ol' father's knee and let me tell a tale or two about barbecuing a chuck roast. First you may want to do a dry rub on it and maybe let him sit for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. Then make your fire and let it burn down good, as you want to cook slow and long. If the roast is extra lean, you may want to lard it, or put a few slices of bacon on top of it for a while. Make you a good mop sauce and keep the roast wet. Cook him about an hour per pound, mopping about each 1/2 hour. Watch it, mop it and wait--it be well worth the time and work. When it's done, chop it up and put it in a Dutch oven and put a good barbecue sauce over it and heat slowly and call me. I be right there.

Belly's Texas-Style Dry Rub

  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper, heat level to your liking
  • 1 tablespoon garlic power ground
  • 1 tablespoon onion power
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (white or brown)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika

Mix ingredients and rub into meat well and let the meat sit until it is dry.

Put the meat into your smoker at 220F. Mop after it has cooked for about two hours and then every 1/2 hour.

Belly's Texas-Style Beef Mop

  • 1/2 cup Texas-Style Dry Rub
  • 1 cup beer
  • 1 cup Dr. Pepper
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar (4%),
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 whole lemon sliced
  • 1 whole onion sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 dashes Louisiana hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Add the dry rub to a saucepan and add the beer, Dr. Pepper and heat to a low boil. Then add the vinegar and oil and the other ingredients. Add enough water to make a total of about four cups and keep it warm over low heat or on/in your smoker.

Give that roast the fork test for tenderness--it should go in easy. Takes 4-5 hours. Please don't use a vinegar finishing sauce, try this:

Belly's Texas-Style Finishing Sauce

  • 5 ounce Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups Dr. pepper
  • 1 dash Tabasco sauce (to taste)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup good salad oil
  • 3 teaspoon garlic power
  • 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice

Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan and bring to a low boil. Remove from heat and let the sauce sit all the time you're cooking the meat. Adjust the sauce to your own taste--heat and salt.

[I had some barbecued top round at a county fair and it had no smoke flavor. Why was this?]

Danny Gaulden--

I never like to barbecue top round, for it is so thick, the smoke just can't penetrate it well. I do have a couple of churches that insist on this type of meat for they only have me smoke it, and they do their own slicing. That's why they like it--little fat to trim, easy to slice on a slicer. Anyway, I always cut the big rounds into 3 smaller pieces so that the smoke will get in there and do a better job, but it still doesn't start to compare to a good juicy brisket smoked right.

[Question on smoking a prime rib. How does one achieve a nice bark and deep smoke penetration into a piece of meat that is naturally tender, will be taken off the smoker at a much lower internal temperature than a brisket, or a butt, therefore not requiring a long, slow smoking, barbecuing time?]

Danny Gaulden--

Here's how I do rib roast (prime rib):

First of all, you need to use a wood that is not totally cured. It needs to be a little on the green side. Remember, you aren't going to have this cut of meat on the smoker that long, therefore you don't have a lot of time for deep smoking. A dry wood won't do the job. Start out at about 225F for the first hour and have a nice, medium thick, white smoke coming out of the stack--not super thick, just medium thick. A rib roast will absorb a surprising amount of smoke the first hour if held around this temperature, for the pores remain open a little longer. After that, you can go to a drier wood, and kick the temperature up to about 250 to 270F. This will allow you get a nice crust and at the same time not barbecue so fast that you have too little smoking time. You have to know the trick here--how hot for a bark, but not so hot that you have too small of a smoking time window. As you are barbecuing around the 250F plus range, kick in a small greener log to the side of the burning coals (or logs), and keep a little smoke going the whole time. Take off at desired doneness. It works.

[I heard about brining a beef chuck roast and then smoking it. Anybody ever tried this?]

Dan Gill--

Brining works really well for whole beef shoulders (chuck). I have brined the roast in the refrigerator in my pastrami brine for 12 hours or so and it was the best chuck I ever had. I slow smoked it at around 225F for about 10 hours.

Dan Gill's Pastrami Brine

  • 4 quarts cold water
  • 1 1/5 pounds Kosher or pickling salt
  • 1/4 pound brown sugar OR 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 teaspoon Prague powder
  • 2 tablespoons pickling spice
  • 1 tablespoon garlic juice, minced, or crushed
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