Beef Chuck at a Glance

Beef Cut Chuck png
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Primal: beef chuck is one of the primary primal cuts
Meat Buyer’s Guide variations: 113, 114A, 114B, 114C, 114D, 114E, 115, 115A, 115B, 115C, 116, 116A, 116B, 116C, 116D, 116E
Weight Ranges: 1 lb to 88 lb, see the Fresh Beef IMPS page for specifics as there is a wide range of cuts and weights
Best Cooking Methods: braising, slow cooking, stewing, pot roasting
Common Cuts: Square-cut Chuck, Cross-cut Chuck, Flatiron Steak, Shoulder Tender, Eye Roast, Under-Blade Steak

Ryan Adams has done an excellent series on different cuts of beef and has given permission to re-post his content here, with minor modifications for the Professional Chef audience.

There’s something comforting about those huge chunks of chuck roast. It’s a common cut, and yet some of my fondest memories are tied to it, as my grandmother made one killer pot roast. Maybe it’s a primal Pavlovian response, causing a rush of endorphins to my brain upon seeing all that muscle and fat. Either way, there is no doubt that if you want drool inducing roasts, you’ve got to head straight to the chuck.

Cuts of Beef Series: Square Cut Chuck

Beef Square-cut Chuck RoastPicture by whitneyinchicago

The chuck is essentially a whole cow shoulder, also known as a clod, and when removed from the forequarter is called a cross-cut chuck. It weighs about 100 pounds, and makes up roughly 23% of the carcass. The chuck primal itself is bigger than its brethren and harbors the most seam fat, too. With so much meat coming from one area, it means that it’s the most plentiful cut of beef available, and therefore the most economical cut you can find.

How To Butcher Chuck Roast Shoulder Clod

When the brisket is removed (don’t worry, we’ll be covering that barbecue darling soon), the cross-cut chuck becomes an arm chuck. Remove the foreshank, and we have a square-cut chuck which is composed of four large muscles and a bunch of little ones. The largest of the big muscles is the eye of chuck, and is often sold as chuck eye roast. The smallest of the large crew is actually something I’ve already covered, the shoulder tender. Moving on, the meat found under the shoulder blade is sometimes called under-blade pot roast or if cut into steaks, under-blade steaks. The meat above the blade, the aptly named top blade, is a small muscle that is shaped much like a triangle. You probably know it better by its marketing name, the flatiron steak.

The muscles that make up the square cut chuck are flavorful thanks to the amount of work they’ve done, and juicy due to the fat and connective tissue that is scattered throughout the area. The grain of the muscle is fairly coarse and unpredictable; it may run in different directions within one piece of meat and have varying degrees of tenderness and marbling.

Beef Chuck Roast Variations

Below are the most common variations of the Chuck Roast along with their IMPS/NAMP number.

Beef Chuck, Square-Cut IMPS/NAMP 113

This big boy is the whole square-cut of chuck, and it is one seriously massive hunk of beef. Since there is so much of the chuck, butchers are able to dissect it into an almost limitless number of reasonably priced pot roasts and steaks that are popular.

Beef Chuck 113 square-cutPhotograph: NAMP Meat Buyer’s Guide


Beef Chuck, Square-Cut, Boneless IMPS-NAMP 115

The same piece of meat as above, but without all of the bones and cartilage, and with some of the intercostal meat removed. The smaller section of meat is the shoulder, which includes things like the flatiron steak, the shoulder tender, and the shoulder center.

Beef Chuck Boneless Square Cut 115


Beef Chuck, Chuck Roll IMPS-NAMP 116A

Cut from the boneless square-cut chuck, the chuck roll contains the largest of the muscles found under the shoulder blade. The chuck roll can be cut into any size, and might be placed into netting or tied to keep its shape.

Beef Chuck Roll 116A


Beef Chuck, Chuck Eye Roll IMPS-NAMP 116D

This cut is very similar to the one above it, but is trimmed of some of the muscles, and some of the extra fat. It can be cut into steaks or into cubes for stew meat.

Beef Chuck Eye Roll NAMP 116D


Beef Shoulder, Top Blade Steak IMPS-NAMP 1114D

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the flatiron steak. An excellent cut of meat, the top blade steak is particularly tender when compared to other cuts from the chuck. One shoulder houses two of them, which are attached by a layer of tough connective tissue.

Beef Chuck Shoulder Clod Top Blade 114D


Chuck Roast Recipes


How To Butcher Chuck Roast Shoulder Clod Video


Cutting Guide for Beef Chuck Eye Roast

Great PDF’s by the Beef Checkoff

Chuck Eye Roast png Chuck 116 Breakdown png
Beef Chuck Eye Steak png Flatiron Steak Cutting Guide png

Comments from before Site Migration

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DAVID BUCHANAN    [ Oct 24, 2014  ]

Ed – I didn’t know the answer so I asked meat specialist John Cecala from Buedel Fine Meats for help. Here is his reply:

“In short I believe that Chuck Eye Log is a cut/term commonly used and defined in Australia.
In North America the standard Meat Buyer’s Guide defines the Chuck Eye Roll MBG #116D as the muscle group from the Chuck Roll that consists of the longissimus dorsi, spinalis dorsi, complexus, and multifidus dorsi. The chuck eye roll is separated from the chuck roll by cutting through the natural seams and shall be practically free of surface fat.”

“There is no North American Meat Buyer’s Guide definition of a Chuck Eye Log.  However the Handbook of Australian Meat defines a Chuck Eye Log as coming out of the Chuck Eye Roll as follows:
Chuck Eye Log is prepared from a Chuck Eye Roll and is the remaining eye muscle mass after the removal of rib meat at the ventral edge of the eye meat and parallel to the chine edge. The dorsal portion of the hump (M. rhomboideus) is removed by a straight cut parallel to the ventral edge.”

“So what all this means to me is that the Chuck Eye Log is almost exactly the same as the Chuck Eye Roll except that the underside is trimmed closer.”

“Here’s a helpful link: Handbook of Australian Beef

– John Cecala

ED []    [ Oct 22, 2014  ]

I am getting a little confused. What is the difference between Chuck Eye Roll and Chuck Eye Log?

According to the official USDA

Those two are the same. But there are many other places which suggest Chuck Eye Log is the centre piece of Chuck Eye Roll.

So which one is which?

DAVID BUCHANAN    [ Dec 10, 2013  ]

Jo – According to John Cecala of Buedel Fine Meats, “The two best options I can suggest as near alternative to Chuck Eye Roll are Chuck Flap (Chuck Tail Flap) and Boneless Chuck Short Ribs.”

JO []    [ Dec 06, 2013  ]

What is a good substitute for chuck eye roast?  Thank-you.


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