Boneless beef chuck is a cut of bone-free meat that comes from the shoulder and upper leg of a cow. It is often considered of lesser quality than other cuts of beef, and is therefore typically less expensive per pound, although this varies by location. As boneless chuck is relatively tough in texture when compared to cuts such as sirloin and short loin, it is typically cooked slowly or braised, although it can also be grilled or broiled.
The shoulder area of a cow is widely referred to as the chuck portion, and varying cuts of meat from this area of the cow are known as beef chuck. The boneless variety is usually sold or packaged as a roast, steak, or chopped-up stew meat. Boneless beef chuck is also popular for ground beef, although it tends to contain more fat than ground sirloin or round steak.
Beef chuck comes from an area that is used by the cow to walk and move around, making it naturally tougher than cuts of beef from the center of the cow, which is not typically used for movement; therefore, this cut is usually considered of lesser quality than cuts from the center. Boneless beef chuck also comes from a relatively large area of the cow when compared to other cuts of beef and is therefore more plentiful. For both of these reasons, boneless beef chuck is often one of the cheapest cuts of beef available. With proper cooking, it can make for a tender and flavorful dish.
Unlike other types of beef, which can typically be cooked at a high temperature with little to no preparation, boneless beef chuck is best prepared with slow cooking or braising. Allowing the beef to cook over a long period of time breaks down the connective tissue in the meat that makes it tougher than other cuts, and braising it helps the meat to retain its moisture. For this reason, boneless chuck is one of the most popular cuts of meat for pot roasts and beef stews. If continuously basted and cooked in very low heat, high quality cuts of boneless beef chuck can do well with a dry heat cooking method, although this tends to work best if the meat is only cooked to medium or lower in internal temperature.
While boneless beef chuck is most popular as a pot roast or braised meat, it can also be grilled if prepared properly in advance. Marinades that contain acids such as vinegar, fruit, and citrus juices help to break down the connective tissue in the meat in the same manner as slow braising does when it is cooked as a pot roast. Boneless beef chuck that is allowed to marinate for a fair amount of time can be cooked on a grill or in a pan and served as a steak. As with the dry roasting method, however, boneless chuck is typically best at a temperature between medium rare and medium.