Barbecue sandwiches, carnitas or Chinese-style beef and broccoli -- any dish that requires tender, shredded beef calls for chuck roast by default. Chuck roast, sometimes called chuck shoulder, has a wealth of marbling and connective tissue, which is exactly what you need to transform the tough cut to tender, shreddable beef. Your main investment when making shredded beef is time, so set aside a lazy weekend afternoon for about 6 or 7 hours of slow cooking to have the dish ready in time for dinner.
Heat the oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat on the stove.
Trim any excess fat from the surface of the beef. Season the chuck roast to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sear the chuck roast on both sides until dark golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes total.
Pour enough liquid -- beef broth, chicken stock or water -- in the Dutch oven to reach a little over halfway up the sides of the beef. Add herbs, spices and aromatics -- diced onions, garlic, black peppercorns and thyme are beef classics, but use any flavorings you fancy -- and cover the Dutch oven with the lid.
Slide the Dutch oven onto the middle oven rack. Cook the beef until you can pull it apart without hesitation, about 6 to 7 hours.
Transfer the beef to a shallow dish and let it cool; reserve the drippings. Using 2 forks held back to back, pull the beef apart until it's finely shredded. Discard any connective tissue that separates from the meat fibers.
Heat the shredded beef with the drippings and a sauce in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat, if desired.
Southwestern Shredded Beef
Heat the oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Trim any excess fat from the surface of the beef. Season the beef to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Sear the beef on both sides until dark golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes total. Heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat on the stove.
Saute a few cups of sofrito -- a mix of diced onions, bell peppers of various colors, and garlic -- until fragrant, about 3 or 4 minutes. Slide the sofrito to one side of the pan and lay the beef down.
Saute the beef until dark golden brown on both sides, about 3 or 4 minutes total. Add enough stock and stew tomatoes to almost cover the beef.
Add aromatics, herbs and spices to taste. Cilantro, black peppercorns, sliced chiles, cumin, oregano and cayenne pepper all fit the Southwestern flavor profile. Cover the Dutch oven and place it in the oven.
Cook the beef until fork tender, about 6 to 7 hours. Transfer the beef to a shallow dish and shred it finely using two forks.
You can use any oven-safe pot with a tight-fitting lid or a slow cooker in place of a Dutch oven.