Selecting the right cut of roast for the cooking method will help ensure that the roast is tender and moist. Oven roasts are best for cooking with dry heat in a roasting pan or on the grill. Pot roasts are best for moist cooking and require a longer cooking time for the meat to become tender and develop a savory flavor. There are several cuts of both oven and pot roasts to choose from. Chuck roasts, rounds, rib roasts and sirloins are the four basic categories, and within each are several choices.
Chuck roasts are moderately priced pot roasts. They are sold bone-in, boned, rolled and tied. These roasts are very popular in home cooking. They have more fat than round roasts, which results in a deeper, richer flavor. Bone-in chucks are also known as arm pot roasts, round or O bone roasts, 7-bone and shoulder roasts. Boneless chuck roasts are sold as arm roasts, boneless cross rib, chuck eye, shoulder clod and mock tender roasts.
Round roasts are inexpensive, boneless roasts cut from the hindquarters of the animal. They are typically tougher than chuck roasts because they are cut from heavily exercised muscle. Round roasts can be used in place of chuck roasts, but may take longer to cook as a pot roast and will not have the depth of flavor that comes from the fat content in a chuck. The most common types of round roasts are top round, bottom round, bottom rump round, eye round and round tip roasts. Round roasts can be cooked with both dry and moist heat methods, but is best cooked as a pot roast. Round tip roasts are often cut into chunks for kabobs.
Rib roasts are the most expensive of the beef roasts. They are cut from ribs 6 to 12. These roasts, commonly called prime rib, standing, small end or first cut and large end or second cut rib roasts, require dry cooking for the best flavor. Rib eye roasts, also known as Delmonico roasts, have had the bones removed. Standing roasts include the bones, and are sold whole or as small end or large end rib roasts. The small end is considered to be the premium rib roast. The term prime rib generally refers to a rib roast, and not the grade of beef. Most rib roasts that are sold in grocery stores are choice grade cuts, whereas restaurants may have prime grade prime rib on the menu.
Sirloin roasts, depending on the cut, are in the low to moderate price range. They are cut from the hip area. Sirloin roasts are considered oven roasts, and are best cooked with dry heat. They include top loin, New York strip, filet mignon, tri-tip and tenderloin roasts. Tri-tip roasts can be cooked whole as a roast, are exceptionally flavorful when grilled and can also be cut into steaks, as can filet mignon and New York strip.
References and ResourcesCattlemen’s Beef Board and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association: Know Your Cuts and How to Cook Them
Chow: Beef Chuck Roasts and Steaks
Recipe Tips: Eye Round Roast, Beef
Recipe Tips: Beef-Pot Roasts
Recipe Tips: Beef-Oven Roasts