A Chuck For Chuck

OmahaSteaks.com, Inc.


GUEST: Chuck: Owner, Turk-o-rama

AB: Hey, what's up, Chuck?
CHUCK: Yo, Mr. Brown. This is the pot roast aisle, right?
AB: Well, there's not really a pot roast aisle per se ...
  C: Well, 'cause it's Thursday night and Thursday night is pot roast night at Mom's. She usually makes it Thursday nights.
AB: Why isn't she making it tonight?
  C: She's gone. Mom's gone.
AB: Oh, man. I ... Chuck, I didn't know. Was it her ticker?
  C: Branson, Missouri.
AB: Oh, she ditched you for Tony Orlando. That's harsh.
  C: Yeah. And on pot roast night, too.
AB: Whof. Tie a yellow ribbon around that.
  C: So this is where pot roast comes from, right?
AB: Actually, that's chicken. Um, look, Chuck, how much money you got?
  C: I don't know. Ten bucks maybe.
AB: That'll be enough to cover our expenses.
  C: Wh, wh, wh, expenses?
AB: Hey, what kind of guy would leave another guy all alone on pot roast night?
  C: Mr. Brown, this looks like the beginning of a beautiful good eats.
AB: You know, that's usually my line, Chuck.
  C: Oh, gah ... I'm sorry.

Kroger: Alpharetta, GA - 10:10 am

  C: There's so much meat. I'm afraid.
AB: Aww, don't be. Just, uh, think like your Mom would.
  C: Okay. Put on a sweater ...
AB: About the meat, I mean.
  C: Don't change the subject, Mister.
AB: Ha, ha. Look, during really tough times your Mom would have bought the cheapest cut of beef she could have found. Just do the same thing.
  C: Okay. That one's 29 cents.
AB: That's soup bones. What we need is chuck.
  C: Aw, that's nice of you to say.
AB: The meat, I mean, is chuck.
  C: Is?
AB: Chuck.
  C: Yeah.
AB: I'm trying to tell you the name of the meat.
  C: So what's stopping you?
AB: Chuck.
  C: No, I'm the one that needs to know.
AB: The best thing for pot roast is chuck.
  C: But I don't even know how to cook it!
AB: See, chuck.
  C: Yeah!  What is it?*
AB: [leaves]
  C: Mr. Brown. Where are you going?


GUEST: Baker #1 & #2

  AB: [is putting frosting on a "steer" cake]
BAKER #1: [notices "steer" cake] Nice bones.
  AB: Hey, you think? Yeah, it's not bad. Not anatomically correct but what do you think?
BAKER #2: [shrugs and walks off]
    C: Yeah, it's beautiful. Nice rump.
  AB: Well it is ... look, that's not important. Look, Chuck, this is a steer.
    C: Yeah, I know. I saw the Steak Show.

For a much better beef diagram, visit www.foodtv.com.

AB: Okay, then tell me where the best steaks come from.
  C: Um, the part farthest away from the hoof or the horn is the most tender cut.
AB: And therefore the most ...
  C: ... um ...
AB: ... expensive.
  C: Expensive.
AB: Which is why your Mom never would have gone in here for pot roast. She would have reached for the shoulder or chuck.
  C: She named it after me.
AB: No, she didn't name it after you. It's actually old cowboy jargon. 'Chuck' basically means food, you know, like 'chuck wagon'. Anyway, what's important is that it makes up nearly 23 percent of the carcass, okay?  That means that it is the most plentiful cut and therefore is the most economical cut.
  C: Great. Let's have some cake.
AB: Let's not have some cake yet. There's a lesson here, okay? Now this cake is homogenous, right? Anywhere you cut it it's going to be the same. Not so with chuck. So when you cut into this, you better know where you're going.

Although beef shoulder is referred to as "chuck", all other animal shoulders
are simply called "shoulder". Pork shoulders however are known as "butts".

AB: Chuck, the first thing that most butchers are going to do when faced with the chuck primal, is they're going to take a big knife or a saw, probably, and whack off this whole rib section all the way to the forearm.
  C: Is that Mom's pot roast?
AB: Well, actually there are some roasts in here. That's where the arm roast comes from. But it's not a very good roast. As for the ribs, you can make that into a rib roast but, again, I'd avoid them for this.
  C: Is that the pot roast?
AB: This is the pot roast. This is the shoulder blade and that is where the best meat of the chuck lies. The problem is is that the meat on this end [near the head] is different from the meat on that end [away from the head].
  C: Well how do you know what to choose?
AB: By the shape of the bone left in the roast. Look. Look at it this way. If you make a cut here [near the head], okay? Now that first roast there is going to have a very small piece of shoulder blade like, uh, like this. [holds one up] See. There's the shoulder blade. It's got a big ridge on it. Now this is a perfectly good pot roast, okay? But if we keep cutting, say, we move into the middle of the [shoulder] blade right about here. Okay, as you can see the piece of bone is going to be longer, right? That's going to look something like, well, something like a ...
  C: A seven.
AB: ... a seven. Which is why this entire class of roast is called a seven bone roast. You cannot go wrong with this kind of roast for pot roast, okay? But it does get a little bit better than this if you go all the way to the back of the blade. See that piece right there? There's only going to be one of them in each animal—at least on each side—but it's going to have a very long piece of shoulder blade like this, okay? That is the crème de la crème because it's got a long blade.

AB: If this seems confusing, just remember this: you always want to go with a piece of meat that's got blade in the name, you want it to be cross cut like a steak, and you want it to have at least some piece of bone in it and you can't go wrong. In fact, this seven bone right here, this is my standard pot roast. There you go.

Pot Roast Check List:

  • "Blade" in name

  • Cross Cut

  • Bone - the longer
    the better

  C: Pot roast it is. Don't we need vegetables and stuff?
AB: Oh sure, we'll pick up some onions and some garlic on our way out but otherwise, let's remain pure to the roast.

The longer the bone in the Blade Roast - the more tender the meat will be.

Chuck's Trailer, Outside and In

AB: I see you still have the Turkey Putt-Putt course over there.
  C: It's Gobble Golf.

Chuck's Turk-o-rama

AB: Gobble Golf? Cool. Listen, Chuck. You know the thing about pot roast that's really important to remember is that it was born as a kind of child of necessity, okay? I mean, imagine it's late winter and there's nothing left to eat on the farm but the tough ole' plough ox and whatever little remnants you can scrounge out of the root cellar.
  C: I don't have a root cellar.
AB: [looks under trailer] No. No. I, I guess you don't. Um, your place?
  C: Yeah. [spreads arms displaying the trailer] Sweet.
AB: Yeah, that's a, that's a tricked out trailer you got there. Absolutely.
  C: [opens door for Alton and offers him to go inside]
AB: You sure?
  C: After you.
AB: You sure it's okay? Nothing to lose, I guess. Now you see Chuck, the thing about pot roast is that it's all about what you've got on hand, okay? The point is to think pot roast. You going to think pot roast with me?
  C: Think pot roast.
AB: Okay. Besides the meat, okay we've got right here—we need to talk about sanitation later on—besides the meat you're going to need spices, ...
  C: Spices.
AB: ... aromatics, ...
  C: Aromatics.
AB: ... a flavorful liquid, ...
  C: A flavorful liquid.
AB: ... and chunkies.
  C: Chunkies.
AB: Um, hm.
  C: Chunkies?

AB: It's a technical term. Look. Start by chopping up one onion and then peel and lightly crush 5, we'll let's make it 6, cloves of garlic.

1 med. onion, chopped
5-6 garlic cloves, mashed

  C: Okay. Why?
AB: Well, just consider them flavor bombs that have to be armed, okay? All right. Where would I find your big Dutch oven?
  C: Uh ...
AB: A lidded flame-proof casserole?
  C: Mmm ...
AB: [sighs heavily] Okay, uh, don't panic. An electric frying pan.
  C: Nada.
AB: Brazier.
  C: Oh, brassiere, ....
AB: Ooh, what we're talking about here is a cooking vessel.
  C: Oh, sure, but it's kind of old [brings out cast iron skillet]
AB: Oh, old is gold my friend. Old is gold. Get to whittling.

    So, take your heaviest, widest skillet and get it rocket hot over high heat. Now if you're using cast iron it could easily 3, 4 or maybe even 5 minutes, depending.

AB: Okay, you've got some dried spices around here?
  C: Ehhh ...
AB: Lucky for you I never leave home without them.

    Let's see. What'll it be? Hmm. We've got a lot of choices. Ah. Cumin. My favorite. Ground version of a Mediterranean seed, you know.

AB: Salt?
  C: [crying now from the onions] By the stove.

AB: By the stove. By the stove. [finds salt dispenser like the one he uses] Excellent. Okay, when you're done whittling your lily there, I want you to liberally rub that piece of meat, both sides, with kosher salt and cumin. Now, uh, do you mind if I poke around a little?

Liberally rub both sides of meat with Kosher salt and cumin.

  C: Be my guest.
AB: Okay. Hmm. Let's see what we got here. Hmm. [finds can of tomato juice and raisins] Meager, but maybe. [finds some olives in the fridge] Having a cocktail party there, Chuck?
  C: Yeah, week from Friday. Do you want to come?
AB: We'll see. Too bad you don't have any balsamic vinegar though.
  C: Check the stove.
AB: Huh. Inconceivable.
  C: So what do you want me to do with the garlic?
AB: Ahh. [crushes the garlic with a big can] Rub on?
  C: Rub on.

AB: Let's go. Pretty. Now the point here is to get everything right in contact with the pan. Now this initial searing process is crucial if we wish to employ the Maillard Principal.

Also known as the
Maillard Reaction.

  C: Who?
AB: Not who, what. You see, when meeting with high heat, the proteins and sugars in meat get together and do a molecular mambo which kind of forms a bunch of new compounds, okay? And that is why foods that are seared, sautéed, roasted and grilled not only taste really, really good but look brown.
  C: Hmm. [begins to peek under the meat]
AB: Hey, hey, hey. What are you kidding? Got to wait at least two minutes.
      Maillard works alone.

The Maillard Reaction is one of the "browning reactions"
which includes caramelization.

The Trailer Kitchen - 2 minutes later

[Chuck and Alton are playing Rock-Paper-Scissors: Alton rock, Chuck scissors]

AB: Ha, ha, ha, ha.
  C: Grrr.
AB: One more. One more. All right. [Alton rock, Chuck paper]
  C: Yeah, ah ...
AB: Ah, hmmm, ... Up. Two minutes. Better go give it a check. Just pick up the edge and look under. Remember you're looking for brown, not black. Black is for coffee, caviar and squid ink. Whatcha got?
  C: Golden brown and delicious.
AB: Aaah. Words to live by, my boy. All right. Reach in, grab center-mass and flip her over. Get a hold of the pan and just flip it right over again. There you go. Now, uh, since the first side sucked a good bit of heat out of that pan, it's probably going to take about a minute longer to do this side. So we'll count on three minutes. And by the way, since your ventilation system is a little woefully underpowered, you better crack a window.

Remember, even the best ventilation system won't work
unless you open a window or outer door to allow new air in.

[continuing to play Rock-Paper-Scissors: Alton and Chuck scissors and then both scissors again]

3 minutes later

AB: Oogh. This is useless. Three minutes is up. Time to look at the meat.
  C: Mmmm.
AB: That looks good. You got a platter?
  C: Down there in the drawer.
AB:  All right. Now we're going to get that out of the pan and I want you to flip it over so that the hot side is up, okay? Nice and gentle.
  C: Aaaaah.

AB: Good job. Okay, we're just going to let that cool down. Now you can see that some of the fat has rendered out of the meat but it's not going to be enough to lubricate our aromatics so we'll add a [brings out large container of oil] ... gee, you like to buy in bulk, don't ya? ... we'll add, maybe, another couple of teaspoons of oil. There. Now the aromatics. That's your cue, Chuck.

2 tsp. canola or vegetable oil

  C: Oh.
AB: Right into the pan there. Good. Now stir. Stir. Go ahead and turn the heat down to low, all right? Because there is a lot of heat stored up in the pan. We don't need to go too far. Really get that all coated up. Good. Now just keep stirring until that turns translucent.
  C: Then what?
AB: Aah. Then comes the flavorful liquid portion of the program. Now, uh, traditionally we could use, well, wine, broth, just about anything. If we'd used some roasted vegetables in this we could have even just gotten by with water.
  C: I've got water.
AB: Yeah, but we also have this. Now, uh, where are your measuring cups?
  C: Hmm. Jelly jar will do?

AB: Jelly ... well, it depends on the jar. Let's see. Yeah, that's one cup, 8 ounces, 16 tablespoons.

1 Cup tomato juice

  C: Forty eight teaspoons, 2 gills, 64 drams, 3840 minims.
AB: What? No metric?
  C: 236 milliliters.
AB: Nobody likes a know-it-all, Chuck.
  C: Sorry.

AB: Stir. Now we're also going to need a little bit of acidity. That's where your vinegar is going to come in. And we're going to go with about a third of a cup.

1/3 Cup balsamic vinegar

  C: 71.6 milliliters.*

AB: Make it 80, Rain Man. Stir. Stir. Now we go with the chunkies. Keep stirring. We want all of the little brown bits on the bottom to dissolve. I'm going to throw in just a handful of dark raisins. There we go. Excuse me. Get around here. And some olives—Oops. No, I'd better go this way—drained olives. Two handfuls. Crushed, slightly. Keep stirring. Keep stirring.

1/2  Cup dark raisins

1 Cup stuffed green olives

AB: Okay, turn the heat up just a little bit. One more handful. There we go. Good. Bring that up to a simmer and let it reduce until the liquid's down by about half.
  C: Why?
AB: Well, we want the liquid to concentrate, to become all that it can be.
  C: Why?
AB: [sigh] I'll tell you later. Do you have any foil?
  C: Sure. But it's busy.
AB: Busy?


AB: Busy? How exactly does aluminum get busy?
  C: Oh. Made it myself.
AB: You don't say.
  C: I got the idea from a neighbor of mine.
AB: Yeah?
  C: You know he had this hat made out of aluminum foil.
AB: Yeah?
  C: He says that it helps keep out The Signals.
AB: Signals.
  C: Government mind control.
AB: Heeh. Oh.
  C: He says that aluminum foil has a bunch of unique, thermal-electrive-conductive characteristics which make it ideal for lots of jobs.
AB: Well, frightening as your schizophrenic neighbor is, he's right. Aluminum is amazing stuff. You know that although it's the most common substance in the earth's crust aside from, of course, oxygen and silicon, it never appears in its metallic form in nature. In fact, it's almost always locked inside a rock like, uh, [picks up a rock from the ground] oh, hey this bauxite for instance. Loaded with the stuff. Now you just shinny on up and unravel about six feet of your dish there and I'm just going to park it here in this aluminum lounge chair and take myself a nap.
  C: You tired?
AB: No. It's just an excuse for a dream sequence.

Aluminum Processing Plant

    [voice over] Unleashing the aluminum in bauxite is no easy trick. First the ore must be pulverized and refined into a powder called alumina which is then dissolved in molten sodium aluminum fluoride known to school children everywhere as cryolite. An electric current is then zipped through the mix and the aluminum sinks to the bottom of the vat where it can be siphoned off. The new aluminum is then flushed with gases to remove any lingering impurities and mixed with recycled aluminum as well as other metals to customize the character of the final mix.

    The aluminum is then cast into ingots. Now converting these into foil is like rolling out pie dough, only it takes much bigger, not to mention harder, rolling pins.

Single Stand Reversing

    If the final thickness is a quarter inch or more, the aluminum is referred to as "plate" and can be used as armor on fun things like tanks. If it's rolled to between a quarter and one six thousandth of an inch, it's called sheet aluminum and can used for things like baking pans. Any thinner and you've got foil. Now kitchen foil tears so easily that two sheets have to be rolled together, each supporting the other through the final rollers. That's why there's a dull side and a shiny side. 

Sir Humphrey Davy proved the existence of
aluminum (and gave it its name) in 1808.

The Trailer Kitchen

AB: [wakes up from nap, throws bauxite away, re-enters kitchen]
  C: Hey, Mr. Brown.
AB: Hey. Nice looking glaze you got going there, Chuck.
  C: Thanks.
AB: Uh, what you should do is turn that heat off and go ahead and turn your oven on to its lowest setting, okay?
  C: Is 190 okay?
AB: 190 is perfect.

Many ovens have a tough time maintaining a low temperature,
so alway [sic] monitor your heat with an oven thermometer.

  C: So, what's with the foil?
AB: Well, it's kind of my little secret. You see, I like to make pot roast without a pot.
  C: But if there's no pot, there won't be any gravy.
AB: Oh, there's going to be gravy, don't worry. As I was saying, when it comes to braising, foil is my vessel of choice.
  C: Braising?
AB: Yeah, it's a cooking method characterized by long, moist, low, covered cooking. Just go ahead and pour about half of that in there, okay? Right in there.
  C: Why don't we just boil it? That's the way Mom does it.

AB: Well, you know boiling ... that's good, that's good ... look, let me put it this way, all right? When that chuck was still connected to the critter and that critter was still walking around, that piece of meat did a lot of moving, okay? It moved other bones. It moved muscles. It connected to the ligaments. It was connected to a lot of things, okay. And some of that connective tissue contained collagen. And when that dissolves, that collagen turns into gelatin.



  C: [blank look]
AB: The stuff that makes pot roast finger-licking good?
  C: I thought that was gravy.
AB: Well actually if you make the roast right you don't really need the gravy. Now to answer the question about the boiling, see we could boil this piece of meat and that would certainly dissolve the gelatin, but by the time the gelatin dissolved the meat would be toast. And besides, all the water would just wash away the flavor that we've got going here. Now, just go ahead and pour, pour that right in.
  C: That's not much liquid.
AB: Believe me. It's going to be plenty. Good. Good, good, good. Now all you have to do is tightly surround this with two layers of aluminum foil like that. And that is going to be extremely efficient way of cooking.
  C: But there's not going to be any gravy.
AB: Yes. Yes. There's going to be gravy, Chuck, because as the meat cooks it's going to give up juices. And those juices are going to mingle with the original liquid we put in here. So we're going to end up with more than we started with.
  C: For gravy?!?
AB: Yes, for gravy. Now, into the oven. Cook for three and a half hours. I'm going to wait outside.

For additional tips on successful pot roasting
visit the Good Eats pages at foodtv.com.

  C: [head down on table, snoring]

4 hours later

    [sigh] I'm sure if he'd been up half an hour ago when the timer went off, he would have known to move the roast here to the cook top. Now, ordinarily we'd call this process 'resting'. But since the roast is enclosed in two complete layers of foil, it really is 'cooking'. And it needs to finish cooking, like this, for at least half an hour.
    Now under ordinary circumstances, I would then move this to the refrigerator, let it set over night and then open it up in the morning and just pull off the solidified fat and you can either throw that away or break off a piece and use it for a roux for thickening the gravy.

  C: [during the snoring] Mm. Gravy.

    But if immediate service is necessary, just take your pouch and punch a hole in one of the corners, just enough to let the juice out. There. Now once all of that drains away, you can either separate it in a gravy separator or you can just suck the fat off of the top with a bulb syringe. Now what I like to do is get the fat off and then take some of the chunkies from inside the pouch, add them to the liquid and then put the Stick to it. That way you get a low-fat gravy.

  C: [during the snoring] Mm. Gravy.

    Oh for the love of ...

The word "gravy" comes from the old French word "grané" or "spice".

The Trailer Kitchen

AB: There you go. Dig in, Chuck.
  C: Mmm. So what's with the green stuff?
AB: Uh, that's called fennel. I found it growing in between the 18th and 19th hole on the Gobble Golf Course. Dig in and let me know what you think.
  C: Mmm. It tastes just like meat. Mmm.
AB: Yeah, it's pot roast. What's your Mom's usually taste like?
  C: Gravy.
AB: Oh.

    There you have it. Hard to tell who's having the most fun here. Chuck's Mom may have seen the dawn, but Chuck has certainly seen the light.

  C: [puts a large piece of meat in his mouth]
AB: Eat your food, please. Inside your mouth.

    We'll see you next time on Good Eats.

  C: Mmm.
AB: So, who are you inviting to the party, here?
  C: Well, I've got you.
AB: Yeah.
  C: I don't know.

*Actually, it's a closer to 78.9 ml.
±Cryolite: Na3AlF6
According to John Burtner, it should have been "six one-thousandths of an inch."

Proof Reading help from Jon Loonin and Sue Libretti

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Last Edited on 08/27/2010