Beef Besides Brisket


Wayne RI

New member
It seems that bbq discussions regarding beef are generally limited to brisket and ribs. I recently purchased a Virtual Bullet and have had success with pork spareribs, turkey breast, and pork shoulder. I want to make pulled bbq beef. What would be the best cut of beef that would have marbling characteristics and collagen breakdown similar to pork shoulder? I was wondering if a chuck roast would yield the same texture for pulled beef as a shoulder does for pulled pork.
Your suggestions would be deeply appreciated. Thanks.
Thanks for your prompt response. By the way, I had already been using a variation of the "Tin Can Minion Method", except instead of a can I use a Weber 7447 Compact Rapidfire Chimney Starter. I place that where the coffee can would be placed and then dump the coals right into the space vacated by the chimney. The diameter is just a little larger than a coffee can and, due to that small diameter, it takes fewer briquettes to stack in order to benefit from the Venturi Effect, allowing a slow, gradual raising of the temperature once the coals are added.
Now for the beef. Just as I know about the 3-2-1 method for bbq ribs, I also know that by not wrapping them in foil and taking the temp to 205 degrees I can get them just as moist and tender. The recipe in the link takes it to 165 I believe, and then covers it (steams it) in an oven the rest of the way. I guess I'm too much of a purist and I consider wrapping it in foil at any stage is kind of cheating. Is there a cut of beef that would remain moist and tender being unwrapped the entire time? Thanks again for your response.
You can probably cook a Chuck roast unwrapped the whole time. Its got plenty of fat. The PSB thing is a specific recipe and involves a braise. Most other roasts are probably too lean to not take some sort of foil approach.
That's pretty much what I was thinking. A chuck roast would seem to be the cut which has enough marbling to be able to bbq it all the way without having to wrap it. I'll get one of those and slowly bring it to 205 degrees as I have done with pork shoulders, low and slow. The last one took 11 hours but was worth it. Thanks.
A chuck roast works well. You can place it in a pan raise it up on a rack. Add some water to the pan but keep the water level below the meat.
Thanks. Am I correct in assuming you are doing it in a 22" kettle? I've got one of those too, but now I also have an 18.5" Virtual Bullet, which has its own 2 gallon water pan. I would be doing the roast in that.
So, I'll try a chuck roast and do it low and slow to 205 degrees as I would a pork shoulder. Thanks again.
Sometimes I smoke hamburgers. The egg, breadcrumbs, Worcestershire sauce, etc., type. These help hold the juices/moisture. No peppers or onions though. Not a fan of raw or cooked bell peppers. But I do dehydrate and grind them for homemade paprika.
I agree with Pat, chucks are,pretty delightful smoked, I have started doing,one or two,when I do something like a brace of butts. I see no reason to waste the heat for just a butt! It simply seems frivolous!
Waste not, want not! Good grief I’m getting practical as I age!
“Older whiskey, Faster Horses, Younger women and more money” as Tom T. Hall might say!
Upon Further Review [Followup]

Smoked a chuck roast. Although the Virtual Bullet performed perfectly, I think I was doomed from the outset. The only chuck roast I could find looked more like a "Caveman's Cut" of prime rib than a bulky, cubic pot roast. It was well marbled but was doomed from the start due to the configuration. It was flat and looked too much like a steak and not enough like a roast. Way too much surface area. Way too little moist juicy internal meat. It was like turning out nothing but 'burnt ends'. With pork shoulder, you have the surface, a delicious dark crust, mixed in with all of the moist internal meat and melted collagen in a perfect ratio. The chuck roast however had a lopsided ratio which made it dry, although tasty. Being boneless didn't help either.
Is there another cut that might be better, like bottom round, or is chuck the only recommended beef cut?
I'm looking for the cut that will yield a consistency most like pulled pork, with lots of melted fat and collagen. Your recommendations would be appreciated. Thanks.
At what temp did you pull the chuck roast? I usually smoke to 165-170*, pull, cube and sauce until 205* for burnt ends. I did two boneless bottom rounds last weekend. They were roughly 3-4 lbs a piece. I took them to 150* internal, wrapped, and then thinly sliced them for sandwiches. The beef was the first thing gone, boy were they tasty.
205 degrees. I did it the same as I would a pork shoulder, hoping the marbling would yield pulled pork consistency. Collagen doesn't break down until around 200 degrees. A few reasons why it didn't work out: 205 was probably too high considering the lack of a joint like a pork shoulder has; as I mentioned earlier, the high surface area to weight ratio; lastly, and I can't stress this enough, completely ignoring the intuition that told me this is not the cut I envisioned and it would be more like barbecuing a steak to a ridiculous 205 degrees. The inexcusable part is that I suspected it would come out as it did and tried it anyway.
By the way, had I stopped around 140 +/- degrees, it would have been great for slicing thinly as you would London Broil or brisket. However, I was going for beef with the moist, slightly oily texture of pulled pork. I'm not sure there's a cut of beef that would yield that texture. Thanks for the response by the way. Probably should have opened with that.
Like I linked upthread, a Chuck Roll is similar to a butt, a Chuck Eye roast also pulls like a dream and so does a 7 bone Chuck roast.
Cooking times are similar to butts, but I always foil around 160 and add some moisture ( like beer ) then I don't worry about int temps. Just take it till it feels soft and jiggly with a gloved hand.
Remove a corner of the foil and probe dead center for tender or do the old twist a fork like spaghetti trick ala Larry Wolfe.:cool:

Thanks for your response. That's what I'm looking for, a chuck rolled roast or a 7 bone, then. "Soft and jiggly with a gloved hand", that's it, exactly what I'm looking for in a beef roast. I discounted the 7 bone because I thought it was also too thin, like the boneless one I just did. I'll try a rolled chuck or a 7 bone chuck. Thanks.
Fact is, I'm naive about beef because I'm outright intimidated by brisket. It appears so dense and unforgiving and I've never bought a cut of beef for pot roasting or braising, except of course, corned beef. To me, beef has always meant grilling or oven roasting, like a prime rib. For barbecue I've only considered pork until now because pork has consistently come out well. I'm trying to apply the same principals to beef but there are collagen and marbling differences as well as aspect ratios to account for.
You've heard that pork butts are very forgiving or hard to screw up, right? Well so are chuck roasts.
Yea, I was intimidated by briskets at first, but don't give up. Buy a few different cuts of chuck and try em on the kettle or WSM.
I've grilled em ala Jack Daniels grilled chuck roast and so many smoked ones, they all be good in my book!:wsm:

I don't think there was anything inherently wrong with the cut you got, you just chose (or were forced to choose) one that was too small. Chuck (or pot) roasts are available in various sizes. For some reason, most stores seem to stock mostly smaller ones. I've also noticed vast differences in the marbling from one to the next. It's kind of rare to find one with really nice marbling. Usually it's a few thick veins of fat with fairly lean meat in between. When I go to Costco I'll at least look at what kind of chuck roasts they have in the case. Once in a while there will be a package of nicely marbled ones of a good size (always two to a pack at Costco) and I'll grab them even if I have no intention of using it right away.

The other alternative is to find a real meat market where they actually cut the meat and ask them for a thicker one. They should be able to get you any size you want.

I would also point out that I think Tim was talking about a chuck roll, not a rolled chuck roast. The chuck roll is a huge hunk of cow shoulder from which they cut the pieces you see packaged as thin chuck roasts. I don't believe I've ever seen a chuck roll in a meat case. Maybe ages ago when I worked the deli counter at the local market and would go through the meat department I might have seen one in the back and not known what it was. I'm pretty sure a chuck roll is something you'll have to ask the butcher for, possibly even order ahead. It's also not something you'd smoke unless you were planning on dinner for 20 (or LOTS of leftovers).
Just reading he description of the piece of meat you had made me wonder: couldn't you have rolled it (more or less) and tied with butcher string?
Disclaimer: I haven't done a big piece of beef (yet), so the above is just a thought.