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Does choice, Angus or select make any difference on a chuck roast that your going to braise anyway?

Every once in a while my grocery store will have a sale on Angus boneless chuck roast. It is usually $1.00 more per pound than select chuck roast that is usually on sale also.

I usually take advantage of the Angus in this situation but if I am just going to pot roast it, does it really make a difference? I would think that additional fat in the meat would get rendered out anyway during a low slow braise.

It would certainly make a difference if I was going to grind it for hamburger or something.

Anyway, what do you people think?

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  1. I agree, since the grading system is based on marbling in the muscle, not on the outside. In the outside fat I look for white vs. a yellowish hue, which indicates an old dairy cow. Braising was the process, at least in the past, to make tougher cuts more tender and juicy. In a slow cook dish I would opt for the more economical grade. Kind of like putting premium gas in a car that needs regular to run efficently......lol.....

    1. For braising etc., the leaner the worse and the leaner is almost always more money. Even or especially for grinding, I need that fat for a good burger. The first time I ground beef I mistakenly got a too lean cut (can't remember what now). Alan Barnes recommended that I go back to the grocery and ask for some fat that they'd trimmed off other meats. I did, they were great and from that day forward, in our house, they're called Barnes Burgers.

      1. Wow. Only two responses. I really would like to get more peoples opinion on this.

        I would think that the additional marbled fat in an Angus boneless chuck roast would just render out.

        The braising would melt the collagen about the same.
        Not sure but I wouldn't think Angus would have more collagen.

        I wouldn't think Angus would have any more or less connective tissues either so those would break down and unwind about the same way.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Hank Hanover

          Could you tell, by looking, whether the Angus chuck had more marbling than the select? It's my impression that grading is based more on the appearance of parts that are used for steak (the loin). Grading applies to the whole side, not individual parts.

          I make my own judgment regarding the ratio of meat, fat, and connective tissue, based on appearance and past experience.

          1. re: paulj

            Well the meat I bought (Angus) looked better, had better marbling. I don't know about the connective tissue.

            I understand that the grading is based on an incision into the loin of a side of beef but I would think if there was more marbling in one spot, there would be more marbling everywhere.

            1. re: Hank Hanover

              it would be my belief that the meat with the higher fat content would be more flavorful, al else being equal. Even in a braise, the fat that is rendered off is still present in the braising liquid and usually when I make it, gets emulsified into the sauce. The fat is more flavorful than the lean, so more equals better, if you ask me.

              However, paying an extra $1 a pound...it depends on your money situation. Is it worth it for a possibly small increase in flavor?

        2. Given a choice, I would never buy Select over Choice regardless of price, cut, or cooking method.


          1 Reply
          1. re: Uncle Bob

            Quite a bit of naturally raised, pastured, beef is graded select. There is no feed lot fattening up on by-products and grain. The tougher muscling development is the result of the animal being allowed to move around and graze; as opposed to being crowded in pens and eating chemically altered and hyped processed feed. Based on this difference select is a very good choice for slow roast, braise and, stew recipes.

          2. "Angus" is a breed of cow. Many cows sold as regular beef are actually Angus as well. Certified Angus is a marketing tool. In other words a brand. I've often found zero difference in Certified Angus brand versus choice aside from the price difference and thus I NEVER buy Certified Angus brand. I would buy choice.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Shaw Oliver

              The OP was asking about Angus vs. USDA Select. I suspect you'd chose CAB over USDA Select, no?

              1. re: tommy

                I would. And you're right, I mis-read the part about only select vs. CAB.

                But... I don't want to sound too high and mighty, but in the past I didn't shop at stores that only offered select or CAB and nothing else, so the option doesn't really apply. Here in the south that means shopping at Whole Foods or Publix, not Kroger or Walmart.

              2. re: Shaw Oliver

                Shaw, As well as "Sterling Silver Beef", another marketing brandas is CAB. In supermarkets, there is more 'select" than one assunes.

                1. re: ospreycove

                  Are you suggesting that CAB is Select?

              3. I've actually had a problem making a daube provencal using cheap chuck meat. Although it was swimming in liquid under low heat for many hours, the stew meat was very dry. Tender, but dry. You really need that marbling. My guess is that at the core, the collagen is breaking down (and I suspect more marbling also equals more collagen), but not all fat and collagen is rendering out. Fairway by me sometimes has prime chuck roasts at about $4/lb, and it makes a huge difference. As noted, Angus does not equal marbling, so use your eyes to choose.

                (Occasionally, I'll see packs choice steaks at Costco that are heavily marbled right next to very lean packs. They must have just missed the prime cut-off, and are a really good buy).

                1 Reply
                1. re: sbp

                  SBP.......People seem to think "Choice" is some status bestowed on a steer from birth. What you stated is the fact. One does not know if a steer is choice until it is hung up and split open. Marbling, the intramuscular streaks of fat may be the result of feediing/ genetics/ muscle development/drugs, etc. As you say use your eyes!!!

                2. I think the difference between USDA Select and USDA Choice is noticeable, even in a braise. The main difference is in the texture of the meat. The USDA Select will be slightly more stringy (stringier?) and has a coarser mouth feel. That''s my perceptions... but it would be interesting, to me, to do a side-by-side comparison.

                  In regards to Angus vs typical beef, I can't tell the diff. It may be a marketing thing.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: dave_c

                    Angus is a marketing thing to avoid the expense of the government rating. They market it as good or better than choice. I would, normally, be suspect of such claims but at least in my area I have found that Angus is in deed as good as choice, sometimes better.

                    There is usually more marbling and less gristle than select at least from my view. For purposes of this thread, it would probably be best to assume angus and choice are the same.

                    Like I said, I would normally pick up the choice with such a small difference in price but it occurred to me that during a braise the fat would probably render out.

                    Consequently, I wanted additional opinions as to whether it really would matter for a pot roast or something.

                    1. re: Hank Hanover

                      An interesting way to see what the "Grade" ratings are supposed to mean, is to buy a few cuts from a local grower who offers his own beef for sale. Then you can compare supermarket cuts to the grass fed open pasture animal that are from the same muscle. Grading is somewhat subjective, and how the animal was butchered and broken down into retail cuts contributes a lot. Some cutters will not remove tendon, blood vessels,and connective tissue. This will produce a more tough, stringy, gristle, laden piece than one that was properly trimmed.

                      1. re: Hank Hanover

                        CAB is a brand. They do not have a slaughter house to my knowledge. Companies pay per head to label their qualifying product as CAB. The product goes through the same USDA inspection and grading, CAB just has higher standards for choice.

                    2. I tend to agree that, given a choice, I would take the higher rated meat even though most of the fat would render out.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: Hank Hanover

                        Hank, If the choice was grass fed, naturally raised, no antibiotics/growth hormones vs. Choice CAB feed lot fattened, what would you chioose?

                        1. re: ospreycove

                          Oh, you are going to get me in trouble now especially with the many naturalists on ch.

                          Generally, I stay away from grass fed beef.

                          In my opinion, grass fed has more flavor but the wrong flavor. I was raised with and am more used to grain fattened beef.

                          Grass fed is left to wander while they graze so it makes sense that they be tougher as they have experienced more exercise. That may not be completely true as fattened beef could still be grazing until a month before slaughter.

                          While grass fed beef can still attain choice or better ratings, imo a smaller percentage of grass fed beef attains choice or higher.

                          I have answered your question. I am hoping this doesn't turn into a debate on grass fed vs fattened beef.

                          I am simply wondering if the higher rated beef makes much difference in a chuck roast that you are gonna braise for 3 or more hours. Some people seem to think so. I am not sure. Part of me reasons that the additional marbled fat would just render out.

                          1. re: Hank Hanover

                            Hank, No debate, on the contrary, I was seeking your point of view. I am torn between a great 4" thick grain finished Porterhouse on the one hand and the idea of my happy little Chuck Roast scampering around a pasture full of flowers and drinking crystal clear water out of a bubbling stream as he (steer) cavorts with all of his giddy little buddies. Well a bit off course, I do like the idea of humanely raised food animals, to a point. Purely grass fed, meaning no feed expense is maybe a cope out on the grower's part. I have had a few really tough, stringy, grass fed beef cuts and I still savor a nicley marbled steak.,

                            1. re: ospreycove

                              I feel bad for veal calves. They are taken from their mothers put in a darkened pen and only fed milk until they are big enough to slaughter which isn't too long.

                              However, have you eaten very pale, milk fed veal? It's delicious! The cost is almost prohibitive, now.

                              Oh, and there is nothing better than a prime porterhouse.. ok maybe a dry aged prime porterhouse.

                              1. re: Hank Hanover

                                True milk-fed veal, yes, a taste to savor.

                                1. re: Hank Hanover

                                  I buy "pink veal" from local dairy farmers. These calves are raised on pasture with their moms. The meat isn't quite as tender as meat from crated animals, but I will not eat that.

                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                    I'm sure I read a thread about "rose" veal but I can't find it. But did find this:


                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      I believe Pink Veal is what in Italy is called Vittelone, It is actually a yearling, pasture raised steer