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Shredded Beef: Braised or Roasted

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Here's the confession that's driving my question. I fear roasting. I'm comfortable roasting a chicken and or some veggies, but I fear messing up this 2.5 pounds of chuck I've got tempering on the countertop if I roast it. I've avoided roasting similar pieces due to my roast-o-phobia.

We are hosting a small, very casual dinner tonight. We're basically having a scratch-made burrito bar. Someone is bringing homemade tortillas, another the beans, etc... I'm making shredded beef for the occasion.

I'm pretty comfortable braising things and that would be my default with this chuck. But I've read elsewhere that one can get a nice shredded beef from slow roasting. Is this true? My sources have been wiki-style sites like all-recipes, which I've found to be full of both home-runs and debacles. I've been consulting my McGee, Keller and others but have yet to find a clear description of a shredded beef in this roasted style.

I was thinking about something like a 270 degree oven for as long as it took. Will this result in a tender roast that I can pull apart or will I just end up with a dry, shrunken piece of meat? What say ye?

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  1. Certain cuts of beef will shred better than others. Even though you can shred bottom or top round, I don't think it will be very good unless it is masked with a lot of sauce.

    Short Ribs, Osso Bucco, Brisket and Oxtail wuld be my recommended cuts.....but Chuck roast could be good as well.

    I would opt for a braise, rather than dry roasting(unless it's BBQ)....but if you intend to try low and slow, I recommend a lower temperature than 270. More like 200-250.

    3 Replies
    1. re: fourunder

      Thanks for the reply. I think you're right. I am leaning towards the security of the braise. I went with chuck because I figured that I could get that nice melty gelantin texture from all the connective tissue it's got.

      You've inspired me to get after some oxtails. I've never cooked them but love to eat them. Thanks again.

      1. re: mmmcqueen

        A chuck braised is an excellent choice. It will retain a lot of moisture and be succulent if not over or under cooked.

      2. re: fourunder

        I would braise too. More foolproof, treats the tough cuts of meat the way they want to be treated. Gently.

        Since it's a burrito bar, why not get some dried chile's (mild or hot), reconstitute in some boiling water (best if you pan toast it first), puree, then mix with beef stock for the braising liquid? You can season with cumin, cilantro, bay leaves (salt and pepper, of course), even a bit of chocolate.

        1. re: cocktailhour

          I agree; if you're gonna shred it, braise it. Looks like the braise approach wins.