Cooking Louisiana  -  Roast Selection
Shoulder Roast, Chuck Roast, which do I buy?

Before selecting a roast you should first know what you're going to do with it. For instance if you want to slice the roast for po-boys you would select one type, then, if you wanted a roast that will fall apart you would select another.

Let's start with some typical names of roasts.

Tenderloin, Sirloin, Rib, Chuck, Round, Rump & Brisket

Each comes from its' base or primal cut. For instance, one primal part of a cow is the rear, and, the cuts that come from that area are called the Round. Each primal area is divided into different sections or cuts. We're not going to get into that here as it quickly becomes confusing.

If you simply remember these base words; Loin, Rib, Chuck and Round you can choose the right roast for the right dish.

Oh, and don't forget the three grades of beef; Prime, Choice and Select, the latter two being the grades you'll find at your grocer.

Okay here we go, I'll work from the most tender to the least tender.

Tenderloin Roast

Also known as a Filet Mignon Roast, the Tenderloin is known for it's natural tenderness but not necessarily for its flavor. The lack of flavor comes from the absence of marbling fat. The Tenderloin is a roast that is cooked Rare to Medium Rare and seldom more.
The Top Loin Roast joins this group and is larger than the Tenderloin but still comes from this area. You would cut this roast in steak thickness after it's cooked to serve.

The loin is the back (not leg) of the cow. If you were riding a cow you would be sitting on the loin. These are the least used muscles which is why they're so tender.

Sirloin Tip Roast

The Sirloin Tip Roast is served as steak, but, can be used for regular roasting and broiling. This roast has a varying degree of tenderness and flavor and is an all around good roast. Cutting this roast into steaks is widely popular.

Notice the incorporation of the base word loin into the names of these roasts.

Rib Roast

The Rib and Rib Eye Roast also maintain a great degree of tenderness, but it comes from the marbled fat, not the lack of exercise. The Rib roasts are tastier for the same reason and this roast is also served as steaks after they are cooked. As with the tenderloin, rare to medium rare is all it takes.

These cuts are naturally below the tenderloin in the rib area.

Chuck, Arm and Shoulder Roast

These are normally cheaper cuts and will have the most connective tissue. Long moist cooking (braising) is normally the cooking method because the connective tissue must be cooked to the point of disintegration for the meat to be tender. These roasts are my personal favorites. If you want to cut this roast into bite sized pieces you'll have to watch so you don't overcook it. If you want it to fall to pieces cook it longer. Remember, the shoulder roast has a little less marbling than the chuck.

The Chuck is the neck, upper arm and shoulder. Trimmings from this area and the Brisket are called Stew Meat.

Round & Rump

These roasts are the most lean and tough, and, should also be braised. If you want a roast to slice thinly for po-boys these are the ones you want.

These are cuts from the rear of the cow.


The Brisket is the toughest and most stringy cut of beef. It is similar to the chuck in that it contains a lot of connective tissue. The Brisket must also be braised and can take anywhere from 6 to 8 hours to cook fully depending on the size. Slicing the Brisket properly is the key to a nice serving. I explain this at the end of this recipe... Braised Brisket

The brisket comes from around the same place as the Chuck.


I tried to keep this as short as I could and still cover the topic, I hope now you know what to choose in Roasts for your next great beef roast meal.

Back to Articles