Sunday, January 22, 2017

Tallow Seared and Fire Braised Chuck Roast

This post is sponsored by Certified Angus Beef and one of the great things about having them on board is that their sponsorship affords us the opportunity to cook at community service events like Laundry Love in Knoxville this past week.

What Is Laundry Love?

One of the stigmas of poverty is dirty, disheveled clothes.  Laundry Love helps out people who are struggling financially by hosting a free laundry event each month.  In Knoxville, Laundry Love takes over the Super Wash House and gives the quarters, supplies, and assistance to wash up to 3 loads of laundry.  Meanwhile, a meal is served and we spend a few hours just being neighbors, socializing while the laundry spins.  So it's more than just clean is treating people, like people and not labels (i.e. "the homeless", "low income households").  

Serving the meal is where Nibble Me This comes in every few months. We use our C.A.B. sponsorship funds to buy the supplies and cook for 100 people.  In the warmer months, we do BBQ but for this January event we were thinking comfort foods, like luscious, slow cooked beef.  Our menu for this event was centered around this chuck roast recipe.

Certified Angus Beef chuck roast recipe for the dutch oven, crock pot, or slow cooker.

When most people think slow cooking, they think "slow cooker" (aka Crock-Pot™).  But I used the original slow cooker - a Dutch oven.  We sear the chuck roast in tallow and then braise it for hours on the grill until the roast is fork tender.

What The Heck Is Tallow and Why Should I Care?

  • Tallow is simply pure beef fat, similar to lard from pork.
  • Tallow is an excellent high temp oil for searing, sauteing, and frying.
  • Tallow has a milder flavor than lard, making it more suitable for cooking IMO, especially beef.
  • Tallow is shelf stable as long as it stored away from light in an air tight container. (We still put it in the fridge, I know it's okay, but.....) 
  • Tallow is a responsible way to use everything from the animal.
  • You can buy tallow from your butcher or even online these days.

How to make beef tallow for searing, frying, and sauteing.

Here's the recipe that we did for the Laundry Love event in Knoxville.

Certified Angus Beef Chuck Roast recipe for the slowcooker or dutch oven.

Tallow Seared and Fire Braised Chuck Roast


  • 3 pound Certified Angus Beef chuck roast
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil or other high temp cooking oil
  • 1/4 cup NMT Beef Rub recipe (see substitution notes below)
  • 3 tablespoons beef tallow (see substitution notes)
  • 1 quart beef stock, divided
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound baby potatoes
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter


  1. Preheat cast iron Dutch oven over high heat. I do this over direct heat on a kamado grill running at 350°f. 
  2. Pat chuck roast dry, lightly coat with oil, and season on all sides with the NMT Beef Rub.
  3. Put tallow in cast iron and sear the roast on both sides just enough to start building a crust, about 5 minutes per side.
  4. Set up for roasting.  Switch grill to indirect heat and reduce heat to 300°f.. Remove roast from the Dutch oven and deglaze the bottom of the pot by pouring a little of the beef stock and scraping with a wood spoon.  Put the roast back in the pot with onions and celery.  Pour in enough stock to come up to 1/2 to 2/3 up the side of the roast.
  5. Place the covered Dutch oven back on the grill and let cook for 2 hours
  6. Add carrot and potatoes.  You can add more stock if needed. Re-cover and cook until the roast is fork tender, another hour to 90 minutes.  See notes about the onion and celery.  We left them in this time.
  7. Make the sauce.  Strain off the liquid into a fat separator to get just the broth.  Make a slurry by whisking corn starch and cold water together (skip if using veggie puree instead - see substitutions) and whisk the slurry into the broth.  Continuously stir a cold pat of butter into the sauce to enrich it and give it a sheen. Return sauce to the Dutch oven
  8. Break the roast up with a pair of forks and serve with the veggies and sauce.


  • NMT Beef Rub - Our beef rub recipe does a great job of bringing out the best in beef without covering it up.  But you can make a quickie rub of 2 tablespoons kosher salt, 1.5 tablespoons coarse black pepper, 1 teaspoon granulated garlic, 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, and 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano.
  • Tallow - I prefer it to any other oil for searing beef but you could substitute other high temperature cooking oils like canola or peanut oil if you don't have any tallow on hand.
  • Grill - You can do this inside.  Just sear in the Dutch oven on your stove top and then put the covered Dutch oven in your regular oven for the braising portion.
  • Celery and onion options.  I just left them in this time.  But you can also strain them out before adding the other veggies and then make a puree to use to thicken your sauce.  You just add it back at the end instead of the cornstarch slurry.


Certified Angus Beef chuck roasts are great for slow roasting, braising, and slow cooking.
This specific chuck roast inspired this recipe.  I had already picked up my dinner ingredients and was walking past the meat aisle at Food City when this exact roast turned my head.  Look at that marbling!  It may be a corporate hashtag but I think Certified Angus Beef really is the #bestbeef for my day to day cooking, dollar for dollar.

We bought every Certified Angus Beef chuck roast that two Food City stores had.
Speaking of Food City, how many of their Certified Angus Beef chuck roasts did we buy?
All of them!

Preheating a Lodge cast iron dutch oven on a ceramic kamado grill like the green egg, Grill Dome, or Primo.
A cast iron Dutch oven (aka CIDO) over hot wood coals is my favorite slow cooker.  We do actually own a Crock-Pot™...somewhere.  I think it's down in the basement.
My NMT beef rub enhances the flavor of beef with salt & pepper, shallot, red bell peppers, garlic, and more.
I make batches of my beef rub, super coarse like this, and then grind it up in a pepper grinder just before using it. That gives me the most intense, fresh flavors.

Certified Angus Beef means consistent quality to me, which is why I knew I didn't have to inject or marinade these roasts.
If I had lesser quality beef, I might have injected these with a beef stock solution. But these were all Certified Angus Beef - well marbled quality beef - so all it needed was simple seasonings and hot black iron to make it tasty.

Seasoning meat on racks keeps the seasoning from sticking to the counter or plate.
I like to use racks like this when seasoning flat cuts of meat so that all of the seasoning on the bottom side doesn't stick to the counter.

How I make tallow at home.
Alexis scooping tallow out for the searing. It's excellent for frying eggs, even better than clarified butter.

Searing a chuck roast in tallow in a dutch oven on a ceramic kamado grill.
You aren't cooking it here, you are just building up a layer of flavor and color.  Black iron and beef get along so well together.

We obviously don't have 10 Dutch ovens so we seared the roasts off, two at a time.

Then we had to rely on half steam pans instead of cast iron for the braising.  Not ideal but it worked.

Braising a chuck roast in a dutch oven on the grill breaks down the connective tissue into fork tender beef.
You want a slow simmer.  A rapid boil will cause issues with your sauce, so adjust your cooking temps up or down as needed for a steady but gentle simmer.  With practice, you can pretty much tell by the sound, without opening the lid.

Braising a chuck roast in a Lodge dutch oven on a cast iron plate setter
Since it cooks with a lid closed, I know that there isn't much difference between cooking this in a 300°f kamado grill versus indoors in a 300°f oven.  But for me, cooking is as much about the journey as it is the destination.

I did two roasts each on several of my kamado grills using multi-level set ups like this.

I also used my Grilla pellet cooker to help braise our Certified Angus Beef chuck roasts.
I also put two on our pellet cooker. Basically if a grill was on my deck, it was getting used for something.

The event was hopping and we gave away every single bite of food.  We had the roasts, potatoes, carrots, fire roasted chicken, rice, green beans with bacon, chicken and rice casserole, salad, rolls, drinks, and other volunteers brought rice crispy treats, chocolate chip cookies, and brownies.

The consummate mid-winter comfort food - tender, slow cooked beef roast with vegetables.

Don't get me wrong, the BBQ competitions that we do are still fun.  

But cooking community service events like Laundry Love and Operation BBQ Relief are so much more rewarding.  Getting a thank you hug from someone and knowing that you made a difference in someone's life that day is infinitely more satisfying than getting a couple of scores from 6 anonymous BBQ judges.  

Thank you to Certified Angus Beef for sponsoring my blog so we can do these events.

For more on slow cooking beef....