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I have not had good luck with this tough lean cut so far. I usually get it when I buy in on a grass-fed cow. Braising it they way I normally braise cuts of beef in wine makes a very dry unappetizing roast. Maybe try a heavier tenderizing marinade? Grind it? Jerky?

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Braising would be the way to go for that cut. Can you give us more detail on your equipment and technique? Are you covering the braising dish for example? –  GdD Jun 18 '13 at 18:30

8 Answers 8

Arm roast is part of the chuck, and so is a cut suited for low and slow techniques that create tenderness by converting collagen into gelatin such as:

  • Braising
  • Slow barbecue
  • Slow roasting

Some folks also find that it makes very good ground beef or hamburger which of course mechanically disrupts the connective tissue.

Since braising is one of the best techniques for it, you may be having other issues with your braise or cut.

The first one that comes to mind as a grass fed cut, is that it may be exceptionally lean. If that is the case, grinding may be an excellent option as you can supplement with additional beef fat or pork fat to get a good fat percentage, according to your preference.

If the problem is the braise itself, the two most likely culprits (and I am not saying these are terribly likely) is not braising at a hot enough temperature (you want a slow simmer, or if in the oven, a moderate oven about 350 F / 180 C), and not braising it long enough (depending on how it is cut, perhaps 2-4 hours).

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Could a braise also be too hot and too long? –  Melissa Jun 18 '13 at 17:26
It is actually possible, yes, but extremely unlikely. –  SAJ14SAJ Jun 18 '13 at 18:14

i love arm roasts! when i get them i put them in the crockpot with 1/2 cup of water and cook on low for 6 hours. then i pull it out, shred it with forks, put it back in the crockpot, cover it with a bottle of barbeque sauce, and let it rewarm for about 30 minutes. serve on buns. awesome bbq beef sandwiches, restaurant quality!

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Even though this thread is old, it's the first thing that comes up when you search "arm roast" at the moment, so I thought I would comment with what I ended doing after googling arm roasts two days ago! I also had a totally grass fed 4 lb. arm roast and it turned out amazing. Most importantly, I cooked it very long and slow, about 5 hours at 300F.

  • Chop 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk, half an onion and a slice or two of bacon and saute them together in a large pot until lightly browned. Remove from pot.
  • Salt and pepper the arm roast and then brown it on both sides in that same pot. Remove.
  • Deglaze pan with red wine, I had the tail end of a bottle of super cheap stuff.
  • Then throw back in the veggies, the roast, a large can of tomatoes (I used San Marzano), and a few sprigs of fresh rosemary (I really recommend not skimping with dry on that part because it's the main flavor that gets infused). I also put marjoram in because I have that growing, but I don't think it's as important. The top of the roast will be sticking out of the tomato/wine concoction so I studded it with numerous garlic cloves so they would roast.
  • Put the pot in a 300 degree oven for as long as it takes for the meat to just be falling apart. It was like, 5 hours for me, and I turned the roast over about 2 hours in. Add more liquid if needed; I didn't. When it was done I took the roast out and pulled out the bone and picked off the fat and threw it back in--it was semi-shredded by then--and served it on egg noodles.

It was the best roast I've ever made!

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Sounds a lot like how my dad would make potroast ... only he'd add in potatoes towards the end, instead of the noodles. –  Joe Nov 16 '14 at 2:18

I found this perfect recipe for it yesterday. Unfortunately, it's a bit time consuming. And it's was such a crazy concept to me that it was a challenge to buckle down and follow all the instructions, but the result was worth it.

It is "Hot and Numbing Dried Beef" from Fuschia Dunlop's Sichuan cookbook. It makes sense because historically the type of beef in this region would have probably from cattle used for labor too, so the meat would have been a bit tough and lean like my arm roasts from cows.

The beef is boiled, marinated in rice wine, deep fried, and braised, then heavily spiced. The texture and flavor were spot-on great- juicy and tender. I made it for a party and had absolutely no leftovers. The recipe did take a long time though and I might try subbing a pan fry for the deep fry next time.

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Chili, If you are 'buying in on a grass fed cow' (hopefully you actually mean 'steer' or at least a heifer as 'Cows' do not produce good beef) then you are able to direct how the beef will be prepared by the butcher. If so, direct them to include the arm roast into the ground beef (hamburger) or (preferably) into a chili grind. This is more course than normal ground beef, because it is lower in fat it is an excellent choice for chili meat.. Alternatively you may have (or acquire) your own grinder and 'do it yourself'.

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It was definitely a cow. The rest of the meat from beef cows IMHO is perfectly fine and even good. It is prized in some countries. –  Melissa Jun 19 '13 at 13:10
@Melissa, As someone who has raised beef cattle I know that "Cow" [Cow, female which has delivered at least one calf] is inferior quality beef to either the meat from a steer [a castrated male, never allowed to breed] or a heifer [female, never delivered a calf]. Mostly due to age of the animal, most steers and heifers are sent to butcher younger than it would be possible for a cow to be when she would drop her first calf. Most 'Cow' meat is dedicated to lower end usage: Schools, Prisons, McD's etc. –  Cos Callis Jun 19 '13 at 15:09
We raise cattle too and this is our cow. A lot of it is truly excellent, esp since we dry age. If you want to know more about appreciating cow I suggest Magnus Nilsson's Faviken cookbook. –  Melissa Jun 22 '13 at 14:33

I have used this cut of meat for several new recipes lately. I have sliced it -very- thinly and used it to make Broccoli Beef or Steak sandwiches. Or it is very good in the slow cooker.

For the slow cooker, put your arm roast in. Then take 1 cup water or beef broth and mix in 1 package of aus jus mix and 1 package of italian dressing mix. Once combined poor over your roast, stick it on low and let it go. I normally go home on my lunch break and toss in some wedges of onion and sliced mushrooms. When i get home, I do a mixture of cornstarch and water and mix it in to thicken the sauce into a gravy. I really like to serve this over mashed potatoes.

Here is the broccoli beef recipe that I base mine off of. I sorry I kinda wing it more or less each time and go by flavor as I am cooking. but this would give you a starting place: I use light brown sugar, and less then it suggests. I also add a little Worcestershire sauce to make it a little less sweet and play with the seasonings. And I don't crockpot it. I just cook it on the stove-top while my rice is cooking in my rice cooker. http://www.tablefortwoblog.com/take-out-fake-out-beef-broccoli-crockpot/

I hope this helps some!

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Smoke that bad boy -- arm roasts are AWESOME on the smoker !!!

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Actually, go the other way around. Go with less to no marinades at all.

Wine and other acidic marinades actually make the meat tougher (the acid makes the proteins curl tighter and squeeze juice out). This effect is far greater than the old-school thinking of acid will slowly cook the meat. (from Jack Bishop and his crew at America's Test Kitchen and Cooks Illustrated).

Consider using a simple brine or sprinkling salt on it (rest for 12hrs) and cook to a internal temperature according to your desire. An in oven digital temperature like this will take the time guessing out.

Also, grass-fed cows tend to have more room and they may actually use their muscles (heaven forbid). They tend to be tougher (and leaner) for that reason. It would take a little longer to cook which means you should reduce the temperature. Here is the note from Cook's Illustrated:

we transformed a bargain cut into a tender, juicy roast by salting the meat a full 24 hours before roasting and then cooking it at a very low temperature, which allowed the meat's enzymes to act as natural tenderizers, breaking down its tough connective tissue.

They (and I agree) recommend oven temperature of 225°F and roast until the center of the meat is 125°F, then turn off the oven (keep door closed) and let it coast until the center temperature is 130°F for medium-rare and 140°F for medium.

You can use your favourite delicious sauce to go with it.

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Given the number of incredibly famous, tender and classic wine braises including coque au vin, osso bucco, and others, I just cannot buy the idea that you cannot have a successful braise with wine. –  SAJ14SAJ Jun 18 '13 at 19:23
@SAJ14SAJ You don't have to buy the idea, it's not for sale. But science has come through and proved that the acid hinders. Ask Jack Bishop and he'll tell you what he thinks of marinades. –  MandoMando Jun 18 '13 at 19:28
I am a member of the CI website, but I cannot find the passage you are talking about, where wine increases toughness, so I cannot "ask Jack Bishop." I did find the eye of round recipe the quote comes from. –  SAJ14SAJ Jun 18 '13 at 20:28
The quote (which would be nice if it were formatted as such, instead of as computer code) is instructions for roasting, not braising. –  Marti Jun 18 '13 at 21:13

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