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?
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!
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:
- 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).
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!
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.
This meat is great in making truly great spegetti sauce. Cut into 3 inch chunks. Dredge in floor and brown on all sides in olive oil. Remove once brown, about 5 to 7 minutes, and set aside. Deglaze the pan/pot with red wine. Add canned tomatoes to pot, add Italian seasonings and bring to a boil. Add browned chunks of arm roast to boiling sauce along with meatballs, and Italian sausage, and bring to boil then lower to a simmer for several hours until the arm meat falls apart. Serve with your favorite pasta...oh my God, you will never experience anything like this, heavenly! You could add a bit of wine during the cooking stage as an addition. Let me know what you think.
I have been making pot roast with either a chuck or arm roast (whichever the butcher recommends that day)(from a steer..not a cow) for nigh on 50 years. I season the meat with salt and pepper....dredge it through a little flour (shake off excess) and sear both sides (I even sear the edges too...just hold it up with a good pair of tongs) in a little bacon fat (just enough to cover the bottom of the roaster...probably about 2 tbsps). Sear until you start seeing a nice light caramel color. Remember, you are not cooking it, you are just adding a layer of flavor by searing. I put the roast on a platter, deglaze the pan with probably about 2 cups of beef stock. I then put in the prepared onions (just ends trimmed, peeled and whole or cut in half..doesn't matter) and lay the roast and it's juices from the platter on top of the onions. Make sure you have enough beef stock to cover the onions or at least come up to the top of the onion. If the beef stock comes up on the roast, that's fine, but don't cover the roast with stock. It's a pot roast, not stew or soup. Put that in the preheated oven (I do 325 degrees) for about 3 hours. If your oven cooks hotter, then knock it down to 300 degrees. The key is low and slow. After about 3 hours, I add my prepped potatoes (peeled, halved and seasoned). Just throw the potatoes on top. Take a baster or ladle and get those potatoes wet with the juices. Put the lid back on and place back in the oven. While they are cooking...at least another hour, prepare your carrots and parsnips.
Ok...I'm going to give away a family secret here! We cook our carrots and parsnips in a big skillet with about 2 cups beef stock, 2 tablespoons of butter, salt, pepper and probably a quarter to half cup of brown sugar. Yes, brown sugar! We peel the carrots and parsnips, but keep them whole. Get your skillet going with the above mentioned ingredients...lay in your carrots and parsnips, cover with a lid and let cook until a knife gets very little resistance when pierced (like almost done). Don't cook it so fast or hard that the stock/broth cooks off because you want some of that to add to the roast. If you start losing the stock/broth, just add a little more. Once you get those done, throw them in the roaster on top of the potatoes and roast...juices/broth and all...and cook for another 30 minutes...if you go to 45 minutes, no big deal. During the last hour and a half of roasting, I usually lift the lid and baste the potatoes, and later the carrots, parsnips and potatoes...maybe about every 20 minutes.
Here is another tip. If you can afford an enameled cast iron roasting pan, buy it! The Le Creuset is really expensive, but you can check Macy's online and they will offer the Martha Stewart enameled roasting pan at sale prices. It will work pretty much the same and they really do make a difference! I love mine, although, the older I get the harder it is to lift out of the oven...they are heavy (that's why they work so great)! I have the 7 quart size and it's perfect for my pot roast...and roasted chicken...pork roast..Cornish hens, etc. They are easy to clean up afterwards, and over the years the cream colored enamel on the inside of the pot develops this beautiful golden patina.
Give it a try. Even if you don't, be brave in your cooking...don't be afraid to experiment! I got married in 1966 at the age of 16 and the only thing I knew how to make was canned pork n' beans and hot dogs..lol. I had to teach myself everything...with the help of a couple good cookbooks. Now, my family/friends come from miles around to eat my meals! So, experiment with your favorite foods and flavors...what's the worst that could happen?...you might have to order Chinese take-out! Yep, been there, done that! lol
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'.
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!
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.