Grilled Chuck Roast

I’ve been cooking on a gas grill for about as long as I can remember.  Sure, when camping I cook over the open coals…but my workhorse has always been a gas grill.  They are easy to use – just open the valve, click on the igniter button for a second or two (or drop in a match if your igniter is worn out), and in a matter of minutes you’ve got things up to temperature and ready to throw a hunk of meat on the grate to sizzle and spatter away.  I even plumbed the house when I built it to have taps for a gas grill, so that I never have to worry about running out in the middle of a cookout.

I’d never really considered the idea that the “smokey” flavor I was getting from the gas grill was the charred remains of the last half-dozen things I’d cooked on the grill, which had dripped down onto the “flavor plates” and were now infusing my current endeavor.  I mean, in the back of my mind somewhere I knew it, but never really gave it much thought.  That is, until the current grill I had started to fall apart from five years of almost daily use…and I discovered the parts I needed (that weren’t discontinued) would cost over half what I had paid for the grill to start with.  It was time to get a replacement.

So, last Friday, I got a VERY early birthday and Christmas present – a Green Mountain Grills Daniel Boone.  I’m excited to get to “play” with real wood smoke while having all of the conveniences of gas – easy to start, fast warm-up, precise temperature control (well, OK, my last grill didn’t even have good temperature control).  And in under 48 hours of owning it, I had already made four meals with it!  For those of you in the market and considering a gas grill for convenience, don’t overlook a good pellet grill for all the convenience and the wonderful wood smoke flavor.

Now, on to the chuck roast:

Gather up:

  • One grass-fed chuck roast, around 3-1/2 pounds.  This one happens to be a 7-bone chuck roast (see the bone shaped like a “7” there?).  Make sure it’s fully thawed too…
  • 2~3 tsp organic no-salt seasoning blend
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (extra virgin)
  • 2 tbsp Tamari (wheat-free) soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (get the HFCS-free stuff)
  • 1 tsp dry mustard, prepared with a small amount of water to form a paste
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (not pictured)

Rub both sides of the roast with the organic no-salt seasoning blend.  Place it in a baking dish that leaves ~1″ space around the sides (this one happened to fit nicely in a 13×9 pan).

Mix everything else (starting with the vinegar on the list above) in a prep bowl and blend well.

Pour it over the roast (careful not to wash all of the rub off).  Then lift the corner of roast so that you also get marinade under it.  Set it back down in the pan, then place the pan in the refrigerator.  Allow it to marinade for precisely 2 hours, 47 minutes, and 18 seconds…give or take around 30 minutes (that’s 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 hours…).  During that time, turn it over in the pan twice, and ponder the following (or just get everything else for dinner prepared ahead of time):

A method that many people I know with pellet grills use is to smoke first for a certain amount of time (30 minutes to 2 hours depending on the size of what’s cooking), and then raise the temperature to final cooking temperature to “finish.”  This works well with the way a pellet cooker operates – providing a consistent draft and fuel supply to the fire to maintain a set temperature.  It is also easier on these grills to start low and then raise the temperature quickly later than to do the opposite, because the grill must maintain some fuel and draft to keep the fire burning.  Keep in mind that at all times, the pellet grill is working mostly on indirect convection heat.

For a gas grill, a similar method can be employed.  You can make a little “smoker box” by making a sealed “envelope” of tin foil filled with water-soaked wood chips and a couple of pin-holes in the top, placed on the “flavor plate” of one burner to provide indirect head and smoke.  Then, when full heat is needed, you simply light and turn on the remaining burners.  Of course, with a gas grill, the heat provided tends to be more “direct” using this method (unless you have a HUGE grill).

For a traditional kettle-style charcoal grill, this “smoke first” method is a little trickier.  Access to the “firebox” and the rate at which charcoal burns and raises the temperature in the grill inherently lend themselves to the opposite appoach.  In this case, it may be best to consider starting at your “cooking” temperature using the indirect method (with a drip pan between two hot piles of coals), and then undershoot the final cooking temp by around 20~30 degrees before adding the flavoring wood chips and slowly working up to that final temperature.

If you’ve got a traditional Texas-style “stick burner,” then you’re on your own.  Your skills should already be way beyond the level that my brief ramblings can offer any assistance to…

Back to the meat.  Is it done marinading?  Good!  Get the pellet grill started and warmed up to 185 using your preferred pellets (I used hickory, just because it’s the first bag I bought).  When the temperature is stable, put the roast on and let it smoke for 30 minutes.  Next, poke a meat thermometer into the middle of the thickest part of the meat (not touching a bone), and raise the grill temp up to 325 degrees.  Cook until the thermometer reads about 135~140 for medium rare – this was just over an hour for me.  Pull it off the grill and let it set on a plate for 10 minutes to rest and let the juices settle (don’t skip this part!).  The internal temperature will go up a little more during this time…which is why we shoot a touch low while it is actually on the grill.

Slice and serve.  The center pieces should be a wonderful medium rare with a smoke ring about 1/8″ to 1/4″ in from the edges.  As you get out to the edges of the roast, things will get more medium but should still be tender and will be full of flavor from the marinade and rub.  For me, it’s a tough choice which piece to grab first…but I do know it’s a good thing we don’t have a dog.  Because if we did, I’d be fighting with him over who gets to gnaw on the bone!


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