The 7-bone roast is one of the most classic chuck roasts, hearkening back to a time when Americans ate a lot of beef and had plenty of time to cook a roast that required three hours of braising. The 7-bone roast is basically a slab of beef produced by making thick vertical cuts straight through a whole square-cut beef chuck, which comes from the shoulder section of the steer. Counter to its name, a 7-bone roast doesn't have seven bones in it; it's named as such because the cross-section of the shoulder blade bone looks like the numeral 7.
What Is a 7-Bone Roast?
To produce a 7-bone roast, the butcher basically runs a beef chuck through a band saw. Starting at the rib end, there are a couple first cut chuck roasts (or blade roasts), and then the next three slabs are considered 7-bone roasts. Of course, the number of shoulder roasts you might get from a single beef chuck depends on the size of the chuck primal and how thick you cut them—but there are at least five or six.
The 7-bone roast will usually include the top blade, chuck tender, chuck flap, shoulder center, and blade flap muscles, but can also include parts of other cuts including the ribeye, depending on how it's trimmed and whether that particular roast came towards the rib end or closer to the neck. Most of these muscles are fairly tough, but a few of them are actually pretty tender, and increasingly butchers are pulling them out to make steaks and roasts like the flat iron steak or chuck-eye steak, which are more profitable than a 7-bone roast.
How to Cook a 7-Bone Roast
When it comes to a bone-in or boneless roast, bone-in roasts are always preferable, whether you're braising or roasting, because the bone adds amazing flavor and moisture. And, like beef chuck in general, the 7-bone also has a lot of connective tissue (i.e. gristle) that would be tough to chew if you cooked it without any liquid. But the long, slow application of moist heat basically melts away those chewy bits and enriches the braising liquid, which can then be used to make a fantastic sauce.
It is preferable to brown the outside of the meat before braising, which in addition to color adds a lot of flavor and texture, but considering the size of this roast, you may not have the right pan. If you don't have a piece of stovetop cookware that's big enough to accommodate a whole 7-bone roast, you can always brown it under the broiler (both sides) and then transfer it to your baking dish, along with some liquid like beef stock, for slow braising in the oven.
What Does a 7-Bone Roast Taste Like?
This roast is rich and flavorful with a nice beefy taste. The slow cooking allows the cartilage to break down and melt into the meat, tenderizing while making for a juicy roast.
Recipes for a 7-Bone Roast
A flavorful liquid and a lot of time are what you need for a successful dish. Combining the roast with wine, broth, and a variety of vegetables, and allowing it all to cook for several hours will result in a tender and flavorful meal.
Where to Buy a 7-Bone Roast
You should be able to find a 7-bone roast at your local supermarket, but it might be labeled as a "bone-in roast" or bone-in pot roast." Keep in mind that the 7-bone roast is really big—a triangular slab of meat with three sides that can measure 10 x 12 x 15 inches—so the whole thing may not fit in your Dutch oven. For that reason, a butcher might cut the roast in half, right through the medial ridge, to produce two roasts.
Storing a 7-Bone Roast
A raw 7-bone roast will last three to five days in the refrigerator and six to 12 months in the freezer. It is best to rewrap the roast in aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or butcher paper and then place in a storage bag before freezing.
Once you have cooked the roast, if you are not serving it immediately, place it in the refrigerator within two hours to avoid any bacteria from forming. A cooked pot roast stored in an air-tight container will last four days in the refrigerator and indefinitely in the freezer—however, the texture will begin to deteriorate.
If time is limited, you might be tempted to brown the meat and place in the refrigerator before roasting; this gap in cooking, however, can actually encourage any bacteria that was present in the raw meat to multiply, so you need to go straight from the stovetop to the oven.
Nutrition and Benefits of a 7-Bone Roast
Meat from the chuck primal is not considered lean, so a 7-bone roast is high in calories and fat. In a 4-ounce serving, there are 290 calories and 22 grams of fat; the accounts for nearly 3/4 of the daily recommended allowance. When it comes to protein, on the other hand, a 7-bone roast is a good source with 20 grams in a serving.