A mock tender roast is so named because it is anything but tender if it is not specially prepared. It is a cut of beef that may also be called chuck steak, chuck tender steak, or shoulder tender, among other names. It can also be sold as a steak rather than as a roast, depending upon the way the meat is cut. The meat is cut along what is called the chuck primal, which is the area of the animal that begins at the neck, includes the shoulder and ends at the fifth rib.
Most chuck steak cuts like the mock tender roast are known for excellent flavor. Unfortunately, you may miss the flavor if you have to chew a tough piece of meat. For this reason, this cut is often prepared by braising or stewing the meat using moist cooking methods that help to soften the meat and make it easier to chew. Marinating the meat in advance, especially if the mock tender roast is cut into kabobs, can also help break down some of the toughness.
Chuck cuts tend to be less expensive on average than other more tender sections of beef. It can therefore be worth it to go to the extra trouble of braising or stewing, since you’ll usually save money on price per pound. One particularly popular way of preparing the mock tender roast is using the cut to make pot roast, which is baked in liquids or occasionally prepared on the stove. Some recipes still advocate marinating the meat prior to baking, or seasoning the meat for a few hours before cooking it.
Many chefs recommend using wine or any other acidic substance to help produce some breakdown of the fibrous tissue in this beef cut. Red wine is a particularly good pairing for braising, stewing or for pot roasts. If you don’t care for wine, you can use other acids, like a small amount of vinegar to create a more tender roast.
If you’re buying mock tender roast from the butcher store, you can request that the roast be cut thin or halved if you’d rather cook the roast as a steak. One way to prepare thinner cuts is to marinate them, preferably overnight, and then grill them. If they are served in very thin slices, the steak variant is usually easier to eat. Seasonings and marinade can easily substitute this cut for other more expensive cuts like tri-tip.