what is beef shoulder clod

In the world of Texas barbecue, brisket is the undisputed star, and the hefty beef rib has become the featured player—the one who gets big applause upon entering the stage. Then theres beef shoulder clod, which is, at best, a bit character actor, getting upstaged by smoked sausage and even turkey. But this hefty cut is inexpensive, lean, tender, and impressive, and its worth seeking out when youre in Texas barbecue country. Heres what to know about shoulder clod and where you can try it.

Shoulder tender edit

The flat iron steak lies above it, and is distinct from this steak, as it is formed from different muscles: teres minor and infraspinatus.

What Is Shoulder Clod?

On a swing through central Texas, I got to sample the clod at places like Kreuz Market and Smittys Market, both in Lockhart, and I came away quite impressed.

A shoulder clod is the size of a volleyball, checking in somewhere between 15 and 20 pounds. A thick cut, it tends to be cooked fairly quickly—just four and a half hours on the hot pit at Kreuz. Its a good bit leaner than brisket, and it has a much more intense beefy flavor, too. Since its a thicker cut, it tends to not be smoky throughout, but the versions I tried had great crusty, smoky edges from the heat of the pit.

An Original Texas BBQ Star

What you might not realize is that, sort of like Mickey Rooney, shoulder clod used to be a big star before getting relegated to supporting roles. No one was smoking brisket in Texas until wholesalers started shipping vacuum-packed individual cuts in the 1960s. Before then, Texas meat markets would order entire forequarters of beef, carve off what they could sell as roasts, and smoke the leftover cuts—the chuck, the shoulder—on their barbecue pits.

This cut consists of five distinct muscles, three of which are fabricated into Top Blade, Shoulder Center and Shoulder Tender cuts. Learn more here.

FAQ

What is beef shoulder clod good for?

Shoulder clod is a good cut for smoking and serving a crowd. The round-shaped clod weighs between 15 and 30 pounds. The meat is leaner than brisket, so it isn’t as tender. But it does have a fantastic beefy flavor.

What is another name for beef clod?

There’s a good chance you have never heard of this cut of meat: Beef Shoulder, also called beef clod and beef chuck. It refers to the shoulder and neck region of the cow. The beef shoulder is relatively tender and one of the cheapest cuts of beef.

Is beef clod the same as brisket?

A shoulder clod is the size of a volleyball, checking in somewhere between 15 and 20 pounds. A thick cut, it tends to be cooked fairly quickly—just four and a half hours on the hot pit at Kreuz. It’s a good bit leaner than brisket, and it has a much more intense beefy flavor, too.

What is the difference between chuck and shoulder clod?

The shoulder clod is a large cut from the Chuck comprising several muscles. Because the Chuck does a lot of work during the steer’s lifetime, it is tough (with some exceptions, see below) with a lot of connective tissue, but offers excellent flavor. This makes it a prime candidate for grinding into ground beef.

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