Yes, you can absolutely cut a roast into chunks or pieces before cooking. This is a great way to shorten the cooking time for roasts and allow seasoning or marinades to penetrate the meat more quickly. There are a few tips to follow when cutting a roast into chunks to ensure success.
Why Cut a Roast into Chunks?
There are several benefits to cutting a roast into smaller pieces before cooking:
- Shortens cooking time – Smaller pieces cook faster than a whole roast.
- Increases surface area – More surfaces to brown and caramelize for added flavor.
- Absorbs seasoning/marinades – Spices, herbs, sauces absorb more efficiently.
- Cooks more evenly – No thick ends or rare middle sections.
- Easy to portion – Pre-cut chunks make serving simple.
For roasts like pork loin or beef tenderloin that cook quickly, cutting into chunks can help prevent overcooking the exterior before the middle is done.
How to Cut a Roast into Pieces
When cutting a roast into individual portions, it’s important to follow a few guidelines:
- Use a sharp knife to cleanly cut through the meat.
- Cut against the grain of the muscle fibers for tenderness.
- Make chunks roughly equal in size so they cook evenly.
- Aim for 1-3 inch chunks depending on the roast size.
It’s helpful to lightly tie the roast with butcher’s twine before slicing to hold it together and make cutting easier. Just be sure to remove the string before cooking.
What Size to Cut Roast Chunks
The ideal chunk size depends on the specific roast and desired cook time. Some general size guidelines:
- For a 3-4 lb roast, cut into 1-2 inch chunks
- For a 4-7 lb roast, cut into 2-3 inch chunks
- For a large 8+ lb roast, cut into 3 inch or larger chunks
Smaller 1-2 inch chunks are good for stews or braises where you want the meat to break down. Larger 2-3 inch chunks hold their shape better for roasting or grilling.
It’s often easiest to first cut the roast lengthwise into thinner halves or thirds, then make crosswise cuts into chunks. Plan for about 4-6 portions per pound of meat.
Table: Recommended Chunk Size by Roast Size
|Recommended Chunk Size
Best Cuts of Roast to Use
You can cut most roasts into chunks, but some take to it better than others. The most suitable roast cuts include:
Pork loin is very tender and stays moist when cut into portions. Cook quickly by pan searing or roasting at high heat.
Cutting tenderloin into pieces provides more crust and caramelized exterior. Cook fast by grilling or broiling.
Tri-tip can be left whole or cut into uniform pieces for even cooking. Grill or roast this flavorful cut.
Shoulder meat cuts nicely into chunks. Braise the pieces until meltingly tender.
Pork Shoulder (Boston Butt)
Well-marbled shoulder remains juicy in chunks. Braise or roast low and slow.
Beef Chuck Roast
Chuck benefits from cut into cubes for braises, stews, and shredded beef. Cook low and slow.
How to Cook Cut Roast
Once you’ve portioned the roast, cooking time will be much faster. Different cooking methods to try:
Quickly brown the chunks on all sides in a hot skillet then finish cooking through.
Roast the pieces at 425°F, tossing halfway through, until browned and cooked through.
Grill over high heat, flipping once, until well browned and tender.
Brown pieces then braise in liquid until fall-apart tender.
Simmer pieces in flavorful liquid until meat is soft and sauce thickens.
Monitor internal temperature and roast thickness. Smaller pieces may only need 10-20 minutes total cooking time. Rest before serving.
Cutting a large roast into individual chunk-size portions prior to cooking allows for shorter cook times, more caramelized exterior, and better absorption of flavors. Follow the grain of the meat and cut into 1-3 inch pieces based on the total roast size for best results. Quick roasting, grilling, or pan searing are ideal cooking methods for pre-cut roast chunks. With the right technique, you can transform a big roast into fast weeknight meals.