This underrated cut has tons of potential. 

By Gillie Houston
January 22, 2019
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Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Prop Styling: Kashara Johnson; Food Styling: Robby Melvin

If you’ve ever browsed the meat department for a great cut of steak, there’s a chance you’ve noticed the surprisingly low price of a certain variety: the chuck. While it’s easy to be suspicious of such a steal on a piece of steak, the chuck is secretly one of the most underrated portions of the cow with tons of potential. 

Though some chefs refer to the chuck steak as the “poor man’s ribeye,” this cut can be more luxurious than you ever thought possible. In fact, chuck steaks are chock-full of beefy flavor and have the potential to be one of the most tender steaks on the cow, as long as it’s cooked properly.

One of the most economical categories of beef, the chuck refers to the neck, shoulder, and chest of the cow. Due to its location, chuck cuts tend to be packed with connective tissues, which can result in gristly meat. However, chuck steaks come from the top blade of the shoulder, which can produce some extremely tender meat if not overcooked. 

Watch: 8 Cheap Beef Cuts So Good You'll Swear Off Ribeye

 

While the chuck roast, which is lower on the chest, is a popular choice for pot roasts, stews, and braised recipes, which give the beef ample time to tenderize completely, the chuck steak has been given less of a chance to shine—until now. 

Whether you’re opting to grill, sear, braise, or broil, these methods will help you make a cheap cut of steak taste like a high-end meal. 

Pan Searing

This quick and easy method for preparing the chuck steak is so simple even a beginner cook can master it. However, there are a few tips that will ensure that your seared steak is a cut above the rest.

One of the keys to perfecting a Pan Seared Chuck-Eye Steak is to season it with salt and pepper and allow it to chill in the fridge, uncovered, for up to 8 hours. While this might seem like an indulgent use of time, this step will allow the moisture within the meat to rise to the surface, making for a far better sear. While this step isn’t absolutely necessary for those in a time crunch, if you have a few hours to spare it can make a world of difference to your end result.

Once your steak is properly seasoned, heat some olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat before adding your steak and searing for 3 minutes on each side. Then, place your cast iron in a 450-degree oven and cook your steak for 5 minutes more.

After removing from oven, add butter, garlic, and thyme to the drippings in the pan, and spoon this liquid over the steak repeatedly for a couple of minutes. This basting will not only infuse some rich flavor into your steak, but also guarantee a juicy and tender texture. Let your steak rest for 5 minutes on a wire rack and slice against the grain before serving.

For an oven-free option, simply heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat before cooking your seasoned steaks 3-4 minutes per side, until browned. For this method, we’d recommend tenderizing the steak first, which will make it slightly thinner and therefore more able to cook fully in the pan alone. To tenderize, wrap the meat in plastic wrap and pound with a meat pounder or heavy frying pan. If buying your meat directly from a butcher, you can also request to have your steak tenderized for you.

Take your pan cooked steak to the next level with flavorful additions, like Sautéed Steaks with Red Wine and Peppers and Steak Balsamico with Mushrooms.

Grilling

While the chuck steak can certainly be grilled to perfection like any other steak, in order to get the most out of your meat it’s best to marinate your chuck steak for at least a couple of hours before it hits the grill.

Though any of the the chuck steak cooking methods will benefit from marinating or brining before cooking in order to add tenderness and moisture to this muscular cut of meat, with grilling this step is especially important. Because the grill cooks entirely with dry heat, this can quickly make your chuck steak turn dry and tough. However, if you give it proper time to marinate, this moisture and flavor will be retained in the meat throughout the grilling process.

To begin, add a simple marinade of olive oil, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper to a Ziploc bag with your steak and allow it to marinade for 2-3 hours. When you’re ready to grill, remove your steak, dry thoroughly with a paper towel, and season generously with salt and pepper. Preheat your grill to high and brush with oil to prevent sticking. Cook your steak for 5 minutes on each side for medium rare.

We’d also recommend creating an herb butter to serve on top of the grilled steak by combining 4 tablespoons of softened butter with 1 tablespoon each of minced chives, parsley, and cilantro. This butter will help add some moisture and flavor to the meat upon serving.

Braising

Like its counterpart, chuck roast, chuck steak can also be braised until luxuriously tender. Begin by heating 2 tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat until simmering. Add your seasoned steak to the pot, searing on both sides for about 3 minutes each, until browned.

Remove the steak from the pot and discard the fat from the pan before building your braising liquid. While there are many options for braising liquids, some we’d recommend are beef broth, dry wine, beer, water, or cider, with the addition of liquid seasonings like Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, or soy sauce. You can also choose to add dry seasonings to your braising liquid, like Italian seasoning, thyme, basil, and oregano.

Add your steak back into the pot with the braising liquid and cover with a tight, heavy lid before placing it in a 325-degree oven. Cook 2-3 pounds of chuck steak for about 1.5 hours, until completely tender to the fork. Check the internal temperature with a thermometer to ensure it’s reached at least 135 degrees before removing and serving.

For an Irish-inspired, Guinness infused steak, try this recipe for Guinness Braised Chuck Steaks with Horseradish Mashed Potatoes.

Broiling

For a quick and easy steak fix, you can choose to broil your chuck steak, which will brown the outsides of your beef quickly while leaving the middle tender and pink. Start by seasoning your steak thoroughly with salt and pepper and allowing it to sit uncovered in the fridge for a couple of hours, time permitting.

Move an oven rack about 4 inches from the top of your oven and preheat the broiler to high. Add your steak to an oiled cast-iron skillet or baking sheet and broil for 6-7 minutes before flipping the meat and cooking the other side for 6-7 minutes. Check the internal temperature of the steak to guarantee it reaches 135 degrees for medium-rare. Let your steak rest, covered loosely by foil, for 5 minutes, which will help the juices within the steak settle.

Whichever method you choose, when it comes to cooking with the ultra-affordable chuck steak you’re all but guaranteed to be blown away by the flavors and textures that can be achieved with such an economical cut of meat.

 

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