How to Turn a Chuck Roast Into Steak


Cutting your own steaks from whole cuts of beef saves money at the meat counter, but buying already inexpensive cuts of meat, such as chuck roast, and cutting your own steaks is almost like getting it for free. The chuck shoulder roast, like everything from the chuck, is relatively tough, but trimming it into steaks lets you grill or pan-roast it, and slicing it across the grain after cooking it makes it easier to chew than when cooked as a whole roast. The shoulder roast works best because it has a steak-like shape, so turning it into steaks is only a matter of trimming and slicing.

Things You'll Need

  • Boneless shoulder roast, 3 to 4 pounds
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic film
  • Cutting board
  • Straight-edged kitchen knife
  • Kitchen towel
  • 10-inch-long scimitar
  • Pat the chuck shoulder roast dry with paper towels and wrap it in plastic film. Place the roast in the freezer for about 30 minutes. It's easier to trim and slice super-cold beef than chilled or room-temperature beef.

  • Position the roast so the widest, flattest side sits on the cutting board and the side with the 1/2- to 1-inch-thick fat cap faces up. A 3- to 4-pound chuck shoulder roast looks almost like a right triangle with a 4-inch-tall vertical leg, a 9-inch-long horizontal leg and a 9-inch-long hypotenuse when viewed from the side.

  • Position the blade of a sharp, straight-edged kitchen knife between the fat cap and the meat at one end of the roast, almost parallel with the cutting board. Slice between the fat cap and the meat about 1/2 inch deep, just enough to create a starter flap of the fat cap that you can grasp between your thumb and forefinger and pull taut. Angle the knife slightly upward, as you pull the fat cap taut. Tilting the knife upward helps you avoid slicing into the meat. If you slice too far upward and cut through the fat cap, it's OK; slice between the fat and meat again.

  • Remove the fat in strips. After you remove one strip of fat from the length of the roast, return to where you started and work on another strip of fat in the same way you did the first, until you remove it all. It's OK to leave as much as 1/4 inch of fat on top of the meat.

  • Cut away as much visible connective tissue as possible from the surface. Don't dig into the meat just to get at a piece of gristle, simply trim off any that hang off the sides or bottom along with any lose, hanging pieces of fat.

  • Examine the roast for silverskin, an ultrathin, shiny, iridescent connective tissue that fits tightly on the surface of meat and shrinks during cooking, causing misshapen steaks. Insert the tip of the knife between the silverskin and the meat. Slice back and forth with the knife until you release just enough silverskin to grasp between your thumb and forefinger, like you did with the fat cap.

  • Angle the blade of the knife slightly upward, pull the silverskin taut and slice it away from the meat using a back-and-forth slicing motion. You have to remove silverskin in strips because it sits so tightly against the meat.

  • Wipe up any myoglobin -- the red, watery juice that comes from raw meat that people often mistake for blood -- from the cutting board with a kitchen towel. Pat the roast dry again with paper towels.

  • Slice off the thin layer of fat from each end of the roast. These layers of fat are about 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick and are simple to slice through and remove.

  • Position the roast so the pointed end faces away from you. Score the top edge of the roast with a 10-inch-long, curved meat knife, known as a scimitar. Scimitars are necessary for cutting steaks because a regular kitchen knife or chef's knife doesn't make contact with the cutting board at the correct angle when cutting a steak.

  • Score across the edge of the roast in increments equal to the width of the steaks you will cut. For example, if you want 3/4-inch-thick steaks, score the edge of the roast at 3/4-inch increments. The scoring serves as a guide when slicing the steaks. Since the chuck is a tough cut of meat, steaks 3/4-inches thick or less give you the most tender bite.

  • Slice through the roast crosswise at the points you scored with the knife. Use long strokes of the knife. It shouldn't take more than two or three knife strokes to cut a single steak from the roast.

  • Examine the individual steaks after you cut them and look for any bits of fat or connective tissue hanging off the sides. Trim the hanging pieces of fat or connective tissue off with a knife. These cuts are considered "polish" cuts, meant to make the steak look neat and well trimmed.

  • Wrap each steak in plastic food film and label each with the date. You can freeze steaks for up to a year or store them in the fridge for about two days. Store raw meat on the lowest shelf in the fridge and in a food-storage container to prevent contaminating other foods.

Tips & Warnings

  • The general rule of meat fabrication, or steak cutting, is, "the less knife stroke you use, the better." Using as few knife strokes as possible means you end up with a better yield and more usable trim, the goal of any meat cutter.
  • You can discard the trimmed fat or render it down, strain it through a sieve lined with cheesecloth and use it for frying and baking, as you would lard.

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