You've seen them in the meat case at your supermarket: those hunky, chunky lumps of steak called "chuck." Grandma used them for pot roast, and mom preferred them for the meat sauce that smothered your spaghetti. However, you're an adventurer. You know that most any meat can undergo the transformation to a silk purse from a sow's ear or a cow's ear.
In this case, the chuck steak is actually cut from the cow's breast, that muscular frontal primal region that is high in muscles but low in flavorsome, tenderizing fat — but who wants to get technical? It's up to you to dig into your mental chef's portfolio of magic tricks to turn the meat surrounding those muscles into a juicy, tender, flavorsome chuck steak.
Getting to Know Chuck Steak
Knowing the anatomy of a cow puts you miles ahead when understanding what you need to do to turn a tough piece of meat into one that melts in your mouth. The chuck steak comes from a highly muscled primal cut just behind the neck of the cow.
These muscles propel the bovine forward and are in constant use. Muscles aren't tender and neither is the connective tissue that runs through the meat. They don't add flavor like fat does but rather turn into gristle.
Slow roasting is one of the best ways to combat a tough piece of meat like the chuck. However, the gang is coming to watch a big game, and you want to serve sliced steak sandwiches and subs that don't cause the jaw muscles to be overworked, and you also don't want to break the bank by buying pricey cuts of beef. The chuck steak is your new best friend.
Mastering the Reverse Sear
When you're dealing with a piece of meat that is muscular, you need to approach its preparation from a different angle. From top sirloin to chuck steak, the reverse-sear method combines the low, slow oven roast with a hot sear finish, with a bit of down time between each process. You have to coddle your meat, slowly coaching it into the tender morsels it knows it can yield.
What you need:
- Baking tray
- Roasting rack
- Kosher salt
- Digital meat thermometer
- Cast-iron skillet or stove-top grill
- Cutting board
- Slicing knife
- Heat the oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Bring the steak up to room temperature.
- Line a baking tray with foil to extend beyond the edges with enough left over to wrap the steak when it comes out of the oven.
- Place the roasting rack into the baking tray over the foil.
- Salt the steak and place it on the roasting rack.
- Slow roast the steak until the internal temperature reaches 125F.
- Remove it from the oven and wrap the foil around the steak.
- Let it sit for 15 minutes or longer. This can be done several hours before serving.
When it's time for final prep:
- Heat the skillet until it's scorching hot.
- Place the steak into the skillet and sear for 1 minute.
- Turn it over and sear for another minute.
- Remove it to the cutting board and let it sit for 5 minutes before slicing.
- Slice it thin and plate it.
- Pour the juices over the meat and serve your tender chuck steak in sandwiches or as an entree.
- Take a bow for being the host with the most!