There was a time in my life when I couldn’t afford good steak. I could only afford the flank or chuck type cuts of beef. In that time I learn a few good tricks to turn these cheap, tough and overlooked cuts into beautiful juicy, tender bites.
Now they are some of my most preferred cuts. You can’t beat a cheap dinner that tastes amazing right?!
These days lots of people try to avoid these tough pieces of meat, but you don’t need too. I will show you how to make them absolutely delicious, very, very simply.
It was early in my smoking days and I had some guidance from my cousin who was an obsessed when it came to smoking meats. He told me:
”no matter what cut you can afford, you will always be able to make it one of the best steaks of your life if you know how”
He was the one who showed me the basic tricks of the trade which I have come to know like the back of my hand. I feel that it is only appropriate to pass on this knowledge.
So, without anymore babbling on here are my tried and tested ways to tenderize steak so even the worst cuts will be delicious!
Some of the tougher types of meat that you can experiment with and learn how to tenderize include chuck steak, flank steak, and round steak.
These cheaper cuts tend to comprised of tough meat fibers, however, they do usually have more flavour than the pricier cuts.
When you’re learning how to tenderize, then you want to start with a piece that isn’t too tough.
This will ease you into tenderizing and help you understand what the different techniques are, without ending up with something inedible.
As you get better, you’ll be able to choose tougher cuts of meat and get the same amazing results, we found some of the best results do come from charcoal smoker grills.
Here are some of the top strategies for ensuring you serve a delicious and tender steak every time.
My Top Techniques to Tenderizing Steak
We recommend you salt your steaks, it has been found that as the meat draws some of the salt in, the salt breaks down the protein and improves the steak’s texture.
Pour 1/8 of a cup of kosher salt onto a plate and make sure it’s spread out to the same size as the steak. Then, pour 1/8 of a cup of kosher salt onto the top of the steak. Carefully rub the salt into the steak, making sure both sides are thoroughly coated. If you’re doing several steaks, you can continue to use the same salt and plate until all the steaks have been coated in salt.
Next, you’ll need to put your steak in the fridge for 1 hour per inch of thickness. If you have a 1-inch-thick steak, for example, it needs to be in the fridge for 1 hour. For this reason, it’s important to plan ahead so your steaks will be ready to cook when it’s time to cook them. If you are in a pinch for time, you can just leave them for half an hour.
Once it’s time to cook the steak, you’ll need to rinse the salt off the steak by running them under water, being sure to rub the steak as you clean it to make sure you get off all of the salt. Then, all you have to do is cook your steak as planned, whether you’re tossing it on the grill or into a smoker.
You can also use any of the following wine, vinegar or citrus juices. These are acidic liquids that soften muscle fibers and add flavour too. For citrus juice, try pineapple, lime or lemon.
Vinegar can be apple cider, balsamic or regular household vinegar. If I’m using the acidic tenderizer method, I like to use white vinegar.
Pierce your meat all over with a fork and then soak it in vinegar for an hour or two before you cook it. Whichever method you choose, be sure to cook your meat in a coated non-stick pans or glass baking dishes.
Mechanical tenderizers, utilize a set of sharp knives that create tiny heat channels within the meat, it also provides pathway for marinades to be absorbed deeper.
Using a mechanical tendersizer also can help reduce cooking time by up to 40 percent as the heat is able to penetrate the incisions made by the knifes rather than only heat the surface.
We found that because you are reducing the cooking time it reduces the risk of ending up with an overcooked, tough piece of meat.
Should You Be Scoring Your Meat?
This a good method for tenderizing flat, fibrous steaks like skirt and flank steak.
Using a sharp knife, you will need to make a series of shallow cuts incisions 1/3 inch apart in a cross pattern on both sides.
The cuts will sever tough meat fibres and can help speed up the absorption of the marinade.
Resting and Slicing
Always let the steak rest on a chopping board for 5 – 10 minutes before you slice it.
Letting it rest will relax the meat, making it juicier. Then slice it very thinly across the grain. Thin slices mean short meat fibers, making even a fibrous steak like a skirt steak seem tender.
Charlies Hot Tip
Want to impress the kids or friends at your next cookout? Why not have their names scored onto their steak? I use my steak branding iron to really impress them (as well as remember whose steak is whose!)
Charlies Hot Tip
My favourite charcoal smoker/ grill for steak? I looooove the Big Green Egg, especially since I can hang meat in it as well (hello self-basting!) The green egg accessories help me prove to the whole family I am grilling/smoking champ of the family!
Try the "Cheaper" Cuts of Steak
The flank steak, for example, is a full-flavored cut that comes from the center of the chuck.
It will look and cook like a skirt steak, however, you will find that it cuts like a tender steak from the loin.
Other alternative steaks which are just as flavorful are chuck steak, charcoal steak, chuck tenders, tri-tip. eye round steak, hanger steak and flap steak.
Charlies Hot Tip
Does the regular salt and pepper seasoning not cut it for you anymore? I used to just use them as well.
That was until I tried my first rub, now I have a kitchen cupboard overflowing with them! I have put together a list of the best rubs I have discovered!
The After Burn
Although it may be hard to believe, it is 100% possible to tenderize any steak by following one of these strategies.
Sometimes I will pull something out of the freezer or off the shelf at the supermarket and challenge myself to create something so juicy and tender with it. Its surprising how often you can turn a cheap, sale piece of meat into one of the most delicious meals of your life.
Once you master one (or more) of these techniques, you’ll be able to look in the bargain section and create magic with any “cheap cut”.
What your favourite cheap cut to create magic with?and how do you do it?
Happy smoking friends
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