Each week, Cara Nicoletti of The Meat Hook is helping us get to know our favorite cuts a little bit better – and introducing you to a few new ones, too. Read on, study up, then hightail it to your nearest butcher.
Today: Your pan called -- it wants to cook you some steak.
Steaks are often thought of as summer fare, since so many of them do so well on the grill, but there are a number of cuts that do beautifully in a pan, as well. Four of my favorite pan steaks are chuck eye, blade, flatiron, and Denver. As an added bonus, these steaks are all from the shoulder, which means that they are so flavorful they need only a bare minimum of prep before cooking. When pan-searing steak, I stick to these rules:
- Salt and pepper your steaks liberally and let them sit out at room temperature for about 40 minutes before cooking.
- Drizzle some neutral oil with a high smoking point in your pan (I like using cast iron) and get it ripping hot.
- Cook your steaks for the time recommended in each paragraph below, and let them rest about 10 minutes before slicing them against the grain
How's that for an easy steak dinner?
At The Meat Hook we call this steak "Delmonico,” which is a name generally given to a boneless rib eye steak -- and also happens to sound a lot more appealing than "chuck eye". The rib eye and the chuck eye share the same major muscle: the longissimus dorsi. When this muscle, which is the eye of the rib eye steak, travels into the shoulder, it becomes the chuck eye, or Delmonico steak. What this means is that it has a lot in common with one of the most expensive steaks on the animal’s body, but costs about 1/3 of the price. The chuck eye won’t be as tender as the eye of your rib eye steak because it’s in a harder working area of the body, but it will have the same rich flavor and beautiful marbling. I like to cook Delmonico steak just slightly more towards medium than medium-rare, to give the fat and sinew time to render out -- about 6 to 7 minutes per side in a hot pan.
More: Get better acquainted with rib eye, chuck eye's richer, fattier cousin.
This steak is sometimes called the flatiron (which is the name of another steak we'll cover later on -- can someone please tell American butchers to start streamlining their steak names?). As you might've been able to guess, this steak peels off of the animal’s shoulder blade. It's lean and surprisingly tender for a shoulder steak, with an incredibly rich, beefy flavor. It’s great as a main dish steak, but because of its shape and thickness, it also makes a great steak to cut into strips for fajitas or steak salads. Blade steak is best cooked rare to medium-rare, which, because it’s so thin, takes only 2 to 3 minutes per side.
These steaks are commonly called “clod heart steaks” or “clod steaks.” They come from a major muscle called, you guessed it, “the clod heart.” Left whole, the clod heart (no relation to actual heart) makes a beautiful roast, but cut into steaks it's just as delicious. Like the blade, flatiron steaks are quite tender and have a really rich flavor. They're super lean, so be careful not to overcook them or you'll risk drying them out. I like to cook mine to rare or medium-rare -- about 4 to 5 minutes per side.
This cut was unveiled as a “new steak” a couple of years ago by Certified Angus Beef, who spent a ton of money and time trying to de-bunk the misconception that cuts from the leg and shoulder were only suitable for braising. Like all of the steaks mentioned here, Denver comes off the shoulder. It has gorgeous marbling and flavor, and just enough chew that it does best if it’s hit with a Jaccard tenderizer before cooking. Because of its long muscle strands, it is particularly important to cut this steak against the grain after cooking and resting it to make sure that it doesn’t get too tough. Cook it to medium-rare, about 4 to 5 minutes per side.
Did we overlook your favorite steak to pan-sear? Tell us in the comments!
Photos by Mark Weinberg