Did you know that you can take an affordable piece of chuck steak, choose an appropriate cooking method, and transform it into a restaurant-quality piece of beef? It’s true. Chuck steak might have a lower price tag than other cuts of steak, but that certainly doesn’t mean you should overlook it if you want a high-quality, tasty meal.
There are several ways to cook chuck steak and achieve drool-worthy results, but each method offers something a little different. We’re going to outline the best ways to cook a chuck steak in this guide so that you can choose the method that works best for you.
Understanding Chuck Steak
Chuck steak comes from a cow’s shoulder area. This area is naturally exercised, which tends to make the meat that comes from it lean and, consequently, a bit chewy. That’s why chuck steak is sometimes overlooked in the meat department, especially by those looking for upscale cuts they believe can make the best steak dinner.
However, chuck steak is super flavorful and can become tender when prepared and cooked properly. Now, chuck steak differs from a chuck roast in that chuck steak is sliced from a roast. They both contain the same type of meat, but chuck roast is much thicker, making it ideal for slow cooking it, usually in a slow cooker. Meanwhile, chuck steak usually works best when cooked quickly using hot temperatures, allowing it to crisp on the outside while remaining tender and juicy inside.
Selecting the Best Chuck Steak
The best place to look for chuck steak is at a local butcher’s shop. A butcher can cut a chuck roast right in front of you when you order steaks, so you can size up the quality of the steak and roast when buying it.
No worries if you don’t have a butcher available, though. Here’s what to look for when browsing the shelves at your grocery store’s meat department:
- Fresh, red flesh: The freshest beef is red rather than a dull pink, brown, or gray. In addition to color, use the bounce-back test. Gently press two fingertips into the meat. It should bounce back quickly. If the shape of your fingers stays indented, the meat may not be fresh.
- Fat content: Chuck steak doesn’t have a lot of marbling, or strips of fat, running through it, but it should have some. More importantly, look for cuts that don’t have large chunks of fat on the outside, which you’ll need to trim before cooking.
- Labels: Look at the packaging and use-by dates on the label to get an idea of how fresh they are. Also, consider buying USDA Choice or USDA Prime meat, if available, as they meet the USDA’s strict standards for beef quality.
Preparation Before Cooking
Before making chuck steak, consider two preparation options. First, you can use a marinade to help tenderize the steak. This is a good idea if you have a couple of hours to spare before cooking your steak, or you can leave it in the refrigerator marinating overnight.
Here are a few marinades that work well with chuck steak:
- Flank steak marinade
- Lime marinade
- Sweet balsamic marinade
- Fresh herb roast marinade
- Jack Daniels marinade
Alternatively, you can opt for not using a marinade. With this method, you’ll remove the steak from the refrigerator, pat it dry, salt it on both sides, and allow it to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking. Then, you can season it with your choice of herbs and spices. We recommend sprinkling black pepper and rosemary on both sides.
While waiting for your steak to be ready to cook, begin preparing your grill, pan, or cast-iron skillet, depending on the cooking method you want to use.
Cooking Methods Overview
The cooking methods below are commonly used to cook chuck steak. They provide quick, high heat to sear the outside without drying out the rest of the steak.
Before using any of these three cooking methods, remember to pat marinated steak dry. If you didn’t marinate your steak, salt the steak on both sides. Then, leave the steak at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking.
Pan-Seared Chuck Steak
Pan-searing is a go-to method for many steak enthusiasts. With this method, you’ll sear each side of the steak in a hot pan with oil or butter, then turn down the heat to allow the steak to continue cooking to your desired doneness.
- Preheat a large pan to high heat with 1 tbsp of oil or butter.
- Transfer the steaks to the pan and sear on each side for 2-3 minutes, turning with tongs.
- Turn the heat to low, continuing to cook to your preferred doneness (about 4-5 additional minutes for medium rare).
- Rest at room temperature for 5-10 minutes.
Grilled Chuck Steak
Cooking chuck steak on the grill offers a similar high-heat, quick-cook method as pan-searing while delivering smoky grill flavors. You can use either a charcoal or gas grill, but be sure to have one part of the grill prepared with high heat and another area ready to go with low heat. Alternatively, you can reduce the heat after searing.
- Oil the grill grates to prevent the steak from sticking before preheating it.
- Move the steaks to the high-heat area of the grill, sear for 2-3 minutes on each side, using tongs to flip them over once.
- Transfer the steaks to the low-heat area of your grill or lower the heat, continuing to cook for another 4-5 minutes for medium rare.
- Rest at room temperature for 5-10 minutes.
For more doneness, leave the steaks on the grill for an additional 2-5 minutes.
Cast Iron Skillet Chuck Steak
Cast iron skillet chuck steak gets cooked the same way as pan-seared chuck steak, only you’ll use a cast iron skillet to cook the steak. Cast iron holds heat in longer than a regular skillet, though, so you may need less cooking time if cooking to medium-rare.
Cast iron skillets can go on the stove or in the oven, so this is a good method to use if you want to cook your chuck steak to medium or above. This way, you can transfer your steak and skillet directly into the oven to finish cooking. Here’s that process:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and the skillet over high heat with 1 tbsp of oil or butter.
- Sear the steaks on each side for 1-2 minutes, using tongs to turn them once.
- Use an oven mitt to transfer the skillet to the middle rack of the oven, cooking for 2-5 minutes, depending on your preferred doneness level.
- Rest the steaks at room temperature for 5-10 minutes.
Favorite Chuck Steak Condiments
With the right cook, chuck steak doesn’t need a sauce to go with it. Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t use one if you want to. A good sauce can kick up the flavor to the next level, giving you even more tastes to enjoy.
Try some of our favorite steak condiment recipes to make yourself, each of which can serve as an excellent topping for your pan-seared or grilled chuck steak:
- Basic Steak Sauce recipe
- Steak Drippings Sauce
- Buttery Pan Sauce for steak
- Pepper Steak Sauce
- Mushroom Sauce recipe for steak
Conclusion: Cooking Chuck Steak the Right Way
Hopefully, this guide will lead you to making a deliciously tender chuck steak using a cast iron skillet, a grill, or a traditional pan-sear method. If so, you’ll know never to pass by a chuck steak when browsing the meat department. This affordable cut of beef can transform into a crave-worthy meal with the right cooking techniques.
When you’re in the mood to splurge on the best steaks you can buy, order from Chicago Steak Company. Our online ordering makes buying steaks convenient, and you can always rely on our steaks to deliver on taste and quality.