How to Cook the Perfect Denver Steak – Denver Steak Recipes
by Alex Kane @ flickr
Generally speaking, the price of a product is usually an indisputable indicator of its quality. Good meat is expensive and has become a commodity that few are willing to pay for. But, what if there was a solution for the average pay-check that would allow steaks to turn into a daily treat for the whole family? All while having the qualities of a premium product. This steak is so underappreciated that many won’t even recognize its name. It’s the Denver Steak. Let’s have a look at How to Cook the Perfect Denver Steak.
- What is the Denver Steak?
- Denver Steak Characteristics
- Cutting Denver Steak
- How to Cook the Perfect Denver Steak? Cooking Methods for Denver Steak Cut.
- Beef Chuck & Smoked Denver Steak Recipes.
What is the Denver Steak?
Referred to as the “poor man’s ribeye,” this cut is located in the chuck of the beef or shoulder muscles. The scientific name of this large muscle is Serratus Ventralis.
You might’ve encountered this cut under various other names like:
The under blade steak, the Denver chuck steak, the boneless chuck short rib, and the under blade center.
Generally speaking, cuts from the chuck are usually used in braised dishes, pot roasts, and slow cooking recipes because of their tough texture, considered harder to chew.
However, some cuts from this muscular part are nothing but tender, if cooked properly, that is.
Denver steak cut is an underrated cut that fulfills both palatability and budget requirements.
This steak has many characteristics that render it the perfect cut for your family dinners and barbecue events.
Steaks from the rib and loin are valued because of the general perception of their quality, while steaks from the chuck are thought of as less superior.
A USDA Choice carcass holds approximately 24%round meat, 17% loin, 9% rib, 30% chuck, and the rest of the carcass is brisket, shank, pelvic fat, etc.
Given that the chuck represents the most significant part of an animal’s carcass, it is only natural that meat researchers have been exploring the use of this portion of the beef to create an economically accessible steak for the middle-class household income.
The Beef Checkoff program, established in 1985, has helped discover many chuck roll steaks like the Sierra cut, the Delmonico steak, and the Denver Steak cut through research and product development.
The U.S. is the largest beef producer globally, and Americans are the biggest consumers of beef in the world, with 21% of meat consumed in 2018. This data has been evolving over the years thanks to the Checkoff program.
Indeed, the project was designed initially to encourage consumers and restaurants alike to purchase more beef. The program helped discover and develop more steak cuts for meat-loving consumers who couldn’t afford expensive filets and ribeye steaks through the muscle profiling research that it has funded.
As a result, the Denver steak cut was proposed to the market in 2008, along with other chuck cuts.
Denver Steak Characteristics
Most steak fanatics describe the Denver steak cut as being tender when cooked properly. Since this steak is located in a chuck’s muscular area, it has a significant amount of gristle.
Gristle is the sum of fibers and connective tissues that hardly breaks down when cooked quickly, for instance, when grilled or pan-fried.
Any cut of raw meat is composed of muscle tissue, collagen, elastin, and fat. The more active the area of the animal, the more elastin it bears.
Because a cow’s shoulder muscles support a big part of its body weight, this area develops into a strong, elastin-rich section.
Denver steaks, however, can be enjoyed like any other steak cut from the rib or loin section if cooked correctly. They are characterized by their meaty texture and beefy flavor. Because of this steak’s thick nature, marinades are recommended to tender this cut and intensify its flavor.
It is common knowledge that cuts from the chuck have less marbling than cuts from other parts of the carcass.
Nowadays, consumers prefer easy and quick items to cook like steaks for grilling or stir-frying and are far less interested in roasting since it requires preparation.
Steaks generally perform better with higher degrees of marbling. Because direct heat preparations are now favored instead of low and slow cooking methods, the marbling value has increased in the past years.
This is why consumers are reluctant to buy cuts from the chuck area. It doesn’t mean that the Denver steak has no marbling. This only means that it has less fat than other standard steaks.
Dr. Woerner, a meat scientist, explains how “breaking down the chuck into steaks renders it into what we call ‘fast-cooking cuts rather than slow.” Woerner especially praises the Denver steak cut as a great “find because it comes from a part of the animal that normally requires longer cooking times at low heat or braising to make it tender.”
From a healthy perspective, less fat means less worries about cholesterol levels and calorie intake.
For this reason, Denver steak cut is a healthier option to enjoy all the protein-benefits of meat without worrying about other deterrent factors.
Marinades are exceptionally great for Denver cuts because they help break down this meat’s fibers for tenderer results.
Cutting Denver Steak
No matter how long you cook your meat, fibers are hard to break.
This is why it is crucial to remove as much as possible before cooking your meat by:
- Trimming the inedible parts.
- Breaking down the fibers by pounding.
- Grinding if there’s too much to be removed.
- Slicing the beef against the grain.
Cutting Denver steak across the meat fibers is an essential step of this list if you intend on grilling it. This crucial action will make the meat easier to chew.
Because the cut’s grain is more visible when the meat is raw, you should cut your Denver steak against the grain before grilling it.
After grilling, slice off the end of the steak. If there are long strands of meat running parallel to one another, it means that you cut your steak with the grain. The correct technique is the other way around.
In sum, Denver steak cut can be enjoyed without worrying too much about its texture by trimming it as much as possible and cutting it against the grain. If you have no previous experience with this technique, your butcher can do it for you.
How to Cook the Perfect Denver Steak? Cooking Methods for Denver Steak Cut.
Cooking methods affect the overall tenderness result of any meat cut.
You can use slow cooking methods, like braising or slow-roasting, and fast cooking methods, like pan-searing or grilling.
Rib and loin primals have been mostly used in fast-cooking dishes, while other beef cuts from the chuck and round were preferred for gentle heat slow cooking.
However, this exceptional steak, located in a muscular area, has good marbling properties that make it the perfect candidate for a low-budget dish.
Grilling any steak requires a minimum of seasoning. With steaks from the chuck, good marinades are a requirement to increase the juiciness of the cut.
Before diving into the cooking process, make sure to rub your steak in a marinade of your choice for at least a couple of hours.
To grill the perfect Denver steak cut:
- Heat a charcoal or gas grill.
- Place the Denver steak on the uncovered grill over direct heat.
- Grill each piece of meat for 3 to 4 minutes per side.
- Move the pieces to indirect heat and cover them while finishing the grilling process until they reach the desired level of doneness.
Beef Chuck & Smoked Denver Steak Recipes.
1. The Original Denver Steak Recipe
The first time the word “Denver” was linked to the word “steak” was in Phillip Stephen Schulz’s 1986 cooking manual. In Cooking with Fire and Smoke, Schulz mentions “Edie Acsell’s Denver Steak” recipe.
Since Denver steak mimics Flank Steak’s appearance, we tried to mimic the original Denver steak recipe as well. The Denver steak soaks perfectly in this delectable marinade and gives excellent grilling results.
- 1 Denver steak, ½ inch thick (about 1 ½ pound)
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- ½ cup of Canola oil
- ½ cup of tomato juice
- ½ of soy sauce
- ½ cup of brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
- Combine the garlic, oil, tomato juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, and pepper in a Ziploc bag.
- Place the Denver steak in the bag, close it and rub the marinade all over it.
- Refrigerate for 6 to 12 hours.
- Let it stand at room temperature, 2 hours before grilling.
- Preheat the grill.
- Drain the marinade from the steak and heat it to boiling in a small saucepan. Keep it warm to serve later.
- Brush the grid of your grill lightly with oil.
- Grill the steak over high heat for 3 to 5 minutes per side.
- Move the Denver steak to indirect heat. Cover and let the meat cook until it reaches the desired level of doneness.
- Cut the steak across the grain into slices about ¼ inch thick.
- Pour the warm sauce on the side.
2. Circle J Sauce Denver Steak Recipe
Circle J is a famous sauce published by the American lifestyle magazine Sunset. This balanced sauce goes well with the value-conscious Denver steak cut.
- 1½ pounds of Denver steaks
For the Dry Rub:
- 2 tbsp of paprika
- 1 tbsp of Kosher salt
- 1 tbsp of ground chipotle chile
- 1 tbsp of ground dried red chile
- 1 tsp of ground cumin
- ¾ tsp of sugar
For the Circle J Sauce:
- ¼ cup of butter
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 cup of water
- ¾ cup of ketchup
- 2 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp of steak sauce
- 2 tbsp of minced mixed fresh herbs
- 1 tbsp of cider or distilled vinegar
- 2 tbsp of horseradish
- 1 tbsp of brown sugar
- 2 tsp of yellow ballpark mustard
- ¾ tsp of chili powder
- ½ tsp of salt
- Prepare the dry rub by combining all the ingredients in a medium bowl.
- Toss the meat in the dry rub at least 1½ hours and up to 12 hours before you plan to grill.
- Coat them well, cover, and refrigerate.
- Make the sauce by warming the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent.
- Stir in the rest of the ingredients and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 to 25 minutes until the sauce has thin ketchup consistency.
- Preheat the grill to a high temperature.
- Remove the meat from the refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.
- Grill the Denver steaks uncovered over high heat for 3 to 4 minutes per side.
- If grilling covered, cook for 5 to 7 minutes, turning once midway.
- Serve the beef warm with a spoonful of the warm sauce.
3. Korean-Style Denver Steak BBQ Recipe
The classic Korean barbecue called galbi typically featured grilled beef short rib meat marinated in a special Korean barbecue sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds and scallions. We substituted the short ribs with the Denver steaks for this article’s purpose, and the results were outstanding. Like the ribs, the steaks have great chew and beefy character and love a good, long marinade. You can cut them against the grain into strips or serve them as a whole cut with some kimchi.
- 3 pounds of Denver steaks
For the Korean Beef Marinade:
- 1 cup of light soy sauce
- ½ a cup of light brown sugar
- ¼ cup of honey
- 2 tbsp of dark sesame oil
- 10 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 3-inch piece of ginger, unpeeled and sliced
- 6 scallions, chopped
- 1 tbsp of hot chili sauce
- 1 tbsp of sesame seeds
For the Korean BBQ Sauce:
- ¼ cup of honey
- ¼ cup of soy sauce
- ¼ cup of pear juice
- 2 tbsp of Korean chili sauce
- 2 tsp of (10 ml) rice wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons of sesame oil
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp of minced fresh ginger
- 1 tsp of hot chili sauce
- Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.
- Place the steaks in a large Ziploc bag. Pour in marinade and close the bag.
- Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.
- In a small saucepan over high heat, bring all the BBQ sauce ingredients to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Preheat the grill. Remove steaks from the marinade and transfer to a strainer to remove excess liquid and discard marinade.
- Grill the meat for about 3 minutes per side until nicely caramelized. Watch carefully, because the sugar in the marinade can burn.
- Move steaks to the cool side of the grill and cook until they register an internal temperature of 140°F (60°C).
- Remove from grill and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Transfer to a disposable aluminum pan, pour the Korean BBQ Sauce over the meat.
- Sprinkle with scallions and sesame seeds, and squeeze fresh lime juice.
- Cover the pan until you want to serve.
- Serve with a spoonful of the warm Korean BBQ Sauce.