Every week I look for steaks at the grocery store. They are my favorite to minimally season and cook up quickly in my cast-iron. My last grocery trip; however, was made slightly sour when I realized that all of their steaks looked like garbage. Yeah, you guessed it — I’m one of those shoppers that totally blocks and hogs up the meat section because I will literally look at and analyze every package. It’s not my fault! I have a history of meat judging; in fact, I don’t mean to brag — but I placed 5th in the state of Texas for judging beef. Now I’m a bit embarrassed…
Let’s Talk About Cuts of Beef
My all-time favorite steak cut? The almighty ribeye. I’m sorry to all of you NY strip lovers out there, but that’s just not how I roll. Without getting too much into “how to pick a good steak” (that’s in need of a whole separate post) I will get to the point. Knowing the qualities and characteristics of different cuts of meat (not just beef) will make you a better cook. It’s worth your time to investigate what cuts work well with what cooking methods, because no matter how good of a cook you are — my opinion is that you really can’t cook your way out of a poor cut of meat.
Since my grocery store did not have any note-worthy ribeyes I picked up some chuck steaks. Not at all in the same category, but they run cheap and when the quality wasn’t there — that was my next focus. I knew right then and there that I would not be able to grill or sear these bad boys. Nope, they need a lot more tender-loving-care.
The chuck or “shoulder” area of the bovine is a tougher piece of meat. There’s no getting around that. Chuck roasts and steaks come from a part of the animal that is used excessively. Because the animal uses its shoulder muscles to walk they become overworked, meaning that they are generally leaner. This area does not tend to gather a lot of fat. The situation is made even worse when you are dealing with a grassfed animal. They are leaner as it is, being that they have not been finished/fattened with corn. So, in order to cook your way out of this problem? You’ve got to learn how to braise.
In this case I picked up some chuck “steaks.” But the method is really the same as if you were doing a roast. The only difference between a roast and a steak is the thickness. Roasts obviously take longer because of their size, and it takes more time to get them tender throughout. With steaks — you can shoot for the same method and in way less time have a tender cut of meat for dinner.
I love one-pot type meals. To make this recipe even better I threw in some various veggies. You can mix it up here, just remember that some veggies cook faster than others. I also deglazed my pan with a little bit of red wine. This not only lends a nice rich flavor, but the acidity in the wine helps to break up those tough protein fibers. The recipe starts out with some great flavor from frying up some bacon. If your bacon is rather lean and it doesn’t produce a lot of fat you may want to add some in with your onions.
- 1 lb. of chuck steak (about 2-3 steaks)
- 3 strips bacon, chopped
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp. allspice
- 1 tbsp. fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 12 baby potatoes or 3 larger ones (if baby you can leave whole, for the larger ones – quarter them)
- 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
- Salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
- Season your steaks on both sides with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to your liking. Set them aside.
- In an oven-proof braiser, dutch-oven or skillet (with a lid) fry up the bacon pieces over medium heat until they are browned. Again, if the bacon does not give a good amount of fat add some more in now.
- Add the yellow onion and allow it to cook down, stirring occasionally, until it becomes slightly browned & caramelized. (This will take 5-10 minutes)
- Stir in your garlic just until it is fragrant and then pour in the wine. With a spoon or spatula scrape up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan while that wine cooks off.
- Add the beef broth, mustard, allspice, thyme, and bay leaves. Stir until the mustard is well incorporated.
- Place your steaks in the liquid, and then arrange the potatoes and carrots around the meat. I like to give another dose of salt & pepper here for the veggies.
- Cover with a lid and place in the oven for 1 hour.
- Remove your dish from the oven and add in your sliced mushrooms. Give it a stir to make sure they are in the liquid also.
- Place it back in the oven and let it go another 30 minutes.