In my restaurant, blade steak is a popular staple with my customers. Especially the ones who prefer lean tender beef that's lighter on the fat content than other cuts such as the ribeye.
Blade steak may not be a popular cut of beef but I think this is the case only because most people do not know of it. If you are curious, check out one of my best blade steak recipes below.
Cooking blade steak demands a good grasp on what this cut of beef is and the characteristics that make it different from other popular cuts. That said, it's still a fairly easy process to make a delicious meal with blade steak. Let's get started.
Cook time: 3 hours
Cut the steak into four equal chunks of about 8 oz each. Sprinkle and coat the steak generously with salt and black pepper and place it in the fridge for about four hours. This slightly tenderizes and flavors the meat.
Remove the steak and dry it off with paper towels. Set up your oven or grill and preheat it to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a deep skillet or pan or a dutch oven, pour the olive oil and let it heat up. Place the meat in the oil and let it sear and brown evenly all around.
Once nicely browned, set the meat aside and add some olive oil to your pan. Let it heat up and stir fry the sliced onions.
Stir fry the onions to achieve a nice golden brown color then add the garlic, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, and tomato puree.
Stir the mixture then pour the red wine or some beef stock into the pan. Vegetable stock is also a great option. Stir continuously as you deglaze the pan such that the ingredients no longer stick to the bottom and the stock has begun to simmer.
Add the seared steaks back into the pot and stir. Add enough beef or vegetable stock to cover the steaks and this braising liquid to a boil.
After boiling this for about ten minutes, remove the pot and cover it with a tight-fitting lid.
Place it in the preheated oven or grill and let it slow cook at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 hours or until fork tender. A dutch oven pairs better with a grill than with a regular oven.
Remove the pot from the oven or grill and let the meat sit for fifteen minutes before serving it hot with mashed potatoes, pasta, sauteed vegetables, or any other accompaniment you desire.
Blade steaks, also called top blade steak is a petite steak that is cut from the chuck primal or chuck blade subprimal region. This is on the shoulder of the cow. It is the second most tender muscle on the steer after the tenderloin or filet mignon.
Blade steaks are characteristically rich in big beefy flavor which will be evident in the wafts of delicious scents that will fill your kitchen as the steak braises. It has a slight creaminess and a touch of that buttery essence that is a result of the fat contained in the steak.
When cooked properly top blade steak's tenderness makes it a real delicacy. It is a firm fork tender cut that comes apart nicely when braised to perfection.
The shoulder blade, which is where this particular steak comes from is quite heavily exercised for support and movement which means the area produces fairly lean meat. Though blade steak contains some fat which marbles the steak, the fat content is not too high.
This is one of the reasons it is not a recommended cut for cooking methods such as grilling and roasting and why it is better suited to braising and smoking. It will go dry pretty easily when grilled or roasted.
Top blade steak is a deep red chunk of meat with slight marbling. It is characterized by a line of gristle or cartilage running right down the middle of the steak and sinew along the outer layer of the steak.
In the past, blade steak was sliced against the grain to make a thick meaty slab that contains the gristle in the middle. When sliced this way, it is often referred to as top blade steak.
As the chuck primal and other less known cuts get more popular, vendors prefer to remove all the sinew and gristle altogether by slicing the blade steak along the gristle down the middle to create two long slender pieces of meat. When cut this way, the meat is known as a flat iron steak.
Flat iron steaks are easier to cook, handle and flavor which makes them the more popular cut, and slowly, more supermarkets are selling blade steak but it will likely be labeled flat iron steak.
This steak is fairly tender and contains considerable connective tissue running all through it. In addition, it lacks a high enough amount of fat to create the necessary moisture that softens meat during cooking.
These characteristics mean that your cooking method must make up for the lack of moisture and fat in the meat. Tougher cuts need to be cooked slowly over medium high heat and in a moist environment to make them juicier.
Tough connective tissue breaks down slowly flavoring the meat further. However, when cooked in high dry heat, the gristle dries up and contracts to become a thick rubber band that's chewy and hard to eat. Braising in a slow cooker makes the best blade steak recipes.
Regardless of the labeling you see when you buy blade steak, it doesn't do well with grilling or roasting. The cut is similar to pork chops and simply lacks the moisture and fat content that grilled meat requires.
I have cooked blade steak in many ways and grilling simply makes blade steak taste dry. The meat is very chewy even with the gristle removed.
Smoking is a different matter and a few recipes can work. Flat iron steaks may respond well to smoking since smoking is slow cooking over medium heat. The best results are achieved when you marinate or wet cure the steaks first and then smoke them.
There are some alternatives you can consider if you can't find blade steak.
Blade chuck steak is a good alternative to blade stake and has the same qualities. It is lower in connective tissue and has less collagen to extract. It is rich in flavor, has little fat content, and is very tender.
The shoulder steak is also another great alternative to blade steak and shares the same properties. It comes from the same chuck primal cut and when braised properly, produces a juicy, flavorful meal.
Rich beefy flavor
Deep red with some fat marbling
It is also known as boneless top chuck steak because it's boneless and comes from the chuck primal cut.
On the North East coast of the country, it's known as chicken steak which is puzzling considering it is beef.
Some people call it book steak due to the line of gristle that runs down the middle of the steak.
Other names include top blade steak, chuck-eye steak, chuck steak, chuck arm, chuck mock tender, bottom blade or blade-eye so be on the lookout for different labels depending on where you reside.
Blade steak and flat iron refer to the same thing. The difference is how the meat is sliced.
Blade steak is the whole cut retrieved from the chuck primal. In this form, it is daunting to work with and this has made the cut fairly unpopular. It is thick, covered in sinew, and contains the gristle in the middle.
Flat iron steak is the blade steak sliced along the grain down the middle right through the gristle.
This slicing method produces two slender cuts of meat hence the name flat iron and they have none of the sinew or the gristle. This makes them easier to cook and more popular.
In some places, one slice is called the flat iron while the other is called the top blade steak.
In other instances, the difference between a flat iron and a top blade steak is that the top blade steak is cut against the grain and contains the gristle in the middle while the flat iron is cut along the grain and the gristle is removed.
The cost may vary from one meat counter to another but is between $ 5 and $ 10 per pound. It is a relatively inexpensive cut.
At this price and with this much flavor, you get value for money with a top blade steak.