You might think that a steak is a steak is a steak, right? WRONG! Did you know that steaks fall into three distinct categories? Grilling Steaks, Marinating Steaks and Simmering Steaks. Really? I hear you ask. And why might that be?
Well, steaks fall into these three categories because of how they need to be prepared in order to get the most of each different cut of beef. A grilling steak can be grilled without any extra prep or effort (short of maybe some freshly ground pepper & salt). Easiest dinner ever. A marinating steak needs to be marinated before you cook it, whether that’s on the grill, in a pan, broiled etc… Finally, the simmering steak: Think of this as the steak version of a pot roast. It needs a slow simmer in a nice liquid to ensure quality tenderness. I personally don’t like the term “simmering” to refer to a steak – to me it conjurs up ideas of boiled beef that the students in the boarding schools of my childhood books were subjected to. Not a pleasant image, at least not for me. However, given the right preparation, a simmering steak can be a magical cut of beef indeed.
So, which steak should you choose? This helpful post on the Canadian Beef website can help you decide. If it’s grilling you’re interested in check out this great “step-by-step” grilling video and post to see just how easy it is to grill a steak (marinated or not). It’s definitely the most simple preparation for a decent cut of beef, though if you choose a Sirloin Tip, Inside Round, Eye of Round, Outside Round, Flank or a Full Round, they will benefit from a little time in a decent marinade. Plus, did you know that ZipLoc bags are your friends? For minimal cleanup when marinating steaks, use zipper-top freezer bags, squeezing out as much air as possible when sealing the bag. No fuss, no mess!
Whilst I am a fan of grilling and marinating cuts, one of my favourite cuts and the one I’m showcasing with a favourite recipe is actually the simmering steak. Typically a Blade, Top Blade, Bottom Blade Boneless or even a Brisket, this cut benefits from “low and slow” oven cooking which helps the beef to tenderize. Cooking these cuts in the oven rather than on the stovetop allows for a constant simmer with less chance of scorching, as long as you make sure the heat is low enough that the meat is simmering not actually boiling. With many simmering steak recipes, you can actually use a slow cooker, making it an ideal cut for “cook as you work” dishes. And one of my favourite ways to simmer a steak is in the classic Caribbean and Cuban dish ropa vieja (literally “old clothes”).
The dish (a shredded flank, brisket or skirt steak simmered in a flavourful tomato sauce base and cooked with strips of peppers and onions) takes its name from its appearance – the shredded meat and strips of vegetables looks like old raggedy clothes. I am sure there are a ton of more “authentic” recipes for this dish but I really like this Epicurious recipe for Ropa Vieja – accessible, simple and so tasty. You’re simmering the steak at a low heat (stovetop, or oven or even slow cooker if you like) for a long time, allowing the meat to really tenderize to the point where you can shred it easily kind of like pulled pork.
It’s the perfect dish for winter (screams “comfort food”!) or even in the summer – cooking in the slow cooker doesn’t heat up your kitchen and this is a dish that tastes great even when it’s not served piping hot.
Want more info about steak? Check out Steaks 101 on the Canadian Beef website. Follow Canadian Beef on Twitter and save the date for the #loveCDNbeef Twitter party on Thur Sept 13 at 8:30pm EST. Learn all about steak, connect and win prizes!
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Canadian Beef. I was compensated for writing this post, however, all opinions are 100% my own.