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How to Make Cube Steak Tender

posted on

February 1, 2021

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Americans love meat.

According to research, the only country in the world that eats more meat than America is Luxembourg. That’s because we love all kinds, even unique cuts.
If you think of yourself as a “meatatarian," then you need to give cube steak a try despite what you may have heard.

Cube steak is a beautiful cut of meat because it’s relatively inexpensive while still providing an exquisite taste. However, if not cooked properly, it can be rather tough.

Keep reading to learn all about cube steak and how to make it as tender as possible with simple recipes. When you’re ready to try it for yourself, our 100% grass-fed minute steak is a cubed steak that tastes great in all of these dishes. 

What Is Cube Steak?

Let’s start with the basics. This meat comes from the hind end or shoulder of the cow. Butchers can make it from just about any part of the cow, but these two portions are the most popular because they’re tougher.

Once the meat has been removed from the cow, the butcher will run it through a tenderizer. Once complete, you’ll notice small indentations on the meat, which gives the cube steak its recognizable look.

If beef isn’t your thing, you may be able to find variations made from elk, deer, or pork instead.

What Part of The Cow Does Cube Steak Come From?

As I mentioned, “cube steak” doesn’t refer to a specific cut, though top round and top sirloin are the most popular sections to use. Instead, cube steak refers to the shape of the tenderizing machine's indentations on the meat. 

Other names for cube steak include Swiss steak, cubed steak, bucket steak, or minute steak. All of the names for this versatile butcher’s cut have to do with how it’s processed, how it looks, or how quick it is to cook up.

It’s such a popular cut because it’s flavorful and versatile, but also because it’s typically cheaper. Since it’s made from tougher cuts, cube steak doesn’t command the high price of a filet or T-bone, but offers just as much flavor or more.

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Making Tender Cube Steak

The butcher will have run the cut through a tenderizer before you purchase it. However, if you don’t prepare it right, you may negate that tenderizing work.
Try these techniques to ensure your cube steak recipe isn’t working against you.

Preparing Cube Steak

Cube steak undergoes a tenderizing process that breaks up the muscle fibers to make it easier to chew. But you can further enhance the texture of your steak by preparing it the right way before you cook.

A few ways to make your cube steak more tender include:

  • Marinating the meat in a buttermilk or vinegar-based marinade
  • Using a home meat mallet on your steaks to break down the muscle fibers even more 
  • Slicing against the grain before quick-cooking methods like stir-frying and sautéing

But the real trick is to make sure you’re cooking your cube steak the right way.

In the Skillet

One of the most popular ways to cook cube steak right is in the skillet over medium-high heat. All you need to do to get great results is to follow this simple recipe:

  • First, season the meat with salt and pepper.
  • After, prepare your large skillet by heating a tablespoon of olive oil. Once it’s hot, place the meat in the pan. 
  • Make sure you don’t crowd the skillet. If you don’t give each piece of meat enough room, you’ll be more likely to overcook it and make it tough.
  • Cook for 2 or 3 minutes on each side at medium-high heat, totaling 4 to 6 minutes.
  • Check that the internal temperature has reached 145 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure it’s thoroughly cooked.
  • Once you’ve done that, your steak is good to go.
  • Consider serving it with hearty vegetables to round out your meal.

Making Chicken Fried Steak

Another popular way to prepare cube steak and make it tender is to follow a chicken fried steak recipe.

Chicken fried steak is a pretty simple method: coat your cube steaks in seasoned flour, then dip them in an egg wash, then back into the flour before frying them in oil and serving them with gravy.

This adds a lot of extra calories and fat, which is undoubtedly delicious, but best eaten in moderation. 

If you’ve tried making chicken fried steak before and found yourself wondering, “Why is my breading not sticking?” the answer usually comes down to two issues: either you didn’t move from breading your steak to frying it quickly enough, or your oil wasn’t hot enough. The same issues come up with breaded and fried meats of all kinds.

Why Is It Called Chicken Fried Steak?

The name chicken fried steak confuses a lot of people, and for good reason. Chicken fried steak is named in honor of the cooking method, not because of the cut of meat. The process of dredging cube steak in flour and egg wash, then frying it, is almost exactly the same as classic fried chicken.

Even the Encyclopedia Britannica agrees on the origin of the name.

Cube Steak and Gravy

Adding gravy to your recipe can keep your steak tender, and it’s the ingredient that makes this dish truly comfort food.
Here are your options:

Slow-Cooked with Gravy

Consider using a slow cooker to gradually heat your cube steak in beef broth over many hours without having to worry about it.

To follow this recipe, you’ll still need a skillet; however, you won’t heat it as long as the recipe above. Cook the cube steak in oil for about 1 or 2 minutes on each side.

After you’ve browned the meat:

  1. Move it into the slow cooker.
  2. Let it cook on low for 6 to 8 hours to end up with perfectly tender cube steak.
  3. Once the slow cooker finishes cooking it, top it off with some delicious gravy to take your dish to the next level.

Pan-Fried with Gravy

You could also add gravy to a pan-fried cube steak recipe to increase its delectability.

Consider giving this recipe a try:

  • First, coat the cube steak in a mixture of salt and pepper, onion powder, paprika, garlic powder, and flour.
  • Then add cooking oil to the pan on medium-high heat and add the meat once the pan has heated up.
  • After cooking it for 5 minutes on each side, remove the meat from the pan, place it on a plate, and cover it with aluminum foil.
  • Now it’s time to turn your attention to making the gravy.
  • Using the same pan, add ranch mix, beef broth, and onions. Heat this mixture until the onion becomes translucent.
  • After that, all you need to do is add the cut back into the pan for a few moments to heat it back up, and you’re ready to serve.
  • Consider pairing with mashed potatoes to create a hearty and full meal.

Storing Cube Steak

Once you’ve cooked your amazingly tender cube steak recipe, you might be wondering what to do with any leftovers (if you have any!).

After the cut cools, place it in a Tupperware container that will keep the air out. Then you can choose to put it in the refrigerator if you plan to eat it in the next few days, or you can put it in the freezer if you think you might not get to it for a bit longer.

Reheating Cube Steak

When you’re ready to enjoy the rest of your delicious meal, there are a few ways to go about reheating it.

In the Microwave

While this method is the simplest, it also holds the most significant potential for drying out your cube steak. Be careful not to overheat it. It’s best to heat it in short increments and test the steak after each one.

On the Stovetop

To use this method, you’ll start much like you did when cooking the steak:

  • Add olive oil to a skillet
  • Once the olive oil is warm, add your cut
  • Carefully watch your steak and flip it every minute until cooked to your liking.

While this may take a tad longer, the moisture savings are worth it.

Why Is Cube Steak So Tough?

Despite the tenderizing that cube steak gets, a lot of home cooks find it comes out tough. The main reason for this is the nature of the cut itself. It comes from some of the tougher cuts on a cow, and on a 100% grass-fed, pasture-raised cow, these cuts can end up even firmer than average. 

The top round and top sirloin have a lot of connective tissue, and that makes them more likely to be chewy and dense. Tenderizing the cuts with a machine helps break down the fibers, but it’s not always a perfect solution.

The biggest factor in a cube steak’s texture is cooking. If you cook it too long on high heat, the muscle fibers will tighten up, leaving you with a tough and leathery chew rather than a juicy and tender cut. That’s why we recommend cooking it quickly or going the low-and-slow route with plenty of liquid to braise it in.

Conclusion

Just because cube steak is inexpensive doesn’t mean that it can’t make a tasty meal for your family. With this versatile cut of meat and the right recipe, you’ll cook a filling and delicious dinner of comfort food while staying within your budget.

Any dish will taste better with our 100% grass-fed beef, ethically raised on regenerative pastures. We’ve got you covered with delivery from our family farm to your door, anywhere in the continental USA.

More from the blog

Best Breed of Chicken for Ethical Pastured Meat

When it comes to cooking, few things rival the satisfaction of a perfectly cooked, flavorful chicken dish. However, the secret to culinary success isn’t just in the recipe. It’s in the quality of the chicken itself.  Meat quality and affordability have a lot to do with the chicken breed – and, more crucially – how it was raised.  In this article, I will unpack some of the unknowns about chicken breeds, and how consumer expectations continue to shape the future of poultry.  Our ethical pastured chicken is different than what you’ll find at most supermarkets.  Here’s our approach, starting with selecting the most effective chicken breed for meat. Why Breed Matters for Quality, Flavor & Affordability You’ve probably never thought of chicken breeds in the way you would cattle breeds. 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A Complete Guide to Cuts of Chicken

From aromatic, creamy curries to light summer salads, chicken is a versatile, nutritious meat that works wonderfully as the centerpiece for thousands of dishes across cuisines.  But you’re missing out if you’ve only cooked with chicken breasts or thighs. Plenty of other chicken cuts are packed with flavor–not to mention essential nutrients.  We provide ethically raised pastured chicken cuts of all types because we believe nothing should go to waste. That’s why we’ve curated this list to help you enjoy parts of the chicken you might have overlooked! We’ll discuss these cuts in more detail, explaining the unique flavor profile of each one. For inspiration, we'll also include some of our favorite mouth-watering recipes.  The Importance of Ethical, Pasture-Raised Chicken  Factory-farmed chickens are often raised in crowded conditions that may increase the risk of disease and stress. This non-natural environment also reduces the meat's nutritional benefits and gives it an inferior taste compared to ethically raised chickens.  That’s why we’re committed to delivering healthy, delicious, ethically-raised breeds of chicken to our customers. Pasture-raised chickens are more nutritious because of the diverse, nutrient-dense diet they get through foraging on healthy farmland. In the warm seasons, our chickens roam in mobile coops that rotate daily to fresh, lush pastures. Their interaction with the land naturally fertilizes and helps regenerate the soil. When winter sets in, we transition our chickens to warm barns, protecting them from the harsh elements while maintaining access to pasture as weather permits. In addition, our chicken is free of GMOs, antibiotics, and hormones. 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While chicken wings can be a little messy to eat, they’re delicious: crispy on the outside and soft and tender on the inside. For best results, brine and/or marinate your chicken wings overnight to infuse them with flavor.  Meat type: White  Common uses: Barbecues, sharing platters,  How to cook: Grill, oven bake, deep fry, air fry 6. Chicken Tenderloin Chicken tenderloin often gets confused with chicken breast, but the two differ slightly. While both are cuts of white meat, chicken tenderloin comes from a different part of the bird–a long, thin muscle on the underside of the breastbone.  This moist, tender cut of meat can be used interchangeably with breast in most recipes. As a side note, chicken tenderloins are a great option if you own an air fryer because they’re small and quick to cook.  Meat type: White Common uses: Salads, curries, sandwiches, stir-fries  How to cook: Oven bake, grill, poach, sauté, air fry  7. Chicken Liver A less common cut of chicken is the liver, an organ meat. This cost-effective part of the chicken has a tender, smooth texture and a rich, meaty taste. It’s low in calories and nutrient-dense, with high levels of iron, vitamin A, and vitamin B12. Because of its rich flavor, chicken liver is a wonderful centerpiece in warming stews and casseroles. Saute it with caramelized onions, bacon, and tender mushrooms, served alongside creamy mashed potatoes.  Meat type: Brown  Common uses: Casseroles, pate, stews  How to cook: Fried, oven bake, saute 8. Chicken Heart The heart is another part of the chicken that’s often overlooked, rich in iron and zinc. Chicken hearts are dark in color, with a rich flavor similar to chicken thighs.  Like chicken liver, juicy and tender chicken hearts work wonderfully in stews and casseroles or simply stir-fried with your favorite vegetables. Because this cut is so delicate, it’s quick to cook. 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While you can’t eat chicken backs by themselves, these bones are the perfect base for flavorful, healthy chicken broths and soups due to their high collagen, protein, vitamin, and mineral content.  Try cooking them in a large pot with your favorite vegetables and spices, then slow cooking for a day to infuse your liquid with all the taste and nutrients. Meat type: N/A  Common uses: Casseroles, soups, broth How to cook: Simmer in water  11. Chicken Feet A popular ingredient in Asian cuisine, chicken feet have a delicate, mild taste, making them the perfect base ingredient for a variety of flavorful recipes. A great recipe to try is Dim Sum, which involves deep-frying the chicken feet before coating them in a glossy, decadent garlic, ginger, and soy sauce. What I find as the best use for chicken feet in our house is to add more richness and consistency to our homemade chicken broth. Chicken feet are high in gelatin, which helps add thickness to your broths. Meat type: Dark Common uses: Casseroles, stir-fries, appetizers, broth How to cook: Saute, boil, braise, deep fry, simmer  Order Your Ethical Pasture-Raised Chicken Today!  Now that you know about these 11 cuts of chicken, you can elevate your meals! We hope this guide has inspired you to experiment with different parts of chicken. Ready to cook? Order your ethical pasture-raised chicken now.

3 Easy Recipes to Make with Chicken Broth

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The beauty of bone broth is its versatility. If a savory recipe requires water, swap the same amount of bone broth for a richer, umami-laced flavor that will elevate your dishes.  The fact that bone broth is highly nourishing helps. It’s packed with healthy nutrients like proline, glycine, collagen, calcium, and more. Bone broth has a range of health benefits, including:  Immune system boost: Research shows that the amino acids in chicken broth reduce inflammation and boost immune system function, helping to combat common ailments like asthma, heart disease, and arthritis. Heals the gut: Bone broth is easy for our bodies to digest and soothe the gut. It can even positively change the gut microbiome and ease the symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome (IBS).  Mood-busting: Bone broth is rich in calcium and glycine, both of which are crucial to healthy brain function, mood regulation, and high-quality sleep. Not to mention the aroma and soothing warmth that is so comforting on cold winter days. Healthy weight support: Packed full of protein and low in calories, bone broth helps to regulate the appetite by reducing hunger hormones like ghrelin and increasing satiety hormones.  Recipe Inspirations: Making the Most of Chicken Broth By now, you’re probably ready to put the wonders of bone broth to good use in your kitchen.  Here are some of our go-to recipes for what you can make with chicken broth. Soups and Stews: Heartwarming Classics A sure-to-please dish is chicken and vegetable stew. It’s rich in nutrients, great for a cozy night in, and simple to make! All you need to do is gather the ingredients: 1.5 Pounds chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil 1 Large onion, diced 2 Cloves garlic, minced 2 Large carrots, sliced 3 Celery stalks, sliced 6 Cups chicken broth 1 Bay leaf 1 tsp dried thyme Salt and pepper to taste Fresh parsley for garnish (optional) And how to make this recipe: Cut the chicken into one-inch cubes, dice the onion, carrots, and celery, and mince the garlic. Heat the olive oil in a large pot, then saute the chicken and vegetables over medium heat. Add the chicken and stir until it starts to brown (roughly 5 minutes). Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside. Using the same pot, add in the onions and saute until softened. Add in the garlic and saute for a minute or two, then toss in your vegetables, making sure to stir so they don’t burn. Now it’s time for the chicken broth and spices! Add in the broth, the bay leaf, dried thyme (and any other favorite seasonings you have), and mix it. Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat. Grab the chicken you put aside, put it back in the pot, and simmer on low for about half an hour, making sure the chicken is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper, add any garnish of your choice, and serve! Rice and Grains: A Flavorful Foundation Chicken broth infuses rice and other grains with a mouth-watering, savory depth. A great dish is a Mexican chicken quinoa skillet, loaded with veggies and ready in just 25 minutes.  To make this recipe, you’ll need: 1 Pound chicken breast, cut into cubes 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil 1 Small onion, diced 1 Bell pepper, diced 2 Cloves garlic, minced 1 Cup quinoa 2 Cups chicken broth 1 Can black beans, rinsed and drained 1 Can diced tomatoes (15 oz) 1 Cup corn, frozen or canned 1 tsp chili powder (or more if you like some kick!) ½ tsp cumin ½ tsp paprika Salt and pepper to taste Fresh cilantro And the steps to making this recipe:  Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces, dice the onion and bell pepper, mince the garlic, and rinse the quinoa. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned, about 6-8 minutes. Remove it from the pan and set aside. Using the same skillet, saute the onion until soft, then add the garlic and bell pepper, sauteing for about 3 minutes. Now, add the chicken broth, quinoa, black beans, tomatoes, corn, and spices. Mix well and slowly bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the quinoa is light and fluffy and the broth has been absorbed - about 25 minutes. Add the chicken to the skillet to warm, mixing all the ingredients. Check that the chicken is cooked through, adding salt and pepper to taste. Garnish and serve! Sauces and Gravies: Elevating Everyday Meals Chicken bone broth elevates many of the best comfort recipes. For example, try this quick and easy chicken broth gravy to turn mashed potatoes into a crowd-pleasing side or ensure there’s no biscuit left after dinner. To make this recipe, all you need is: 2 Cups chicken broth 2 TBSP butter 2 TBSP all-purpose flour ½ tsp garlic powder (optional) Salt and pepper to taste Fresh herbs for garnish For this quick and easy gravy, all you need to do is: Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until it forms a roux. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the roux turns golden. Pour in the chicken broth slowly while whisking. Make sure there are no lumps. Continue whisking while bringing the mix to a slow boil. Once it starts to boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring every minute or so. Once it reaches your desired thickness, add the salt, pepper, or garlic powder to taste.  Serve hot on your dish of choice. Tip: If the gravy gets too thick while cooking, add more chicken broth to thin it. The Healing Elixir: Sipping on Chicken Broth While bone broth enhances the flavor and health benefits of many meals, you don’t always have to cook with it! One of our favorite ways to consume chicken broth is to warm it up on the stove and drink it–especially if we feel under the weather.  The number of powerful antioxidants in chicken broth, along with its herby, savory flavor, also makes this drink a great post-lunch pick-me-up or pre-dinner snack. However, not all chicken bone broth is created equal. If you’re going to drink it regularly, make sure you either make your own or buy from a company that doesn’t use artificial ingredients or lots of added sodium, which can undermine its health benefits. At Seven Sons, we’re proud to say that our ethical, pasture-raised chicken breeds are 100% free from growth promotants, antibiotics, and GMOs–with no artificial ingredients or MSG. Ready to taste the difference? Order Seven Sons’ chicken broth or make your own using our bone broth kit today! As always, we love to see your recipe creations–so let us know what you’ve made in the comments.