If you love a tender, juicy steak that is bursting with flavor, it’s time to get acquainted with the Denver steak. This exceptional cut of beef deserves a spot in every carnivore’s repertoire.
In this post, I’ll explain exactly what a Denver steak is, how to cook it to perfection, provide some mouthwatering recipes, and suggest substitutions if you can’t find it. After reading, you’ll be excited to fire up the grill or pan and sink your teeth into this superbly tasty chuck cut.
- 1 What is a Denver Steak?
- 2 What Makes Denver Steak So Tender?
- 3 Grilling and Pan Searing Are Best for Denver Steak
- 4 Slicing a Denver Steak for Optimal Tenderness
- 5 Satisfying Denver Steak Recipes
- 6 Solid Alternatives if Denver Steak is Unavailable
- 7 It’s Time to Try This Amazing Cut
What is a Denver Steak?
A Denver steak is a particular cut of beef that comes from the chuck primal located in the shoulder region of the cow. It’s also known as a chuck under blade steak or boneless chuck short rib.
Unlike many other chuck cuts, the Denver steak is revered for its extraordinary tenderness and juiciness. It contains just the right amount of intramuscular marbling that melts during cooking, keeping each bite succulent. The marbling also gives it plenty of rich, beefy flavor.
The Denver steak gets its name from the National Western Stock Show that is held annually in Denver, Colorado. After being identified in a meat research program in the 1970s, it was featured at the show and became associated with the city.
This exceptional steak remains a local favorite in Denver, but is quickly gaining appreciation nationwide among discerning meat-lovers. Once you learn about it, you’ll want it on regular rotation in your kitchen!
What Makes Denver Steak So Tender?
So what makes the Denver steak so uniquely tender and moist compared to other chuck cuts?
It all comes down to the particular location it is cut from on the cow. The Denver steak comes from the chuck under blade located right below the shoulder blade. This area does far less work than other parts of the chuck during the cow’s life. As a result, the connective tissue doesn’t become as tough.
The Denver steak contains a generous amount of marbling that creates plenty of flavor and moisture. This intramuscular fat melts during cooking, keeping the meat deliciously juicy.
The steak’s extra tenderness also comes from the direction of the muscle fibers and connective tissue. When properly cut against the grain, the steak is exceptionally tender and buttery smooth.
Grilling and Pan Searing Are Best for Denver Steak
To fully enjoy the Denver steak’s tender and juicy attributes, quick hot cooking methods are best. Grilling or pan searing over high heat will give you the texture and flavor you’re looking for.
On the grill, get the surface extremely hot before adding the steaks. Give them 2-3 minutes per side to get a nice sear. Then move them to a cooler part of the grill to allow the interior to come up to your desired doneness, about 5 minutes for medium-rare.
In a pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over high heat until it begins to lightly smoke. Add the steaks and sear hard for 2-3 minutes on each side. To finish cooking, place the whole pan in a 400°F oven for about 5 minutes for medium-rare.
The key is not to overcook the Denver steak. You’ll lose all its succulent tenderness if it’s well-done. Cook only until it reaches medium-rare to medium for the best results. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes afterwards so the juices redistribute.
Slicing a Denver Steak for Optimal Tenderness
To take full advantage of the Denver steak’s tenderness, it’s important to slice against the grain. This cuts through the muscle fibers, making it exceptionally tender when you bite into it.
First, identify the direction of the grain after cooking. It will usually run lengthwise, but check closely. Then, holding your knife at a 45° angle, cut crosswise across the grain in thin slices. Resist the urge to slice with the grain, as doing so makes the meat chewy.
Allowing the steak to rest before cutting is also crucial. If you slice into it immediately after cooking, the juices will spill out onto your cutting board. Letting it rest allows the juices to absorb back into the meat so your steak stays nice and moist.
Satisfying Denver Steak Recipes
The Denver steak’s rich beefy flavor and tender texture means it needs little adornment to make a spectacular meal. Simply seasoning with salt and pepper and drizzling with melted butter is divine.
However, it also stands up well to more robust seasonings and marinades. For bolder flavors, give it a Southwest rub with chili powder, cumin, garlic and oregano. Marinating in a Korean-style sauce with soy, garlic, ginger and sesame oil is also delicious.
If you want knock their socks off at your next barbecue, serve up these fantastic Denver steak recipes:
Peppercorn Denver Steaks
Coat 2 Denver steaks with olive oil and generously season with cracked black peppercorns, sea salt, garlic powder, and fresh thyme. Grill to desired doneness and top with a pat of herb butter.
Chili Lime Denver Steaks
Whisk together olive oil, lime juice, minced garlic, chili powder and cumin. Add 2 Denver steaks and marinate 30 minutes. Grill to medium-rare. Top with sliced avocado.
Korean BBQ Denver Steaks
In a blender, mix soy sauce, brown sugar, minced garlic and ginger, sesame oil, sriracha and onion powder. Pour over 2 steaks and marinate 1-2 hours. Grill to medium, top with sesame seeds and scallions.
With these recipes, your Denver steaks will disappear fast! The combinations of flavors pair perfectly with the steak’s inherent beefiness and juiciness.
While increasingly available, the Denver steak can still be hard to come by. Don’t worry though – there are some excellent substitutes if you can’t find it.
Cuts like the flat iron steak, skirt steak and flank steak offer similar rich flavor and moderate tenderness. They are ideal replacements for getting that satisfying Denver steak experience.
Chuck eye steak is another comparable option. While not quite as tender, it has excellent flavor and can be cooked similarly. You can also use chuck tender or chuck 7 bone steak in a pinch.
Just remember that with these substitutes, slice against the grain and don’t overcook them to keep them as tender as possible. Employ quick hot cooking methods and aim for medium-rare doneness for best results.
It’s Time to Try This Amazing Cut
For an extraordinarily tender, juicy and flavorful steak experience, you need to get your hands on the Denver steak. This prized chuck under blade cut is quickly gaining popularity for good reason. With just a simple salt and pepper seasoning and a hot grill or pan, you’ll enjoy one of the best steaks you’ve ever tasted.
Now that you know exactly what a Denver steak is and how to cook it to perfection, it’s time to pick some up from your local butcher. Fire up the backyard grill or cast iron skillet, grab a napkin, and get ready for an amazing steak that delivers on tenderness and mouthwatering flavor. Trust me, this is one cut you need to add to your regular steak rotation!