We all think we know the quality cuts of beef. No one’s going to turn down a nice sirloin if your butcher offers it to you. But did you know there might be a tender and juicy steak that you’ve never even heard of?
The Denver steak is hard to access, comes from a cut best known for slow cooking, and costs less than you might expect. It’s also one of the most incredibly flavorful steaks you can find.
Take a look at this guide to find out why you should love Denver steak, how to get your hands on some, and what to do when you have it.
Denver Steak: The Basics
Even some self-proclaimed steak experts have never heard of Denver steak, so don’t be embarrassed if this is one cut you’ve managed to remain unaware of.
The Denver steak is from the beef chuck area, which is the front shoulder on the cow.
Now, if you know something about steak, then you’re likely to know that the chuck muscle is known for being pretty tough.
But the Denver steak is different. As it’s found directly under the shoulder blade bone that divides the muscle, the Denver steak is surprisingly tender.
Thanks to this, the Denver steak can be prepared quickly, and doesn’t need the slow cook a chuck cut normally requires.
Although it might have its advantages, the Denver steak has yet to reach the popularity of other cuts. It can be difficult to purchase, as a skilled hand is required to access the steak between the bone and meat.
Denver Steak Taste
Before you go to the effort of finding and cooking a Denver steak, you want to have some idea of what it’ll taste like. The Denver steak comes from the chuck subprimal.
This area is known for having a strong beef flavor, with lots for you to get your teeth into. Although the Denver steak is different to many chuck cuts, it retains this same richness.
The marbling gives it some extra oomph, and adds to the surprisingly tender texture. Denver steak is actually considered to be among the most tender cuts, with plenty of juice if cooked well.
Where On The Cow Does The Denver Steak Come From?
Denver steak comes from the shoulder of the cow. This area is known as the beef chuck, and it’s mostly known for producing tough meats that require a long cook to tenderize.
The shoulder is an active muscle, doing a lot of work — hence why it becomes so tough. But the Denver steak actually comes from beneath the bone of the shoulder blade.
Tucked away here, the meat doesn’t have to do much. So, it can remain nice and tender for cooking and eating.
What Else Is The Denver Steak Known As?
The Denver steak does go by a few other names. You might have heard it referred to as the chuck under blade steak, or the under blade center.
It’s sometimes known as the boneless cut short rib, as well. In Japan, or Japanese restaurants, you might hear the Denver steak called Zabuton steak. This is typically wagyu beef, sliced thin, and cooked very quickly.
As for the name “Denver steak”, no one is quite sure where it came from. The cut was marketed as part of the Beef Checkoff program, and they obviously thought it sounded good.
Best Places To Buy Denver Steak
Denver steak can be a tricky one to get your hands on, and part of this is how hard the cut is to access. It requires a skillful hand to separate the meat from the muscle and the bone.
Pot roasts are typically made by cutting the entire beef chuck into slabs, This would give you a cross-section of meat. But the Denver steak has to be cut with great precision, in order to remove it all in one go.
Because of this, you’re unlikely to find Denver steak at your local grocery store. However, if you have access to a talented butcher, they might have some to offer you.
Denver steak is becoming more and more popular, so it’s getting easier to find.
Otherwise, you can try looking online. Online butchers such as Snake River Farms and Porter Road often have a wide variety of cuts for sale, and you might be able to snag some Denver steak.
Storing Denver Steak
Denver steak is best cooked immediately, but it will last for between three and five days in the refrigerator. It can also be frozen, and should remain good for upwards of three months in the freezer.
To freeze Denver steak, remove it from the original packaging. Store in a freezer bag, pressing down before sealing to remove as much air as possible. Use a vacuum sealer, if you have one. Freeze flat.
When you’re ready to eat, take the steak out of the freezer, and let it thaw in the fridge for at least 24 hours.
What Are The Nutritional Values Of Denver Steak?
A 3oz serving of Denver steak will provide roughly 180 calories, and 4.4 grams of saturated fat. It can also provide 22 grams of protein, 2.8 mg of iron, and 8.4 mg of zinc.
This is assuming a cooked steak with visible fat trimmed. Denver steak is also a source of vitamins B6 and B12, and selenium.
Cooking Denver Steak
Denver steak can be deliciously tender and juicy, but it does need to be cooked and prepared in the right way.
The first thing to do is make sure the steak has been cut right. Denver steak is best cut against the grain, as this results in the tenderest end product.
If you’re cutting the steaks yourself, be sure to use a sharp knife. Separate the front and rear section, and slice into triangular steaks, across the grain.
For an even steak, you will need to cut away the top point. Store these in the fridge and use in a stew.
If you’ve bought your Denver steak from the butcher, you might have no say in how the steaks have been sliced. If they’re sliced with the grain, be careful to avoid overcooking them.
The cut will still be tender, but it does need a little extra care.
The Denver steak cooks best when seared over a high heat. Prepare with simple seasoning to let the beef taste shine, and cook on a medium high grill for three minutes on each side, or five minutes if you prefer it well done.
Leave for 10 minutes to rest, and then slice.
Alternatively, you can reverse sear your Denver steak. The reverse sear gives you an evenly finished steak with a good crust by slowly cooking the interior, and quickly searing the exterior.
Preparing The Steak
The best way to prepare your steak is 24 hours in advance. Sprinkle each side with kosher salt. Then, leave the steak to rest in the fridge overnight.
This should produce a rich and meaty flavor, with plenty of moisture. But if you don’t have time, or you just can’t wait, salt before you start grilling.
Preparing The Grill
For the perfect reverse sear, you need both a cool zone and a hot zone on your grill. If you’re using a charcoal grill, create heat, and then move the coals to one side, and allow the other side to cool down.
For avid barbecue fans, you can do the initial slow cook in a smoker, before moving on to the grill. Use a thermometer to check the temperature in each zone.
If you’re using a stove top, it’s easier to create hot and cool zones. Simply have one burner on a high heat, and the other on low.
You can also use the oven to reverse sear steak. Preheat the oven to 275℉.
A reverse sear starts in the cool zone. This will slowly cook the interior, providing you with a moist and even finish.
If cooking your steak in the oven, leave it for roughly fifteen minutes, and then check the internal temperature. You want it to be roughly 10 degrees below your ideal temperature. It will finish cooking during the sear phase.
If you’re cooking on the grill, you may need to move the coals about on occasion to ensure the cool zone doesn’t get too cold or too hot.
When you’re happy with the internal temperature, remove the steak from the heat. Brush quickly with butter, and then transfer to a heated skillet (or the hot zone on the grill).
Sear for roughly two minutes on each side, or until you’re happy with the internal temperature and external color.
Remove your steak from the heat, and leave it on a plate or wire rack to rest. This resting stage is vital to achieve the tender and flavorful finish. Plus, it ensures your steak is served at the perfect temperature.
When your steak has rested for long enough (roughly 10 minutes), you can slice it and enjoy it with just a sprinkle of salt.
Denver steak can be kept simple and enjoyed with a herb butter, or you may prefer a more complex serving method. The heavy flavor of Denver steak holds up well to a variety of cuisines and ingredients.
It might be slightly harder to get your hands on, but Denver steak is so easy to prepare for such fantastic results, it’s worth the extra effort.
Some Interesting Denver Steak Recipes
As mentioned, Denver steak has a big and beefy flavor. This allows the cut to hold its own in more complex preparations. Below are some other Denver steak recipes you might like to try.
Garlic And Mustard Marinated Denver Steak
Mix together one large garlic clove, minced, two tablespoons of sherry vinegar, two tablespoons of soy sauce, two tablespoons of olive oil, and two teaspoons of Dijon mustard. Marinade the steaks overnight, and sear.
Simple Denver Steak Marinade
Marinade the steaks in a mixture of olive oil, rosemary, crushed garlic, and salt and pepper overnight. Flash grill on a high heat.
Bold Denver Steak Marinade
Combine three tablespoons of red wine vinegar with two minced garlic cloves, one tablespoon of Dijon mustard, and ½ teaspoon of anchovy paste.
Slowly whisk in ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil. Marinade the steaks overnight, and sprinkle with salt and pepper before grilling.
Level-Up Your Steak
Denver steak is tender, juicy, and simple to prepare. Ask your butcher about Denver steak, and discover this underrated gem of a cut.