If you’re a steak lover like me, you don’t shy away from trying new flavors and textures. And while I was searching for new adventures, I ran into a new name: the Denver steak.
The steak has been around for a while, but it’s not as well-known as the ribeye or T-bone. So, what is it? And is it worth trying?
I’m here to tell you everything I’ve learned about the Denver steak, how to cook it, and why you should try it at least once.
What is a Denver Steak?
A Denver steak is a relatively new cut known for its tenderness, affordability, and beefy flavor. Also known as the chuck under-blade center steak, it’s a rectangular cut on the shoulder blade underneath the chuck roll. The best way to cook a Denver steak is to sear it in a hot cast iron pan or grill it over high heat.
Because the shoulder muscles are under constant use and movement, beef chuck is more muscular and has a moderate fat content with lots of connective tissue, making it more suitable for grounding or stewing.
However, the Denver steak comes from a relatively low-activity muscle called serratus ventralis. Therefore, unlike other cuts under the shoulder blade, it has considerable fat marbling, making it similar to a ribeye or New York strip but with a beefier flavor.
Denver Steak Origins
If you check a list of the most popular steaks, you’ll find the Denver steak among the more uncommon varieties. Unlike Filet Mignon or Ribeye, it hasn’t been on the menus of famous steakhouses for too long.
In 2008, a group of researchers from Beef Board introduced Denver steak along with other chuck roll cuts, including the Delmonico cut and the Cierra cut.
So, rather than being discovered by avid steak lovers through trial and error, the Denver cut is a scientific finding based on the physical characteristics of muscles.
Unlike the Sirloin cut, the naming doesn’t have a historical or exciting background. Neither does it have anything to do with Denver or any other city in Colorado. Rather, it was a marketing term coined by the research team and well-received by steak lovers.
Where To Get Denver Cuts
Since Denver cuts are rather new additions to the steak world, they may be more difficult to come by. In addition, the cut is difficult to locate and cut.
Traditionally, supermarkets sell beef chuck in its entirety, but specialty butchers separate the relatively cheap cut into various sections, including the Denver steak.
I personally get mine from our local butcher, who knows how to cut it crosswise. He also divides it into two equal pieces. Since the grain on a Denver steak doesn’t go in one direction, doing this makes it easier to cut the cooked steak against the grain.
You can also get the Japanese version of the same cut from Wagyu under the name Zabuton Steak. The only difference is that, according to Wagyu, their Denver steaks come from Japanese cows.
How Much Is Denver Steak?
Generally speaking, a Denver steak is more affordable than a filet mignon and the New York Strip.
But that doesn’t mean it’s very cheap. Extracting the cut requires removing the tougher and cheaper portions that are more suitable for grinding and slow cooking. Not all butchers have the skills to separate the muscle from the bone without ruining the tender beef.
The price of beef varies by many factors, including location, the cow’s breed, and its diet (grain-fed vs. grass-fed).
The average price for a high-quality 8 to 12-ounce package of Denver steak is $14 to $16, but some online vendors go as low as $10.5, while others offer luxury cuts for up to $40. You may also have to pay extra for shipping.
Denver Steak’s Nutritional Information
Like all beef products, the Denver steak is rich in protein, zinc, and iron, giving you 44%, 80%, and 15% of your required daily intake, respectively. It has zero carbs, sugar, and fiber and can have between 100 and 400 calories depending on the serving size and cooking method.
A 100g piece of Denver cut contains over 3 mg of iron, 23 mg of calcium, and 204 mg of phosphorus. It also contains the following nutrients:
- Vitamine B6
How To Cook a Denver Steak
The best way to cook a Denver steak is to grill it. Because the cut has significant marbling, the final product will melt in your mouth. You can also cook it on high heat in a cast iron pan for a short time.
Let’s get into the details.
Grilling a Denver Steak is no different than grilling any other cut. Simply season it with salt and pepper and grill it on high heat for about three minutes to get a medium-rare steak.
Alternatively, you could marinate it with your seasoning of choice and let it sit for a few hours to absorb more flavors.
I prefer the aroma of char grill on my steak, so I use a charcoal grill. But you can use any gas or electric grill for higher convenience.
Remember to give the grill a good coat of oil with high smoke temperatures, such as canola. To get a medium or medium-rare steak, the grill needs to be at its highest temperature. This way, you’ll make sure the meat will get nice and crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside during the cooking time.
However, if you want a well-done steak, reduce the temperature after putting the meat on the grill because high heat can accelerate the grilling process without cooking the inside completely.
Here’s a short clip demonstrating how to grill a Denver steak:
Cooking in a Cast Iron Skillet
A great alternative to grilling that can give you similar tastes and flavors is a cast iron skillet. I use it when I feel like a quick steak but don’t have enough time to light the charcoal grill.
The key to a delectable, juicy Denver steak is heating the skillet over high heat for three to four minutes until it reaches the maximum heat it can get to. I don’t like seasoning my steak beforehand and prefer the good old salt and pepper combo. However, you can marinate it for up to six hours in your preferred mixture.
Here are the steps to cooking a juicy Denver steak:
- Sprinkle some salt over the skillet and place the steak after tapping it dry with a paper towel.
- Let it sear nice and golden for one to two minutes.
- Sear the other side for a couple of minutes. It’s better to place it on the clean section of the pan to give it uniform heat.
- Sear the edges for 30 seconds.
If you prefer a more flavored finish, you can baste your steak with butter and herbs like fresh thyme and rosemary. Place a cube of butter on one side of the pan, add the herbs, and wait until it melts. Repeatedly pour the melted butter over the steak with a spoon so that it gets absorbed and adds to the flavor.
You can trust your touch or experience to guess when the steak is ready. But steak experts recommend poking a digital thermometer in the steak to measure the internal temperature. My favorite thermometer is this MEATER Plus, available on Amazon. It’s wireless and comes with an app that allows you to monitor the temperature from any distance.
For a medium rare Denver steak, you need an internal temperature of 130°F, while for a medium steak, the perfect temperature is 140 degrees.
Tips for Cooking a Denver Steak
Cooking a Denver steak is extremely easy, thanks to its natural tenderness. Still, you can get a better result by following these tips:
- If the meat is frozen, thaw it overnight by putting it in the fridge.
- The Denver steak is best served medium and medium rare, although it depends on your preferences and the steak’s thickness.
- Before cutting the steak, let it rest for at least five minutes as the internal temperature increases after removing it from the heat.
- Cut the steak against the grain to get more tender bites.
While the Denver steak is perfect for sandwiches, you can use it in salads, too. Here’s a useful video that shows how to make a mouth-watering salad with these steaks:
As a purely American invention, the Denver steak is quickly turning into a staple in the steak world. Although it’s difficult to find in regular grocery stores, it’s more affordable than the pricy steaks, such as Filet Mignon and Top Sirloin, while being as juicy and tender.
While cooking your Denver Steak on a grill or in a cast iron skillet, be sure to use a thermometer, such as MEATER Plus, to take the guesswork out of your cooking process.
Feel free to comment below if you have any questions.