Minute steaks are one of those meals that I remember my mom whipping up as a quick weeknight dinner, and I always looked forward to those nights! But now that I’m older and I want to make them for myself, I’ve had to dip into my knowledge as a chef and do my own research to discover more about them.
So what exactly is a minute steak?
The answer has some layers that I will be guiding you through here.
Today we are going to look at the following:
- What a minute steak is
- Where in the animal a minute steak comes from
- How to best cook a minute steak
What is Minute Steak?
Minute steak is a thin slice of beef often taken from the sirloin or round of a steer. The cuts used to make minute steak are often tough and have very little fat marbling through them. But this isn’t necessarily the case.
A minute-steak is so-named because they are cut to ¼ inch thick or less and take only 1-2 minutes to cook on each side. Some minute steaks may be tenderized to even them out, but this is not a requirement to be classified as a minute steak.
Where Does Minute Steak Come From?
So, as you can see from that little explanation, minute steak isn’t a traditional cut that comes from the same place in the animal every time.
The most common cuts used to make minute steaks are sirloin and the round.
Occasionally, minute steaks are confused with cube steaks. The key difference between minute steak and cube steak is the tenderizing. This process involves hammering a steak with a meat mallet. Mechanical tenderizing loosens up the meat fibers and makes the whole steak an even thickness. Some minute steaks will be tenderized, and others won’t. In other words – some minute steaks are cube steaks, and others aren’t. The terms butchers use can vary depending on where you get it from.
If you’re a butchery enthusiast, you can even make your own minute steak by buying a piece of whole sirloin and portioning it out into small steaks.
To tenderize, place the steaks on a chopping board and hammer them with a meat mallet until they are even and ¼ inches thick.
Be careful not to over-tenderize, or you’ll ruin the meat and turn it into mush! And that’s just a waste of a good steak!
Best Way to Cook Minute Steak
As I’ve mentioned, minute steaks are thin and have very little fat. While yes, this may mean that cooking time is quick, it also comes with its pitfalls.
The trickiest part of cooking minute steaks is that they are very easy to overcook.
They are so thin it’s easy for them to get tough before the outside manages to caramelize. Because it likes such quick cooking, this cut is often used for chicken fried steaks.
Basically, to get this steak right, you need to have a light touch and pay attention to your timing to nail it every time.
Here is a simple step-by-step of how to cook a minute steak perfectly.
- Dry off the steaks with a paper towel.
- Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper on each side and rub it gently to work the seasonings into the meat. At this point, you can also add dried herbs like thyme or rosemary.
- Preheat a nonstick pan over medium-high heat.
- Once the pan has heated, add a neutral oil and heat it to just before the smoking point.
- Add the steaks and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side until caramelized on the outside.
- Insert a meat thermometer to check your meat is perfectly done. For this cut, I like the temperature to sit between 125-135 F for a good medium rare.
- Allow to rest, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes.
These are my top tips for cooking the perfect minute steak:
- Get your pan nice and hot- You need to get that outside caramelized as quickly as possible to prevent the center of the steak from getting overcooked, so preheating your pan is key to an ideal minute steak.
- Let the minute steaks come to room temperature- This is a step many home cooks skip, but I promise you that doing this will make all the difference for such a thin cut. Letting them come to room temperature for 10-15 minutes will reduce your cooking time and make the steak cook evenly.
- Season well- Seasoning is a crucial element to any dish, but especially so when working with meat. Not only does it brings out the flavor of the meat, but it makes that caramelized crust to die for!
- Rest, rest, rest- This is yet another step that many home cooks skip, but again, I encourage you not to. Resting allows the meat juices to reabsorb into the meat to make it juicy and delectable.
How to Buy Minute Steak
High-quality minute steaks are pretty easy to pick out as they have no fat cap or bone and very little fat marbling to worry about. My number one tip is to look for meat that is not over-tenderized. Occasionally I run into minute steaks that are tenderized just that little too far. making the meat mushy or so thin that it tears.
I go for minute steaks that look even in size and thickness, so they are as easy to cook as possible.
Most local butchers will slice their own minute steak in-house, which often means you get a higher-quality product.
I like supporting my local butcher whenever possible, even with such simple cuts, because I know the quality will be good. For me, my favorite part of using my local butcher is talking with the butcher to learn as much from them as possible. They have so much knowledge, and there’s no cut they don’t have some knowledge of, so I love asking questions and hearing them answer with such enthusiasm. And, as an added bonus, you’re supporting a small business, so it’s a win-win!
Luckily, minute steaks are very easy to find in the grocery store if you can’t pop over to the butcher. There are no fatty areas to look for and no bone to bump up the weight, so you can quickly evaluate the price you’re getting per pound. They’re perfect for the days you didn’t plan ahead because you can just grab them and go off the shelf.
My tip for supermarket meat is to take note of the water content. Some brands are guilty of bumping up their meat weights using water, but there should be an indication of this on the packaging so you can avoid them.
In conclusion, minute steaks are simply thin slices of steak, that may or may not be mechanically tenderized. They can be taken from sirloins, rumps, and other prime cuts. They are popular because they take so little time to cook, hence the name.
The next time you want a steak in a hurry, try whipping yourself up some little minute steaks; they’re delicious!