I was pleasantly surprised…
…to realize I’m definitely not the only one who struggles with using up those random packages of beef that are left in the freezer after the burger and steaks are gone.
The first installment in the Cooking Through the Cow series, where we talked ’bout the finer points of beef shank was extremely well-received, which makes me even more excited to continue with the rest of the cuts.
Did I ever think my path in life would lead me to be publishing articles about beef cuts? Well, no. But here we are, and I can’t complain. 😉
The Cooking Through the Cow Series.
The goal of this blog series is to help you (and yes, me too) figure out how to best utilize the cuts of beef that might not be as popular in our modern American diets; the cuts with all sorts of wonderful attributes that tend to stay buried at the bottom of the freezer due to hesitation on what the heck to do with them.
But they won’t be lingering at the bottom of the deep freeze anymore. Because we’re gonna turn them into something delicious.
The Other Posts (so far) in the Cooking Through the Cow Series:
And today we’re talking all things Round Steak.
How to Cook Round Steak
What is Round Steak?
Round steak is the cut of meat from the rear portion of a cow’s hindquarters (aka the Beef Round primal cut). This meat is definitely more lean and tough because the muscles in the back legs are exercised frequently. The Beef Round is usually divided into four cuts of meat that can be sold as steaks or roasts: Top Round, Bottom Round, Eye of Round, and the Sirloin Tip. Round Steaks may come from a variety of places on the Round (and we’ll discuss the roasts that come from the Round in a later post.)
Other Names for Round Steak
Round Steak can come from a variety of places on the Beef Round, which often gives it a variety of names. Let’s take a closer look:
- Top Round: Steaks from this portion are often referred to as Top Round steaks, Butterball Steaks, or Inside Round steaks and can be used in London Broil and Swiss Steak recipes.
- Bottom Round: This subprimal cut is often divided into roasts such as Bottom Round Roast (also known as Beef Silverside) and Rump Roast. The steaks from this area are often referred to as Western Steaks, Bottom Round Steaks, or Western Tip Steaks and can be marinated, grilled, and sliced very thinly against the grain.
- Eye of Round: Steaks from this area of the round are called Eye of Round Steaks and can be used to make Philly Cheesesteaks among many other recipes.
- Sirloin Tip (aka Knuckle): It’s a little deceiving since this is a part of the Round, NOT the Sirloin. This portion of the Round can also be referred to as the Knuckle and gives us Sirloin Tip Center Steak, Sirloin Tip Side Steak, and Sirloin Tip Steak.
Is Round Steak the Same Thing as Cube Steak?
Sometimes folks use the terms Round Steak and Cube Steak interchangeably, which isn’t necessarily wrong, but it can get confusing.
Cube Steak refers to any cut of beef that has been tenderized with a machine. (We’ll talk cube steaks in a different post!)
However, Round Steak refers to a specific cut of beef that is taken from the Beef Round primal cut (as described above).
So Round Steak may or may not be Cube Steak, depending on whether or not it’s been tenderized. And a Cube Steak could be made from Round Steak, or something else entirely.
(The Round Steak in the above photo has been tenderized, so it’s technically also Cube Steak.)
Is Round Steak Easy to Find?
Round Steak is very easy to find; if anything, it can be a bit overwhelming, because each store/butcher uses different names for the meat cuts.
There are also different grades for Round Steak: Prime, Choice, and Select. Prime Round Steak is the most tender and flavorful and expensive. These cuts are usually found only in restauraunts and can be rare to find at the grocery store or local butcher shop. Choice cuts are found at most grocery stores and local butcher shops. They are leaner than Prime cuts. Select cuts are the cheapest option and are very lean and tough. They are usually easier to find.
Are Round Steaks Tough or Tender?
Since Round Steaks come from the hindquarters, where the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage get plenty of exercise, this meat option can be quite tough and chewy. It is also a very lean piece of beef, which causes it to be a little lacking in the flavor department.
However, it is possible to make some delicious meals with Round Steaks as long as you take measures to give them a little extra flavor and tenderness (such as marinating, tenderizing with a mallet, and slicing thinly against the grain). Like Beef Shank, Round Steak cuts are most tender when cooked with moisture, so methods such as slow cooking or braising are usually preferable (more on that in the cooking tips below).
Are Round Steaks Expensive?
Round Steaks are generally an inexpensive cut of beef. And bonus: they are just as nourishing as more expensive cuts of beef, so as you cook round steaks properly, you can still enjoy very flavorful and nutritious beef-based meals.
Versatility of Round Steak
Despite being slightly on the tougher side, round steak is still quite versatile. You can make jerky, ground beef, roasts, steaks, deli meat, stir-fry, and so much more.
How to Cook Round Steak
The best way to cook Round Steak is with moisture, which makes this cut of meat much more tender. Moist cooking includes slow cooking and braising. The difference between slow cooking and braising is that slow cooking covers the meat with liquid and cooks slowly over time, while braising cooks the meat with smaller amounts of liquid and often starts with the meat being pan-seared first to enhance the flavor.
Top Round meat is usually more tender than Bottom Round cuts. Still, if you plan to grill it, it’s best to cook it medium rare and slice it thinly against the grain, in order to prevent it from being too tough and chewy. For this reason, Top Round makes amazing deli meat (roast beef) for sandwiches. It also makes a great London broil, which involves marinating a thick slab of Top Round, and then grilling it quickly over high heat. Just make sure you always slice it against the grain to make it more tender.
Bottom Round cuts are often used to make roasts and are often used for your traditional roasts for Sunday dinners. They are also used to make ground beef and deli meat. Eye of Round is a bit tougher than bottom and top round cuts, and is best sliced up thin for sandwiches.
The Sirloin Tip can make a good steak or roast, however, the connective tissue inside can make it rather chewy unless you carefully braise it.
Round Steak Recipes:
- Canned Beef Stew Recipe
- Swiss Steak Recipe
- Homemade Beef Jerky
- Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry
- London Broil Recipe
- Slow Cooker Philly Cheesesteaks
- Fried Round Steak
- BBQ Beef Skillet
- Braised Beef with Cilantro Lime Mayo
Round Steak Quick Rankings:
- Sourcing Difficulty: 2 (1= available everywhere, 10= very difficult to find)
- Versatility: 7 (1= very versatile, 10= very limited uses)
- Price: 2 (1= cheap as it gets, 10= special occasions only!)
- Toughness: 8 (1= spoon tender, 10= shoe leather)
What are YOUR favorite ways to cook Round Steak? Please share in the comments below!