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Chuck Eye Steak: The Most Underrated Cut of Beef

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Chuck eye steak is the unsung hero of beef cuts. It delivers as much rich flavor as the illustrious ribeye but doesn’t dent your wallet quite as much.

I’ve explored the nuances of this underrated gem, often hailed as the “poor man’s ribeye.” We’ll shed some light on this cut, the reason behind the moniker, and what makes it so desirable. 

You’ll appreciate the versatility of the chuck eye and gain the knowledge to master the best chuck eye cooking techniques.

Chuckeye Steak vs Ribeye Steak

The showdown between the chuck eye and ribeye is a battle of flavor, tenderness, and affordability. 

The Cuts

The chuck eye is in the chuck primal, nestled closely to the rib section, just ahead of the ribeye. While both cuts come from the same vicinity, their precise positions yield some differences in taste and texture.

The chuck eye is essentially an extension of the ribeye but closer to the shoulder. Because of this, the ribeye boasts more marbling and a higher fat content, contributing to its renowned richness and buttery texture. In contrast, the chuck eye tends to be leaner but has more than enough marbling.

The Taste

When it comes to taste, most will say the ribeye triumphs with its unparalleled richness and succulence. Its well-distributed fat enhances the beefy flavor, rendering it exceptionally tender. Chuck eye still holds its ground even though it’s not inherently as tender as ribeye. If cooked properly, you won’t even notice the difference.

The Price

The ribeye commands a higher price due to its superior tenderness and marbling. Chuck eye can be significantly less expensive and a more affordable option.

While the ribeye might be reserved for special occasions or as an indulgence, the chuck eye emerges as the perfect choice for everyday meals. Its affordability allows for frequent enjoyment, making it a practical staple in many households.

How to Choose the Perfect Chuck Eye Steak

Here’s a brief guide to help you select the best chuck eye steak you can find:

  • Freshness: Opt for meat with a bright red color, no browning, greyness or dullness, and no excessive moisture or ice crystals (indicating freezer burn).
  • Marbling: Look for thin streaks of fat evenly distributed throughout the meat. The more marbled, the more tender and flavorful.
  • Opt for thick steaks: Steaks should be at least 1 1/4″ thick so that you’re able to achieve a delicious caramelized crust while maintaining a pink interior. The extra thickness gives you more time over high heat without sacrificing juicy tenderness.
  • Ask the butcher: Don’t hesitate to ask the butcher for recommendations.
  • Consider dry-aged: Dry-aged chuck eye steaks have a more concentrated flavor and may be slightly tenderer.
  • Price: While often cheaper than ribeye steak, chuck eye steak can vary in price depending on quality and source. Compare prices and shop around for the best value.

Preparation & Cooking Techniques

Mastering cooking methods, seasonings, and pairings is how you elevate this “cheap” cut of beef.

Seasoning Suggestions:

All Purpose Blend: A classic and flavorful combination, perfect for highlighting the natural taste of the chuck eye. It’s an even mix of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.

Montreal Steak Seasoning: Inspired by the famous seasoning, this blend packs a punch of flavor. Combine two tablespoons each of salt, black pepper, paprika, and garlic powder, plus one tablespoon each of coriander, dried dill, onion powder, and thyme.

Cajun Seasoning: A Southern staple, this blend adds a spicy kick. Combine two tablespoons of paprika, one tablespoon of salt, garlic powder, and onion powder, and one teaspoon each of dried thyme, dried oregano, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. 

Marinades: You can opt for a simple marinade. Marinades can include soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, and a hint of acidity like lemon or vinegar to tenderize the meat. You should marinate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Cooking Methods

Pan-Searing:

  • Heat a cast iron skillet or another oven-safe pan over medium-high heat. Add a high smoke point oil like avocado or canola oil.
  • Pat steaks dry and season generously with your preferred herbs and spices.
  • Cook chuck eye steaks, flipping them every few minutes until they are a few degrees under the desired level of doneness.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and add butter to the pan. Tilt the pan slightly and baste the steaks with the butter until your desired doneness.
  • Use an instant-read thermometer to check internal temperature:
    • Rare (120-125°F)
    • Medium rare (130-135°F)
    • Medium (135-145°F)
    • Medium-well (145-155°F)
  • Before slicing, let the steaks rest for a few minutes to allow the juices to redistribute.

Grilling:

  • Preheat grill to high heat (around 450°F).
  • Pat steaks dry with paper towels. Season generously with favorite herbs and spices.
  • Sear steaks for 2-3 minutes per side for a nice crust.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 4-5 minutes per side for medium-rare and 5-6 minutes for medium to medium-well. You can also use a meat thermometer and follow the temps outline above.
  • Again, let steaks rest for about 5 minutes before slicing.

Reverse Searing:

My preferred method for cooking any thick cut of steak! Reverse searing is a technique that flips the traditional order of searing and finishing. Instead of searing the steak first in a hot pan, you start in a low-temperature oven.

  • Preheat oven to 250°F.
  • Dry the steaks and season generously as above.
  • Place steaks on a wire rack set over a baking sheet and bake until they reach 10-15 degrees below your doneness level.
  • Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat with avocado or canola oil.
  • Sear steaks for 1-2 minutes per side for a perfect crust.
  • And you know the drill. Don’t forget to let the steaks rest before slicing! 

Tips & Tricks for Preparing the Perfect Chucky Eye Steak

Bring the steak to room temperature: Take your steak out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes before cooking. This will result in a more even and tender cook.

Pat dry: Excess moisture can prevent a good sear, so pat your steak dry with paper towels before seasoning.

Season generously: Don’t be shy! Season both sides liberally. The meat can handle it.

Use high heat: You want a good sear to lock in the juices and create that delicious crust. High temps are necessary for this.

Use a thermometer: Don’t rely on guesswork. An instant-read thermometer is your best friend for ensuring perfect doneness. 

Resting is crucial: No matter how you cook it, let your steak rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing. This is so the juices can be redistributed, resulting in a juicier and more flavorful steak.

Use aromatics: Add herbs like thyme or rosemary to your pan or grill for an extra layer of flavor.

Don’t overcrowd the pan: This will lower the temperature and prevent a good sear.

Serving & Preparing

Being thoughtful about how you serve and what you pair with the chuck eye steak is as important as how you cook it.

Toppings and Sauces

  • Compound Butter: Elevate your steak with flavored butter such as garlic herb, basil, or tomato butters.
  • Chimichurri Sauce: This vibrant sauce made with parsley, garlic, olive oil, and vinegar is an herbaceous topper.
  • Salsa Macha: Add some extra kick to your steak with a spicy salsa macha that ticks all the boxes.
  • Blue Cheese Crumbles: For a decadent touch, sprinkle your steak with blue cheese crumbles.
  • Caramelized Onions: Sweet and savory caramelized onions add a delightful complexity to your steak.
  • Béarnaise Sauce: This creamy French sauce, made with butter, egg yolks, herbs, and white wine vinegar, is delicious and has fanciness written all over it.

Side Dishes and Accompaniments

  • Roasted Vegetables: Pair the steak with roasted vegetables like green beans, roasted carrots, asparagus, or Brussels sprouts.
  • Mashed Potatoes: Creamy mashed potatoes serve as an ideal side for this juicy steak.
  • Corn on the Cob: The sweetness of corn perfectly complements the savory notes of the chuck steak.
  • Mac and Cheese: A crowd-pleasing choice. You can’t go wrong with a good baked mac and cheese!
  • Salad: A bright lemon kale salad or simple green salad with a light vinaigrette offers a refreshing contrast.

Chuck Eye Steak FAQs

Why is chuck eye steak called the “poor man’s ribeye”?

This cut is often referred to as the “poor man’s ribeye” because it offers similar marbling and tenderness to the ribeye at a fraction of the cost.

What’s the difference between chuck eye steak and chuck roast?

Chuck eye steak comes from the smaller chuck eye roast and is suited for grilling or pan-searing due to its tenderness and size. Chuck roast is a larger and tougher cut and is better for slow-cooking methods like braising for pot roasts, beef stew, or beef birria.

Is chuck eye steak tender?

It’s not as tender as a ribeye, but you can achieve nearly identical tenderness with the proper cooking methods. Marinating can also soften the meat further.

How should I store chuck eye steak?

Raw: Store raw chuck eye steak in the refrigerator, either in its original packaging or in an airtight container or sealed freezer bag. Consume refrigerated steak within 2-3 days. To store long term, freeze for 3-4 months. Be sure to store in a freezer-safe bag to prevent freezer burn.

Cooked: Store leftover cooked steak in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

As you can tell, I highly advocate for the chuck eye steak. It’s a win for budget-conscious cooks seeking exceptional flavor without the premium price tag. It’s a go-to option for quick weeknight meals. Its versatility allows for various cooking methods for a satisfying dinner in no time.

This article originally appeared on Pink When.

Post Written by Dee Broughton

Gimme From Scratch

Dee is a food writer, photographer and recipe developer that has been featured on Food52, All Recipes and Southern Living. She is dedicated to teaching others how to prepare restaurant-worthy meals in their own kitchens. She has a special affinity for Cajun, southern and soul food, influenced by her Chicago roots and family heritage. Her mission with Gimme From Scratch is to empower others to create high-quality dishes using scratch-made techniques.

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