Unlike boxed macaroni and cheese or spaceship-shaped chicken fingers, a juicy, tender cut of beef is a meal an entire family can happily share. The problem is that a munchkin’s little chompers aren’t as adept at cutting and chewing meat as an adult’s. So what’s a meat-loving parent to do? First off, choose the right cut of beef. Second, cook it to perfection. And third, slice it nice and thin.
Choose your steak. You want a fatty cut, which will produce a moist and tender steak when cooked properly. A strip loin is a fatty, flavorful cut of meat and relatively simple to cook. The strip is one side of a T-bone steak, without the bone, also called the New York strip. If you’re unsure, ask the butcher to point you to a good one. Avoid lean steaks, which, unless you have 12 hours to spend braising with low heat, can feel like you're chewing on a leather shoe.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Season your strip with salt and pepper. Place an oven-safe pan on your stove over high heat for a few minutes. Once hot, add 2 teaspoons of canola oil and sear the steak on each side until a golden-brown crust is formed, about two minutes per side. Once nicely browned, place it in the oven until it’s done -- an internal temperature of 145 F will give you medium doneness. The greater the doneness, the tougher the steak, so if you don’t want your expensive strip a partially chewed-up glob on your munchkin’s plate, don’t overcook it.
Pull the steak from the oven and let it sit on a clean cutting board. While it sits, its internal temperature will continue to rise and its juices will settle. After five minutes or so, trim away any visible fat, then slice it into 1/4-inch pieces. If your munchkin is 2 or 3, cut each slice into small squares. A 4 or 5 year old should be able to handle these thin, tender slices as is.
Items you will need
- Good cut of steak
- Salt and pepper
- Cast-iron or stainless-steel oven-safe pan
- Canola oil
- Meat thermometer
- Cutting board
- Sharp knife
- A toddler is still learning to chew and swallow efficiently, so avoid big hunks of tough meat.
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