Turning a tough, economical cut of beef into a meal that's actually pleasant to eat is a classic cooking challenge. Chuck steak, like round steak, is often pounded flat into a cutlet to tenderize it. The result, known as cube steak, is the basis for the Southern classic chicken-fried or country-fried steak. It's not known to be the healthiest food to hit a dinner plate, but a few conscious efforts on your part make it a more health-friendly meal. Start by "oven-frying" to reduce the calorie and fat content. Then, choose healthier ingredient substitutions.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit about a half hour ahead of time. Start with a high temperature to crisp and brown the outside of a breaded chuck steak, which is more traditionally accomplished by pan-frying in a puddle of oil. Line a baking tray with foil. Coat it lightly with a calorie-free or low-calorie nonstick cooking spray.
Spread flour and cornmeal over a plate and mix in salt and pepper to taste. Provide enough to coat all the chuck steaks you're making once for a standard cube steak, or enough to double-coat them for a chicken- or country-fried steak preparation. Use whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour for a healthier substitution.
Beat one or more eggs as needed in a shallow bowl if you want to use a thicker double coating or a breadcrumb coating on the chuck steak. Alternatively, use a thin coating of Dijon mustard as an adhesive for lower calories, saturated fat and cholesterol in your dish.
Spread breadcrumbs over another plate if you want to use them. Panko breadcrumbs work well, or opt for a whole grain breadcrumb alternative. Mix in any herbs and spices to taste, such as thyme, rosemary, curry or chili powder for kick, garlic and onion powder or others.
Dredge the tenderized chuck steaks in the flour and cornmeal mixture. Place them on the lined baking tray if that's all the breading you're using. Or, dip them into the egg or brush them with mustard if your double-dredging or applying breadcrumbs. Let the excess egg run off, then dredge the meat in the flour a second time or in the breadcrumbs. Place the steak on the baking tray.
Put the chuck steaks into the oven. Turn the heat down to 325 F after about five minutes. Continue baking them for approximately another 15 minutes, until the coating is well browned and they've reached an internal temperature of 145 F as measured with an instant-read thermometer.
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- Store fresh beef chuck steaks in the refrigerator for up to five days after purchase. Thereafter, cook or freeze them. Secure steaks in airtight packaging when freezing them to prevent freezer burn.
- As with all raw beef, you must wash your hands with soap and water before and after you handle the raw product. Clean all utensils and surfaces with hot soapy water.
Eric Mohrman is a food and drink, travel, and lifestyle writer living with his family in Orlando, Florida. He has professional experience to complement his love of cooking and eating, having worked for 10 years both front- and back-of-house in casual and fine dining restaurants. He has written print and web pieces on food and drink topics for Orlando Style Magazine, CrushBrew Magazine, Agent Magazine, Dollar Stretcher Magazine, The 863 Magazine and other publications.
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