A center cut chuck steak has two things going for it -- it's inexpensive and flavorful. These attributes are balanced out by two main drawbacks -- these steaks are tough, and they have more fat and gristle than is generally desirable. What this means is that center cut chuck steaks aren't great for dry-heat cooking in the pan or on the grill, but they turn out well with a wet-heat method like braising. It takes a little more time, but it's worth it.
Blot the chuck steak dry with paper towels. Season both sides of the meat liberally with salt and pepper. Add other herbs and spices, if you prefer, such as garlic powder, thyme or a bit of chili pepper powder for heat.
Place a Dutch oven over medium-high heat for about two minutes until it gets hot. Pour in just enough cooking oil to lightly coat the bottom and roll it around.
Sear one side of the steak for about two minutes, until it is well browned. Turn the meat with tongs and sear the other side in the same manner. Take the meat out of the Dutch oven and set it aside, keeping the burner on.
Add a braising liquid into the Dutch oven. Choose red wine, beer, or chicken or vegetable broth. Don't use so much liquid that it will cover the steak when it's returned to the pan. As soon as the liquid hits, deglaze the pan by scraping the bottom of the pan with a plastic or rubber-tipped spatula to get up all the flavorful cooked-on caramelized bits.
Add other ingredients, if desired, to turn your braising liquid into more of a sauce. Put in herbs and spices, chopped garlic, soy sauce or a bit of brown sugar, for example. You may also add chopped carrots, green beans or other veggies.
Return the chuck steak to the Dutch oven and confirm that it's not submerged; if it is, spoon out some of the liquid. Cover the pot and turn the heat to medium-low to simmer.
Braise the beef for at least half an hour -- turning it a few times during cooking to prevent burning -- until it's fork-tender and reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit, as determined by a meat thermometer. Spoon the braising liquid over the chuck steak before serving.
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- Refrigerate beef until you're ready to cook it so it remains out of the bacterial "danger zone," which begins at 40 F. If you're not using it within five days of purchase, wrap it tightly and freeze it.
Eric Mohrman is a food and drink, travel, and lifestyle writer living 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 Visit Florida, Orlando Style Magazine, CrushBrew Magazine, Agent Magazine, Dollar Stretcher Magazine, The 863 Magazine and other publications.
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