Cross rib steak takes a bit of chewing, unless it's been cooked to tenderness through long, slow, moist cooking. It's sometimes called chuck steak and is cut from the shoulder area of the cow. The upside is cross rib steak has lots of beefy flavor. Bring that flavor to the table whether you braise, smoke or roast the steak.
Jumpstart with a Marinade
Marinades infuse the cross rib steak with flavor but it can do more than that. Make the marinade with buttermilk or yogurt and it tenderizes the meat as well. Other marinades include an acid-based liquid such as apple cider vinegar or tomato juice. The acids act to tenderize the meat during the cooking process. Add herbs such as basil, oregano and marjoram to the liquid or dairy product tomato juice for an Italian flavor.
Take the cross rib steak out of the refrigerator about an hour before you start the cooking so it comes to room temperature. Pat the meat dry, reserving the marinade. It's safe to cook the meat in the marinade as long it's brought to the boiling point during cooking. Brown the meat in a sauté pan coated with oil. When the oil begins to shimmer it's hot enough.
Slow Cooker Tips
Set it and forget it when you use a slow cooker. Cut the steak if necessary to fit in the slow cooker. Cover with the boiled marinade. The low setting on the slow cooker cooks the steak in 6 to 8 hours, while the high setting cooks the meat faster. It may be faster but it's still 4 to 6 hours, which is long enough to tenderize the meat.
Braised on the Stovetop
Braising keeps the meat moist and tempers the heat since water can only reach the boiling point of 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Brown the meat in a pan deep enough to hold 2 to 3 inches of liquid plus the cross rib steak. Add the marinade and enough liquid to reach halfway up the sides of the cross rib steak. Choose from beer, wine water, juice or broth. After you've brought the liquid up to the boil turn down the heat so the steak simmers. It should be tender in 2 to 3 hours.
Smoked on the Grill
You might not think of grilling the steak since grilling usually involves fast cooking at high temperatures. That works for a porterhouse steak, but not so much for a cross rib steak. Instead, grill the steak over indirect heat. Pile up charcoal on either side of the steak underneath the grill grate. Add a pan of water between the two piles. Sear the steak directly over the coals and then move it so it's over the pan of water. Add a few chunks of wood to the charcoal for the smoke. Close the grill and smoke for 2 hours. Add more charcoal if necessary to keep the temperature between 250 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. replenish the water if it evaporates. The steam from the water adds moisture inside the closed grill.