What Is Cube Steak?
Think of it like a chicken cutlet: inexpensive and easy to fry. Here's what to make with it.
By Heath Goldman for Food Network Kitchen
Have you ever picked up a package of ground meat at the supermarket only to realize it's not the usual ground beef, but cube steak? Packaged much like ground beef – in a shrink-wrapped foam container, the steak's waffled surface texture looks a lot like ground beef, too. But the two are not to be confused.
Cube steak, sometimes labeled as cubed steak or minute steak, is an inexpensive, flavorful cut of beef that’s pre-tenderized. It’s taken from the top or bottom round — a tough portion near the rump of the cow. Round steak is commonly purchased for stewing. You can use cube steak exactly as you would use round steak or stew beef, slowly simmering it to tenderness in flavorful soups, stews and slow-cooked meals.
But because cube steak has been tenderized and flattened, it’s also commonly pan-fried on the stove. Think of cube steak like the chicken cutlet of the steak family: It should be cooked quickly over high heat — it can dry out quickly because there’s very little fat marbling. It’s commonly breaded and pan-fried into chicken-fried steak. Saucy accoutrements like gravy, mushrooms and caramelized onions are classically paired with cube steak to complement its firm texture.
On an episode of Chopped Dinner Challenge, the chefs of Food Network Kitchen cooked it in another creative way from which we can all learn: They thinly sliced it, seared it in a scorching hot pan and simmered in it broth for a few minutes for extra tenderness (then wrapped it up in corn tortillas with black beans). Pretty darn brilliant.
Because cube steak is both easy to find and much easier on the wallet than similarly sized pieces of steak, we love stocking up and stashing it in the freezer. To freeze cube steak, remove the steak from the packaging it comes in, which isn’t perfectly airtight and therefore can lead to freezer burn. Instead, wrap each steak several times in plastic wrap and stash the steaks in a re-sealable freezer bag (labeling and dating it, of course).
When it's time to cook the frozen cube steak, transfer it to the fridge overnight to thaw, then whip up one of our favorite cube steak recipes, below.
Chicken-Fried Steak with Gravy
Of all the cube steak recipes on the internet, Ree Drummond’s version (pictured above) stands out for its extra-crisp and crackling crust
Cuban Beef-and-Potato Sandwiches
Seared for one minute per side, cube steak gets topped off with tangy, this cube steak is the fastest cooking steak you’ll encounter. It gets topped off with saucy slaw and served on small hero rolls (hmm-hmm).
Grilled Steak with Greek Corn Salad
Pro tip: If you can’t find cube-steak, use a meat tenderizer to pound round steak thin.