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Minute steak, also known as beef cube steak, is a piece of meat cut into thin slices and tenderized for quick cooking. To get the best minute steak, find a good brand of steak, make sure the cut of meat is good, then ensure that you are getting the right cut for a minute steak. Look for thin ribbons of fat distributed generously all throughout the meat. Prime is generally the highest quality meat, rendering the best flavor. Buying organic meat can help ensure that no preservatives were used to make the meat appear fresher than it is.
Getting the absolute best minute steak starts with the highest quality meat, but when it comes to the tougher cuts of meat used in minute steak, the lesser quality grades of steak can render an enjoyable piece of meat for a much lower price. The best grades of meat, starting from the highest quality, are Prime, Choice and Select. Quality grades exist below those three, but sticking within the defined quality grades helps guarantee a high-grade cut of meat.
A quality steak will also have visible, generous yellow-white ribbons of fat distributed evenly with vibrantly red muscle within the meat. This characteristic appearance is often called marbling. Though the leanest, lowest-fat steak is the healthy choice for a restricted diet, a minute steak with many visible fat ribbons will likely provide the richest flavor.
The proper cut for this steak is sirloin or top round, which comes from the upper backside of the cow. Sirloin and top round are relatively tough, less expensive cuts of meat that take some work to tenderize and prepare. While top round cuts are often cooked slowly at a low heat to allow them to break down, tenderizing means this cut of steak can be cooked quickly on high heat without becoming tough. Sirloin, though often used as steak as it is, takes on a softer texture when it is tenderized.
If the best steak is not available cut as minute steak, you can ask your butcher to cut and tenderize it for you. Minute steaks are generally tenderized either by pounding them with a tenderizing mallet, or by sending them through a tenderizing machine. This type of machine makes a grid of cuts that leaves the piece of meat whole, but which severs the tough tissue in the meat, making it less chewy. Sometimes, tenderizing flavoring is added after cubing to further soften the meat. If tenderizing flavoring has been added to the meat, it will generally appear as a bright red powdered rub on the outside of the steak.
Some meat packing companies use carbon monoxide to slow down the rate at which red-colored meat turns brown. Through steak that is partially brown can be safe to eat when properly cooked, consumers often shun meat that has begun to discolor. If you are concerned about the use of preservatives in your minute steak, organic meat may be your best choice, though it is generally more expensive.
Minute steak was probably one of the first things I remember cooking as a teen. I started pretty early. I think I braised the steak, which included seasoning it with salt and pepper, dusting it with flour, browning it, then adding a little water to the skillet before lowering the heat, covering it and allowing it to simmer for about 40 minutes or so. I also added onions to cook with it.
I don't remember that we ever chose minute steak by anything other that quantity. Whatever would feed four people is what we bought. I think the whole point of minute steak is that it's a lesser quality cut of meat, but can taste good if cooked properly.
My dad used to buy minute steak. We always called it "cube steak." This is the basis for a chicken fried steak in many places. What? You thought they used rib eye? Maybe some places, but not many, and certainly not in my house. There's no way my dad would have ruined a good rib eye by flouring it and then frying it. That would have been sacrilege to him.
Minute steak, on the other hand, lent itself nicely to that application. He would pick up the cheapest cuts, marinade them in Dale's Steak Sauce for an hour or so, and then flour and fry them. Throw in a salad, a side of mashed potatoes and some gravy, and we had supper.
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