Looking for something new to throw on the grill for Father’s Day? How about a sizzling Denver cut or a couple juicy slices of teres major?
Never heard of them? You will. They’re lesser-known — and less-expensive — cuts of beef that have become more popular as tough economic times have led butchers to look for tenderness at a lower price than the classic rib-eyes and tenderloins.
“I call them the cuts of our ancestors,” says Pat LaFrieda, a third-generation butcher who appears with his father on the Food Network show “Meat Men.” “All the cuts that I remember eating as a kid with my grandfather, those are the cuts that I see restaurants asking for again; it fits into their price schedule.”
Want to know what kinds of meat you’re likely to meet over the next few months? Here’s a rundown:
CHUCK ROLL STEAK
This is one of the newer cuts that is being separated out from the more common chuck roll, which usually is sold as the boneless chuck roast. Prepare chuck roll steaks much as you would a rib-eye, with a short marinade, salt and pepper, and a simple grilling.
It’s a little-used muscle in the cow’s shoulder. It is second in tenderness only to the tenderloin, but up to half the price, depending on the supplier. Charlie Palmer, a leader in the chef-turned-butcher movement, has been featuring teres major steaks at his Denver restaurant.
“It’s just as tender as filet mignon, but half the price. And our guests like to say the name!” he says. For the meat, he recommends keeping it simple. Cook on a hot grill until medium rare, let it rest, then slice into medallions.
Kari Underly, a third-generation butcher and author of “The Art of Beef Cutting,” was part of the team that developed the Denver cut and flat iron steak for the beef industry. The Denver cut is found in a part of the cow typically sold as chuck roast, but when cut separately it is the fourth most tender muscle. For the Denver cut, she recommends having it sliced about three-quarters of an inch thick. After that, try a lightly flavored rub; the meat doesn’t really need to be tenderized, just flavored. Then grill.
DENVER STEAKS WITH
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
4 Denver cut steaks, 3/4-inch thick (2 pounds total)
Salt and ground black pepper
2 fennel bulbs, white parts only, cut into quarters
Vegetable or canola oil
Wedges of lemon
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
Heat the grill to medium-high. In a spice grinder or using a mortar and pestle, grind the fennel seeds. Sprinkle the ground seeds over both sides of the steaks, then rub into the meat. Season the steaks with salt and pepper. Season the fennel bulb quarters with salt and black pepper. Soak a crumpled paper towel with oil. Clasping the paper towel with tongs, oil the grates of the grill. Grill the fennel quarters for 10 minutes, turning once during cooking. Grill the steaks for 4 to 6 minutes per side for medium-rare. Remove the steaks from the heat and allow to rest for 8 to 10 minutes. To serve, arrange 2 fennel quarters on each plate. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice over them, then top with a sprinkle of blue cheese. Serve with the steak. Makes about four servings.