A couple weeks ago I tried to go really low budget and bought two chuck steaks for us. I put some great seasoning on them and then grilled them on the bbq…I will never do this again. Waaay too tough!
The flavor was good, but it took like 3 minutes to chew one bite. And I don’t think it was even ever really chewed completely.
I ended up being stuck with all these inedible leftovers. So, I began to rack my brain as to what I could do with this leftover tough steak.
It was a total choking hazard! I took a bite of one of the steaks the next day at lunch time, and while I was still trying to chew this beast it slipped to the back of mouth and into my throat. I had to stick my fingers back there and get it out. Not cool.
Don’t Be Fooled
Sadly, this is not the first time I have made the mistake of thinking I could magically take some tough chunk of meat and turn it into a perfectly tender steak. I guess we all have our delusional moments.
They just looked so pretty, sitting there all nicely cut, in their neat little package. Why did the butcher even cut these things into steaks in the first place? I mean they were labeled “Chuck Steaks” for goodness sake!
It seems every few years I have to make this mistake again, just to remind myself that it still doesn’t work.
Funny how my brain tricks me into thinking I can do something that I know I can’t. Hope I’m not the only one with these lapses in judgment…anyways, back to the leftovers.
Idea #1- Tacos/Fajitas
The next night we ended up cutting the rest of one of the steaks into really tiny pieces and making tacos. We had to make sure they were small enough pieces that we wouldn’t need to bite through them (since it was impossible to bite through them). Otherwise they would just yank everything out of the tortilla when you tried to take a bite.
Then we took all these tiny bits of meat and fried them in a pan on the stove. Added a little extra salt, pepper, garlic powder/granules, paprika and squeezed some lime on it too.
For more of a fajita style taco you could also throw some chopped up onion (and cumin and bell pepper if you like) in the frying pan with them.
We pretty much always have some fresh salsa in the house (not to mention tons of hot sauces), along with tortillas and cilantro. So, after recooking the tiny pieces of meat, we fried up some small corn tortillas in a little oil and had ourselves some quite delicious carne asada style street tacos.
I doused my taco with some Marie Sharp’s Habanero Pepper Sauce to give it a boost since the salsa we had was mild. That Marie Sharp sure does know how to make a good hot sauce! Truly one of my current favorites.
Idea #2- Crockpot Roast
A day or two after that I decided I better do something with that other big honking, super tough, chuck steak still sitting in my fridge. I don’t like to waste food, so I needed to come up with something.
This thing was pretty big. About 5 inches wide, 10 inches long, and 1.5 inches thick. So, I decided to turn it into a roast. Which, I am pretty sure, is God’s actual intention for this cut of meat.
I had never used a already cooked chunk of meat for a roast before. I wasn’t sure how it would work, but I thought I would give it a try.
Generally when I cook a roast in the crock pot (or oven), I do not like to add much liquid to it. To me the natural flavors and juices get diluted by adding water or whatever to the roast (But I always season the meat and usually give a quick browning in a frying pan).
Since, however, this meat had already been cooked, I knew a lot of the natural juices had already come out while I was grilling it.
I felt like this whole idea was a gamble, so I just went with it and cooked it in a way that I have never tried before.
First, I slapped that puppy in the Crockpot, added a little extra salt, pepper, and garlic powder, then cranked it up to high heat.
Then I started on a tasty liquid to simmer it in. I did not want something watery and bland. I remembered I had bought some beef broth packets that I had never tried out, so I grabbed two of those.
The directions say to use 1 cup of hot water per packet, but I like my au jus good and flavorful, so I cut it to 1.5 cups instead of 2.
(On a side note- these Savory Choice Beef Broth packets turned out to be a really great buy. So much easier than trying to melt bouillon cubes and way more flavorful than cubes or a can of beef broth.)
I poured that in first. Then I wanted to add a little something more, and I was still worried that this tough meat would never get tender so I wanted to add some more elements to help break it down. To help with this I then added a few splashes of red wine vinegar and about 1/4 cup of beer. I also added a few splashes of Worcestershire and a dollop of A-1 sauce for good measure.
If you do not have these awesome little beef broth packs, I would recommend using a package of powdered au jus and using less water than recommended so the broth is nice and flavorful. Or you can use beef bouillon cubes, but again, try to make the broth strong so you aren’t just cooking your meat in lightly flavored water.
- Put your tough meat in the Crockpot or Slow cooker
- Add some Salt, Pepper and Garlic powder
- Turn to High Heat
- Make and add 1.5 cups of Au Jus (packets, powdered, or bouillon) to Crockpot
- A few splashes of Red Wine Vinegar
- 1/4 cup of beer
- A few splashes of Worcestershire Sauce
- A dollop of A-1
- Add 1 onion cut into 6 or 8 chunks (mentioned below)
- 2 large cloves of garlic cut into thirds (also mentioned below)
Let it Cook
Ok, time to let it do its thing. Now is a good time to finish that beer you opened to use in the broth.
I let it cook on high for about one hour and then decided to turn it down to the low setting.
About an hour and half after that, I checked the meat and it was still totally tough. So I turned it back up to high.
At this point I also decided to cut up an onion (into 6 or 8 pieces) and threw it in there, along with two cloves of garlic cut in thirds.
You really shouldn’t take the lid off the crockpot when you are cooking because it lets the heat out, but since this was a bit of an experiment I had to break the rule.
I then let it continue to cook on high for about another 3 hours without lifting the lid. Plenty of time for another beer or two, and when I finally checked back in on it, it was done, and it was awesome!
Too hot to eat without majorly blowing on it, but once I was able to take a bite it was great. One of the best roasts I ever made in fact. It fell right apart with just a fork and had phenomenal flavor.
We made some garlic mashed potatoes to go with it, and spooned the delicious juices and shredded meat right onto them. Super yummy!
Cooking Time Recap
Just wanted to add up the time it took to cook the tough steak into a tender roast. It was totally done after 4 hours on high, with one and half hours on low in the middle. That equals= 5.5 hours.
If you never switched it to low and never took off the lid (put the onion in at the beginning) then it would probably be done about an hour sooner.
Final Thoughts: What to do with tough leftover steak?
Both of the above solutions for what to do with that tough grilled steak turned out really well.
The tacos were obviously a much quicker meal to prepare than the roast, and they came out really tasty.
But we had so much steak left, it was too much for just tacos for the two of us. But for a smaller amount of leftovers, or even to use it for a variety of meals like we did, this is a great option.
The roast (and gravy it was in) came out super yummy. It is an awesome solution for a bigger chunk of leftover tough steak. But it takes quite a while to cook.
It basically comes down to what you have time for, but either or both of these meals are great way to use up that super tough steak.
If you are just looking for some good recipes for another day, you should check out my easy and inexpensive carne asada recipe or my favorite baked chicken thigh recipe. And make sure to check out My Hot Sauce Shop with all my favorite condiments, spices, and kitchen tools I can’t imagine living life without.
Hope you found this helpful. If you have any questions, comments, or even some other ideas for tough steak leftovers, please let me know in the comment section below.