Denver Steak Guide – What is it and How to Cook it?

Denver Steak

Walking into the meat aisle of your neighborhood grocery store or butcher shop, you will see an array of tenderloin, ribeye, Tomahawk, New York strip, or porterhouse steaks. However, these are not the only valuable steaks found on a cow.

Ever heard of a or tried a Denver steak? Though it is not as popular, Denver steak’s flavor is comparable with that of a New York strip steak. Best of all, it is cheaper per pound, which saves you more money!

Yes, you may have to drive to your local butcher shop to search for a Denver steak, but this steak is genuinely worth it. In fact, this gorgeous cut of beef is the fourth most tender steak out of all the steaks in the world.

What Is A Denver Steak?

Denver steak, commonly known as the Denver cut, bottom chuck steak, or under blade steak, originates from the cow’s front shoulder. Denver steaks are fabricated from the serratus ventralis muscle, which emanates from the under-blade section of the chuck roll.

It is only natural to assume Denver steaks would be tough. The beef chuck is the front shoulder of the cow, and it is a high-activity area. These steaks are not the ideal candidate for grilling.

Technically most muscles in the beef chuck are very tough, but the serratus ventralis is the exception to the rule. The shoulder blade separates the chuck muscle. While the muscles on top of the shoulder blade receive their fair share of exercise, the same cannot be said for the serratus ventralis.

It is located beneath the shoulder blade and remains relatively inactive. Therefore, it is one of the beef chuck’s most tender muscles. 

Furthermore, the serratus ventralis is one of the primary muscles in the traditional 7-bone chuck roast. However, a chuck roast gives you a cross-section of the serratus ventralis.

History Of The Denver Steak

Though this steak has been around for more than 10 years, it is still very difficult to find. One could say it is the endangered species of the steak world. In fact, Denver steaks did not exist until 2009.

Denver steak’s true origins are difficult to understand. Some people attribute this beauty’s origin to The Beef Checkoff Program financed by the Cattleman’s Beef Board. The Beef Checkoff Program aimed to discover and promote new and possibly more economical cuts of meat.

Meat science educators from the University of Florida and the University of Nebraska conducted a research project in the 1990s, and the Denver steak was born. 

Though this seems to be Denver steak’s history, the historical record shows another steak called zabuton, which closely resembles Denver steak. Zabuton is a rare Wagyu steak whose roots stem from Japan. 

The name zabuton translates to flat cushion, which alludes to the distinct shape it is served as. This cut of wagyu is usually cut into thin slices and cooked for as little as 8 seconds. Furthermore, cuts from the same region of the animal can be found all over the world.

How the Denver Steak Got Its Name

I know what you are thinking. How did the Denver steak get its name? What makes it so unique?

With a name like Denver steak, there has got to be some significance.

Unfortunately, the name Denver steak is of no importance. The name Denver steak seems to be more of a marketing strategy.

Nutritional Benefits of Denver Steak

If you are searching for a healthy cut of red meat, the Denver steak is a great choice. It is a rich source of protein. Each3-ounce serving of Denver steak has a whopping 22 grams of protein. 

Furthermore, Denver steaks can give you 60 percent of the recommended daily amount of zinc. Zinc is a necessary element for the immune system. With a generous amount of iron, each serving of Denver steak contains 180 calories and only 4.4 grams of saturated fat.

What Does The Denver Steak Look Like?

Denver steaks are not thick, unlike the filet, but this does not mean that they are not tender. Denver steaks are sliced in quadrilateral form.

Additionally, the high volume of marbling the steak has makes the grain easily identifiable. This element is vital as a Denver steak needs to be sliced across the grain to achieve the best texture and flavor.

Raw Denver Steak

Where Can I Find Denver Steak?

As previously mentioned, Denver steak is not new to the steak world. However, it is not widely accessible. Your grocery store’s meat counter or butcher may not know what you are referring to if you ask for a Denver steak as it takes a skilled expert to perform this surgery.

To create a Denver steak, a butcher has to extricate the serratus ventralis in a single piece. This may seem more like an art form to an expert butcher rather than simply removing meat from a bone.

In order to find a Denver steak, it might be best to look for a specialty butcher shop. Additionally, with Denver steak gaining mass popularity, more and more restaurants are featuring this steak on their menu.

Hot Tip
If you cannot find Denver steak in a physical store, an online meat company is the next best choice. Many online meat vendors sell Denver steaks at a great price.

How To Cook A Denver Steak?

Similar to a filet mignon, Denver steak’s layer of fat is virtually nonexistent. However, what makes this steak so unique is the beautiful amount of marbling each Denver steak has. This marbling melts as the beef cooks and allows it to remain juicy during the cooking process.

Though medium rare is the cooking temperature for most steaks, you can cook a Denver steak to medium, and it will still be nice and juicy! However, before you can think about cooking a Denver steak, you must consider how it was cut.

In order to promote supreme tenderness, a Denver steak has to be cut across the grain. This means the butcher must cut sever the front portion from the back portion before fabricating the meat into two steaks.

This method will give you a piece of meat shaped like a triangle, therefore allowing each steak to be cut across the grain. However, to create uniform Denver steaks, the triangular cuts are trimmed and used for stew meat or ground beef.

Oftentimes, the butcher will fabricate the muscle into steaks by cutting it from back to front as this is the quickest method and yields less waste. Sadly, this quick method means the steak will not be sliced across the grain, which will leave you with a chewy Denver steak.

For this reason, it is best to ask the butcher how the steak was cut before you purchase it. Nevertheless, if you do end up with a steak that was not cut across the grain, make sure you do not overcook it!

Bottom Line
You can prepare a Denver steak several ways. You can grill it, sear it or sear and finish the steak off in the oven. You can even cook Denver steak using the sous vide technique.

How To Grill A Denver Steak? 

Remove your Denver steaks from the refrigerator 30 minutes in advance and let them come to room temperature. Allow your grill to heat while the meat comes to room temperature.

Season your Denver steak with salt and pepper or your preferred herbs and spices. Cook your Denver steak for approximately 4-5 minutes on each side. Allow the Denver steaks to rest for 10 minutes before slicing them against the grain. 

How To Reverse Sear A Denver Steak

Liberally season both sides of your Denver steaks with kosher salt and refrigerate them overnight. To create indirect and direct grilling zones, place your charcoal coals on one side of the grill—program one burner to high and the other burner to low.

Place your steaks onto the cool side of the grill and cook until they reach a temperature of 105°F for rare, 115°F for medium-rare, or 125°F for medium. Transfer the Denver steaks to the hot side of the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes until it achieves your preferred level of doneness.

If you do not have a grill, you can also reverse sear your Denver steaks using an oven and a cast-iron skillet. Heat your oven to 275°F. Place your Denver steaks onto a cookie sheet and place them into the oven.

Cook the steaks until they reach a temperature of 105°F for rare, 115°F for medium-rare, or 125°F for medium.

Remove the Denver steaks from the oven and set them aside. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a cast-iron skillet over high heat. Once it is scorching hot, add the steaks and sear them for 2-3 minutes per side until a rich crust develops and they achieve your desired level of doneness.

How To Cook A Denver Steak Sous Vide? 

Cooking a Denver steak sous vide is an excellent cooking method. You don’t even have to thaw your steaks. 

Place your steaks into a vacuum-sealed bag and fill your sous vide machine with enough water to submerge the steaks. Place your steaks into the sous vide machine and cook them for 4 hours until they achieve a temperature of 125°F.

If you want to get the signature steak rich dark brown crust, you can sear them. However, you must let your Denver steaks cool before seasoning them and searing them over high heat.

How To Sear A Denver Steak? 

If you are going to sear your Denver steaks ensure they are at least an inch in thickness. This will allow the steak to retain its moisture.

Remove your Denver steaks 30 minutes to an hour in advance and let them come to room temperature. Pat the Denver steaks dry with paper towels to soak up any residual moisture on the steak’s surface.

Season the Denver steaks with salt or your favorite steak seasoning and place 1-2 tablespoons in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once the skillet is scorching hot, add your steaks and sear them for 3-4 minutes on each side until they reach your preferred level of doneness.

Transfer the Denver steaks to a plate, loosely cover them with foil, and let them rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Slice them across the grain before serving.

Additionally, you can also sear your steaks on the stovetop and finish them off by baking them for 5-7 minutes at 325°F.

How To Store Denver Steak

Knowing how to store Denver steak safely is just as important as knowing how to cook it. Denver steaks will keep in the refrigerator for about 3-5 days. However, refrigerating steaks also poses a potential breeding ground for bacteria.

Ensure your fridge’s temperature is below 40°F. The temperature danger zones range from 40°F-140°F. It is the perfect seedbed for bacteria to multiply rapidly, so keep your steaks out of this range.

Furthermore, place your steak onto a plate or into a container. Excess liquid will drain onto the plate and won’t contaminate the rest of your food. Additionally, designate a shelf to store your meat on to avoid cross-contamination. 

Moreover, you can also freeze your Denver steaks for 3 months. However, you want to ensure they are stored correctly to avoid freezer burn.

Remove each steak from its original packaging and wrap them individually with plastic wrap or butcher paper. Transfer the Denver steaks to a sealable freezer-safe bag.

This method limits air from penetrating the meat, thereby decreasing the chances of freezer burn occurring. In addition to this, if you have a vacuum sealing machine, you can use it to freezer your Denver steaks as it is the best method for freezing steaks.

The most important part of freezing meat is to label the package. Write what kind of meat it is on the package and the date it was frozen. This will allow you to know what is in every bag and what date you need to use it by.

Final Thoughts 

If you’ve are looking for an affordable steak with excellent quality, the Denver steak is your best option. You can cook this steak in a matter of minutes and end up with a tender, juicy steak that rivals the taste and texture of a ribeye and tenderloin steak.

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