The Ultimate Guide to Ranch Steak

Ranch Steak

Ever been in the meat aisle of your local grocery store and come across a ranch steak? Did you begin to wonder what a ranch steak is or why you’ve never heard of it?

The truth is ranch steak remains relatively unknown. Therefore it is overlooked, rarely bought, and a newcomer to all things steak. However, like any great steak, the ranch steak can hang with the big boys, such as the tenderloin, ribeye, and porterhouse steak, and it is absolutely delicious.

What Is Ranch Steak?

In short, ranch steak refers to a steak carved from the primal region known as the chuck. To be more specific, ranch steaks are cut from the shoulder region of the animal.

Essentially, ranch steaks are called boneless chuck shoulder center cut steak. Since boneless chuck shoulder center cut steak can be a mouthful, supermarkets devised a clever marketing strategy to shorten this steaks name. Grocery stores label them as ranch steaks since the name is short enough to be memorable.

You may also see ranch steaks marketed as beef shoulder center, chuck steak center cut, ranch cut, arm steak, and shoulder center steak. Ranch steaks are easily distinguishable because they usually weigh 10 ounces or less, are -inch in thickness or less, and are trimmed of the silver skin, connective tissue, excess fat.

Furthermore, to be classified as a ranch steak, it must be trimmed of most of its fat which includes the thin layer of fat located on its edge that is practically non-existent. In addition to this, ranch steaks also have a thin band of sinew running through the center of the meat. Like top blade steak, this line of sinew cannot be removed during cooking.

What Does Ranch Steak Taste Like

Overall, ranch steaks are a flavorful cut of meat. However, they are a bit tough. Since it is fabricated from the shoulder region of the animal, this steak receives more action than other primal regions of the animals.

Ranch steaks may be a tougher cut of steak, but it does not lack beefy flavor. Ranch steaks are best cooked to medium. If they are cooked beyond medium, they will become tough and unpleasant, especially when using dry heat methods.

Some steak enthusiasts believe that ranch steaks are a hybrid of a pot roast and a filet. When cooked properly, it is said that ranch steaks capture the tenderness of a fillet combined with the rich beef flavor you would get from a pot roast or even short ribs.

On the other hand, others believe steaks to have an earthy flavor that is comparable with sirloin. However, one thing is sure most people can agree that the ranch steak is unlike any other steak they have tasted before.

What’s So Good About Ranch Steaks?

With the rise of home chefs, relatively unknown steaks like ranch steaks are becoming quite the popular cut. Unlike tenderloin or porterhouse steaks that are typically expensive, ranch steaks are the economical cut. This means you can still have the pleasure of enjoying a steak while feeding your entire family on a budget.

Moreover, even though it is a tough cut of meat, ranch steaks are delicious and flavorful. These steaks can be tenderized and marinated to create a flavorful, moist steak.

Besides marinating, depending on the cooking method, ranch steak can be cooked to perfection in minutes.

Is Ranch Steak Better Than Sirloin?

Ranch steaks should be considered a classic steak. After all, it has been compared to the highly sought-after sirloin steak. Both of these steaks come from areas of the animal that receives a lot of action. In contrast, sirloin is preferred by most because it has a deeper flavor than ranch steaks.

Substitutes For Ranch Steak

With ranch steaks becoming so popular, getting your hands on this beautiful steak is becoming harder and harder. Luckily there are substitutes you can use if you cannot find Ranch steak. Besides the obvious choice: sirloin steak, you can also substitute other economic steak cuts such as flat iron steak or beef top round steak.

How To Tenderize Ranch Steak

The beautiful thing about tough cuts of meat is that they can be tenderized and transformed into a tender, juicy cut of meat. Typically, 3 are popular ways to tenderize steak.

Chemical tenderizers are usually found in the grocery store’s spice aisle. The chemicals are designed to break down the steaks fibers and create a tender cut of meat. Though chemical tenderizers are convenient, it is important to note that there are additives or ingredients you may not want in your food.

You can also marinate your steak, which is super easy to do. Unlike chemical tenderizers, you will know the exact ingredients used to prepare your steal. In addition to this, foods such as papaya and lemon can stimulate the breakdown of your steaks fibers if they are included in your marinade.

You can also tenderize meat the old-fashioned way by taking your anger out on the steak and pounding it with a mallet. Tenderization by mallet is a tried and true method of tenderizing meat.

Alternatively, you can also pierce your steak with a fork 15-20 times with a fork to tenderize it if you do not want to use a mallet.

How To Marinade Ranch Steak

Though most people think only one of these tenderization techniques can be used, you can use two of these techniques simultaneously. Pounding your steak with a mallet or piecing it with a for actually makes the marinades job easier.

It will easily allow the marinade to easily penetrate the meat and make it tender. In addition to this, it will also decrease the marination time, allowing you to quickly get your steaks on the grill.

In short, marinades are divided into 3 primary groups: acidic, enzymatic, and oil-based marinades. Marinades usually feature oil, acidic ingredients such as vinegar, wine, or citrus juice, as well as seasonings that increase the flavor of the steaks. These are a few of the most popular marinades for sam.

Traditional Italian Marinade

The base for this Italian marinade is balsamic vinegar. This is the ideal marinade if you want to add a subtle flavor to your ranch steaks. This marinade will not overpower the ranch steaks natural beefy flavor, but it will emphasize it.

To make this marinade, you will need balsamic vinegar, extra-virgin oil, rosemary, salt, and black pepper. It is important to note an Italian steak marinade should contain 2 parts balsamic vinegar and 1 part olive oil. So, for example, if your marinade contains 2 cups of balsamic vinegar, it should also contain 1 cup of olive oil to your marinade.

Combine all of your Italian steak marinade ingredients in a Ziploc bag. Add your ranch steaks, seal the bag, and let your steaks hang out in the fridge.

Lemon-Garlic Steak Marinade

There’s no going wrong with lemon and garlic. This acidic-based marinade works wonders for ranch steaks. The hints of citrus brighten up the flavor of the ranch steaks and, along with a kick of spice from the seasonings, really create an irresistible ranch steak.

To make a lemon garlic steak marinade, you will need freshly squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes, and salt. While lemon adds flavor to the steaks, you do not want to overdo it. Too much lemon juice will overwhelm the beefy flavor of the ranch steaks rather than complementing.

Soy Steak Marinade

Soy sauce is also a popular ingredient for steak marinades. It adds a rich, salty, yet savory flavor to the already existing beefy flavor of the ranch steaks. Some steak enthusiasts even recommend using a soy sauce-based marinade as they believe it eliminates the need for steak sauce.

Soy steak marinades usually feature soy sauce, olive oil, and freshly squeezed lemon juice to balance out the salty flavor of the soy sauce. In addition to this, Worcestershire sauce garlic, or herbs such as basil, oregano, and parsley, and black pepper may also be used to add more flavor to the ranch steaks.

You will want to add 1 part soy sauce and 2 parts olive oil to your marinade. Case in point, if you use 1/4 cup of olive oil, do not use more than 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. If you use more than this, your ranch steaks will be overly salty, and no one can enjoy a salty steak.

Papaya Steak Marinade

Though it sounds a little strange, papaya and steak go well together. Papaya naturally tenderizes the tough fibers of the steak due to an enzyme in its skin. Papaya also infuses the steak with a unique flavor.

Most papaya steak marinades only require the papaya skins. Be sure to remove the flesh and use it in another recipe before adding them to the marinade. Once papaya comes into contact with meat, it is no longer safe to consume, especially if it is not cooked.

To make a papaya steak marinade, you will need 2 medium ripe papaya skins with most of the flesh removed. Leave about 1/8-inch border while removing your papaya flesh. In addition to this, you will also need scallions, Dijon mustard, thyme or rosemary, black pepper, ginger, coriander, and vegetable oil.

To make this papaya marinade, combine everything but the papaya skins, then spread it over the steaks. Next, arrange the papaya skins in a baking dish, flesh side up, then add your ranch steaks on top of them and add the remaining papaya skins flesh side down on top of the steaks.

Ensure the papaya skins are directly touching the ranch steaks surface. This is the only way that the papaya can break down the fibers of the meat.

Whether you choose a lemon garlic marinade or steak soy sauce marinade, marinade your ranch steaks for 1 or 2 hours or overnight in the fridge to allow the flavors to intensify.

How To Cook Ranch Steak

As previously mentioned, this cheap but versatile, lean cut of meat should be marinated before it is cooked using dry heat methods. In addition to this, if you are using a dry heat cooking method, allow your ranch steaks to rest on the countertop for 30 minutes. There is no need to worry about food contamination as not be in the temperature danger zone for more than 4 hours.

Allowing the ranch steaks to come to room temperature ensures that the steak will cook evenly and faster. In addition to this, if you are not using a marinade, salt your ranch steaks in advance. Salting steaks in advance pulls moisture out of the steak and helps you get an even sear.

Similar to other cuts of beef, overcooking ranch steaks may result in a tough, dry steak. For this reason, it’s best to cook ranch steaks to medium, which ranges between 140°F to 150°F.

Ranch steaks are best grilled or braised. However, they can also be broiled. Thin ranch steaks may also be pan-fried as though it were a country-fried steak and served with eggs. Thicker cuts of ranch steak can be prepared by cooking it in a slow cooker which closely resembles a shoulder roast.

How To Sear Ranch Steak 

To sear your ranch steak add olive oil to a cast-iron skillet and heat it over medium-high heat. Add your ranch steak to the skillet and sear it for 8 minutes per side until it develops a nice crust.

When your ranch steaks have an internal temperature of 125°F to 130°F, remove the ranch steaks from the skillet, place them on a plate and cover it with foil. Let your ranch steaks rest for 5-8 minutes before serving.

How To Grill Ranch Steak

Heat your grill to a temperature between 375°F to 400°F. Grill your ranch steaks for 4 minutes per side until it registers an internal temperature of 130°F to 135°F for medium-rare of 135°F to 145°F for medium. Let your ranch steaks rest for 5 minutes before serving.

How To Braise Ranch Steaks

Ranch steaks are truly best cooked when they are braised. To braise your ranch steaks, place them into your slow cooker along with onion, garlic, and your favorite vegetables.

Add 4 cups of vegetable stock or your favorite gravy or sauce and cook the steaks for 4 hours on high until tender. Additionally, you can also cook your ranch steaks for 8 hours on low until the meat is tender.

Final Thoughts

Even though ranch steaks are not as common as sirloin, tenderloin, or ribeye steaks, ranch steaks can be found on restaurant menus also. It is the perfect steak for those individuals who do not enjoy fattier steaks or are looking for a leaner steak.

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