Any steak lover expects their Denver steak to be soft and tender when they use their steak knife to cut into it.
You’ve been salivating over the succulent meaty flavor, but instead, you were met with a mouthful of dry steak you can barely chew, leaving you to wonder why is my steak chewy.
Why Is My Steak Chewy?
There are many reasons why steak could be chewy.
For example, the quality of the tomahawk steak and how it is stored and cooked could play a role in why you ended up with a tough steak.
Poor Quality Steak
The easiest is way to end up with a chewy eye of round steak is to start with a poor-quality steak.
A quality steak starts with the animal itself. For example, you must consider the breed as well as how the animal lived and how it was slaughtered.
For example, wagyu beef will have a higher quality than regular beef steak.
Ultimately, even if the steak is cooked well, it will never be a perfect steak.
Steaks quality can be enhanced or spoiled by how it is handled at the butcher or grocery store.
Beef can be dry-aged by hanging it in a cool, dry environment for 7-28 days. However, it can also be wet-aged for 4-10 days.
Dry aging steaks give them a better flavor and enhance their tenderness. The naturally occurring enzymes in the beef will break down the tough muscle tissue.
Aged steaks are known by their characteristic dark color and firm texture.
According to the USGA, beef is graded into prime, choice, select cuts of beef.
Prime beef is the creme de la creme when it comes. It is THE top-quality steak.
Prime beef comes from young cattle who are fed a rich diet, and their meat is known for intramuscular marbling.
Prime beef cannot be found in your average supermarket.
In contrast, choice beef is a lesser quality. However, it is still a good quality steak. It is the same as prime beef, but it has less marbling.
Select beef is leaner than choice and prime beef and much more affordable.
However, you should be fooled by the price since this cut is not the ideal choice for steak.
Every steak is not tender and juicy. Different steaks are fabricated from other parts of the animal’s body.
Therefore, they have different degrees of muscle, bone, and fat, which will determine how tender a steak is.
For example, if the steak hags a lot of connective tissue, it will be tough and stringy.
But if the steak has a minuscule amount of connective tissue, it will be tender and juicy.
In general, steaks fabricated from the belly, thigh, rump, and flans are more tender.
Steaks such as the tender, porterhouse, ribeye, and strip are tender cuts of steak.
Steak Is Not Fresh
How recently the steer went to the slaughterhouse does not determine how fresh it is.
Freshness deals with whether the steak is correctly stored in the fridge or freezer.
If you freeze the steak and thaw it, it will never be as tender as it once was.
Nevertheless, buying frozen steak does not mean it is going to be tough. It’s the defrosting that can cause a steak to be tough and chewy.
The best way to defrost your sirloin steak is to thaw it in the refrigerator overnight.
This will allow the steak to thaw slowly while keeping it out of the danger zone.
Poorly Cooked Steak
Even if you are working with prime beef that has the perfect amount of marbling, if you do not prepare the steak the right way, you will end up with a tough, chewy steak.
You can heat up your natural gas grill or sear the Ranch steaks in a cast-iron skillet.
However, you can also roast the steak or cook it sous vide style.
You can also end up with a chewy steak if your steak is not seasoned correctly.
It is best to season steak before cooking it, or you can salt it in advance and leave it in the fridge overnight.
Whether or not the steak was tenderized could also play a role in how chewy the end result will be.
For example, you are starting with a less tender steak such as top round steak, you need to marinate the steak overnight in the fridge.
Acids such as lemon juice, vinegar, and buttermilk will help break down the muscle fibers in the steak.
Other factors that could affect chewiness include whether or not the steak was room temperature, if the pan was hot enough, was overcooked, or undercooked.
The best way to determine a steak’s doneness is by using an infrared thermometer to measure its internal temperature.
For a blue rare steak, the temperature is 130⁰F.
Medium rare is 135⁰F, while medium is 140⁰F. In contrast, medium-well is 145⁰F-150⁰F, while well-done is 155⁰F.
Telling you that you should not slice into the beautifully seared steak you just cooked as soon as it comes off the fire will only want to make you dig into it more.
But you must resist the temptation of carving the steak without letting it rest.
Let your steak rest for at least 5-10 minutes before you carve it.
If you do not let it rest, the juices will leak all over your butcher block instead of remaining in the steak.
How the steak is sliced can also affect how chewy or tender it is. If you cut your steak along the muscle fibers, expect tough steak.
However, if you cut the steak across the grain, it will be more tender and much easier to chew.
No one likes chewy steak. To make sure you end up with a tender steak, start with a quality, marbled cut of beef.
Remember to let your steak come to room temperature before seasoning it and cooking it in a scorching hot pan or portable pellet grill.
Let your meat rest before slicing it against the grill, and you will end up with a tender, juicy steak.
I have been smoking and grilling meat from an early age and enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise through the hundreds of articles I have written about BBQ. I hope to make everyone’s BBQ journey that little bit easier.