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Butter-Basted Chuck Eye Steak

Updated: Feb 7

Poor Man's Rib Eye
Butter-basted Chuck Eye Steak
Cooking the perfect steak requires a little technique and a good pan. Everything else is extra.

If you have ever had a tender steak basted in butter and cooked to a perfect medium rare, you know the magic of a perfectly cooked beefsteak. But it doesn't need to be expensive. Many cuts of meat are inexpensive but tender and delicious. The Chuck Eye steak is at the top of the list of budget steaks. This is not a typical chuck steak, which can be challenging. Instead, Chuck Eye is the rib section directly adjacent to the Rib-Eye Steak. There are only two Chuck Eyes per animal, so they can be hard to find. It's worth the extra effort.

Chuck Eye Steaks

Several good online retailers offer Chuck Eyes for $8 to $12 per pound. I can frequently find them at my local Walmart, and they are sometimes available at other chain supermarkets.

The Pan

When you read recipes on pan-searing or butter-basting steak, most will recommend using a cast-iron pan. Cast iron is widely available and inexpensive. I have used cast iron to pan-sear steaks, but I prefer copper pans since they cook the meat more evenly and create a better "crust." I have two copper sauté pans- one a recent purchase lined in stainless steel and another a 50-year-old Mauviel lined in tin, which I inherited.

This 50-year-old Mauviel pan is still in perfect condition, another reason to consider buying vintage copper cookware. When I cook a steak, I get out the vintage copper. It cooks on less heat and cooks evenly. Whatever pan you choose, try to find a good option you enjoy cooking with. It's not about fancy cookware. It's about a pan that will allow you to put a perfect sear on your steak without overcooking.

Steak Type

Everyone loves a filet or a rib-eye steak. But with these steaks routinely topping $20/pound, many of us have been choosing cheaper cuts. But just because you chose a more inexpensive cut doesn't mean that you must eat a tough or flavorless steak. The Chuck Eye comes from the area adjacent to the Rib Eye but often costs $4-6 less a pound, sometimes less than half of Rib Eye. Many retailers sell Chuck Eye for $8-$12/pound. Because every beef has only two Chuck Eye steaks, they can be challenging to find. Consider Sirloin Medallions or other thick Sirloin steaks if you cannot find Chuck Eye. Whatever type of steak you choose should be at least an inch thick, preferably 1.25 -1.5 inches wide. This allows for a good sear and a basting period without overcooking the steak. Never use this technique on a thin steak--you'll get an overcooked, tough steak.

These steaks are 1.25 inches thick.

Remember to prepare your steak by taking it out of the refrigerator 45 minutes before cooking. This will allow the steak to come to room temperature and prevent uneven cooking. At this point, you may wish to salt and pepper your steak and let it rest.

Ingredients: Steak, Shallot, Garlic, Butter and Thyme

Searing and Basting Your Steak

When you are ready to cook your steak, put your cast iron or copper pan on heat. If you use cast iron, place your pan on high heat and keep it there until it starts to smoke. It must be hot. For a copper pan, remember that your pan will heat up more efficiently and faster than cast iron. So please put it on medium-high heat with a small amount of cooking oil, but do not allow the oil to smoke. Medium heat will produce a hot copper pan, but turning it up too high is unnecessary, as you will do with cast iron. You know your pan, but remember that you must sear your steak, turn it down to medium or medium/low (for copper), and baste it in butter.

Use fresh thyme if you have it, or half a teaspoon of dried thyme if you don't. Once you begin basting your steak, remember you are doing this quickly (less than four minutes). Baste spots that seem not as brown. But get out your thermometer and use care..

When I cook a steak, I usually shoot for a temperature of 130. You might go down to 120 if you like it rare or up to 140 if you want it medium, but your steak should not be above or below that window. Remember that raw or uncooked meat can be dangerous, but an overcooked steak is a soul-killing experience. Use care - baste your steak and get it off the heat.

The smaller steak - a perfect medium rare.

After you remove your steak to a plate, let it rest for 5- 10 minutes. Your steak needs a chance to relax to be at its most tender. After resting your steak, put it on a plate of mashed potatoes. Use the pan drippings as gravy or a sauce for your steak and mashed potatoes. Add your favorite green or brightly colored vegetable to the plate.

Butter Basted Chuck Steak ($13.15 for two servings)

Here is my steak, with mashed potatoes and sautéed green beans. How did your steak turn out? Leave your comments!

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