When I was a kid, we often had chuck steaks. These were pretty inexpensive cuts, because they were kind of tough, but they had a lot of flavour. I recall being disappointed with a sirloin steak – a pricer cut with a fancier name, because though it was more tender, it was much less flavourful.
Fast forward a few decades.
I have not seen “chuck steaks” in a long time. The chuck, or shoulder region, is often sold as a roast (such a cross-rib roast) because the connective tissue that makes it tough breaks down with long slow cooking. But a few cuts from the chuck are gaining in popularity, because they are cut lengthwise, with the muscle fibre (like a flank steak), thus eliminating the tough connective tissue. The flat iron steak is one of these, and the petite tender (also called shoulder tender or bistro filet) is another.
The petite tender (a name that others me – choose a language and stick with it!) is shaped like a stubby pork tenderloin, about 6″ long. And it is one of the most tender cuts of beef, and full of that wonderful chuck flavour. This cut can be hard to find, so I was pretty excited to find they now carry it at one of my local grocery stores, Longo’s. But his wasn’t just beef, it was Certified Angus Beef (CAB). Oh, and did I mention it’s not an expensive cut? Yup, poor man’s filet mignon! So here’s what did with it:
- 4 Petite tender steaks, about 7 oz each (they were 2 in a package)
- Steak spice (see my recipe here)
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 large sweet onion (spanish or vidalia)
If you are using charcoal, you’ll want to get the fire going to make sure it’s ready when you are. Pat the steaks dry with paper towel, and coat liberally with steak spice. Make sure the spice adheres well to the meat – get your hands in there.
Chop the pepper in half lengthwise, and remove the stem and seeds. Cut the onion into thick rings. Get the grill up to medium high heat, season the grill with a little oil and put the onions and peppers (skin side down) directly on the grill. You can put a serious char on the peppers, as we will be removing the skin, but keep flipping the onion so it doesn’t burn. The onions are done when the soften up and get floppy and you think they might start falling through the grill. The red peppers should also soften up and loose their rigidity.
There are all sorts of recommendations for peeling roast peppers – from cold water to sealed containers to paper bags. If you have a favourite, use it, but once charred the skin scrapes off easily. Once the skin is off the peppers, slice them into narrow strips. Keep the onions and peppers by the grill, we’ll need them again shortly.
With the grill still at medium high heat (I run my kamado at about 500F), put the steaks on the grill at a bit of an angle to the lines of the grill. You might be tempted to cook these hotter – I often do steaks at 700F or so, but these are lean cuts and can scorch more easily. You may want to lightly coat the steak with a little oil to help prevent this.
I cook my steaks for 2 minutes, rotate them (to get cross-grill lines) and cok for another 2 minutes, flip them, 2 minutes, then bring them to a part of the grill away from the most intense heat, top with the onions and peppers, close down the vents and let cook indirectly for 4 minutes.
transfer the steaks to a plate or board, loosely tent with foil, and let rest for at least five minutes. Serve with veggies, potato, or salad of choice.
If you want to guild the lilly, so to speak, you could mix in a little soft goat cheese with the onion and peppers, or a little herbed butter, which then melts nicely in that last few minutes of cooking.
This is a great way to serve a terrific cut of meat.