What is Denver Steak & How to Cook it

Denver Steak Label

Note: This is a quick summary of some of the important points you need to know about this steak cut. For detailed answers, you can keep reading the full article below this section.

Location-Denver-Label
Denver-Steak-Raw-Cut

Raw Denver Cut

Recommended Cooking Methods

Grill

Grilling

Sous-Vide

Sous-Vide

Stovetop

Stovetop


Butcher's Notes

Also Known as: Denver Cut, Chuck Under Blade Steak & Center Cut Steak

Cut from the center of the Under Blade, located in the Chuck Beef Primal.

These steaks are very tender, with a good amount of marbling and beef flavor.

Best when finished over high-heat & always cut against the grain.

Must-Read Cooking Notes

This cut have an extra deep beef flavor and decent marbling, due to its location getting a lot of workout from the movement. As a result, it is recommended to be cooked on a low heat and give a finishing searing. The Sous-Vide or Reverse-Sear on the grill are the most used cooking methods. 

For the Sous-Vide method, I season the cut with salt & pepper and Sous-Vide it for around 2-3 hours at 130°F. Then, depending on your doneness preference, I remove it from the sealed bag, pat dry using paper towels and give it a nice sear on outside for 60-90 seconds per side using a pan or grill.

As for doneness, you will get the best results when is cooked Rare or Medium-Rare, for maximum flavor and tenderness.

The chances are that most people have never heard of denver steak. This cut is increasing in popularity only in the last years, and you would be lucky if you see it on a grocery store.

With such unique name and coming from one of the marblest parts of the cow, it is a cut you should definitely give it a try.

So, with the increasing popularity, we decided to put together a full guide on this cut, covering some of the most asked questions: What is denver steak, where exactly does it come from, where you can find it, best method to cook it etc.

What is Denver Steak?

Even though butchering has been around for centuries, the denver steak is actually a 'new' cut of meat, born in America around 2000's, making it less than a decade old.

Denver-Steak-Raw-Cut

It comes from the chuck beef primal, which is mostly muscular, starting from under the shoulder blade and continuing to the ribs and backbone. This area is known for tough meat cuts and is usually used for ground beef and stew meat.

The denver steak is actually an exception as even though it comes from this part of the cow, it is part of a muscle which is more flavorful and more tender than the surrounding cuts.

Where does it Comes From? Denver Steak Location

Chuck-Primal-Graph

The Denver steak comes from the Chuck Roll area of the cow, starting from under the shoulder blade and continuing to the ribs and backbone.

This area is know for popular steak cut such as the Ribeye and Delmonico Steak.

The exact location of the Denver steak is the serratis ventralis section of the chuck underblade. Most of the meat in this area is tough and mainly used for ground beef or stewing, since it is a muscular section. But, the denver steak actually makes an exception.

This cut comes from a muscle part that only weights around 8 pounds of an average 25 pound chuck roll section. This area is more flavorful and tender than the surrounding meat, due to more marbling being present in this area. Even though this section of shoulder underblade gets a lot of use, the particular area that derives the Denver steak is often used less by the cow and as a result, it has more fat and marbling.

One of the challenging parts for butchers for this cut is to get the steak out of the chuck roll, as it is a bit of an onerous process butchering this tear-shaped steak from the tough connective muscle tissue surrounding it.

Denver-Exact-Location-Chuck-Primal

Denver Cut Location

Why is it Called a Denver Steak?

The history behind the name is a bit confusing, as there are several similar cuts in other cultures across the world with a different name. Just like this cut, there are a lot of steak cuts around the world, whose origin is not clear.

For instance, the Zabuton is an extremely rare cut in Japan, and its name means 'flat cushion', referring to the shape it is presented in; an extremely thin slice and cook for only 8 seconds.

Similar other cuts also have names referring directly to them and are promoted as steaks meant to be thrown and cooked on the grill.

As for Denver steak, it comes out of a project of Beef industry in the 2000's, the Cattleman's Beef Checkoff Program, whose purpose was to find, identify and promote more affordable cuts of meat, coming from the Chuck section, who are actually high value cuts/products.

The study turned out to be very successful as it trained butchers to harvest three new steaks from the chuck primal, who can be sold at premium prices. The three new 'invented' steaks were The Denver, Flat Iron and Teres Major.

The name "Denver" has no historical significance and is actually a marketing brainchild of the program, unveiling the cut in 2009.

How to Cook Denver Steak

When it comes to cooking the denver steak, I think that the options are a little bit limited. This happens because this cut comes from a relatively tough section; the Chuck Roll.

Before you begin cooking it, first, you need to make sure it is properly prepared.

How to Prepare & Cut a Denver Steak for Cooking

Before you cook it, you need to make sure that the butcher has properly cut it. For best results, this cut needs to be sliced across the grain.

A good butcher should separate the front section from the rear section before slicing it into small steaks. This will create a triangular shape piece, which will allow every steak to be sliced across the grain.

The triangle way of cutting will produce the best results but will make the corners to be trimmed, which mean less profit.

Denver-Steak-Raw

Denver Steak Cuts

If your butcher hasn't sliced the triangle way, then it will be simply sliced from back to front. This is also good but a few slices will not be against the grain, causing them to become chewy if overcooked.

Cooking Methods for Denver Steak

When you think of all the cooking methods to cook a denver steak, I think that the options are a little but limited.

I suggest you to cook this cut in one of these methods:

  1. Grilling
  2. Sous Vide
  3. Stovetop
  4. Stovetop - Oven

What is the Best Method to Cook Denver Steak?

Grilled-Seasoned-Denver-Steak

Grilled Denver Steak

Most of the cuts coming from the Chuck Roll section don't have a lot of tenderness and marbling, thus making them good for ground beef or stewing. When meat is not tender, cooking on low temperature for a long period of time would be the best possible solution.

For denver cut steak, which is more tender and marbled than the other cuts coming from Chuck Roll, I would suggest the best method to cook is with low heat, following by a finishing sear.

You can choose to go for a reverse sear on your grill or give a light braise using your oven.

What I like to do for such kind of cuts is using the Sous Vide method.

The Sous Vide method consists of cooking the meat on low temperature using hot water and a vacuum-sealed bag. You can learn more about it here or here.

So, I prefer to first cook the steak using the Sous Vide method and then giving a finish searing at the end.

For this method, I begin by seasoning the meat with salt, pepper and a little bit of rosemary (Which is totally optional). Then, I cook the meat for around two hours at 130°F.

After two hours, I remove the steaks from the vacuum-sealed bags and pat them dry using paper towels.

To finish them off, I give them a nice sear in a cast iron pan for around 60-90 seconds per side.

Denver-Seasoning

Denver Steak Seasoning

This method of cooking, first increases the meat tenderness using the low temperature Sous Vide method and then gives it the nice outside crust with pan searing.

When you serve it, always make sure to cut against the grain. If it is properly cooked, you will notice the grain structure of the steak.

What's the Best Way to Serve

Grilled-Denver-Steak

Against-the-Grain Cut Denver Steak

As I mentioned in the upper section, the best way to serve the denver cut is having in mind to always cut against the grain. This rule applies to almost every steak but a lot of people forget to apply it.

If you don't cut it against the grain, the possibility of drying out is higher and the meat can end up chewy.

What Does Denver Steak Taste Like?

Since the denver cut comes from the chuck primal, it is generally flavorful.

It is highly marbled and has a rich and beefy flavor. As long as you follow the suggested recipes and is cooked properly, it has a nice, juicy texture.

Why You Should Choose it?

A lot of people suggest the denver steak as a great everyday steak. It is relatively cheap since it comes from the Chuck beef primal but is very similar to the New York strip. It doesn't have a fat cap, it's highly marbled and it's easy to cook.

Where to Find it & Where to Buy It?

The denver cut is considered rare and not every butcher knows it. As I explained in the History section, it is mainly 'discovered' in the 2000's in a Beef Checkoff Searching project.

It is only recently gaining popularity and the easiest way to find this cut of beef is online or at a local meat supermarket.

Denver-Steak-Cut-Strip

Be prepared that an inexperienced butcher will not know or probably don't know how to cut it from the chuck beef primal. It requires skills to butcher it as the muscle fibers at the front run in a different direction than the ones in the rear.

How to Store the Denver Steak

Just like most of beef cuts, (and most meat-related food), it is recommended to refrigerate this cut for three to five days. Anything longer than that may cause the meat to go bad.

Also, you can choose to freeze it for up to 3 months for long-term storing. The best way to store for long period of times is to use a vacuum sealer or use storing packaging.

Denver Steak Recipes

As the denver cut is relatively new, there are not many recipes online.

If you want something more special than the traditional grilling, here are some denver steak recipes you can try and cook:

Other additional recipes you can follow are to sear and cook the meat first and then top with some gorgonzola sauce or herb butter.

About Kendrick

Just a passionate man about cooking, living in Kansas who loves to share his knowledge about cooking and grilling with everyone.

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