The Flavorful, Thin Cuts That Make Up Minute Steak

There are occasions that call for thick cuts of beef still on the bone, cooked to the perfect medium rare, for a decadent dinner. And then there are some Monday evenings when you need a less fussy, inexpensive, delicious meal in minutes. When you're craving steak but lack the time or budget for a full-on Tomahawk, minute steak is what's for dinner.

This thin cut of beef, also referred to as cube or frying steak, is often butchered from the rump (also where you get stew beef), but can be cut from the sirloin or flank, too. Minute steaks are roughly ¼-inch thick so that the meat can cook for a "minute" or two on each side. This isn't the type of steak that's sliced to reveal a bright red center. Instead, it'll cook through but remain tender.

Since this cut of beef is lean, the meat is pre-tenderized and can look like chopped meat at the butcher shop without a true distinguishing shape like other cuts. Treated like a chicken cutlet, minute steaks are commonly used to make the Southern dish chicken fried steak, wherein the meat is breaded and bathed in gravy. However, other foolproof cooking methods deliver a flavorful beefy steak in less time than it takes to make baked or mashed potatoes. 

Tips for preparing minute steaks

Minute steaks can be sauced, breaded, or deep-fried, but the thin meat is arguably at its best when quickly seared on a hot skillet to prevent it from overcooking and keeping it tender (even despite its lack of marbled fat). Treated like expensive cuts, minute steaks can develop a delicious crust, enhancing the beef's flavor with little more than salt and pepper used as seasoning. 

Since the steak is so thin, you'll want to allow the meat to get to room temperature before cooking. Like searing any protein, ensure the exterior is dry before cooking as well since moisture will prevent the steak from browning — as will crowding the pan, which causes the meat to steam cook and turn grey. The cooking pan should be rippling hot before the meat is added and create a 'sizzle' when it touches the hot surface. 

Choose this cut if lunch calls for a steak sandwich topped with Boursin cheese and fresh arugula on ciabatta. Or, cover it with Cheez-Whiz like Geno's for a homemade Philly cheesesteak. If you're looking to add beef to pho or ramen, try cooking sliced minute steak in the simmering broth. Freezing the beef for 15 minutes will allow you to slice it thinly, and the stock will prevent the meat from drying out.