Blade steak, sometimes called top blade, is a steak cut from a muscle in the beef chuck primal cut, specifically the top blade (or infraspinatus) muscle. The chuck primal cut can be divided into two sections: the chuck roll and the chuck shoulder clod. Butchers used to simply slice across the chuck shoulder clod to make chuck steaks, but these days it's much more common to take the clod apart and divide it into its individual muscles, each of which can be marketed as a new kind of steak. Thus, the blade steak is now appearing in supermarket meat departments.
What Is Blade Steak?
Blade steaks are made by cutting directly across the top blade muscle, which is actually pretty tender. The one negative is there's a seam of connective tissue running through the center of it, which means that every section of steak has a piece of this tough strip of gristle right in the middle. On the bright side, there's a lot of beefy flavor in a blade steak and it's relatively inexpensive. If it's cooked properly, it can be a delicious and tender piece of meat.
How to Cook Blade Steak
You may have seen beef blade steaks at the supermarket, wrapped in those cellophane packages with labels that say, "Great for grilling!" But because of that strip of gristle, blade steak is actually terrible for grilling. If you cook it on a grill, that piece of cartilage is going to tighten up like a thick rubber band, which is exactly what it will feel like in your mouth when you try to chew it. (This generalized labeling, by the way, is one of the reasons it's so important to find a great butcher.)
The only way to break down the tough connective tissue in the middle of a blade steak is to cook it slowly with moist heat—in other words, by braising it. Braise it for about an hour and you'll end up with a tender, juicy, and flavorful steak.
Another way of dealing with that strip of gristle is to remove it. (And, as a matter of fact, that is exactly how flat iron steaks are produced.) Basically, cut the steak in half, removing the line of cartilage, and then slice the meat to use in a stir-fry. If you're wondering why you shouldn't just buy a flat iron steak, the answer is they're more expensive; so if you are up for a little light butchering, it is worth the effort.
What Does Blade Steak Taste Like?
Cuts of meat from the beef chuck primal are known for their rich, beefy flavor, and the blade steak is no exception. You will find it has a similar taste to flat iron steak and blade chuck steak.
Blade Steak Recipes
Because this cut of meat benefits from slow, moist cooking, using your crock pot is an ideal cooking method, and a perfect introduction to preparing this type of meat; the steak is seasoned, added to the slow cooker, and then cooked in a brown gravy for several hours until tender. Or, try substituting blade steak in a recipe that calls for beef round steaks.
Where to Buy Blade Steak
Since this has become a common cut of meat, you should be able to find blade steak in the meat department of your supermarket. Just keep in mind that it may be labeled under a different name, such as boneless top chuck steak or top blade steak.
Storing Blade Steak
Like all raw meat, blade steak needs to be kept in the refrigerator until ready to use. If wrapped in air-tight packaging it will stay fresh for three to five days. You can also freeze the steak—again, well wrapped with excess air removed—for at least three months.