Denver steak is one nifty piece of beef.
Even though cows have been domesticated for 5000 years, the cut called Denver steak was only ‘discovered’ in 1990 by meat science professors at the Universities of Nebraska and Florida.
It’s the fourth most tender bovine muscle; just behind filet mignon, the flatiron, and the ribeye cap. Because it’s a newer cut of steak, it can be hard to find. Ask your own butcher or try First Hand Food’s Denver steak; they’re a North Carolina supplier of pasture-raised meats (check their website for where to find them).
But as much as I like Denver steak, it’s really the preparation method that’s the star of this piece. It takes the normal, accepted way of home-cooking a steak, and turns it inside-out.
First dry-age your steak (heavily salt, loosely wrap in paper towel and let rest in fridge for three days). This will intensify the flavor and get seasoning througout the meat.
When ready to cook, place the meat on a cooling rack on a foil covered cookie sheet. Insert a probe thermometer (or use an instant-read during the cooking process) set to 120 degrees, and place in a 275 degree oven.
When the steak reaches temp (about 30-45 minutes, depending on thickness) remove from oven, and let it rest while you get a cast iron, or other heavy bottomed pan, screaming hot.
When the surface is almost molten, sprinkle freshly cracked pepper on each side of steaks. Drop in some butter, then place in steaks. Cook until a golden crust is formed, then flip and cook other side. Let rest for 5 minutes or so, then serve. You’re looking for a final temp of around 125 degrees for medium-rare.
This reverse technique cooks the steak uniformly throughout, with no overly cooked gray ring around the outer edge. The only caveat is the meat should be at least an inch thick, and the thicker the better.
But beware: you’ll think that you’ve messed up when you take it from the oven. It comes out looking like a flaccid piece of beef jerky. It will be ox-blood in color and tired in appearance. But that’s ok, I promise.
Cooking this way cuts down on the smoke and grease-flying of stove-top cooking. It’s also a more leisurely process, making the preparation of sides a measurably less nerve-racking experience.
Steak night is a big night. So do it right. You want to make it memorable because it was so delicious, not because you ruined dinner and ended up dining on Big Macs and Mylanta.
Thanks for your time.