Chuck Steak Can Be Incredible For Grilling, But There's A Catch

From brisket to shank and short plate, there isn't one of the eight primal cuts of beef that we don't enjoy. Whether you're preparing a slow-cooker pot roast or smoking a rack of ribs, there's a cut of beef perfect for any meat-eating occasion. One fan-favorite cut is the beefy and full-flavored chuck steak. But because it's sourced from the cow's well-exercised shoulder and lower neck and features a significant amount of connective tissue, chuck steak can be tough to chew. 

Because of this, chuck steak is often reserved for stews and other low-and-slow-cooked dishes that soften and tenderize the tough bits over time. However, with a thoughtfully crafted marinade, you can throw a chuck steak on the grill and enjoy a succulent, melt-in-your-mouth steak that pulls right apart.

Marinades with acidic ingredients soften chuck steak by breaking down proteins and gristly muscle fibers. As these elements lose their structure, the marinade's flavors can enter those soft spaces and season the steak from the inside. Soft, succulent, and teeming with your favorite flavors — don't miss out on the joys of a grilled chuck steak with a smoky finish just because you're conditioned to slow-cooking it. The right marinade is all you need.

Jazzing up chuck steak marinade

At its simplest, a meat marinade consists of acid, oil, and salt. Although a basic marinade will tenderize almost any cut of beef, infusing your marinade with bold flavors will elevate your grilled chuck steak experience. 

Acidity is a key component of a well-made marinade for chuck steak. Lemon or lime juice are classic options, or you can shake things up with the tropical tang of pineapple juice, the bittersweet bite of grapefruit juice, or the umami-forward punch of tomato juice. For something straightforward, distilled white vinegar does the trick, but apple cider vinegar provides a subtle kiss of sweetness. You can always ditch fruit juice and vinegar and use your favorite red wine in your chuck steak marinade. 

When it comes to flavor enhancers, a splash of Worcestershire sauce bolsters the deep, savory flavors of beef. Crank up the umami by pairing Worcestershire sauce with miso paste – and don't forget fresh garlic for added umami satisfaction. Brown sugar or maple syrup can balance a marinade's savory and acidic elements by imbuing each bite of chuck steak with gentle whispers of caramelized sweetness.

Accent the primary flavor with chopped rosemary and thyme for a fragrant herbal infusion that lifts the meaty machismo of the beef. Feeling spicy? Throw in some red pepper flakes and fresh jalapenos to develop layers of heat. Don't forget oil and salt! But don't overthink it — olive oil and your go-to salt work just fine.

Tips for preparing a chuck steak marinade

Creating a marinade for a chuck steak is as easy as dumping ingredients into a container and soaking your steak in it. However, even simple kitchen procedures come with guidelines, so let's keep a few tips in mind to maximize your chuck steak-eating experience.

For starters, don't marinate your chuck steak in a metal container. The acidity in the marinade mixture can react with metals like aluminum, copper, or cast iron, and leach into the marinade, resulting in metallic flavors and discolored meat. Instead, use large zipper-top bags or glass or plastic containers, and always store the marinade in the fridge.

Although they're key components to a marinade, too much salt and acid can dry out your chuck steak and render the flavors imbalanced. You only need about two tablespoons of salt in a marinade, and the acid shouldn't make up more than a quarter of the mixture. The meat-to-marinade ratio is essential for ensuring the flavors penetrate the meat evenly and the liquid fully covers the meat. For every pound of meat, there should be ½ cup of marinade. You should let your chuck roast soak for at least three hours,in the refrigerator; overnight is ideal for maximizing the flavor of your grilled meat.

A marinated grilled chuck steak is just one of many impressive dinner party dishes that will leave your guests swooning and your tastebuds dancing. Be warned — you might not have any leftovers once you taste this juicy, smoldering steak.