Steak ain’t cheap. For me, it’s a splurge purchase, even when I buy the budget cuts. These high-end proteins are a treat, which is why you’re struck with a special kind of anguish when you overcook the stuff. Once steak gets to the rubbery stage, chewing it becomes a chore, and much of that sought after juicy, beefy flavor is gone. It’s enough to make you cry, or just chuck the whole thing and pretend you never had that $30 to begin with. The damage might be irreparable, but all isn’t lost. Overcooked steak can be repurposed and transformed into something delicious.
Slice it for cheesesteak
This works best for overcooked large cuts (it’s difficult to cut up small cubes). Slice the steak as thinly as possible, against the grain, and at a severe angle. This will help the fibers break up easier, giving the illusion of tenderness when you bite into a piece. Have your hoagie sliced and ready. Add the sliced steak to a hot pan. Put some easy melting cheese slices over the top, I suggest American or Cheez Whiz. Add a tablespoon of water and put a lid over the pan. The steam will keep the meat from drying out and encourage the cheese to melt quickly. After a minute or so you can scoop the cheesy steak filling onto your roll, and enjoy a satisfying steak sandwich.
Make a stir-fry
Slicing thinly, as detailed above, is going to be a big help in making large hunks of tough meat into something more tender. Slice the steak against the grain, but maybe a little thicker than you would for the cheesesteak. Depending on how thick the cut was, you can cut the slices again lengthwise to get skinnier strips. Cook the eggs, veggies, seasonings, rice or noodles as usual. Since the meat is already cooked, you can wait until the very end to toss in the meat. Alternatively, if your meat is bone dry and flavourless, add it during the stage when you add sauces and seasonings, and give them a swirl. The meat can heat up with the sauces and pick up a great deal of flavour. Then add the rice or noodles.
Chop it for a terrine
If you need something impressive, just grab a sharp knife and a loaf pan. You can use that steak to make a fine terrine. Terrines can be made with a variety of meats, straight vegetables, or a mixture. Sometimes they’re set by packing them tightly and baking, while others are served cold, using pre-cooked ingredients that get set with a gelatin-stabilised broth. In this case, with your steak already cooked, try the latter. Try this recipe from Delicious Magazine and replace the ham measurements with your chopped steak.
Thin slice for a cold sandwich
There’s nothing wrong, and everything right about a roast beef sandwich with horseradish, red onions, and tomato. So your roast beef is actually grilled beef, and maybe it’s skirt instead of top round—it will still taste god on a sandwich. Slice the steak into the thinnest shavings you can manage and pile it high on a kaiser roll. To get super thin cuts without a meat slicer, semi-freeze your meat. Just pop it in the freezer for about 20 minutes to firm it up. Use a sharp knife or a mandoline slicer, and slice at an angle. Add all of the fixin’s, and you’ll forget all about how you forgot all about the steak you were grilling.
Chip steak for gravy and biscuits
For a breakfast that’ll stick to your ribs, use the overcooked meat for a thick gravy. Break apart the meat into small “chips” or pieces. Slice the meat across the grain and then you can either break it apart with your fingers, or roughly chop in the other direction. The goal is to get small meat bits; they don’t have to be perfect. Make a white gravy. Start with a roux and whisk in milk for a thick sauce. Add the beef chips and season with salt, pepper, and a little cayenne. Pour this hearty gravy over fresh biscuits and top with a couple eggs over-easy.
Make dumplings, empanadas, pasties, or pierogies
Dumplings are the answer to so many of the worlds problems. Pack a flavorsome filling into a doughy parcel, cook and eat with good company. Overcooked steak will make a damn good backbone for your filling. Since the filling should be able to fit into the dough pocket, you’ll want to chop up the beef somewhat finely. I suggest running a knife through the sliced steak a few times, like you would for the beef gravy above, or using a food processor. Roughly chop the beef and add it to the food processor. Pulse three or four times. Don’t run it continuously, you probably don’t want to have a fine meat paste. Mix the beef bits with the appropriate ingredients to match your dumpling, like cabbage, fish sauce, and ginger for steamed dumpling, or potatoes, peas, and carrots for pasties.
If you’re married to the idea of eating your steak and you refuse to repurpose it, you can potentially save the beef with a board sauce. This sauce that you apply straight to your cutting board will add flavour and a bit of hydration to your steak. Whisk up olive oil, garlic and herbs, and pour it on the cutting board. Place the steak directly on top and slice the meat. The meat’s juices will release into the dressing, and you can toss the meat around in the sauce to get it well-coated. Arrange it on a serving plate and scrape the board sauce over the sliced meat to serve.
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