The Tastiest Ways To Use A Top Round Steak

Top round is a very common, yet largely unheralded cut of beef. It comes from the round, a hindquarter primal beef cut comprising the cow's upper rear legs. Top round is also known as "inside round" because it is composed of muscles located on the inner part of the leg. You may also have heard of bottom round and eye of round, which are located adjacent to the top round. Something that all three of these cuts have in common is that they rank among the leanest cuts of steak, having very little fat. Despite this, the top round boasts a rich, beefy flavor, giving you some of the best bang for your buck amongst all steak cuts.

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The trouble with lean cuts of beef is that they can become very tough and dry when you cook them, and top round is no exception. For this reason, top round is often prepared as a roast for slow cooking, and it is one of the best roast beef cuts you can buy. But when you cut a top round roast into steaks, things get trickier. We typically don't associate slow-cooking methods with steaks, but for top round steaks, there is an underutilized steak preparation that can make it tender while adding a whole new level of flavor.

Use top round to make swiss steak

You may not have heard of swiss steak, but back in the mid-20th century, it was quite a popular dish, and it's a little unclear why it hasn't stayed that way, considering how well it elevates cheaper cuts of steak. The name "swiss steak" can cause confusion because the dish doesn't have anything to do with Switzerland. In actuality, the name refers to "swissing," the technique of tenderizing meat by pounding it with the spiky side of a meat mallet. Those spikes tear through the tough muscle fibers in the meat, tenderizing it. You'll sometimes find meat that's been prepared like this under the name "cube steak" at the grocery store.

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To make swiss steak, you start with a swissed steak (who could have guessed?), but instead of cooking it quickly over high heat like you would with any other kind of steak, you braise it. Braising is when you slowly cook meat in simmering liquid, and in this case, the swissed steak is cooked in a rich tomato and onion sauce. In doing so, the dish combines two effective methods of tenderization — swissing and braising — making it perfect for tough cuts. That's why swiss steak recipes typically call for top round or other cuts from the beef round primal.

Tenderize top round with a marinade

You can also cook top round steaks over high heat, using a cast iron pan or grill as you would with other cuts of steak. These methods will get a nice sear on the meat, so anyone who craves a flavorful, charred crust on their steak will want to go this route. The trouble here is that high heat cooking methods aren't friendly to lean cuts like bottom round, and can easily lead to tough, stringy steaks. To overcome this obstacle and find success on the grill, you'll need to marinate top round steaks.

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For the most effective marinade, add an acidic ingredient like red wine vinegar to help break down the tough muscle fibers. You'll want to marinate the meat for around four to six hours at least to really get it tender. Then, you can grill it up like you would any other steak, but be sure not to cook it beyond medium rare, as it will become too tough after that. Lastly, slice your steaks as thinly as possible so that your teeth don't have to work too hard. With a little finesse, it's possible to get monumental flavor out of top round steaks — you just have to treat this underappreciated cut with care.

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