Making a perfect steak is not something that you can pull off easily. In the majority of cases, it leaves you unsatisfied regardless of the outcome. One way to avoid this headache is to know what steaks have the most connective tissue. Because those are the ones that you need to avoid to prepare a perfect steak. So, let’s look at some of the steaks with the most connective tissue.
The steaks consisting of the most connective tissue happen to be the ones around the chuck area. Other than that, you can also go for the tri-tip or the round cuts. The London broil and the flank steaks also have a reputation for having a lot of connective tissue. So, these are the ones you might want to keep an eye on.
But there’s a lot more to know than just learning the number of connective tissues on a steak. While understanding this will make your cooking procedure much easier, you should also know how to cook these slices so that they are as tender as possible. Because, at the end of the day, if you can’t find any tender cuts, you’ll have to work with the tougher ones.
Steaks With The Most Connective Tissue
Steaks with the most connective tissues tend to be rubbery and chewy; making them more difficult to cook. As mentioned earlier, flank cuts and chuck areas are some to name a few, when considering the ones with the most connective tissues. These cuts tend to have multiple muscles which mean that they have a greater number of connective tissues.
The chuck area is the cow’s shoulder. It’s the entire shoulder region that is linked to the legs. This part is very important because if this region is linked to the cow’s legs, it means that it gets a lot of exercise when the cow is walking or just moving around.
This relates to the muscles being tough. So, the chances of this cut being tender is highly unlikely. Because, more muscles equate to more connective tissues which leads to a tougher, rubbery, and more chewy steak.
As for cooking, roasting or slow cooking works well with the chuck. You will get a very flavorful taste from the meat if you cook it long enough. But the meat will still be quite tough to eat.
The tri-tip or the sirloin cut is the part between the loin and the hind leg. So, you can already guess that it’s not one of the more tender cuts of meat. There are a lot of muscles in this steak which means more connective tissues to deal with.
Nevertheless, these cuts are great for cooking medium-rare steaks. But if you don’t cook it properly, you’ll only end up with a rubbery piece of meat.
The round cuts are essentially the hind legs of the cow. Now, this part of the cow gets the most exercise compared to the rest of the cuts. So, the muscles surrounding the hind leg will be tougher and have more connective tissues, which will make it tough and chewy.
But that doesn’t mean that this steak is not worth cooking at all. Just like the tri-tip, the round cuts are best for slow cooking in stews. When you cut this area into steaks, make sure that you’re marinating it properly. The marinade will soak into the meat and help the meat get more tender.
And if you’re just thinking of roasting it, then you’ll be able to enjoy amazing pulled beef as the slow-cooked roast will give out a delicious aroma.
Despite being thin, flanks have a strong muscle that runs through the middle of the meat. They may not be as tender as you’d like them to be but they are extremely flavorful.
If you marinate and then leave them out for a while, you’ll be able to prepare succulent pan-fried steaks cooked to medium-rare. Just slice them up thinly and serve them to friends and families. They’re great for braising and you can also use the meat for your hot and spicy Mexican tacos or fajitas.
When compared with the rest, the ribeye has the least number of connective tissues. This makes the cut more tender and easier to cook. The reason that this cut even made it to this list is that it does have an essential muscle-bound area. But that’s in the mid-section of the cow and so gets the least amount of exercise or any work done.
As a result, it gets used less and has less connective tissue. You can quickly grill these tender cuts to medium rare but be mindful not to overcook them, which is a mistake many make as the meat is quite lean and tender.
How To Break Down The Connective Tissue In Steaks?
There are plenty of ways to break down the connective tissue and tenderize your steak. If you take the oldest route, just get that mallet and start hammering your steak until it’s tender right up to the core. Other than that, there are various chemical methods and even cooking techniques that will surely break down the steak’s connective tissues.
Use A Mallet
Using a mallet is a great way to beat your steak into submission. As hilarious as it sounds, the facts are right in front of you. When you pound your steak with a mallet, you're breaking it down into tiny pieces. It means that you’re essentially dissolving the connective tissues along the way.
This is one of the oldest methods in the books and has been used for centuries. So don’t shy away from tenderizing your steak. Get that mallet and beat your steak down, as if it owes you money!
Bring Out The Chemicals
By chemicals, I’m not talking about anything artificial. Natural ingredients such as lemon juice and red wine are great for breaking down the tough tissues inside the steaks. And what’s great is that you also use these chemicals in the marination process.
So, once you marinate your steak with lemon and wine, just let it sit for a while so that the enzymes can get to work and break down the tough tissues.
Apart from wine and lemon juice, numerous fruits also have a similar effect on the breakdown of the steak’s connective tissue. You can go with a kiwi or a pineapple. Cut them up and leave them with the steak or use it in the marination. The acids in them will help to break down the connective tissues in the steak.
Slow It Down
If you want to cook your steak at a high temperature for a short period, you’ll just end up burning your precious cut. Needless to say, steaks with the most connective tissues require a slow cook process with low temperature.
The process is quite simple. The slow heat will enter the steak and break down the collagen, otherwise known as the connective tissue, and turn it into gelatin. Now, if you’ve ever worked with gelatin, you will know that it’s very soft and flavorful. So, this works perfectly when you’re working with tough cuts of beef which tend to have more connective tissue.
But don’t go slow-cooking a tender steak. This will just ruin the cut and overcook the whole thing. If you get a tender ribeye, just cook it rapidly at a high temperature.
What Temperature Will Cause Connective Tissue To Break?
Your steak’s connective tissue will start breaking at 71 degrees Celsius. But it won’t just melt away. The collagen (connective tissue) will just turn into gelatin. This liquid gelatin will give the steak tenderness and a mouth-watering flavor.
But the tissue just doesn’t break away immediately. The temperature needs to reach 49 degrees Celsius for the conversion to start. And once that takes place, your steak will turn pinkish and give out a delightful aroma.
But that’s not enough to take it out of the heat. Well, not just yet. At 60 degrees Celsius, the most essential breakdown and denaturing process begin. From light pink to brownish-grey, the color of the steak will start to change from here. This is what you call a medium-rare steak.
But to cook it to perfection, you need to turn it up a notch and take your steak up to 71 degrees Celsius. This is when the collective tissues will start dissolving and turning into liquid gelatin. By 82 degrees Celsius, all of the collagen (connective tissue) will be dissolved and the cooking process will finally come to an end.
You have now successfully changed the molecular level of the connective tissues by applying heat to them. So, the next thing to do would be to take it out of the heat, cut it up finely, and serve it to your friends and families. And that’s how you cook a steak!
Note: It's better to get rid of as much of the connective tissue as possible before actually cooking the meat. Sure, you can use the various methods mentioned here to make it more palatable. But bottom line is, nobody likes chewing on connective tissue. So, try to get rid of it as much as you can before cooking.
Well, that’s it for the most part. Now that you have a clearer vision of what steaks have the most connective tissue, you’ll make more informed choices regarding your beef cuts. The whole process starting from the identification up to the cooking may not be a piece of cake, but it’s certainly not rocket science.
I hope this article was able to help in identifying the steaks with the most connective tissues. Thank you for giving it a read.