As mentioned in the previous post, whereas my breakfasts and lunches have evoked thoughts of “Yeah, I’m glad I ate that!” my dinners have instead inspired dread and thoughts of “Ugh, I can’t believe I’m eating/ate this…” I was under the impression that there was a problem with steak in general for my dinners. However, it turns out that it was me who was doing a lot wrong.
The Cut of Meat Matters
The Zero Carbers who just sear both sides of a steak briefly and then happily eat are doing so with nice, tender cuts of meat. The two types that most commonly pop up in their diets are: ribeye steaks and sirloin strip steaks. When I first saw those at the store, I laughed and moved on because they were over $10/lb. I turned to the much more reasonably priced chuck eye and chuck ribs and short ribs, thinking they couldn’t be that different. My naive assumption was that “steak is steak”.
Wow, that is so far from the truth! Different cuts of meat make very different steaks. Though the cuts I picked up were cheaper in price, they still came at a high cost. By their very nature, they are tough and chewy, which is exactly what I’ve hated about my steak dinners. For more on the different cuts of meats and their toughness, I recommend this article I found while researching (…which is what I should’ve done more carefully before ever buying meat in the first place…):
Different Cooking Methods for Different Cuts
So, if pan searing is a poor choice of approach for tough cuts of beef, what is a better one? Braising. For a detailed guide on that approach, I recommend this article:
But it’s ultimately very simple. My approach has been:
- Stick the piece of meat in a frying pan
- Fill the pan with water such that the water level rises to half the meat’s height
- Place a lid on the pan
- Turn on the heat until it boils
- Turn down the heat
- Gauge the meat’s doneness based on look or by poking it with a fork
(Note: I also tenderize the meat beforehand with a meat tenderizer. I don’t know if this step is necessary or not, but it’s been rather cathartic to smash the toughness out of these cuts of beef.)
Doing this has made these tough cuts SO much better. I cannot stress enough how much better braising has made these meals. They are softer. They are quicker to eat. I rarely run into impossibly chewy gristle. Problem solved and dinner improved!
I wish I had known all of this sooner. This trial would have been a lot more enjoyable. So, if you ever want to embark on a Zero Carb diet with tough, cheap cuts of meat, smash them and braise them. Your teeth, tongue, stomach, brain, and soul will thank you for it.
B- 2 fried eggs in butter
L- My standard 6.5 oz of 80/20 ground beef, 2 scrambled eggs, and 1 oz of Monterey Jack cheese
D- Swai fish fillet in butter
B- 3 fried eggs in leftover sliced side pork grease (which didn’t taste as good as butter)
D- 2 braised country style chuck ribs. So much better!