Round steak comes from the hindquarter of the steer, a part of the animal that gets a lot of use. This makes round steak lean, with little marbling or fat to tenderize it during dry cooking. Consequently, round steaks benefit from moist cooking methods such as braising and stewing, which involve slowly cooking the meat at a low temperature. This breaks down the collagen, leaving the meat moist and tender. Round steaks can be grilled or fried, but they will be tough and chewy unless you tenderize them with a marinade or break the meat fiber down by cubing it or pounding it with a meat mallet.
Preparation and Handling
Pound both sides of the steak for several minutes, using a meat mallet to tenderize it. If you don’t have a meat mallet, use the edge of a sturdy plate. Rub salt and pepper into the steak.
Marinate the steak in a tenderizing liquid for 4 to 18 hours in the refrigerator, if you are going to use a dry cooking method such as grilling or frying. Use a marinade that tenderizes the steak, such as vinegar, lime or lemon juice, whiskey, wine, beer, salsa and tomato sauce. Place the steak in a sealable bag along with the spices and marinade. Put the bag in the refrigerator. Every few hours, move the meat around in the bag to make sure the marinade gets to all portions of the steak.
Remove the steak from the refrigerator 20 minutes before cooking. Pat the steak dry with paper towels. Rub oil on both sides.
Dredge the steak in flour, if you are going to cook it in the slow cooker or braise or stew it. Braising and stewing involves cooking the steak in a sauce or liquid. The flour thickens the sauce as it cooks.
Sear both sides of the round steak in a skillet over a high heat, unless you plan on grilling the steak. Searing creates a rich, flavorful crust. Heat a skillet over a medium-high heat until it is hot enough to cause a drop of water to sizzle. Don’t use a nonstick skillet. Spread 1 tbsp. of oil in the skillet and heat it until it begins to separate into droplets. Place the steak in the pan and sear it for two to three minutes per side, flipping it using tongs.
Turn down the heat to medium and continue to fry the steak, if you want to pan fry it. Fry it for an additional two to seven minutes per side, depending on your desired doneness.
Cook the steak in a slow cooker. Place the browned round steak, dry spices and broth or other flavored liquid, such as tomatoes, beer or wine into the slow cooker. Cover it tightly and cook on high for five to six hours or on low for seven to eight hours.
Grill marinated round steak. Arrange the coals in your charcoal grill so you have a hot area and a medium hot area. Sear both sides of the steak for two or three minutes over the hot area, and then move the steak, using tongs, to the medium hot area. Cook with the lid closed, flipping the steak at least once, until it is the desired level of doneness. For gas grills, sear both sides over high heat, then turn the heat down to medium. Close the lid and cook to your desired doneness.