A round or eye of round steak comes from the rear end of the cow. Because the muscles in this area get a lot of use, cuts from this section are leaner and tougher than many others. While this means a lower fat content and fewer calories than better marbled cuts, it also means fewer good cooking options. To cook a round steak in a skillet, you need wet heat, such as from braising. With this method, you can turn an economical beef cut into a delicious steak.
Pat the round steak dry thoroughly with paper towels for an effective sear. Season the meat liberally with salt and pepper, as well as any other herbs and spices. Give it some kick with Cajun seasoning mix or cayenne powder, or add a dried herb like thyme, rosemary or tarragon.
Put a large cast-iron, stainless steel or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat for several minutes. Add a heavy coating of canola or other cooking oil, swirl it around and let it become shimmering hot.
Place the round steak in the skillet and sear one side for about two minutes, letting it develop a crust. Turn it with tongs and sear the second side the same way, then remove the beef from the pan.
Pour red wine, beer, beef stock, chicken stock, vegetable stock or another braising liquid into the skillet. Use about 2 cups, or enough to come approximately halfway up the sides of the round steak when you put it back in. Deglaze the pan by scraping up all the caramelized stuff stuck to the bottom and sides from searing the steak with a spatula or cooking spoon. This adds significant flavor to the braising liquid.
Add aromatics, herbs and spices into the pan, if you wish. Mirepoix, a mixture of chopped carrots, onion and celery, is a standard inclusion when braising. You could also add seasonings used on the meat before searing it, garlic or garlic powder, soy sauce for saltiness, brown sugar for sweetness, chopped chili pepper for heat or some vegetables like green beans or chopped potato.
Return the round steak to the skillet and bring the braising liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to low to simmer and put a lid over the pan. Stir and turn the meat every 15 minutes or so to promote even cooking and prevent burning. Cook for about 45 to 60 minutes, until the beef is fork-tender.
Things You'll Need
Salt and pepper
Additional seasonings and flavorings (optional)
Cast-iron or other skillet with lid
Canola or other cooking oil
Red wine or other braising liquid
Spatula or cooking spoon
Cook steak to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have an ovenproof skillet, you can also braise the round steak in it in the oven at 325 F. This reduces the risk of burning and requires only one turn of the meat halfway through. With the indirect heat, it takes more like 90 minutes this way, though. Transfer the skillet to the oven once you've deglazed, added the braising liquid and other ingredients and brought it to a boil.
Refrigerate round steak to keep it below 40 F and cook or freeze it within three to five days of purchase. Do not leave beef out at room temperature for more than two hours.