Mock tender steak goes by many names – chuck fillet steak, chuck clod tender, shoulder tender, petite fillet, fish steak, chuck tender steak, tender medallions, shoulder petite tender. Most of these are misnomers, since “mock tender steak” is the very opposite of tender. It is, in fact, a very tough piece of meat.
A Steak That Can Be Tough… or Tender
Mock tender steak looks a bit like a beef tenderloin, but there the resemblance ends. Still, it’s inexpensive and full of flavor, and it’s well worth the little extra effort it takes to prepare. Look at a beef chuck/mock tender steak recipe as you would any recipe for tough meat.
The mock tender cut is part of the chuck beef section, with lots of the connective tissue and fibrous muscle that make meat tough to chew. While high heat for short periods of time can work with tender cuts of meat, this method only makes mock tender steak even tougher.
To make the steak tender before cooking it, pound it with a mallet first and marinate it in a solution with some acidic notes (citrus fruits, vinegar, wine, etc.). The acidic content will help break down muscle fibers.
Braising: Highly Recommended
The most highly recommended method of cooking either mock tender steak or mock tender roast is to braise it, which means searing it in a skillet, then simmering it in liquid until it’s cooked through. As the meat braises, its collagen breaks down in the cooking liquid, and the muscle fibers loosen up and separate.
Salt the meat and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before beginning the braising process. You can use water, broth, beer or wine as part of the braising liquid. The liquid can be given more flavor with herbs and spices and/or vegetables such as onions, carrots and celery. Just don’t over-season; remember that you can always taste-test it again.
Make sure you give yourself enough time for the collagen in the meat to melt, which could take 4 or more hours in a Dutch oven or slow cooker. If you are using a pot on top of the stove, the process should take at least 2 to 3 hours. Of course, a lot depends on the size of the cut.
Grilling or Frying a Mock Tender Steak
Grilling and frying are not generally recommended as methods of cooking mock tender steak. But if you’re willing to give it a go anyway, pound the steak for at least 5 minutes with the meat mallet and marinate it for 2 hours prior to cooking. The thinner the steak, the better.
After the meat is cooked to your liking, remove it from the heat and let it rest for 5‒10 minutes.
Always slice beef against the grain, so you can break up any recalcitrant muscle fibers along its length.
Chuck/Mock Tender Steak Nutritional Value
Besides being inexpensive and flavorful, mock tender steak also has a lot of nutrition packed into it, including riboflavin, niacin, iron, vitamins B12 and B6, iron, phosphorus, selenium and zinc.
- The Spruce Eats: What Is Mock Tender Steak? Buying, Cooking, and Recipes
- Our Everyday Life: How to Braise a Beef Mock Tender Roast
- Taste of Home: 8 Simple Ways to Make Tough Meat Tender
- The Kitchn: 6 Ways to Tenderize a Tough Cut of Meat
- Chicago Tribune: Braising refresher course: How to turn tough cuts into tender dinner
Judith Tingley is a writer, editor and multi-media artist based in Louisville, Kentucky. The many articles she has written for online publications reflect a broad range of interests, including international travel, cultural history and cookery. She loves finding adventures along the back roads of America. Judith was educated at the University of Chicago. Visit her website at heyjudetheobscure.com.