The Blade Steak, or ‘Chicken Steak’, Is the Best Value Cut of Beef You Can Find Right Now

A blade steak is as tender and flavorful as more expensive cuts but costs half as much.

<p>Vladimir Mironov / Getty Images</p>

Vladimir Mironov / Getty Images

Chances are you’ve seen your grocery bills creeping up substantially over the past few years. This may be fueled by your new-found expensive cheese habit, or the hoards of avocados and berries that always make it into your cart, but if you’re a meat-eater, then you’ve definitely seen the rise in beef prices as well. Expensive cuts, like tenderloin, filet mignon, and rib eye, have justifiably become more costly as the cost for producing beef rises as well. These prime cuts are tender and buttery with just a quick sear on the grill or in a pan, and therefore, the most coveted by steakhouses and beef aficionados. Several cuts that were deemed budget-friendly a few years ago, such as skirt and flank steak, have also seen their fame translate to increased prices. But there’s a cut that we’ve started seeing in stores that’s only well-known to butchers and a few chefs, and when prepared correctly, it’s an incredibly tender piece of meat for the price.

Introducing the blade steak, or as some fellow F&W staffers have seen it called at the butcher, the “chicken steak.” Read on to learn why this is a cut worth picking up.

Related: How to Talk About Beef Like an Expert

What is blade steak?

The blade steak comes from the shoulder region of the cow located just below the neck and above the front legs known as the chuck. You’ve most likely seen ground chuck, short ribs, and roasts which all come from the chuck too, but the shoulder top blade also comes from this region. The whole cut is known as a top blade and it has a line of connective tissue that runs down the center, which is often used as the guide for cutting the meat into two pieces of flat iron steak. If the top blade is cut into cross-sections with the connective tissue in the center, you now have a blade steak. The flat iron steak has gained popularity in steakhouses and fine-dining restaurants as an inexpensive but marbled and tender meat. The top blade steak is the same tender meat but has to be prepared differently to account for the connective tissue.

<p>idimair / Getty Images</p>

idimair / Getty Images

The best way to cook blade steak

Because the top blade steak still has the connective tissue that runs through the center of the steak, this cut is not ideal for grilling. The connective tissue causes the meat to be tough and chewy, especially when cooked quickly. The best way to cook a blade steak is by braising or slow-cooking it until the connective tissue softens, such as in Stracotto di Fassona Piemontese (Piedmont Braised Beef) or in this Braised Beef Pot Pie. Or you can remove the connective tissue and slice up the meat for a beef stir-fry or stroganoff.

Related: A Guide to Steak Doneness

Where to find blade steak

If you’re lucky enough to live near a butcher shop, head there first and ask for blade steaks. At the grocery store, blade steaks may be labeled as boneless top chuck steak, top blade steak, shoulder top blade steak, or top boneless chuck steak. Or you may even see it labeled as a chicken steak, which is different from Chicken-Fried Steak, (but no one, including several butchers I asked, could tell me why). Either way, it’s delicious and the best bet for a less-expensive quick-cooking tender meat as delicious as a flank or skirt steak without the steep price tag.

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