Round Steaks
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Beef Round Steaks, NAMP 1169 through NAMP 1171 D, also known as Family Steaks, Bucket Steaks are large, oblong, fairly thin, mixed muscle Steaks cut from the lower Round, which can be described as the Round Primal Cut, with the Rump Sub-Primal Cut removed.

Availability

Round Steaks are available all year long.

Production

Essentially, Round Steaks are 1 to 2 inch (25 mm to 51 mm) steak cut slices of the rear leg, most often including the rear leg Round Bone. Beef Round Steaks do not contain any portion of the Sirloin/Round Tip. Round Steak meat is dense and lean with an even grain and a relatively coarse texture.

The production of beef is carried about by three primary types of operations: Cow & Calf Operations, Weaner Calf & Yearling Operations, and Dry-Lot Feeding Operations (also known as “Backrounders”) which are the most expensive operations in the Beef Industry. To learn more about Beef Producers just follow the link to Smart Kitchen’s Page on Beef Producers. The Beef Producers are represented by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

American cattle production has remained almost stagnant between 1985 and 2009, growing just 6.4%, while the amount of beef imported has nearly tripled in that time, according to an analysis of USDA figures conducted by R-CALF USA, another the trade group that represents cattle producers.

Once raised, Beef is typically sold to Meat Packers who slaughter, inspect, and butcher the animals to provide Primal Cuts to butchers and portion cuts to consumers.

The Meat Packing Industry is in a period of consolidation. In 1999, the 10 largest beef-packing firms accounted for more than 90 percent of all Steer and Heifer slaughter in the U.S. In 2011, according to the Western Organization of Resources Councils three major companies controlled Beef market. Visit Smart Kitchen’s Meat Packers Resource Page to learn more.

Varieties

For general use, it is easiest to think of Round Steak as a bit tougher Sirloin Steak. Round Steaks are generally lean and require some care to cook perfectly with a Dry Heat Method.  When thinking specifically about a Round Steak it is important to remember that there are 3 mixed muscle groups (Inside RoundOutside Round & Eye of Round) in each steak. Each individual steak will vary in tenderness according to how high up on the steer’s leg the Steak was cut and by how much of the more tender Inside Round is contained in the steak. Inside Round has the more tender muscles, because the inside of the leg does less work than the outside of the leg, but all three muscle groups get tougher the closer they get to the heel and the ground.

A Round Steak contains the following tough muscles and potentially tender muscles: 

Round Muscles with Intermediate Toughness

Rectus Femoris = Intermediate Toughness & #8 on Smart Kitchen’s Beef Tenderness Chart.

Vastus medialis = Intermediate Toughness & #16 on Smart Kitchen’s Beef Tenderness Chart.

Semimembranosus = Intermediate Toughness & #21 on Smart Kitchen’s Beef Tenderness Chart.

Adductor  = Intermediate Toughness & #22 on Smart Kitchen’s Beef Tenderness Chart.

Round Muscles that are Tough

Biceps femoris = Tough & #23 on Smart Kitchen’s Beef Tenderness Chart.

Semitendinosus = Tough & #26 on Smart Kitchen’s Beef Tenderness Chart.

Vastus Intermedius = Tough, if it had been ranked, it would have been #29, on the Beef Tenderness Chart.

Vastus lateralis = Tough and way down on the list at #32 on Smart Kitchen’s Beef Tenderness Chart.

Purchasing

If you shop in the typical butcher shop or grocery store, you will likely not see Round Steaks or Round Roasts as a beef case staple anymore. The reason is that the meat industry is trying to reevaluate the Round and its place in their product offering. Because the Round is almost a quarter of the steer, any increases in its profitability will have an outsized impact on earnings up and down the system. 

The major initiative for the Round, is to butcher it into higher-worth, “value added” cuts instead of trying to move pounds of it through severe discounting.

When shopping for Round Steaks, look for Round Steaks that have a clear, red exterior color known as the “Bloom,” that come from exposure to oxygen and not the more normal purplish-red color of vacuum packed beef. Your purchase should be cold, firm to the touch and, if packaged, free of any punctures or rips. Notice the “sell-by” date on the label and make sure you are buying product that is well within its dates of safe use as specified by the sticker.

Storage

Raw Round Steak should last for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. Add an extra day of cold storage time if the Round Steaks are Marinated or oiled. Raw Round Steaks will keep for 2-3 months in the freezer without any appreciable deterioration in quality.

Cooked Round Steaks should be refrigerated for up to 1-3 days.

Culinary Uses

Round Steaks are a tough Portion Cut of Beef. On Smart Kitchen’s Home Plate it should be Cooked, it is Tough, it can be Thin or Thick depending on how it is cut, it is Dry, and Lean. Using the Home Plate we would call it Cooked, Tough, Thin or Thick, Dry, and Lean or noted in the home plate shorthand Round Steaks would be (C, T1T3-T4, D, L).

When cooking Round Steaks it is good to remember that meat from the round is leaner and tougher. There is very little Marbling to help Tenderize the meat if being cooked with a Dry Heat Method. Our job as Chefs during Organization, the first lever of The 4 Levers of Cooking should include giving some thought to our own Tenderizing. Will we want to employ mechanical or chemical means or the application of Low Heat over time? Which is the best choice of cooking method given our meal and our timing? 

Moist Heat Methods (BraisingStewing, etc.) are preferred for Round Steaks to break down some of the tough Connective Tissue but they take extended “tended” cooking time. Quicker Grilling or Frying, or Pan Frying methods can also be used but they will require longer preparation times to tenderize the meat with RubsMarinadesPounding (also Cubing or Swissing). Employing useful Marinades may require anywhere from 4 to 18 hours of advanced preparation and some Tempering time.

The Management of the Cooking Processes, the 3rd Lever of Smart Kitchen’s 4 Levers of Cooking™ will also be critical. Round Steaks should not be over cooked as that will toughen them further. If using a Dry Heat Method like Grilling, create at least 2 Heat Zones on your Grill (High Heat Medium Heat). Sear the Round Steak over the High Heat for 2-3 minutes a side and then move it with Tongs to the Medium Heat zone. Let the Round Steak cook in the Medium Heat Zone with the lid closed if possible. Flip the steaks at least once as you let them cook to their Desired Level of Doneness. Use the Palm Test and/or a Meat Thermometer to double check their doneness.

Portion Size

Allow 6 to 9 ounces (170 g to 255 g) per person of Round Steaks as a Serving Size.

Gluten Free

Yes

Low Fat

No

Low Calorie

No