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How to Make Chuck Steak Tender and Tasty

Phyllis loves to share recipes from her "Down Home Recipes Box," which has recipes handed down from three or more generations ago.

American cuts of beef—chuck

American cuts of beef—chuck

Long, Slow Cooking for Tenderness

Chuck steak has a very good flavor, but it can be tough and hard to chew if not cooked properly. It is one of the more economical cuts of beef. Many people will avoid buying it because of the amount of fat and gristle in it—yet this is what makes this cut of beef so flavorful.

The cut comes from the shoulder and neck area of beef. I have found the best way ever to make the steak so tender and tasty that everyone will praise you as the best cook around. Baking while steaming seems to be the trick.

Years ago, this cut of beef was called "seven bone steak." My mother used this cut to make her delicious pot roast. She added water to about an inch from the top of the meat and kept it at that level throughout the cooking process. The juices from the meat made a wonderful broth. About 30 minutes before the meat was done, Mom added sliced carrots to the broth.

When the carrots and meat were done, she removed all the broth to a large cast iron skillet and made a dark, rich gravy which was poured back into the roasting pan. Then she added one or two cans of peas. This wonderful dish was served with mashed potatoes. When Dad served up each of the nine plates at supper, he made sure everyone got lots of gravy on our potatoes. We had to wait till everyone was served and prayers were said before we could eat. By that time, our mouths were watering and we were starving—so we did justice to Mom's delicious supper.

Sometimes Mom would make it a little easier on herself and make the pot roast "Yankee style" by adding the potatoes to the roasting pot. I like to use a slow cooker to make this meal.

Yankee-style pot roast in a slow cooker

Yankee-style pot roast in a slow cooker

My Version of Pot Roast

Mom's pot roast supper was excellent and I still make it once in a while. My version of pot roast is quite different and also an excellent, tasty supper for hungry folks.

This recipe will serve four to six people, depending on how hungry they are. I have a large extended family; when we are all together, this dish is a great choice to save on costs and time. When more than six will be coming for dinner, I make two pans of this recipe and bake them side by side. Cooking time, of course, will be a little longer. The wonderful thing about this dish is that the longer it bakes sealed up, the more tender it will be.

Tip for Adding Meat Texture to Recipe

If you are concerned there might not be enough meat in your recipe for everyone, here is a good tip. Add some bite-sized pieces of portobello mushrooms. These mushrooms are darker in color than the common white mushrooms and have a meaty texture and taste. I have a large family and sometimes have saved on meat costs by using the portobello mushroom—and it is delicious.

Portobello mushrooms are often used as a meat substitute.

Portobello mushrooms are often used as a meat substitute.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

30 min

2 hours

2 hours 30 min

3 or 4 chuck steaks (serves 6)


  • 2 pounds chuck steak, 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick
  • 1/2 pound white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 envelope dry onion soup mix
  • 1 cup baby carrots, peeled
  • 1 small green bell pepper, sliced and seeded
  • 1 can (1-pound size) stewed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon steak sauce
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons margarine
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Garlic powder, to taste


  1. Line the baking dish with enough foil to fold back over the meat and seal tightly. Place margarine in center of foil and spread around.
  2. Drain and chop tomatoes—save the juice and set aside. Cut the steaks into smaller serving size pieces and rub with seasonings. Arrange steaks in slightly overlapping layer.
  3. Mix steak sauce with the tomato juice and cornstarch. Sprinkle all other ingredients over steak then pour juice over all. Fold the foil over and seal tightly so no steam will escape.
  4. Bake at 375 degrees for at least 2 hours. I have sometimes doubled this recipe. When doing so, I bake it for at least 4 hours. Remove from oven and let rest while preparing mashed potatoes or rice.
  5. When ready to serve, carefully peel back foil and roll it down. The steam will escape and will be very hot, so be careful not to burn yourself. Burns from steam can be very painful.
  6. Place dish on bread board or hot pads on table and watch those steaks disappear. Serve with warm dinner rolls or garlic bread to soak up the juices. This is a really great supper for chilly winter evenings.

First Attempt With This Recipe

My first attempt with this recipe produced a surprisingly amazing and delicious result.

After moving back to the Pacific Northwest from California, we stayed with one of my brothers and his wife till I had found a job and was able to support my daughter and myself. I had recently moved into my own place, a darling two bedroom duplex, which was perfect for just the two of us.

My brother's birthday was coming up and I wanted to do something special for him, though I had little money. I thought about just having potato salad and barbecued burgers or hot dogs, so, went shopping with that in mind.

At the store, I went to the fresh meats department first. I had decided to just get ground beef and barbecue up some burgers. I saw that the chuck steaks were on sale and it was a good price. They were large and I thought if I got six, I could cut them in half and serve them with baked potatoes, salad and garlic bread. The only problem was that I knew chuck steak could be pretty tough and hard to chew.

As I stood there looking at them, the clerk behind the counter came over to serve me. I asked him to pick out the best six and largest steaks for me. I also asked him if there was a way to make them more tender when I cooked them. He told me the recipe his wife used and I wrote down the ingredients. I already had most of the ingredients at home. All I had to buy was the canned tomatoes and heavy duty aluminum foil.

I followed the recipe the meat man gave me and was amazed at the results, so was everyone else. I had made mashed potatoes to go with the meat platter and every bit of that dinner was gone in no time.

© 2010 Phyllis Doyle Burns