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Cheap Eats - Cube Steak

Tonight I made myself a steak sandwich for dinner. As I do often for steak sandwiches, when money is tight, I bought a cube steak. I love it because of the quick cooking time and how it absorbs seasoning so perfectly. But here's the best part

5 oz cube steak - $1.75
1 vine ripened tomato - $0.60
Shredded lettuce - $0.20
Grilled onion slices - $0.30
1/2 avocado sliced - $0.80
1/2 loaf Bastone $1.00
Total - $4.65 (not including the spices, mayo and sriracha I already had

Seasoned steak with salt, pepper, garlic, smoked paprika and cumin
Cooked about a 45 seconds per side.
Mayo and Sriracha on bread
Sliced steak into 1/4 strips

Surprisingly, this was more than enough for two sandwiches and at a total of less than $5 for two meals. Definitely worth it. And the steak was perfect. Just to put in perspective. A local steak sandwich place near me charges $8 for this on a half baguette, no veggies other than onions.

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  1. We buy cube steak very often and have been eating this since well I was a kid. It is tender tastey and fast. I do not have time through the week to cook elaborate meals so it is a standard at my house.and I like the price. Your sandwich sounds very good.

    1. I have a cube steak preparation in my recipe lineup. It hasn't worked out for my menu planning yet but I can't wait until it does.

      1. My Grandmother made a killer cube steak sandwich, I'll have to pick some up and see if I can replicate it. Good memories. :)

        (Wow! Are avocados always so expensive on the east coast?)

        1 Reply
        1. re: weezieduzzit

          The avocados were on sale...haha. 40 cents off that day

        2. I in Texas. Chicken fried steak and chicken fried steak sandwiches are a bit of a tradition here.

          However, i have recently been using boneless pork chops as an alternative because it is cheaper and more tender than cube steak. At my grocery store, pork is never very far below $4.00 per pound.

          On sale, I can get pork loin for $1.99 per pound and pork tenderloin for $2.97 per pound. Consequently, I don't eat my beloved cube steak very often.

          11 Replies
          1. re: Hank Hanover

            My Dad lent me an old newspaper today, pork loin in 1967 was 49 cents a pound!

            1. re: Hank Hanover

              I know a lot of people like to make fried steak with better cuts, but I always use cube steak. I must admit, I don't have a recipe for country gravy, but it's still good

              1. re: jhopp217

                I'd be happy to give you a recipe, jhopp217: if you want to join the ranks of "those in the know." :)

                1. re: mamachef

                  Don't play hard to get, mama. Please share! :)
                  To be honest, being up in Canada, my grwavy has always been brown and meat-based. While I've head of it, I have no idea what white/country gravy actually is. I'd be happy to get a copy of a confirm-tasty family recipe to try.

                  1. re: mamachef

                    Do tell. I must admit, the last time I used a regular Knorr's turkey gravy and added a ton of pepper, but it wasn't the same. I do know McCormick's makes a country gravy, but never tried it.

                    I'd much rather a homemade gravy anyway

                    1. re: jhopp217

                      Hey, no problem! So, there are a few different ways to go about this. The proportions for all are the same, and the general method. The first isn't my favorite, but it's historically accurate as a classic Depression-era gravy: Just dice or slice a large onion, saute in 1/4 c. oil, bacon drippings or butter, seasoning w/ salt and pepper; remove onion but retain grease in pan. Add 1/4 c. flour to skillet and incorporate flour into grease. Stirring constantly, let the roux bubble 2-3 minute; and gradually whisk in 2 1/2-3 milk (or cream or a combo of both )until incorporated and thick. Stir 'til smooth and bubbling; re-add onion to pan,season again, and use plenty of pepper. The second is to use the grease that you cooked your (presumably CF) steak in, in the way described above. Make sure in any of these cases that you get all the fond and nice browned crunchy bits into the mix - before you add flour to pan, give it a good scrape, and you're golden. The third is a huge favorite - but it's a more a main entree, usually served at breakfast. Brown 1 lb. sausage of your choice (though I wouldn't recommend Italian for this. You'd be suprised at how amazing maple sausage tastes w/ this, though sage sausage is equally delicious.) Crumble well; set aside. Measure 1/4 c. drippings; re-add to pan, scraping up all that wonderful jetsam in the pan, and when hot add flour, whisking as above the entire time. Add your milk and seasonings; EASY on the salt as, w/ the sausage it may not need additional, and cook 'til smooth, hot and bubbly. Now re-add your sausage, and give it all a good stir. Serve over biscuits, eggs, potatoes, rice, toast....what have you. OMG. Makes me happy just to think about it.
                      Ok: so a few things to consider: always cook the roux well w/o browning. If you leave it too raw, it will impart a grainy, floury texture to the finished product, which is definiteley NOT what you want. Just keep the heat medium/med. low if neccessary, and give it that 2-3 minutes. It should JUST be beginning to smell a little toasty and maybe take on a light color, but not much at all for these sorts of gravies. If this seems too thick, you can always thin w/ more milk (cream), - if it seems too thin, you can make a fast flour slurry to tighten it up: 1 T. flour dissolved in 1/4 c. liquid (put in jar and shake hard; add to mixture in pan and give the whole saucepan an extra 3-4 minutes.) And finally, if it seems too rich to you, you can lighten it up by using a cup of broth or stock as part of the required liquid. It won't be a classic White gravy, but it'll be lighter and just as delicious. The important spice here is pepper - while you can jazz this up in any manner of ways, the plainer you leave it the more classic it will be. I clearly don't care about classicism, though: I'm the first one to add a sauteed clove of garlic, or some minced sauteed onion, or paprika or a hit of thyme. And speaking of the packaged mixes, they can be improved in ways both great and mysterious by using wine as part of the liquid needed - but, as in the case of the Knorr mix you used - you can also use milk and come to a similar conclusion; a creamier, "meat"-type gravy, only smooth and creamy and less sharp. I've done it in a pinch, using chicken gravy, to top off "chicken-fried chicken steak." (BSCB, flattened to 1/4 " thick; prepared as for CFS.)
                      Bon Apetit!

                      1. re: mamachef

                        WOOHOO! Thanks. I did actually add Paprika last time I believe. I'm currently addicted to the smoked variety and it finds its way into a lot of things...as does my favorite spice Cumin. Thanks again

                2. re: Hank Hanover

                  Chicken fried steak it is. And since I don't like cream gravies, I make a brown mushroom gravy. Saute some onions and mushrooms in the remaining cooking fat, add enough of the leftover seasoned flour to make a roux, and stir in beef broth.

                  1. re: rockycat

                    The entire state of Texas just groaned.

                    Brown gravy on chicken fried steak.... shakes head.

                    1. re: Hank Hanover

                      Hank is absolutely correct. I like brown gravy, but never, never, never with CFS. White Gravy just goes with CFS.

                      1. re: Wtg2Retire

                        It's rockycat's steak in rockycat's kitchen, to be eaten solely by rockycat. If he wants to make and eat a beef-broth gravy over it that's his damn business.

                        I make a cream gravy for mine, but do not love those of blinding whiteness. A sort of pale tan is my preference, just enough to make sure the flour is cooked and there's a good meaty richness to it. I made my first actual CFS a couple of weeks ago, having found two nice cube steaks in Ralphs' "used meat department", as I like to call the specials, for $1.87. And the now-veggie Mrs. O was out of town. I used a recipe that was really too fussy, but it was fine anyway, both for supper with potatoes and green beans, and breakfast with eggs, fried (leftover) potatoes and toast. Yum yum.

                3. One of the most American meals out of my German/Dutch mother was cube steaks seared and then tossed in a crock pot with Campbells cream of mushroom soup and onions. We never ate what I thought were cool casseroles like my friends... This was as close as she got and i still crave it and make it from time to time. Served with boiled potatoes!

                  1. Love the stuff. I use it for chicken fried steak and braised cube steaks, either Swiss-style w/ tomatoes and onion, or in a brown onion gravy. Oh, man: with some pasta or rice on the side, there's not a whole lot better. :)

                    1. Cube steaks used to be common around here "back in the day," but I never see them any more. What cut of beef are they?

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: chicgail

                        It is a tenderized beef cut. Usually has a checkerboard pattern through it.

                        1. re: chicgail

                          It's top or bottom round that has been tenderized by being machine-scored to break up the fibers. If your market doesn't carry it, you can ask the butcher to run whichever cut you buy through the meat tenderizer. If you love it, ask him to start carrying it!

                          1. re: mamachef

                            Thanks, mamachef. That answers my question.

                        2. We have cube steak quite often.......I make it with an onion/beef gravy and it's terrific. I often take the leftovers and make a sandwich with the meat, gravy & Provolone.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Janet from Richmond

                            Somehow I skipped right over your mention of the word, "Provolone." That just took it out of the level of "Yummy" to stratospheric. Next time I make CFS, I'm making lots extra, just so this will be an option, nice and melty.

                            1. re: mamachef

                              It's stupid good.....I always make sure there are leftovers. I hide them from my husband :-)

                          2. I have to admit, I expected to get lambasted for saying I like this stuff, but these posts are not only making me happy, but making me hungry. I think I might have to splurge for $3.75 tomorrow for some more and a loaf of bread and see what happens. Now I'm wishing my stove was working. Chicken (country) fried steak is sounding pretty good right now.

                            9 Replies
                            1. re: jhopp217

                              Me too, jhopp217. I'm seriously thinking about it as a late breakfast. Hmmmm....

                              1. re: mamachef

                                Ooh! Chicken Fried steak and eggs for breakfast and a couple of biscuits. If you really want a gut buster, put the biscuits on the plate and pour white gravy on them.

                                Ok, I admit you wouldn't want to eat it super often. There is a lot of protein, a lot of fat and probably a lot of calories.

                              2. re: jhopp217

                                I think we have to stop beating up affordable foods and embrace them!

                                1. re: Ruthie789

                                  Agree fully. I'd be willing to make a guess that most of us are on some kind of food budget.

                                  1. re: mamachef

                                    Cube steak and chicken thighs are two cheapy meats that rule. I am fortunate not to be on a tight budget, but I still appreciate the bang for the buck you get from those two meats.

                                    1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                      Unfortunately people have caught on to chicken thighs, and the boneless, skinless variety are just as expensive as breasts. Luckily, the bone-in skin-on ones can run a little cheaper than other cuts.

                                      1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                        Yep, Janet from Richmond. I'm lucky enough not to have to cut back in that direction, but it doesn't stop me from trying to get the best-tasting meat at a good price. Lately, local stores have been carrying a lamb rump roast. That one plays out to about 3.99/lb too, and I'm SO looking forward to the leftovers, which are ALL MINE. Cook's Privilege, dont'cha know.

                                      2. re: mamachef

                                        I also like this meat as it is fast to the plate, and during the week my time is limited.

                                  2. would cube steak work for a steak sandwich with grilled peppers, onions and melted provolone? I usually make one with cold leftover steak sliced thinly, but I'm curious to try cube steak.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: charlesbois

                                      That's more like a cheesesteak sandwich that's usually made from shaved rib eye.

                                      Cube steak is going to be more solid and chewy. I find cube steak better suited to a braise.
                                      If you have good chompers give it a try.

                                      1. re: charlesbois

                                        Honestly, that's what I use it for most of the time. Takes maybe two minutes to cook. Obviously, with it being so thin, medium rare really isn't an option. Slice the steak into thin strips and it's exactly like a Philly Cheesesteak just without rib eye, which I've always found to be a waste when smothered in cheese.

                                        1. re: charlesbois

                                          I bought 2 nice looking cube steaks, the package was about $3.60 and I'm not sure how many ounces I got, maybe 12? Griddled up some onions and pepper, and then threw the cube steaks on seasoned with s&p, red wine vinegar, some soy and a bit of worcestershire sauce. Sliced them nice and thin, threw it all on some portuguese rolls and threw on some provolone and toasted it all under the broiler. Husband pronounced it better than the ones I made 2 weeks ago with the leftover ribeye. I only had a little piece of mine that was really gristly. I really liked the convenience of them and they seemed a pretty economical pick, but I didn't look at the price per pound as closely as I should have. Definitely adding this to the grocery list.

                                          1. re: charlesbois

                                            I actually try and get the smaller portion packs (usually 1-2 small steaks), because some of the bigger packages have pieces with lots of connective tissue which makes for a very annoying meal. The two little ones I got the other day (each less than 3oz) were very lean. Sounds like a good meal though. I always add a nice bit of Worcestershire sauce when I do the cheese steaks

                                        2. I haven't made cube steak in about 20 years, but after reading this thread I'm going to buy some on my way home. Thanks.

                                          1. My way of doing cube steaks is a good (heavy) squirt of Worchestershire on each side, a quick saute in some butter or oil, and done.
                                            Like others here, I haven't had it in a while, and I think I just may do so!

                                            1. To tell the truth I havn't noticed cube steak for a long time, but we have a meat tenderizer at home and I'll run some round steak or thin top sirloin through it a bunch of times. Then we dredge it throuigh flour and pan fry it. I have also used boneless pork chops and almost like them better. You can also ask the butcher to do this for you if you cant find cubes, unfortunately costco does not have a tenderizer.

                                              1. I'm sort of surprised people are calling this a "cheap" cut. $1.75 for 5 oz works out to almost $6 a pound - that's about what I pay for flank, skirt or flap meat at Costco, and more than I pay for a few other cuts. There's also no way I'd be getting two meals out of 5oz of meat, but that's just me. I haven't noticed cube steak in my local markets but I'll have to check the prices going forward - I just can't imagine paying $6/lb for it!

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: biondanonima

                                                  The beauty of cube steak is in the ease of preparing it, it just requires frying, no marinating, no cutting across the grain to ensure tenderness. In comparison to cuts like sirloin, boston, t bones, filet mignon, it is not costly and what is nice is what you see is what you get. No bones, no fat that must be discarded.

                                                  1. re: biondanonima

                                                    I bought a very nice-looking cube steak at the market tonight (inspired by this thread, don't think I have ever made one). It was $3.99/pound so cheaper than other beef cuts I am used to (skirt steak around $10, steak tips ditto). Do not have a Costco membership so not comparing to that.

                                                    1. re: biondanonima

                                                      I too was surprised by people calling it cheap. - Couldn't even guess at how long I've been waiting for cube steak to be a weekly special so I can do a chicken fried steak. - Even looked into buying a roast to slice and cube myself, but according to my research none of the home methods compare to the butchers' machines.

                                                      1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                                                        Yeah - I wonder if you could select your own cheaper cut, and have them slice and run through the cubing machine for you, or if they'd charge extra for that?

                                                        1. re: biondanonima

                                                          I'm pretty sure that where I shop they wouldn't charge extra (at least for an occasional request) but one of my many character flaws is that I'm stubborn and I don't think a customer should have to go that route to avoid a markup in price that seems to be way out of line compared to what they charge for grinding meat or other "labor intensive services".

                                                          (I also refuse to buy any item where the "fine print" says, "Must buy X qty. in order to get the good price" - but that's an issue for a different thread)

                                                          Anyway, I do appreciate the suggestion and will keep it in mind if I ever work out my stubborness problems. Until then I'll wait for when they are offering a "good deal" or I'll go to the diner where roughly the same price per oz includes "cooking and delivery".

                                                      2. re: biondanonima

                                                        I know what you are saying about the oz size, but remember, the steak is pounded down so it's the size of a half a loaf of bread, with all the toppings, it's more than enough.. Of course, you could double the steak up for a huge sandwich, but trust me it was plenty. Also, take a close look next time you get a philly cheese steak our and think about how much meet you're really getting. Not that much. it's not dense like a burger, where if it's not at least 6oz you feel jipped.

                                                      3. Don't forget the pork 'cube steaks' ~~ had some last night, slowly gravy-ed down in a brown/onion gravy....over rice..... Goodness, gracious sakes alive!!!!!

                                                        10 Replies
                                                        1. re: Uncle Bob

                                                          I cook boneless pork chops about 3/4 inch thick just the way I cook chicken or country fried steak only I don't have put them through the cuber.

                                                          I can get pork chops for as little as $1.99 per pound.

                                                            1. re: Ruthie789

                                                              Unless it's for religious reasons they should. I lost a lot of years missing out.

                                                            2. re: Hank Hanover

                                                              I actually don't like it done this way, because pork dries out so much faster and CFS is hard to keep close to medium. Especially if using cube steak. I'd rather not bread it, quick sear on both side, some capers, maybe a little OJ and lemon zest, splash of wine and it's ready in about 3 minutes

                                                              1. re: jhopp217

                                                                I always try to brine pork chops. It makes a huge difference.

                                                                1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                  I've never brine PC, but we brined a Turkey one Thanksgiving and I don't care what professional chefs say, it was easily the best turkey ever. Close second is a deep fried turkey we did two year ago.

                                                                  1. re: jhopp217

                                                                    The hardest part about brining a 20lb turkey is finding a container big enough to be able to completely submerge it.
                                                                    Stoopid big families needed stoopid big turkeys...

                                                                    1. re: Midknight

                                                                      they also need big Igloo etc. coolers......

                                                                      1. re: Uncle Bob

                                                                        yep a big ice chest and some bag ice in with the brine. Brine it for 24 hours while it is thawing.

                                                                      2. re: Midknight

                                                                        I think smaller turkeys tend to be better anyway. When I was younger, my mother would make squab or cornish game hens some years when it was a light crowd. Everyone got their own.

                                                            3. I am so glad you posted this! Not sure I have ever cooked this cut before and now regret all those wasted years... Meant to make CFS with it but kept going out to dinner this week so used it today to make a very decadent weekday lunch of cheese and onion steak -- jhopp217 and charlesbois are right, it is great for that application, I was only sorry I didn't have any mushrooms lying around.

                                                              1. Not sure who questioned the cost per lb, but I checked today and my local place has it at $4.49/lb. I bought the largest package which was just shy of 3/4 of a lb. To put in perspective, ground beef 85/15 was on sale, $1 off for $3.99 (unfortunately smallest package was 3+ lbs and I'm a little tight on money.

                                                                Definitely two cheese steaks in my future or maybe one CFS meal. I'm kinda hungry now.

                                                                9 Replies
                                                                1. re: jhopp217

                                                                  Also if we compare to steaks, there is not waste whatsoever, no bones and no fat to cut off. I think this certainly factors into making it a good economical choice.

                                                                  1. re: jhopp217

                                                                    I was the one who originally said it sounded a bit pricey at nearly $6/lb. $4.49 is a bit more reasonable, but I'd definitely pay the extra $1/lb for flank steak or flap meat - no waste on those either, and I feel like I know what I'm getting there, whereas cube steak can really be any cheap cut, run through the machine.

                                                                    1. re: biondanonima

                                                                      Flank steak and flap meat are not quite as easy to prepare. Don't you have to marinate them and as well cut them across the grain. I like the convenience of this product, but do not know enough about the cuts you mentionned.

                                                                      1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                        There is absolutely no need to marinate either cut if you don't want to. As for slicing across the grain, yes, you do have to do that (with flank steak anyway - flap meat is much more forgiving) - but I'm going to have to cut pretty much any steak I eat, so I don't really consider that an extra step.

                                                                        1. re: biondanonima

                                                                          I am not fond of meats that are served rare, as is often the case for fllank and not sure about flap. I am sure that both are affordable and am aware that many like them. Perhaps I need to learn how to cook them properly. I find them intimidating.

                                                                          1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                            Flap and flank are both best cooked no more than medium rare - any more than that and they tend to get a bit tough. If you don't care for rare meat they may not be for you. If you want to try an easy preparation for flank steak, though, try the instructions detailed here: http://voices.yahoo.com/how-grill-per...

                                                                            1. re: biondanonima

                                                                              Thank you for the link. I really am intimidated by these cuts.

                                                                      2. re: biondanonima

                                                                        I actually dislike flank steak. My super market states it's chuck. Not sure what chuck steaks go for normally per lb.

                                                                        1. re: jhopp217

                                                                          Interesting - flank and chuck are two very different things at my local stores, as they should be since they come from completely different parts of the cow. Chuck is about the cheapest thing you can buy, usually $3-4 per pound (sometimes on sale for as little as $2/lb), but it's pretty chewy. I would never choose it for a grilling cut - I braise it or make pot roast out of it, or grind it for burgers.

                                                                          ETA: Chuck steaks can also be turned into cube steaks, although I think the most typical cut used for making cube steak is round.

                                                                    2. I watch for cube steaks. Often, if lucky, I get a better cut of beef that discolored under market lighting and that the butchers turned into cube steaks to sell quickly. And they are so amenable to lots of treatments. I especially like to brown and braise them with onions and herbs and whatever else looks good at the moment.