The hard cushion is a cut that comes from the leg of the ox and is usually very thin and hard. Because of this, it is one of the cheapest cuts of meat and can be very tasty if prepared properly. Learn several ways to break down the fibers of the meat to make it very tender and make a hard top steak look fantastic.
- 900 g of hard cushion.
- Salt and pepper for seasoning.
- 500 ml of broth, red wine or water.
Marinade to soften
- 900 g of hard cushion.
- 1/4 cup of soy oil or olive oil.
- 3 tablespoons of red wine or apple vinegar.
- 1 tablespoon of dehydrated thyme.
- 3 crushed garlic cloves.
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground chili pepper.
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
Method 1 of 4: Braising the hard cushion
Step 1. Seal the steak in a large ceramic pot
Put the pan on a very high heat and add a little cooking oil. As soon as the oil starts to sizzle, add the steak and seal on both sides until golden.
No need to cook meat now, you it just needs to scab and brown the outside.
Do this over high heat. Decrease heat when braising.
Step 2. Take the steak and make a sauce with what's left in the pan
Once the steak is browned on both sides, take it out of the pan and set it aside. Put a little broth or red wine in it, just enough to cover the bottom and stir with a wooden spoon. This will form a sort of sauce because it captures the leftovers of fried meat trapped in the bottom of the pan, creating a flavorful liquid.
- Use red wine, broth or even water when doing this. Choose something you like. The red wine will add a full-bodied flavor to the sauce, the broth will complement the flavor of the steak, and the water will allow you to add whatever spices you like. Try mixing liquids for a unique taste.
- If you want to add vegetables, do this before making this sauce. Cut the vegetables into medium pieces and cook until they are soft or give off their characteristic smell. Use peppers, mushrooms, onions and carrots to accompany meat, for example.
Step 3. Put the steak back in the pan and add more liquid
As soon as the broth or wine starts to bubble a little and you've scraped off everything that's left at the bottom of the pan, put the steak back. Add more broth, wine or water until the steak is half covered.
Add the aromatic spices you want to infuse with the meat at this time. For example, add bay leaves, orange zest or garlic are good options
Step 4. Boil the liquid and lower the heat to a simmer
Keep an eye on the steak as the liquid around it heats up and starts bubbling. As soon as it boils, lower the heat immediately so that it starts boiling.
You can also simmer the steak in the oven instead of on the stove. Turn the oven on to 180 ºC, cover the ceramic pot and cook for about two hours
Step 5. Cook the cushion hard for two hours or so
When the liquid is boiling, cover and let the steak cook until soft. The meat will be perfect when it can be pulled easily with two forks. Wait an hour and go see how the steak is.
The hard cushion preparation time will vary greatly depending on the cut and thickness. Wait an hour and see how you are. After that, check it every 30 minutes until it is in the desired spot
Step 6. Take the meat out of the liquid and serve
Use a tongs or a wooden spoon to pull the meat out of the ceramic pot and place it on a serving plate. Serve immediately with vegetables and mashed potatoes, for example.
If you want to give it a special flavor, reduce the liquid you used to cook the meat to make it into a tasty sauce to go with it. Cook the liquid over high heat until reduced or add cornstarch to the consistency you want
Method 2 of 4: Using Force
Step 1. Cover a flat surface with wax paper
Tear off a piece of parchment paper that is slightly larger than the hard-backed steak. Take a wooden board or place the paper on a flat surface. This is so that the steak does not stick to anything during the process.
You can also use PVC film or a plastic bag to cover the steak. Anything that prevents the meat from touching directly the surface of the board or counter and can easily be removed will work
Step 2. Stretch the steak and cover
Take the hard-backed steak out of its wrapper and place it on top of the parchment paper. Cover it with another piece of paper or plastic wrap to protect both sides.
Step 3. Beat the meat to tender
Take a meat hammer and beat evenly over the surface of the steak using the spiked side. Apply the same amount of force at all points on the steak until the steak is thinner and the fibers are broken. Be careful not to damage the meat.
- If you don't have a meat hammer or other object to tenderize, use a straight skillet, a rolling pin, or a sturdy aluminum foil roll.
- You don't need to leave the steak flat or tender for too long. Start at one end and work your way up to the other. Beat in all parts of the meat. Go the other way around once to soften without crashing too much.
Step 4. Remove the paper and cook the steak
Remove the waxed paper from the top and take a good look so you don't leave any pieces behind. Remove the steak from the paper on the bottom and place it in a hot skillet, on a griddle, or in the place you prefer to prepare it.
If you've pounded the meat to tender and made it a little thinner in the process, the steak won't take long to cook. Leave two or three minutes on each side and keep an eye on it during cooking
Method 3 of 4: Using Salt
Step 1. Cover one side of the steak with rock salt
Place the hard cushion on a plate that has edges and put plenty of salt on the surface. Cover the steak with a layer of salt thick enough that you can no longer see the meat.
Use some variety of coarse salt to spread over the steak. Fine salt is much harder to get out of meat and it will be too salty
Step 2. Press the salt onto the surface of the steak
Use your hand or the outside of a spoon to press the salt into the meat. The idea is not to use the thickness of the salt crystals to tenderize the meat, but to ensure that all parts of the steak are salty.
The salt will absorb some of the moisture present in the meat, which will make the flavor more concentrated and cured before preparation
Step 3. Turn the steak over and repeat on the other side
For the meat to be very tasty and tender, salt both sides. Lift the steak and turn to salt on the other side. Be careful not to get too much of the salt you have already added.
Step 4. Store the steak in the refrigerator for two hours every 5 cm thick
Put the salted meat in the refrigerator so that the salt starts to soften it. The recommendation is to let the steak rest for two hours every 5 cm thick. If it's about 3 cm, for example, wait an hour and 15 minutes.
Do not let the steak sit any longer than necessary. If you do this, it will cure the meat rather than tender, and the texture will look different from what you're expecting
Step 5. Remove the salt and cook the steak
After the meat has rested, take a butter strainer or similar utensil to get as much salt as you can. Wash the steak in cold water to remove any remaining salt and dry it well with a paper towel. Fry the steak on a skillet, griddle, grill or wherever you prefer using medium to high heat for four or five minutes on each side.
When seasoning the steak, do not add salt. The salt left over will be enough to add more flavor to the meat. If you add any amount of salt, it will be salty
Method 4 of 4: Using a marinade
Step 1. Put ¼ cup of oil in a blender
It will be the base of the marinade, so choose the oil you like best. Olive oil is a great choice, but vegetable, peanut, or canola oils will also work well. Put ¼ cup of the chosen oil into the blender cup.
If you don't have a blender, marinate in a small bowl. Cut all ingredients very thin and mix well
Step 2. Add three or four tablespoons of vinegar
The acidity of vinegar helps break down the fibers in the meat, which softens it. Red wine vinegar goes well with beef, but you can also use apple or white wine varieties if you prefer. Add three tablespoons of vinegar with the oil (or four if you want the marinade to get stronger).
The most important element of vinegar here is acidity. You can use any acidic ingredient in its place. Lemon or lime juice works great and gives a fresh flavor to the meat
Step 3. Mix the herbs and spices you prefer
The base of the marinade is already made and now you can add any seasoning you want. Try adding ½ teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon dehydrated thyme, three cloves of peeled garlic, and ¼ teaspoon ground chili pepper to make a simple and delicious marinade.
- If you're going to use a blender, you don't need to cut the herbs or garlic cloves, as the blades will cut them when mixing the marinade. If you are not going to use it, mash the garlic and chop the herbs you want to use well chopped.
- Seasonings are completely up to you. Garlic, rosemary, thyme, paprika and pepper are also great with beef. Make up some spice combinations at home!
Step 4. Beat the marinade until everything is well mixed
Place the lid on the cup and turn on high speed for a minute or so. Beat until all herbs are finely chopped and vinegar emulsifies with oil. Press the blender one or two more times after you finish to pick up any herbs that aren't cut well.
Step 5. Put the steak and marinade in a resealable plastic bag
Place the meat in a plastic bag and carefully pour in the finished marinade. Close the bag and use your hands to massage the steak to ensure the marinade will cover it completely.
If you don't have or don't want to use a zipper bag, place the steak in a small bowl and cover with marinade. You will have to turn the meat from time to time to ensure it is covered well
Step 6. Marinate the hard knuckle steak in the refrigerator for at least two hours
Put the plastic bag with the meat and marinade in the refrigerator for at least two hours to start marinating. The acidity of the vinegar will corrode the meat a little, breaking the fibers and making it softer, as well as giving it more flavor at the same time.
You can marinate the meat longer if you want it to be tastier. But if you leave it too long, the acid will break the fibers beyond repair and ruin the structure of the steak. Do not marinate for more than six hours
Step 7. Remove steak from marinade and cook
Take the plastic bag from the refrigerator and wait for the steak to come to room temperature. Take the meat out of the marinade and fry it on the stove, griddle, grill or any other equipment over medium to high heat for five minutes on each side.
The marinade should be discarded soon after use. Close the plastic bag and throw it away
- You can also cut the steak to make it more tender. Take a sharp knife and cut the raw or cooked steak in the direction that it goes against the meat fibers to break them. This makes the steak easier to chew, giving the impression that it is softer.
- Powdered meat tenderizers also help break down meat fibers to make the steak softer. This process is almost the same as tenderizing with marinade, in the sense of breaking down the fibers with enzymes to make the meat softer. You can find powdered softeners in markets and butchers.
- If you prefer, change the meat hammer to a needle softener (Jaccard style). This utensil has several needles in a row that break the muscle tendons in the steak and make it softer.