I’ve mentioned previously that you end up with a lot of burger meat when you buy a side of grass-fed beef or bring home a deer or elk. You also end up with the rest of the “utility” cuts of meat that don’t command a premium price at the local meat market – cuts like flank steak (London Broil), round steaks, brisket, and tri-tip, which all tend to have little or no marbling and often end up tough, chewy, and dry if not prepared correctly.
When I was growing up in North Idaho, my mom occasionally made something she called finger steaks. They were quick and easy to make (I remember helping on more than one occasion), could be eaten without utensils (hence the name – and always a hit with us kids), and made use of those less-than-premium cuts of venison as we made our way through the freezer. Little did I know that these things were a sort of local food (well – as local as Boise can be to a kid growing up in a super-small town near Canada, long before the internet and with only three TV stations out of Spokane)…I didn’t figure that out until I mentioned them to friends in college in Milwaukee and received blank stares in response.
Of course, like our fried chicken recipe last week, we’ll be making some substitutions for the standard flour-based breading, and we won’t be using any trans-fats or PUFAs to cook these in (come to think of it, I’m sure as a kid we fried these in good ol’ animal fat too!).
- 1 to 1-1/2 pounds of utility meat cuts – round steak, flank steak, sirloin tip, brisket, etc. Pretty much anything that is low in marbling and has a tendency to dry out or get chewy when cooked past rare.
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp water
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- pastured bacon fat or lard as needed for frying (you may also use coconut oil if you prefer)
Start out by cutting the meat into small “bite-size” pieces – either strips or chunks about 2~3″ in size and about 1/2″ thick (butterfly cut if using steaks, or cut into thin slices if using something like flank or brisket). Next, tenderize them using a meat tenderizer or other means¹. Think cube steak here – thin and soft so it won’t be chewy when cooked.
Blend the egg and water together with a fork in a shallow flat bowl. Mix the salt and pepper with the almond meal in another similar bowl. Set up an assembly line and bread all of the steaks, first with egg/water, then with the almond flour mix. Collect the breaded pieces on a plate to get ready for frying.
Melt about 1/4 cup of bacon fat in a heavy skillet (cast iron would be perfect for this…) on medium-high heat. Work in batches so that you don’t crowd the pan, and cook about 2~3 minutes per side (you’ll start to see juice coming to the surface, which means it’s time to flip). The bumps and divots in the meat from tenderizing help hold the breading in place better than on the fried chicken, but still be mindful to keep enough fat in the pan to keep things from sticking.
As you complete each batch, place on a paper towel to soak up any excess fat, and serve. These go great with sweet potato fries and a little HFCS-free ketchup or steak sauce (if you can find the latter). Enjoy!