Finger Steaks

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!).

Gather Up:

  • 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!

1 – A little side-note here – if you have one of those cheap wood or plastic meat tenderizer/mallets with the wimpy little bumps on it like mine, don’t bother using it here.  As I’ve proven to myself time and time again, it is only effective at increasing your aggravation and splattering meat “juice” all over the kitchen (and you), and will have little effect on actually tenderizing the meat.  Instead, use the trick my mom did and use the edge of a sturdy plate in a chopping motion on the meat – working across it in one direction and then 90 degrees to the first row of chops (do this on a sturdy wood or poly cutting board).  You’ll make less mess and actually end up with the results you want.  Or get one of those nice tenderizers that has lots of sharp metal spikes and looks like something from a medieval torture chamber…

3 responses to “Finger Steaks

  1. Hello! I just stumbled across your blog last week, and I just have to comment on this post! I currently live in Idaho, but grew up in Reno Nevada. I went to college at U of I, and the first time some said “finger steaks” to me, I gave them that blank stare that your college friends gave you. I’ve never been able to get on board with any varieties I’ve tried (I live in Boise now, and have yet to try them down here)…but I am going to have to make this version!

  2. Too funny. Small world – I grew up in Bonners Ferry…so U of I was still a ways south for me, but I made it down there fairly often (especially in HS while looking at prospective schools). Glad you found us, and don’t be afraid to step into the pool of Primal eating with both feet instead of just “dipping in a foot.” 🙂

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