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What Is A Beef Shell Steak And How Do You Cook It Best?

Ah, steak. I automatically lick my lips when I think of a nice, thick, juicy steak barbecued to perfection – my idea of carnivore bliss. Steak can be confusing, though, as there are many different kinds.

Some cuts of beef produce a better steak, more tender and moist. Those cuts come from certain areas of the animal.

We have all heard of T-bone, New York strip, filet mignon, porterhouse, and ribeye. Not many people have heard of shell steak.

Some of the confusion may be due to the fact that shell steak goes by a number of different names. Club steak, bone-in Manhattan, and Delmonico steak are all names you may have heard, with the most common being club steak.

In order to be able to cook shell steak well, you should know some basic facts about this type of steak. Shell steak comes from the short loin, in the area right by the ribs.

It is situated close to the tenderloin, however, while shell steak is very tender, it is not as tender as tenderloin.

Shell Steak

What gives the meat of the shell steak its tenderness is the muscle that runs through it called the longissimus dorsi. It is a long muscle that starts at the hip of the steer and goes all the way to the shoulder.

The longissimus dorsi is a muscle which is not overly worked, and for this reason, the meat is not tough as it would be if it contained muscle that was worked a good deal.

Shell steak also has a fairly large bone. This bone is distinctive in its shape – it looks like an ‘L’ and resembles a club which is perhaps why shell steak is often referred to as club steak.

Club steak, with its characteristic bone, is similar to T-bone steak or porterhouse steak. The difference between these two steaks and shell steak, is that they contain some tenderloin while the shell steak does not.

Another characteristic of shell steak is that it has a good deal of marbling. This is an important contributor to the tenderness of a piece of meat as well as the flavor.

If there is a lot of marbling, the steak will be tender and flavorful, but if there is little marbling then the beef will tend to be on the tough side and it will not have as much flavor.

Meats with little marbling, the tougher cuts of beef, benefit from being marinated and being cooked slowly at a low temperature. In this way you are aiding the beef to produce juiciness, flavor, and tenderness.

Meats that have a lot of marbling do not require long cooking at a low temperature. In fact, that is the way to ruin a good piece of beef that has good marbling.

If you cook such a cut too long, you will end up with a tough, chewy piece of meat – exactly what you do not want.

Since shell steak has good marbling and therefore does not require a long time to cook, it is particularly well-suited to broiling and grilling. You can also fry shell steak in a frying pan at a very hot temperature.

Again, the key is to cook the meat at a relatively high heat so as to maintain its tender quality and hold in the juices.

Frying presents the challenge of cooking the steak evenly, as the bone in shell steak will cause it to sit higher in some spots and lower in others. Not all of the steak will be in contact with the heat from the pan.

Let’s take a closer look now at how to cook shell steak. Here you will get tips on specific ways to cook shell steak. We will look at grilling, and at broiling. 

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How To Cook Shell Steak By Barbecuing?

How To Cook Shell Steak By Barbecuing?

Barbecuing is a popular summer pastime, and a backyard barbecue with shell steak on the grill will have everyone raving about your barbecuing ability. 

Barbecuing shell steak will give it a lovely crust and a beautiful brown color with signature grill marks. The steak will have a great smokey flavor.

Seasoning simply with salt and pepper really lets the full flavor of this steak come through, however feel free to use other spices if you so desire.

It’s important to let the steak rest for a few minutes before serving. This allows time for the juices to disperse throughout the meat instead of running out when you cut it. The result will be a juicier and more tender piece of meat.

RELATED: 15 Delicious Sirloin Beef Tip Recipes

How To Cook Shell Steak By Broiling?

How To Cook Shell Steak By Broiling?

Broiling shell steak is quick and it produces a fabulous result. You’ll get a great caramelized sear, and a tender, flavorful, juicy steak. Read on to see how it’s done.

Before you broil, set the shell steak on the counter and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. This will ensure the steak cooks evenly.

Make sure to turn the steak with tongs rather than with a fork. A fork will pierce the meat, and cause all those delicious juices to escape. Put that fork away!

Ovens typically come with a broil pan. It’s important to use it as it is designed specifically for that purpose. A broil pan has two parts, the top part that you set the meat on, and an underneath part that catches the grease.

This ensures that nothing catches on fire – a possibility if you are using a baking sheet that is close to the element and all that grease is collecting on the sheet.

An instant-read thermometer is a great investment. They are not very expensive and they save a lot of guesswork. If you’re cooking a great cut of meat like a shell steak, you want to get it right and not risk overcooking it.

Here’s a guideline to help with temperatures when cooking shell steak, or any steak.

Internal Temp For Various Levels Of Doneness

LevelsInternal Temp
Rare125 F
Medium-Rare130 F
Medium140 F
Medium-Well150 F

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Can You Buy Shell Steak?

Shell steak does not appear often in grocery stores. Just order it from the store’s meat department. You should consider ordering shell steak that is at least 1 ½ inches thick.

This will allow you to cook it so you get a great crispy crust without running the risk of overcooking the rest of the steak.

Can Leftovers Be Frozen?

Shell steak that has been cooked can be placed in a zippered, airtight bag, and put in the freezer for 2 months.

When you are ready to use your leftover shell steak, simply place it in the fridge overnight, or if you forget, and it’s the day off, you may put the bag in cool water.

What Is A Frenched Shell Steak?

Some chefs will use the large bone of the shell steak for artistic presentation. To French a shell steak, is to cut the meat away from the end of the bone, thereby allowing the handle of the bone to show clearly.

How Should Shell Steak Be Stored?

The steak may be safely stored in either the fridge or the freezer. If you will be using the shell steak within two days, it’s fine to keep it in the fridge in the package you brought it home from the store in.

If you are not cooking the shell steak within two days, you will need to freeze it. Remove the individual steaks from the package, and wrap each one tightly in plastic wrap.

These may all be placed in a large freezer bag and may be frozen for a maximum of three months.

Is Shell Steak Expensive?

Shell steak is less expensive than many cuts which are equal in tenderness and taste such as ribeye, porterhouse, T-bone, and New York strip.

This makes shell steak a great option when you want amazing flavor and juiciness, but you don’t want to pay top dollar.

What Wine Pairs Well With Shell Steak?

Shell steak has big, beefy flavor so it goes well with bold reds. A wine with strong fruity notes and higher acidity and tannins such an Austrian or German Blaufrankisch which has lovely black cherry notes would pair well with this steak.

Another good choice would be a Merlot-Cabernet blend from South Africa. These blends are both earthy and fruit-forward.

What Is Cutting Crosswise Against The Grain And Why Is It Done?

When you hear the term grain in relation to meat, think muscle fibers. To cut crosswise against the grain simply means to cut the meat in the opposite direction to the muscle fibers.

Cutting the muscle fibers shortens them, and this in turn makes the meat more tender, and easier to chew.

What Is Marbling?

Marbling is the white flecks and lines that you will see on a better cut of meat. The flecks are actually fat, and it’s that fat, dispersed throughout the meat, which makes it tender and juicy.

The overall visual effect of the white flecks and lines is like marble, hence its name.

What an animal eats plays a big part in determining how much marbling there is.

Shell Steak Barbecuing

How To Cook Shell Steak By Barbecuing?

Active Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 26 minutes
Total Time: 36 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Shell steaks are seasoned with salt and pepper and other seasonings as desired, then placed on a grill preheated to medium. The steaks are grilled to people’s preference, approximately 16 minutes for medium-rare.

Materials

  • Club steak
  • Salt and pepper
  • Other seasonings if desired such as rosemary, thyme, and garlic powder

Tools

  • Paper towel
  • Tongs for turning the steak
  • A cutting board

Instructions

  1. Preheat the barbecue to medium heat.
  2. Pat the shell steaks with a paper towel so they are dry.
  3. Sprinkle both sides of the shell steak with salt and pepper and press to adhere.
  4. If you are using other seasonings, mix all of the seasonings in a small bowl and sprinkle them on both sides of the steak, making sure to press the seasonings onto the steak so that they stick.
  5. Place the shell steak on the grill and let cook uncovered, turning frequently with tongs.
  6. Remove the shell steak when it has the desired doneness, for medium-rare that will take about 16-18 minutes.
  7. Place the shell steak on a cutting board and let it rest for a few minutes before eating.
Shell Steak Broiling

How To Cook Shell Steak By Broiling?

Active Time: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 28 minutes
Total Time: 33 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

After sitting at room temperature for 30 minutes, the shell steak is patted dry with a paper towel, rubbed with olive oil, salt and pepper, then placed on a broiler pan. The shell steak is put in the preheated oven 3-4 inches from the element, and broiled for about 9 minutes per side.

Materials

  • Shell steak
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Tools

  • Paper towel
  • Broil pan
  • Tongs
  • Instant-read thermometer
  • Cutting board

Instructions

    1. Allow shell steak to sit on the counter at room temperature for 30 minutes.

    2. Move the upper oven rack to the highest position so that the steak will be between 3 and 4 inches from the heating element.

    3. Preheat the oven to broil.

    4. Pat the shell steak dry with a paper towel.
    5. Rub olive oil on both sides of the steak.

    6. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the shell steak.

    7. Place the steak on a broil pan.

    8. Put the steak in the oven.

    9. Let the steak broil for about 9 minutes then turn it using tongs so as not to pierce the steak.

    10. Allow the steak to broil for 9 minutes on the other side.

    11. Remove the broil pan from the oven and let the steak rest, on a cutting board, covered with aluminum foil, for 5 minutes.

    12. Slice the shell steak crosswise against the grain.

Jess Smith
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