If you’re on a budget, the not-so-glamorous beef eye of round is a good choice for a cut of steak. It’s taken from the backside (or “round”), a hard-working area of the animal that helps it move. In turn, this super-affordable cut of beef is naturally lean. The protein-to-fat ratio is impressive: A 4-ounce serving of eye of round has 23 grams of protein—not too shabby for just 131 calories and 1 gram of saturated fat. As a bonus, you’ll get good amounts of highly absorbable iron to energize your runs and boost brainpower.
When possible, buy your steak from the butcher’s counter instead of the pre-packaged section. That way you can better inspect both sides, looking for brown or dry spots. Take a whiff for a meaty, slight irony smell instead of a sour or ammonia odor. This is harder to do when the piece of meat is sitting on Styrofoam under plastic wrap. If relegated to the packaged stuff, avoid steak that is sitting in a pool of liquid or has a greenish tinge on its surface.
Without a lot of fat, beef eye of round can be slightly tough and dry. To help tenderize the meat, marinate it for two or more hours before cooking—a mixture of oil, soy sauce, acid (such as citrus juice), and salt will do the trick. Remove steak from marinade, pat dry with paper towel, and then pan-sear, grill, or broil, flipping once, to an internal temperature of 130°F for medium-rare. Go much beyond this temp when cooking such a lean cut and you risk slicing into shoe leather. Remove from heat and let rest 10 minutes before slicing, which permits juices to be reabsorbed into the fibers of the meat so they (and much of the flavor) don’t seep out when cut. You can tent the meat in foil to keep it warm when resting. And don’t forget to slice thinly across the grain to guarantee a more tender bite. You can also slice raw eye of round into cubes and add to a slow-simmering stew.
Make It Last
Beef eye of round will keep well-wrapped in your refrigerator for three to five days. (Make sure your fridge is set between 34°F and 40°F, cold enough to slow spoilage and the growth of dangerous bugs.) The back of the bottom shelf is generally the coolest part of the fridge, which makes it the best spot to store meats. Always store steak with a plate underneath—especially when thawing—to collect run-off juices. Beef that has gone off will feel sticky and slimy, a sign bacteria have multiplied on the surface. Cooked meat will generally last in the fridge for three days before you need to toss or freeze it.
We really like using beef eye of round in homemade jerky, where its low fat levels are key for texture. Try these Beast Bars as a way to boost protein and iron intake during the week.