More Meat for your Money

The first-cut chuck blade steak—a composite of different muscles—is a meaty marvel, and it offers a great way to get two otherwise pricey steaks in one affordable package. Cut from the part of the shoulder closest to the rib section, first-cut chuck blade can be grilled whole; in fact, many steak lovers enjoy doing so because they get a different eating experience in every bite. But, as we learned from Merle Ellis in his book Cutting-Up in the Kitchen (Chronicle Books, 1975), slicing the first-cut chuck into its separate steaks at home is a money-saving option. Cut the steak along the top of the bone to remove the top blade chuck steak. Then cut the remaining meat along the natural seam to remove the rib-eye muscle. The middle muscle is best cut into stew meat. On average, a first-cut chuck steak costs $2.45 per pound, whereas top blade chuck steaks and rib eyes come in at $4.09 and $8.48, respectively. The savings is clear.