Ranch steak is the name given to the center cut steak from a boneless chuck shoulder, which is typically cut between 0.5 inch (1.3 cm) to 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick, weighing 10 ounces (283.5 grams) or less, with the excess fat trimmed away. This cut of meat may also be called a boneless chuck shoulder steak, a shoulder petite, or a shoulder center steak, though the name "ranch steak" is commonly applied at butcher shops and grocery stores.
It is a flavorful cut of meat, and although it tends to be tough, it can be prepared to a nice tenderness. The steak comes from the cut of meat at the shoulders, above the brisket and just in front of the rib. In some instances, such as when buying flash frozen steaks from mail order or fundraising suppliers, other cuts of beef may be inappropriately dubbed a ranch steak, but supermarkets typically sell the genuine cut.
As with other cuts of meat, dry cooking a ranch steak can result in dryness and toughness. It is best prepared braised or grilled, but can also be broiled. Overcooking should be avoided, as it will only accentuate the meat’s toughness. The steak should be marinated prior to cooking for best results and cooked to medium, or 140° to 150°F (60° to 65°C).
Ranch steak that is cut thin can also be prepared fried, as a country fried steak or with eggs. Recipes for thicker cuts often call for preparation in a slow cooker, and this yields a result similar to a shoulder cut roast.
Although not as common as other cuts of steak, such as the sirloin, T-bone, and fillet, there are restaurants that serve the ranch steak. It is a decent choice for those who like the flavor of steak, but do not like to eat the fat trim. For preparation at home, cooks should simply ask a butcher or supermarket meat counter for this specific cut of the desired thickness. Shoppers should try to get cuts that are between 0.5 and 0.75 inch (1.9 cm) thick for easier cooking.