Why You're Unlikely To Find Denver Steak In A Grocery Store

The famous writer and social critic Fran Lebowitz once said, "My favorite animal is steak" (via Goodreads).

Indeed, steak has always been a well-loved meat in most households, with nearly half of consumers eating it every week (via Beef It's What's For Dinner). There are countless food articles and cookbooks dedicated to the subject of steak, from which cuts are the most flavorful and tender, the best ways to broil and grill it, to the best sauces to use. 

Just think — while there are an endless number of steakhouses, even in the smallest towns, when was the last time you dined at any lamb or pork houses? In an age when we are told too much red meat is less healthy and should be eaten in moderation, the tantalizing taste of steak still keeps us lighting up the barbecue (via Scripps).

While there are many cuts of steak out there, the Denver steak has recently become a popular, albeit less known, cut of meat — decidedly tender, with lots of marbling and an all-around flavorful beefy taste. No one is sure how it got its name, though some have speculated that ten years ago, a scientist from the Cattleman's Beef Board "discovered" this new cut, and as this board is hosted in Denver, Colorado, it was given this label (per Art of Grill). But what exactly is this variety of steak, and why is it so hard to find?

A difficult to get your hands on

According to Spruce Eats, the lesser-known Denver steak is cut from "the serratus ventralis muscle, which comes from the under blade portion of the chuck roll." Beef chuck is a cut that's often ground or slow-cooked because it comes from a cow's shoulder, which gets a lot of exercise. But the cuts for Denver steak are located beneath the shoulder blade, so it is a more tender muscle.

The serratus ventralis is extracted all in one piece to produce a Denver steak, which "is more like surgery than carpentry" (via Spruce Eats). This is one reason it is rarely found in grocery stores. The steak should be sliced across the grain for maximum tenderness, requiring parts of the muscle to be cut away and sold as cheaper stew or ground beef meat. By using this portion of the chuck for the more premium cut Denver steak, it is sold at a much higher price per pound, but it is often not worth the trouble for chain supermarkets to pay butchers for this effort.

For this reason, Denver steaks are hard to find and usually only available from independent butchers. However, some online beef vendors offer uncommon cuts of steak, including Snake River Farms, Porter Road, and Holy Grail Steak Company. Though pricier than many other cuts of beef, knowledgeable carnivores claim it's worth the money, so if you can find it, give it a try.