Up until recently, I hadn’t ever given much thought to flat iron steaks. Actually, until 2002, the only though any butcher had given to this cut of meat was how quickly they could get it into the grinder. The flat iron steak (also known as top blade steak) was “developed” in 2002 by two researchers at the Universities of Nebraska and Florida (what a job, huh?). When I say “developed”, I mean that these guys realized that this meat that was usually turned into hamburger could actually be cut in a way that made it a delicious steak. Fast-forward to 2010 and this steak is now the fifth most popular cuts of steak, and one of the most economical. Some even think it has a better taste than more expensive cuts like the New York Strip. Count me as one of those flat iron steak fans.
So it was “developed” in 2002, but I didn’t really develop and interest until they went on sale at my grocery store 2 weeks ago. Now in the last 10 days, I have grilled 4 of them. Yep, the quickest way to my grill (and stomach) is via my grocery store’s weekly ad. Now that I have a few flat irons under my belt (both figuratively and literally), I feel like I have been missing a great cut of meat. Like many other cuts of steak, your job is to not screw it up, cook it just right and let the natural beefy goodness come through. The flat iron steak should not be cooked past medium temperature or it will get a little tough. It’s best at medium-rare. I admit, I let a few of the steaks sit in a little Worcestershire sauce, and it was delicious but not too overpowering. Most of the time, fresh ground pepper is all you need. Let’s get right to it.
Flat iron steak
fresh ground black pepper
Worcestershire sauce (optional)
- As always when grilling steak, it is important to allow the meat to warm up before we throw it on the grill so that it cooks evenly. Allow your flat iron steak to sit on the kitchen counter for around 30 – 45 minutes prior to grilling. This is a good time to rub it down with the pepper and if desired, let it sit in just enough Worcestershire sauce to cover the bottom of the plate. If using the sauce, flip it once after about 20 minutes.
- While our steak is warming, let’s get the grill going. We want around medium – high direct heat for this steak, so pile the coals to one side of the grill so that they are about 3 inches from the bottom of the grate. If using a gas grill, turn the knob to medium high and light it (you gas people sure do have it easy).
- I repeat this on every steak post, these times are just guidelines and every grill is different. Always err on the side of rare when grilling a steak. You can always throw it back on the grill! Now then…Once the flat iron steaks have warmed up to around room temperature, it’s time to grill. Place the steak over the hottest part of your medium-high grill (check by placing your hand about 2 inches above the grate).
- Cook the flat iron steak for about 4 minutes (lift one side carefully to check your grill marks), then rotate 45 degrees to create those nice crosshatch grill marks.
- Cook for another 2 – 3 minutes after rotating (again, times vary, we just want a nice seared crust like shown in the photo above).
- Now using tongs (NEVER puncture your steak), flip the steaks over to the other side.
- Repeat the process on this side of the steak, cook for 3 – 4 minutes, rotate, cook for another 2 – 3 minutes.
- Remove from the grill and place on a platter, but let it sit for about 5 minutes before you cut into the flat iron steak to let the juices re-distribute.
- Most flat iron steaks have a line of gristle running right down the middle. Some people like to slice the flat iron into two separate steaks to avoid this tough meat. It’s up to you.
- Slice the steak thinly against the grain and serve.
So check your local grocery store or butcher for this (relatively) recent discovery from our friend the cow. If they don’t know what you are talking about, ask for a “top blade” steak. If they still have no clue, well, then they don’t have a clue and I would question buying any kind of meat from that store. It’s not a rare cut of meat anymore, so they should know what you are talking about.