Flat Iron Steaks are freaking amazing and rather hard to find. This steak has several names and you might find these called a Butler’s Steak, an Oyster Steak or a Top Blade Steak.
This cut of beef is currently stuck in a beautiful little loop. Because this steak is so hard to find most meat lovers don’t understand how awesome this cut is. As a result, demand is low and the price is as well. I can typically buy flat iron for about 40% less than a ribeye or New York strip.
Not only is this steak affordable but it is also one of the BEST steaks you can find. Every few years the National Beef Board conducts studies on the quality of different cuts and grades of steak. In these studies the flat iron is consistently rated as either the second or third most tender in the entire steer! (This study calls the steak a Top Blade Steak)
Let’s take a look at what this steak is, why it is so dang hard to find and a few ways to cook this beauty!
What is a Flat Iron Steak?
The flat iron is cut from the Chuck primal and is located just above the shoulder blade. The muscle doesn’t really play a “load bearing” role but is more of a “support muscle” for the shoulder, something similar to a rotator cuff.
Because the steak comes out of the Chuck it is pretty cheap but since it only works to support the shoulder blade it remains a very tender cut. This steak will typically weigh between 1 and 1.5 pounds and is usually very well marbled.
The flat iron steak is difficult to retrieve from the Chuck and there is a large piece of tough gristle that has to be removed from the center of the steak. Here is a great video that shows you exactly what it takes to get this steak from a steer.
Because the flat iron is such a hassle to harvest many butcher’s don’t bother with it and use it for ground chuck.
When butcher’s do harvest this steak they are left with two flat irons per Chuck. Since there are two Chucks per steer there are only four flat irons per animal.
The percentage of butcher’s who will go through the trouble of harvesting this steak combined with the limited number of these steaks per animal is the reason why the flat iron can be so hard to find at your grocery store.
How to Cook Flat Iron Steak?
My take on cooking this steak is to keep it simple and not over complicate things. The meat is already incredibly tender and flavorful so I don’t bother with marinades, fancy dry rubs, etc. (I have a few videos below that do use marinades if you want to go that route.)
The three cooking methods that I recommend for this cut are sous vide, pan searing or grilling. Let’s look at each method in a little more detail.
The Sous Vide Steak Cooking Technique
I am cooking almost all of my steaks with the sous vide method these days. I started with a 1.5 pound steak with beautiful marbling. The steak was seasoned with salt and pepper, sealed in a vacuum bag and simmered at 133.5F for two and a half hours.
After the steak cooked for 2.5 hours I took the steak out of the bag and patted it dry with paper towels.
You will need to put a sear on your steak and can either use a skillet on your stove or your grill. I used my grill and seared it for one minute per side. Using a skillet works great as well but I am just a sucker for grill marks 🙂
The process of starting with an incredibly tender steak and then cooking it in the gentlest manner possible results in a steak with a luxurious, velvety texture.
If you are a serious steak lover then this is simply the steak you have to make. I could try to tell you how delicious this steak was but I would just come across as a drooling idiot.
It was awesome.
The Pan Seared Steak Cooking Technique
I was delighted to find this Jamie Oliver video showing how he pan sears flat iron steaks on the stove top.
The method seems simple but the details are important!
- Let the steak warm at room temperature for about an hour before cooking.
- Flip the steak every minute.
- Adding a butter baste makes this amazing!
Starting with a warmed steak and flipping often are the keys to cooking the steak evenly, minimizing the amount of grey on the interior and achieving a beautiful sear.
Jamie cooked this steak for a little over six minutes on high heat. It looks like he hit an internal temperature of around 135F.
I have used the pan searing method and went to the extreme of flipping every thirty seconds. It was a bit of an overkill but made for a spectacular steak!
The Grilled Steak Cooking Technique
Here is a video from Malcolm Reed showing how he cooks flat irons on the grill. For you folks looking for marinade recipes he shares a good one.
This is about a 12 minute cook and the method is very different than the Jamie Oliver pan searing shown above. Malcolm is going for killer grill marks so he keeps the flipping to an absolute minimum.
Malcolm took the steak to about 125F which is more on the rare side of things.
Flat Iron Steak Marinades
I don’t think this steak really needs a marinade but if you are looking to add an extra layer of flavor then these recipes have you covered!
Let the steak soak in the marinade for 3-4 hours then pat dry before cooking.
Red Wine and Soy Steak Marinade
- 2/3 cup red wine
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh garlic
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
Coffee Based Marinade
- 1 cup coffee
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Accent (msg)
Wrapping It Up!
The flat iron is as awesome, under appreciated steak. If you can put you hands on one of these beauties then do not hesitate to bring it home.
This steak is simple to prepare, incredibly tender and budget friendly. It will be your new best friend.
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