Best Flat Iron Steak Recipe
Flat iron steak, butlers’ steak, or oyster blade steak is a cut of steak cut with the grain from the chuck, or shoulder of the animal. This produces a flavourful cut that is a bit tough because it contains a gristly fascia membrane unless removed.
WHAT IS FLAT IRON STEAK?
A flat iron steak is a pretty unique cut to get your hands on, but if you can make friends with your butcher, chances are he’d be willing to get you one. The flat iron is also occasionally labeled as a top blade or butler’s steak and is prized for it’s amazing marbling (as mention previously, that means more flavor).
The whole cut is typically two to three pounds, but most butchers cut it into 4 long, flat steaks that are about 10-12 ounces each. In the process, they remove some of the more tough pieces of silver skin and gristle that run through the muscle.
The final result is a fairly thin, flat steak with gorgeous intramuscular fat and an unbelievable beefy flavor. It’s perfect for hot and fast grilling and comes out tasting completely amazing (and did I mention juicy?) every time.
THE ORIGIN OF A FLAT IRON STEAK
The flat iron is a newer steak cut and is also known as the butler’s steak or oyster blade steak. For many years, this area of the animal was considered an unusable cut of meat due to connective tissue and sinew that ran through it.
In a joint initiative between the University of Nebraska and the University of Florida, researchers devised an innovative way to trim the connective tissue from the meat resulting in a tender, delicious new steak cut – the flat iron.
CUTTING A FLAT IRON
The flat iron is carved from the chuck subprimal, and more specifically, the top muscle blade. The chuck gets exercise, resulting in connective tissue which means it is less tender than other cuts.
However, the top blade itself doesn’t have much connective tissue. To cut the tender flat iron, our master butchers seam the top blade to get to the strip that runs through it. They then remove the sinew to get two long pieces of finely marbled roasts that are cut across the grain to create flat iron steaks.
There are only two top blade roasts in every animal – each weighs 1-1.5 pounds and yields four 4 oz. steaks or two 7 oz. steaks. It’s a very small part of the animal, but it is extremely tender and well-marbled.
The location on the animal gives the flat iron fantastic marbling for a bold beefy flavor, similar to a New York Strip, and the careful carving by our butchers results in a fork-tender texture, like a filet mignon. It’s a truly unique and delicious steak experience.
HOW TO COOK FLAT IRON STEAK
My preferred way to cook flat iron steak is on the grill. The meat lends itself well to a hot and fast application over a charcoal grill.
- Prepare the chimichurri. In a food processor or blender jar, combine all the ingredients for the chimichurri. Pulse until well combined. You should still see small pieces of the herbs. Pour the chimichurri into a serving bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Prep the steak. Remove the steak from the fridge 30 minutes prior to grilling. Brush on all sides with olive oil and season with course sea salt.
- Fire up the grill! Preheat your grill (I cooked this on my charcoal grill) to High heat (around 450 degrees F) for direct grilling.
- Grill your flat iron steak. Place the steaks directly on the grill grates over the coals or flames and grill for 7 to 8 minutes. Flip, and grill for an additional 7 to 8 minutes. For medium doneness, your meat should be at an internal temperature of 145 degrees F.
- Rest, slice, and serve with the chimichurri. Remove the steaks from the grill and allow them to rest for 5-10 minutes. Slice against the grain, and top them with the chimichurri sauce. You can also serve the chimichurri on the side for dipping sauce.
HOW TO GRILL FLAT IRON STEAK?
- Preheat the grill to medium-high, about 400-450 degrees F.
- Pat the steaks dry with a paper towel and then rub the steaks with olive oil. Season beef generously with fine sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. I do this by holding my hand about 5-6 inches above the steak and sprinkling to cover all the surface area. Flip and season the other side.
- Grill the steaks for 4-7 minutes per side until they reach the internal temperature desired (more on this below).
- Allow the steak to rest for 5-10 minutes, and then slice it thinly against the grain.
- For the sun-dried tomato sauce, use tomatoes packed in oil with herbs (visual). These tomatoes add a delicious flavor to the sauce while using fewer overall ingredients.
- Rest the flat iron steaks, covered with foil, off the grill for 5-10 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute. Once the steak has rested, be sure to cut it against the grain for maximum tenderness
- Don’t underestimate salt and pepper. Every component in this meal relies on salt and pepper. Don’t be afraid to add more salt! Add slowly, but do add it. Taste often and adjust accordingly.
The best way to ensure your meat is perfectly cooked is by using a meat thermometer. If you cook steaks often, you can likely tell when they’re done by gently pressing on the meat, but I still like knowing for sure with a thermometer.
When cooking Flat Iron Steak, it’s really best at medium rare, and loses flavor and texture when cooked beyond medium. Of course, to each, their own though! Below are the temperatures for cooking steak to your personal preference.
- Rare: 120-125 degrees F
- Medium-Rare: 135 degrees F (about 4-5 minutes on one side and another 3-5 minutes on the other side)
- Medium: 140 degrees F (about 5-7 minutes on one side and another 3-5 minutes on the other side)
- Medium-Well: 150 degrees F (about 8-10 minutes on one side and another 3-5 minutes on the other side)
- Well-Done: 160-175 degrees F.
Time depends on the steak’s thickness, your grill, and the actual temperature of your grill.
Pull the steaks off about 5 degrees below where you want them– the steaks will “cook” those last 5 degrees from carryover heat as they rest.
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What is the difference between a flat iron and a flank steak?
A flat iron steak is cut from the shoulder area of the cow and a flank steak is cut from the belly muscle. Both steaks are flavorful and tender (when seasoned and not cooked beyond medium), but the flank steak is leaner than the flat iron.
(Here’s a helpful diagram. The flat iron steak is located in the highlighted yellow section.)
Is there another name for flat iron steak?
Flat iron steak is also known as butler’ssteak (in the UK) and oysterbladesteak (in Australia and New Zealand).
Can flat iron steakk be substituted for flank steak?
While you can use it in place of flank steak, the closest substitute for flank steak is a skirt steak. Hanger steak is also a great substitute.
Flat Iron Steak Recipe
- 2 (1 pound each) Flat Iron Steaks
- Olive oil, fine sea salt, freshly cracked pepper
Sun-dried tomato sauce
- 2 Cloves Garlic
- 1/2 Cup Sundried Tomatoes (packed in oil and herbs) Gently Packed To Measure
- 1/4 Cup Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice ~1 Large Lemon
- 1/2 Cup Oil I use all the oil from the tomatoes container and then use extra virgin olive oil for the rest of the 1/2 cup
Corn & Zucchini Salad
- 2 Ears (14 Ounces) Sweet Corn Shucked
- 2 Small (14 ounces) Zucchini Stems Removed and Halved Horizontally
- 1 Large Lemon
- 1 Cup Cherry Tomatoes Halved or Quartered
- Parmesan cheese Freshly Shaved
- 3-4 tbsp Fresh Basil
- PREPARE INGREDIENTS: Preheat grill to medium-high heat (400-450 degrees F.) Shuck corn. Remove stems and halve zucchinis lengthwise. Halve or quarter cherry tomatoes, depending on their size. Halve both lemons; juice one of the lemons to get 1/4 cup juice and set the other two lemon halves aside to grill. Rub or brush (with a pastry brush) corn and zucchini with olive oil. Season liberally with salt and pepper (I add about 1 to 1/2 tablespoons oil and about 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper).
- CORN ZUCCHINI SALAD: Prepare the preheated grill by cleaning with a grill brush. Generously oil the grill (I drench a rolled-up paper towel in vegetable oil and, holding it with tongs, rub it over the grill grates). Add corn and zucchini. Cook zucchini about 2-3 minutes, flip and cook another 2-3 minutes or until lightly charred and crisp-tender. Cook the corn, rotating about every 2-3 minutes (a total of 4 rotations) until charred, bright yellow, and crisp-tender about 10-12 minutes total. Grill lemon halves flesh side down for 2-3 minutes or until charred. Transfer vegetables to a cutting board to cool slightly. Slice corn off the cob and add to a large bowl. Cut zucchini into thin half moons and add to the bowl with the corn. Add in the cherry tomatoes, Parmesan cheese (to taste), and fresh basil (rip or cut into ribbons). Add in the juice from one half of the grilled lemon (about 2 tablespoons) and some additional olive oil (about 1 to 2 tablespoons). Toss and taste, adjust seasonings by adding any additional salt, pepper, or oil.
- COOK STEAKS: While vegetables and lemon are grilling, pat steaks dry with paper towel and rub with olive oil (about 1/2 tablespoon per steak). Season both sides generously (or to taste) with salt and pepper (I add about 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt per steak). Add steaks to the fully heated grill and cook until charred and medium rare (or to temperature preference, medium rare highly recommend) about 4-5 minutes per side. (For 1-pound steaks, medium rare generally takes 4 minutes per side); use a food thermometer for precision (see temperatures in post). Transfer steaks to a plate to rest for about 5-10 minutes, tented with foil. Transfer to a cutting board and cut across the grain as thinly as possible (this makes sure the meat is tender!)
- SAUCE: While steaks grill, finely mince garlic and coarsely chop the sundried tomatoes. Add garlic and tomatoes to a small blender or food processor. Add in the 1/4 cup lemon juice and salt and pepper (I add about 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper) and pulse until ingredients are chopped. Slowly drizzle in the oil (I use all the oil from the sundried tomatoes container and fill up the rest of the 1/2 cup with regular oil) and pulse until emulsified and a chunky sauce has formed. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- ASSEMBLE: Add thinly sliced steak to plates (1/2 steak per plate). Divide the corn-and-zucchini salad among the plates. Spoon the sauce evenly on the steaks. Garnish the dish with additional Parmesan. Cut the remaining half of the grilled lemon into wedges and add one wedge to each plate. Squeeze lemon over before enjoying!
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