What is flat iron steak?

flat iron steak on a grill

In recent years flat iron steak has been growing in popularity. It’s a newer cut and is also known as the oyster blade steak, butler’s steak, shoulder top blade steak, top blade steak, and top blade filet.

The area where flat iron steak is located has an abundance of connective tissue and sinew. For many years butchers considered it an unusable piece of meat; therefore, it was used for ground beef. However, in 2002 researchers at the University of Florida and the University of Nebraska, as part of the Beef Checkoff Program, devised an innovative way to trim the connective tissue resulting in a tender and juicy beef cut called the flat iron steak.

This article will introduce you to buying, cooking, storing, and tenderizing flat iron steak. A few paragraphs explain how flat iron steak tastes and its texture.

What is flat iron steak?

Facts about flat iron steak
Facts about flat iron steak

Flat iron steak is carved from the top muscle blade, located in the cow’s chuck area. It’s about one inch thick, rectangular, and nicely marbled. To remove flat iron steak, butchers must seam the top blade to get to the strip that runs through the meat. Only then do butchers remove the sinew and get two pieces, each weighing 1-1.5 pounds. One of the pieces is flat iron steak the other is the top blade steak. Regarding the name, flat iron steak is named after an old-fashioned flat iron.

Chuck shoulder primal is one of the primal cuts of beef. It is an area of extremely hard-working muscles. It has abundant connective tissue, which means the meat is extremely tough and chewy. The top blade doesn’t have much connective tissue despite the muscle location. It has a good amount of marbling, producing tender and juicy flat iron steaks.

How does flat iron steak taste?

Flat iron steak is a delicious piece of meat with a big, bold, beefy, and rich flavor. Although the steak is lean compared to other, more popular beef cuts, it still has a decent amount of marbling. White flecks of intramuscular fat, also known as beef marbling, add a lot of flavors. At the same time, flat iron steak comes from the shoulder, which gets exercise. Steak coming from well-exercised cow areas tends to have deep flavors.

What is the texture of flat iron steak?

Flat iron steak has a fork-tender texture. It’s the second most tender steak next to the filet mignon. However, the texture of the flat iron steak heavily depends on how the butcher cuts it.

Where to buy flat iron steak, and how much does it cost?

You can buy flat iron steaks at your local butcher’s shop. However, if the butcher has difficulty understanding your request, ask for top-blade steak instead.

Alternatively, you can buy flat iron steaks at specialized online stores. Snake rivers farm is one of many online shops where you can buy good quality flat iron steak.

How to cook a flat iron steak?

Grilling flat iron steak
Grilling flat iron steak

You can cook a flat iron steak using many different cooking methods. It’s an extremely versatile piece of meat. Cooking flat iron steak in a pan quickly ensures steak is juicy and flavorful. Stir fry flat iron steak over high heat to bring out the beefy flavor and keep the steak juicy and tender. Broil flat iron steak under intense heat. It’s a sure way to make the most of flat iron steak’s flavor and texture. Grill flat iron steak on a charcoal grill. It’s the best and purest way of cooking meat. Smoke it in a smoker to add a smokey flavor to the meat. Slow-cook flat iron steak to tenderize the meat to the point it falls apart. Slow-cook flat iron steak in a temperature-controlled environment using sous vide and finish it off in a pan on high heat.

Since there are many ways to cook flat iron steak, I suggest you read this article about how to cook flat iron steak. You’ll find four different cooking methods explained in detail.

Flat iron steak has a muscular structure; therefore, it’s best to cook it on medium-high heat and fast. Start searing on medium-high before moving it to medium heat to finish it off to the desired doneness. It should not be cooked beyond medium; steak can turn dry and chewy if cooked past 145° Fahrenheit (62° C). Cook steak medium rare to 135° Fahrenheit (60° C). It will ensure the steak is juicy and tender throughout.

How to tenderize flat iron steak?

Tenderize flat iron steak with a dry brine or flat iron steak marinade. Salt creates a brine by pulling moisture out of the flat iron steak. The same moisture reabsorbs back into the flat iron steak and breaks down lean muscle proteins making the meat even more tender and juicy.

Marinating flat iron steak is an excellent way to tenderize the meat and add additional flavors. To create a perfect marinade, you’ll need acidic ingredients. An acidic ingredient such as vinegar or citrus juice helps to denature and unwind the long protein in the muscle making flat iron steak fork tender.

This article on how to tenderize steak explains in detail how you can use one of the tenderizing methods to make flat iron steak even more tender.

Similar cuts to flat iron steak

steaks similar to flat iron steak
Steaks similar to flat iron steaks – flank and skirt steaks

If looking for a similar beef cut to a flat iron steak, skirt steak and flank steak would be a perfect substitute. All flat steaks are very similar. These three beef cuts are often used interchangeably for steak fajitas and other recipes.

Often flat iron steak is mistaken for flank steak. Even though these steaks are very similar in flavor and shape, they are slightly different in texture. Flat iron steak has more marbling, while flank steak is leaner. At the same time, both cuts come from different parts of the cow. The flat iron comes from the shoulder, while the flank is carved from the flank primal. Here’s an excellent article explaining the differences and similarities between flat iron steak and flank steak.

Frequently flat iron steak is compared to skirt steak. Both cuts are carved from different cow parts. Flat iron steak is from shoulder primal, while skirt steak is from plate primal. Both cuts have a very similar flavor but a different texture. Read more about the two cuts in the comparison article between flat iron steak and skirt steak.

Flat iron steak recipes

Flat iron steak is great for steak fajitas, tacos, salads, and stir fry recipes. When cooked properly, it’s an extremely tender and flavorful piece of meat. However, you must not overcook the steak and aim for medium-rare doneness.

Here are a few flat iron steak recipes:

Storing flat iron steak

After purchasing a flat iron steak, store it in a refrigerator. If you take it out of the packaging, store it in an airtight container or zip-lock bag. Remove as much air as possible to prevent the meat from spoiling. Raw meat doesn’t have a long shelf life. It must be used within 3-5 days of buying it.

Cooked flat iron steak can stay in a fridge for 3-4 days. Ensure the meat is stored properly in a container or wrapped in plastic wrap to prevent it from spoiling.

If you need to store flat iron steak for longer, remove it from the original packaging and place it in a freezer bag or butcher paper. Remove as much air as possible and place it in a freezer.

Flat iron steak FAQ

Is flat iron steak better than ribeye?

Ribeye steak is considered one of the best steak cuts you can buy. It’s tender and packed with flavors. However, flat iron steak is the second most tender steak cut and by far cheaper than ribeye. It all depends on personal preference. However, most would agree that ribeye is a better choice for most steak lovers.

Is flat iron steak a cheap cut of meat?

Compared to other premium steak cuts, flat iron steak is cheaper. It has the properties of a costly steak cut but costs 50% less than other premium cuts.

Renaldas Kaveckas
Renaldas Kaveckas
Renaldas Kaveckas is an accomplished chef with over a decade of experience in the culinary world, having worked in esteemed, high-end restaurants across Europe. With a talent for combining traditional techniques and innovative flair, Renaldas has refined his signature style under the mentorship of respected European chefs. Recently, Renaldas has expanded his impact beyond the kitchen by sharing his expertise through his online platform. Dedicated to inspiring culinary professionals and food enthusiasts, he offers expert advice, innovative recipes, and insightful commentary on the latest gastronomic trends.
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