The Flat Iron Steak (also known as a Top Blade Steak), now appearing in grocery stores and on restaurant menus, was developed by teams at the University of Nebraska and the University of Florida. The problem presented to these researchers was what to do with a waste cut of beef from the shoulder of the cow. Though a flavorful and relatively tender cut of meat, the top blade roast has a serious flaw, an impossibly tough piece of connective tissue running through the middle of the cut.
So, after developing a method for cutting that connective tissue out, these friendly scientists have offered us an amazing cut of beef. More than that, they have developed a nearly perfect steak for the grill. The Flat Iron (supposedly named because it looks like an old-fashioned metal flat iron) is uniform in thickness and rectangular in shape. The only variation is a cut through the middle of the steak where the connective tissues have been removed.
Flat Iron Steak: Marinating and Cooking
Like any non-loin steak, the Flat Iron benefits from marinating and is best if it isn't cooked beyond medium. The recommended doneness is medium rare or around 135 degrees F (60 degrees C). Depending on the particular cut you purchase, you might find it more convenient to cut the Flat Iron steak in half because of the center cut through the middle, but generally, this isn't necessary.
This steak has a deep, rich flavor which makes it perfect not only on its own but also as meat for many dishes. The Flat Iron is very similar to any of the Flat Steaks so any recipe calling for Skirt or Flank Steak will be the perfect opportunity to try the Flat Iron Steak. This cut is best grilled over a medium-high heat. Don't go as hot as possible unless you pick up a particularly thin cut. Because of the density of the meat, it is generally best to start with a quick sear before moving to a lower temperature to finish off to the desired doneness.
What's in a Name?
If your butcher stares blankly at you when you ask for a Flat Iron steak, it might not be because he’s a bad butcher. It might be that this particular cut (or actually this particular name) hasn't caught on in your neck of the woods. Instead, ask for a Top Blade Steak. But definitely, track one down and give it a try. You might just find your perfect steak.