If you’re a steak lover, you’ve probably tried all the popular cuts like ribeye, sirloin, or filet mignon. But have you heard of the flat iron steak?
It’s a flavorful and tender cut of beef that wasn’t available in the market two decades ago.
In this blog post, I’ll dive into everything you need to know about the flat iron steak. I’ll explain what it is, how to cut and prepare it, and give you three different cooking methods to try.
What Is a Flat Iron Steak?
The flat iron steak is a delicious lesser-known cut from the shoulder area on top of the brisket. Although it comes from a muscle that gets a lot of exercise, it’s almost as tender as the filet mignon thanks to its abundant intermuscular fat and short muscle fibers. The fat content also gives the cut a distinctive, rich beefy flavor that could rival even the popular rib eye or New York strip.
The cut’s name, “flat iron,” refers to its triangular shape, which resembles old flat irons used to remove wrinkles from clothes.
What’s unique about the flat iron steak is that it’s the only cut that won’t turn completely dry when cooked to 160°F (71°C). While it will release most of its juices, it still remains tender and retains a reddish-pink interior. So, if you prefer well-done steak, you should try this cut.
In the past, the flat iron steak was often overlooked by butchers and was left as part of the chuck roast because it was small and challenging to extract. However, as livestock has become increasingly larger, harvesting it has become more commercially viable. Typically, each leg can yield around four eight-ounce portions.
How To Cut the Flat Iron Steak
Despite its advantages, the flat iron steak can be a challenging cut that requires extreme patience and excellent knife skills.
The flat iron steak consists of two one-inch layers of meat separated by silver skin, a thin connective tissue that surrounds the muscle fibers. It doesn’t break down as the meat cooks, so it can make your steak extremely chewy and unpleasant to eat. That’s why you need to separate the two layers to remove the silver skin that connects them.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to cutting a flat iron steak:
- Clean up the outside: Remove any excess fat or connective tissue on the surface of the meat using a sharp knife.
- Separate the layers: Locate the silver skin that runs through the center of the steak. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut through the top layer along one side of the silver skin. Continue cutting until you reach the bottom layer of meat.
- Remove the silver skin: Once you’ve separated the layers, use the tip of your knife to carefully cut away the silver skin from the bottom layer of the meat. Make sure to remove as much of the silver skin as possible to avoid tough and chewy meat.
- Square off the edges: Square off the edges of the flat iron steak to create an even thickness. This will help the steak cook evenly and prevent overcooked or undercooked sections.
How To Prepare a Flat Iron Steak
Preparing a flat iron steak is simple. The most basic process is to pat the steak dry and sprinkle it with salt and pepper or your favorite seasoning mix.
Another option is to marinate your steak. A basic marinade can consist of olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper, but here’s a more sophisticated version:
- ½ cup of neutral-flavored oil.
- ⅓ cup of regular soy sauce.
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar.
- 2 garlic cloves.
- 1 large knob of fresh ginger finely diced.
- 1 small onion finely diced.
- ¼ cup of lemon juice.
- 2 teaspoons of black pepper.
- 1 teaspoon of salt.
- 1 teaspoon of sugar.
- 1 teaspoon of mustard powder
- 1 teaspoon of oregano or rosemary depending on your preference.
To marinate the flat iron steak, place it in a plastic bag or a shallow dish, pour the marinade over the steak, and make sure it’s evenly coated. Seal the bag or cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight for a more intense flavor.
How To Cook Flat Iron Steak
You can cook a flat iron steak in different ways. Here are three methods to try:
Cast Iron Pan
This is the easiest method to cook a flat iron steak and has the added benefit of making a pan sauce using the fond in the pan. Here are the steps to follow:
- Heat your cast iron pan on the stove and add a touch of neutral oil.
- Sear one side for five to eight minutes, depending on your preferred doneness.
- Sear the other side for four to seven minutes.
- Ideally, check the steak’s internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer to ensure it’s cooked to your liking.
Once the steak is almost cooked, you can make a Dijon red wine sauce that pairs extremely well with a flat iron. Here’s what to do:
- Add one minced garlic to the pan and saute for thirty seconds.
- Add your choice of mushrooms to the pan and saute until most of the water content vaporizes.
- Add a tablespoon of Dijon mustard and cook it for thirty seconds.
- Take the pan off the fire and pour in some Brandy and red wine.
- Remove the steak from the pan and let it rest on a plate covered with aluminum foil.
- Pour in half a cup of beef stock and some heavy cream, and let the sauce thicken over high heat.
- Optionally, add some chopped green onions or broccoli.
- Once the sauce is ready, pour it over your steak and serve.
If you plan to grill your steak, I recommend marinating it for a few hours before cooking to add an extra layer of flavor. The flat iron steak will turn out juicy and tasty even without a marinate, but adding a marinade can enhance its flavor profile and make it even more delicious.
When you’re ready to grill, remove the steak from the marinade and save a small amount of the marinade to coat the cooked steak. Then follow these steps:
- Heat your grill until it starts to smoke.
- Cook the first side for five to eight minutes, turning the steak halfway to get some diagonal grill marks.
- Flip the steak and brush some of the marinade on the cooked side.
- Grill the second side for four to six minutes.
- Remove the steak from the grill and brush some more of the marinade over it while it’s still hot.
- Cover the steak with aluminum foil and rest for a few minutes.
If you decide to cook your steak in the oven, use the broiler and adjust your top rack so that the steak is only three to four inches away from the element. This way, you’ll get a perfect sear.
Here are the steps for cooking your flat iron steak in the oven:
- Preheat your oven to 425°F (218°C).
- Pat the steak dry with paper towels and let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes.
- Season the steak generously with salt and pepper, or use your favorite steak seasoning. You can also add olive oil or butter to the top of the steak for added flavor.
- Place the seasoned flat iron steak on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil and put it in the oven.
- Since the flat iron steak is an inch thick, you’ll need to cook it for at least 10-12 minutes. Refer to the chart below to determine the exact cooking time depending on your preferred level of doneness.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the flat iron steak rest for five to ten minutes before slicing.
|Doneness||Temperature||First Side||Second Side|
|Rare||125-130°F (52-54°C)||6 min||5 min|
|Medium-rare||130-135°F (54-57°C)||7 min||6 min|
|Medium||140-145°F (60-63°C)||8 min||6 min|
|Medium-well||150-155°F (66-68°C)||9 min||7 min|
|Well-done||160°F (71°C) or above||11 min||9 min|
What To Serve With the Flat Iron Steak
Flat iron steak is a delicious cut of beef that pairs well with various sides. Given its beefy flavor, it usually tastes great with classic options such as baked potatoes and grilled vegetables. Whenever I grill a piece of flat iron, I throw carrots, red onions, and bell peppers on the grill to make my meal more appetizing and nutritious.
A salad is also a great option to have alongside your steak. You can easily toss together some mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and a simple vinaigrette to make a refreshing salad that balances the richness of the steak.
In terms of drinks, red wine is the ultimate choice to complement the flat iron steak. Fruity wines like Cabernet Sauvignon or Napa Cabernets are the best option. Younger wines with more tannin content give your dish a perfect balance, as they can cut through the fat in the steak and enhance its flavor.
Aged wines also pair well with flat iron steak, especially those with more complex flavors and aromas, like aged Bordeaux. These wines can add a sophisticated touch to your meal and bring out the best in the steak.
Remember that the ideal wine pairing can also depend on the specific seasoning of your flat iron steak and your taste preferences. Ultimately, experimenting with different wine options can help you discover the perfect pairing.
What Is Flat Iron Steak Good For?
Flat iron steak is a versatile cut of beef that tastes great in a variety of dishes. You can serve it as a main dish or cut it into thin strips and incorporate it into stir-fries, tacos, salads, and sandwiches.
For example, you can season the steak with your favorite spices and serve it with traditional taco toppings like salsa, guacamole, and shredded cheese. Alternatively, you can serve the strips on top of a bed of mixed greens and vegetables or on a bun with your favorite toppings, such as caramelized onions.
The flat iron steak is a delicious and versatile cut of beef that deserves more attention. With its rich beefy flavor and tender texture, you can cook it in various ways, from grilling to broiling, and it pairs well with many sides and drinks, including red wine.
So, the next time you’re in the mood for a steak, consider trying the flat iron steak and experiment with different seasonings and preparations to find your perfect match.
If you have any questions, feel free to drop them below, and we’ll be happy to help you out.