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Cuts of Meat 101: Flat Iron Steak

I've gotten some feedback lately from some of our customers that they're interested in bulk beef or pork, but are hesitant because they are unsure what some of the cuts are or what is the best use of them. Don't worry, I'm here to help! I am going to author a series of articles in the coming weeks highlighting cuts that I've gotten questions about so that you may be inspired to step out of your comfort zone and try some of these overlooked cuts!

My family has eaten our own freezer beef as long as I can remember, so I sometimes forget that many of our customers have largely bought meat from a grocery their whole lives and don't have the experience of figuring out the best use for all the cuts that come with a bulk purchase like a quarter beef or half hog.

The one perceived downside of bulk purchasing is getting some cuts that you don't want or don't have experience cooking. However, don't let that deter you from the amazing value that is gained from buying in bulk! Beef and pork in general is delicious, so how can something made out of beef or pork be bad? Every cut I sell has uses that maximize it's appeal, but some may be more readily apparent than others. In fact, once you've mastered some of the lesser known cuts, you may find they become your favorites! I have customers that are devoted fans of many of the cuts that are often overlooked by many and call us frequently to make a bulk purchase of their favorite undervalued cut. My first featured cut is the flat iron steak. Read on for information about this gem of a cut!


What is a flat iron steak?


A flat iron steak is cut from the chuck or shoulder area of a beef. Typically the shoulder is viewed as extremely flavorful, but somewhat tough. The shoulder is a high-use muscle, which generally equates to less tender. However, in the late 1990's there was a push to find marketable cuts within less desirable primal areas, and the flat iron was created from this effort.

When you examine any cross section of muscle groups, you can see that it is composed of long fibers of muscle arranged in groups. These bundles of muscles typically have different jobs, which makes it possible to find sections of more tender meat hidden within a larger high-use muscle group. The flat iron is technically the infraspinatus muscles of the shoulder. This muscle is found in many animals, including humans, and it's purpose is to aid in rotation of the shoulder and stabilize the shoulder joint. Unlike most of the other muscles in the immediate area, this one sees fairly low stress loads and, as a result, is a quite tender cut. An added bonus is that is still retains the extra flavorful beefy flavor that the chuck is known for!


What do I do with a flat iron steak?



Since the flat iron is tender and flavorful, it is well suited to grilling. It is not as marbled as a ribeye or New York strip and is relatively thin. (The steak is the entire muscle group, so the thickness varies from animal to animal.) Therefore, you should be cautious about overcooking this cut. As long as the flat iron is not overcooked, it is delicious and tender. The cut lends itself to use with marinades and it shines when sliced thin after cooking.

We often cook flat iron steak grilled whole and sliced as pictured when we are in a hurry for a quick meal. It makes an excellent main course and the whole family loves the cut served this way. There are never any leftovers! One flat iron can typically serve 3-4 people.

Like other whole muscle group steaks such as the skirt steak or flank, the flat iron can be used in tacos, stir fry and similar dishes, however, it is my personal opinion that preparation in this way is a waste for such a delicious grilling steak and is better suited for one of those other options, which I will cover in another article.


What is your favorite way to prepare flat iron steak?


While there is absolutely nothing wrong with simply grilling the steak, slicing and serving, stuffed flat iron steak is my favorite. It is quite easy to make, and looks far fancier than it actually is! I will include my recipe below:



Stuffed Flat Iron Steak

Ingredients

1 flat iron steak, hammered as thin as possible

1-2 cups of baby spinach leaves

4-5 slices of smoked provolone cheese

4-5 slices of thin sliced prosciutto

olive oil

coarse ground salt

Directions:

  1. place spinach, prosciutto, and cheese on top of flattened steak.

  2. roll into a circular roll and tie in several places with kitchen string

  3. preheat oven to 400 degrees

  4. heat skillet and oil to high heat

  5. brown steak on all sides-do not cook, only sear the outside

  6. place entire skillet into oven

  7. cook 8-10 minutes until steak is medium rare (or your preferred doneness)

  8. let rest five minutes, slice and serve


I'm in, how do I get a flat iron?

The most unfortunate thing about a flat iron steak is that there are very few of them per animal! While I sometimes have some for sale individually, most of the flat iron steaks are found in beef stock up bundles or quarter beef packages.

If flat iron steak wasn't already in your cooking rotation, hopefully you'll consider giving it a try soon. I'll be back soon with another featured cut for you to consider. In the meantime, I welcome any additional comments or questions below.

2 Comments

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Guest
Jun 29

Thank you for the information and the recipe

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Guest
Jun 28
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you, that's good to know

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