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You who sear steer meat are acquainted with Chuck, but generally steer clear of him in favor of Sir Loin, or Madame Filet Mignon, or other, more tender cuts of beef. However, inside of Chuck was always a soft heart; it just took a crafty butcher to find it.
It’s called flat iron (because, not unlike our own, Chuck’s tender heart has the triangular shape of a clothes iron). Flat iron was always that part of Chuck called top blade (Chuck is very large and has many personalities). But because blade has a nasty seam of sinew and connective tissue running down his middle, he never did well alone over the dry heat of the grill or in a cast-iron skillet. Blade just was best for braising, that moist-heat cooking that could properly and profitably soften him up.
But one day, a crafty butcher skillfully sliced away at top blade’s sinew, separating steaks on both sides — and the grilling world had its first flat irons.
Some say, in fact, that flat iron is the second most tender cut of beef after filet mignon. Hence, it is woefully under-appreciated and, often, underpriced. However, because it does come from chuck, it sports much more intense beefy awesomeness than filet, more like that from New York strip. That’s a compliment that any searer of steer will appreciate.
Flat iron also has more names than pro wrestling’s roster. You’ll find it, in different parts of the country and from various butchers or grocers, under these names: boneless top chuck steak; oyster blade steak; book steak; butler steak; lifter steak; chuck clod; petite steak; triangle steak; shoulder top blade steak; and boneless top blade steak. (Note that it is not, however, one of these names, all of which are different cuts of beef: hangar, flank or skirt steak.)
The flat iron steak is very tender and well-marbled, therefore great for grilling. Some cooks reflexively marinate it because they marinate all beef. There is no need to tenderize flat iron, but be cautious not to overcook it, either.
Flat Iron Steaks
To serve 2
2 flat iron steaks, each 1 1/2 inches thick (total weight of each depends on your appetites)
Seasoning of your choice (kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper; dry prepared steak rub or seasoning; marinade)
For both methods of cooking here and to assure proper finishing temperatures, steaks should be thawed and at room temperature (out of the refrigerator and set on the counter 30-40 minutes before cooking). Season the steaks, however desired.
To grill: On charcoal, have both hot and medium-hot sections of the grill. Put steaks over the hotter section first, searing both sides for 2 minutes a side. Then move to the less hot part of the grill and cook to an internal temperature (read on an instant-read thermometer) of 130 degrees for medium-rare (12-14 minutes, with one flip). On gas, preheat to high, then proceed as with charcoal, lowering heat to medium after the 2-minute sear.
To sear in a skillet atop the stove: Heat a heavy or cast-iron skillet over high heat for 5 minutes, or until very hot. Add 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil (such as canola, avocado or soybean; however, not olive oil or butter) and immediately add steaks to pan. Cook to an internal temperature, read on an instant-read thermometer, of 130 degrees for medium-rare (13-15 minutes, with one flip).
For both methods of cooking here, remove the steaks from the heat source and rest them on a counter, cutting board or warmed plate for 5 minutes before serving, tented loosely with foil. (The internal temperature will rise about 5 degrees, which is desired.) Resting the steaks allows the internal juices to redistribute themselves away from the surface of the steaks where they have traveled due to the heat of cooking and back into and throughout the meat.