What is a flat iron steak?
An affordable alternative to more expensive prime steaks, flat iron steaks are a rising star in the steak world. They are incredibly tender and juicy when cooked properly, delivering a premium taste.
Also known as a ‘top blade steak’, or simply ‘blade steak’, a flat iron steak is cut from beneath the cow’s hard-working shoulder blade. After the tenderloin, the blade muscle is the second most tender muscle in the body, so you get a naturally lean steak with abundant flavourful marbling.
Blade of beef has a line of very tough sinew running through the middle of it — a muscle of wonderful versatility. It can be quickly cooked or braised, although we would recommend ‘featherblade steaks’ if considering the latter.
By seaming out the meat on either side of the sinew, we prepare our flat iron steaks in a way that’s ideal for quickly searing and serving medium rare, producing a steak that not only rivals prime steaks such as sirloin and fillet, but in terms of depth of flavour, exceeds them in our opinion.
How long does it take to cook a flat iron steak?
At its best when cooked to just medium-rare, a pan-seared flat iron steak can be ready in around 6-8 minutes (excluding resting time).
Don’t forget that flat iron steaks are incredibly versatile — equally at home thrown on the barbeque, pan-fried, or even in the air fryer. They absorb a marinade well, be it bashed herbs, olive oil, and a clove of garlic, or a little fish sauce and palm sugar for a delicious Thai salad featuring flat iron recipe by chef Andy Oliver of London’s Som Saa.
Best way to cook flat iron steak
1. Take your flat iron steaks out of the refrigerator.
2. Remove your meat from the vacuum packaging and pat dry any moisture. Allow it to come up to room temperature.
3. Heat a griddle or non-stick, heavy-based frying pan until smoking hot.
4. Just prior to cooking, rub oil with a high smoking point and neutral flavour oil over both sides of the steaks and season with salt and pepper.
5. Place the flat iron steaks in the pan and brown them on both sides, around two minutes per side. Resist the urge to move them — the steaks will naturally release from the pan when a crust has formed, so if they adhere to the pan at all, wait a few moments and try again (a rich, golden crust should have formed).
6. Turn the heat down a touch and cook for a total of 6-8 minutes, turning the steaks approx. every 30 seconds throughout.
7. Remove the steaks from the frying pan and rest in a warm place for 8 minutes.
8. Cut along the grain in slices to ensure the meat is tender.
Top tips for cooking flat iron steak
- To gauge how done your meat is while cooking, you can carry out a quick and reliable finger test to ensure it is medium-rare. Gently press the tip of your middle finger to the tip of your thumb. Feel the palm of your hand just below your thumb – this is medium-rare. It should feel similar to your cheek: tender and soft but still fleshy.
- Flat iron steaks can benefit from a marinade, as it often takes on the flavours of the ingredients it’s combined with.
Flat iron steak recipes
If you want to eat your flat iron as a traditional steak and enjoy its core flavour profile, the best way is to keep it simple — a vibrant tomato salad and freshly baked bread. It’s also delicious with a green peppercorn sauce or flavoured butter, served with chips and a green salad simply dressed in a mustardy vinigarette.
For a little Asian kick, slice it thinly across the grain as part of Andy Oliver’s Flat Iron Steak and Chilli Jam Salad recipe.
If you’re looking to eat it as a traditional steak and really enjoy its inherent flavour profile, the best way is to keep it simple. Season the steak with coarse salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Grill it on open flames until medium rare (or whatever doneness you prefer). This will produce a steak that exemplifies the flat iron flavour profile.
Sliced and served up with porcini mushrooms, sauteed with garlic and parsley in the same pan the steaks have been cooked in, a squeeze of lemon juice, the resting juices and a knob of butter added at the end — an enduring and delicious combination.
Marinaded with a squeeze of orange, crushed garlic, ground cumin and ancho chilli, salt and black pepper, seared and sliced, it would be a delicious filling for a pure corn topped with a green salsa and crème fraiche.