Fire up the grill with flat-iron steak

Tender cut might be popular at summer barbecues

Tender cut might be popular at summer barbecues

May 23, 2007|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

Flat-iron steaks have gone from the grinder to the grill.

Flat-iron steaks, the cut from beef that previously would have likely been ground up for hamburger meat or sold as roast, might be a common sight on grills this summer.

The cut - the second most tender cut of beef next to the tenderloin - is available from at least 7,000 retailers, particularly among restaurants and food service providers, said Mary Bartz, spokeswoman for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, a trade association.

Flat-iron steak has been around for a, but as part of a different, less appealing and less popular kind of cut, Bartz said. Before, butchers who cut flat-iron steaks did not remove the less-than-savory connective tissue at its center, Bartz said.


The updated cut marketed by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association is without the chewy connective tissue and usually yields two or three 8-ounce steaks, according to data provided by Bartz.

"It's our second-best-selling cut next to New York strip," Scott Barao, who sells the steak at his farm, Hedgeapple Farm in Buckeystown, Md.

Customers who try it keep coming back for it, said Barao, also an animal scientist and executive director of the Maryland Cattlemen's Association, a trade association.

In Hagerstown, flat-iron steak is available at Martin's Food Markets on Dual Highway and on Wesel Boulevard.

Flat-iron steaks come from the top shoulder muscle of the cow, the portion that previously was either ground up or sold as roast, said University of Nebraska meat scientist Chris Calkins, whose muscle-profiling research of cattle helped spark interest in the cut in 2000.

Calkins' research project, a joint effort between University of Nebraska and the University of Florida, determined that flat-iron steaks are the second most tender beef cut next to the tenderloin.

"This is a cut of meat that was traditionally undervalued," Calkins said.

Not every one is a fan of flat-iron steak.

Some local butchers are convinced that the cut is more hype than it is a good bite.

"If you put it on a grill next to a Delmonico, you'd want your money back," said Roger Martin, owner of Penn Avenue Meats in Hagerstown. He said the shop is phasing out the cut.

Barao, owner of the Buckeystown farm, said the comparison lies in the tenderness, not the taste. And while flat-iron steaks are quality steaks, the steaks shouldn't be compared with steaks such as Delmonicos when it comes to flavor.

"(Flat-iron steaks) have a very distinct, robust taste," Barao said.

Instead, flat-iron steaks are more similar in taste to tenderloins, he said.

"It would be nothing like a New York Strip steak," Barao said.

Where's the beef?

Beef isn't the only thing great for grilling - fruit works just as well.

For dessert, try a Fruit Cap.

The recipe for grilled fruit courtesy of the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association,

The recipe matches grilled fruit - halved peaches, plums, nectarines or apricots - with your favorite ice cream or frozen yogurt. Place the fruit on the grill for about 3 to 4 minutes. Then serve warm with ice cream or frozen yogurt.

Spicy Lemon Pesto Flat Iron Steaks

Total preparation and cooking time: 25 to 30 minutes

1/3 cup prepared basil pesto sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 large cloves garlic, minced
4 (6- to 8-ounce) flat-iron steaks (aka beef shoulder top blade)

Combine basil pesto sauce, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel, red pepper in small bowl. Set aside.

Prepare charcoal grill according to manufacturer's directons for medium heat. The coals will appear grayish when ready.

Press garlic evenly into beef steaks. Place steaks on grid over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, covered, 10 to 14 minutes for medium rare to medium doneness, turning once. Season with salt, as desired.

Top steaks with lemon-pesto mix.

Serves 4.

Nutritional information per serving:

349 calories; 20 g fat (6 g saturated fat; 4 g monounsaturated fat); 68 mg cholesterol; 250 mg sodium; 2 g carbohydrates; 0.6 g fiber; 38 g protein; 10.2 mg niacin; 0.8 mg vitamin B-6; 2 mcg vitamin B-12; 2.4 mg iron; 4 mcg selenium; 6.5 mg zinc.

- Recipe courtesy of The Beef Checkoff, a program administered by the Cattlemen's Beef Board. This and other recipes are available at

Red Wine-Basil Vinaigrette Marinade

1/3 cup prepared red wine vinaigrette
1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves, crushed

Combine ingredients in food-safe plastic bag.

Makes 1/3 cup marinade, enough for 1 pound of steak.

To use with flat-iron steaks, put the steaks in bag with marinade, turning the steaks to coat. Close bag securely, and marinate in refrigerator 15 minutes to 2 hours for flavor.

- Courtesy of The Beef Checkoff

Garlic-Spice Rub

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika

Combine ingredients in small bowl. Makes enough for 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of steaks.

Apply to both sides of steaks just before cooking - or in advance and refrigerate steak.

- Courtesy of The Beef Checkoff

Barbecue facts

Top holidays for grilling

1. Fourth of July

2. Memorial Day

3. Labor Day

Top foods for grilling

1. Hamburgers

2. Steak

3. Chicken

Top barbecue flavors

1. Hickory

2. Mesquite

3. Honey

- Source: Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association,

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