Flat-iron steak tender, inexpensive

Posted July 19, 2011, at 3:59 p.m.

Question: What is flat-iron steak and how should you season it?

Answer: Flat-iron steak is one of my favorite all-purpose cuts of meat. It’s great for the grill, cooked whole or cut into individual steaks. Flat-iron can be pan-fried, too. And it takes well to all sorts of rubs, marinades and basic seasoning blends.

Flat-iron steak is cut from the shoulder of the animal and is sometimes labeled top blade steak. It is said to be just as tender as sirloin or even filet mignon.

Consumers love the fact that flat-iron is so reasonably priced. One flat-iron averages 1¼ to 1¾ pounds and is about 1 inch at its thickest. What I like about flat-iron, besides its versatility, is its uniform thickness.

I like to prepare it with a spice rub or any marinade for beef. Whatever method you use, don’t cook it beyond medium or it will be tough. I prefer to grill it whole to medium-rare — about 8 minutes per side — and it turns out fork-tender.

Flat-iron steak is ideal for beef satay because the slices will be a similar size when you cut across the grain. I serve my golf gals the beef satay recipe below at our end-of-season party. It makes about 24 appetizers and is adapted from a recipe the Free Press printed years ago from “The Best Grill Pan Cookbook Ever” by Marge Poore. Here’s how to make it:

In a medium saucepan, combine ⅓ cup dry vermouth, ½ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce and 3 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Lower the heat if it starts to boil over. Remove from the heat and add 2 tablespoons canola oil, 2 crushed cloves garlic, ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper and 1 tablespoon rice or white vinegar. Let the mixture cool completely.

Slice one flat-iron steak across the grain into ¼-inch-thick strips. Place the strips in a sealable bag or bowl and pour the cooled marinade over them. Seal and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.

When ready to grill, have ready bamboo skewers that have been soaked in warm water for at least 30 minutes. Preheat or prepare the grill for medium-high heat.

Remove the meat from the marinade and thread onto the skewers. Grill about 2 minutes per side. You can also cook these under the broiler for the same time.

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