Flat Iron Steak: the Origin of a Delicious (and elusive) Cut

The flat iron steak is a team favorite at Rosso & Flynn. The tenderness and flavor are so hard to beat. But for such a delicious treat, the flat iron remains a difficult cut to find, in the grocery store as well as most butcher shops. Our butcher, Michael, sheds some light on the origin of the flat iron, its journey from muscle to table, and its artisanal status.

What’s a flat iron steak?

Also known as a top blade steak, the flat iron hails from the infraspinatus muscle, the second-most tender muscle found in a beef carcass. The infraspinatus is sandwiched between two hard-working muscles, which allow for the little “infra” to be super tender.

How did it get the name "the flat iron"?

The top blade steak was named for the household item it looks like: an old-fashioned flat iron.

Where is the muscle situated, and why does it matter?

Steers are front-heavy animals and their shoulders are used more than any other primal. The chuck primal (the shoulder) has cuts with lots of intramuscular fat. In fact, the chuck has more interesting cuts than any other primal. Hard-working muscles equal beefy, rich flavor. When you pair that combination with little, unused muscles in between hard-working muscles, you get the most tender, flavorful cuts. That’s where the flat iron comes from.

One of our favorite books is Butchering Beef by Adam Danforth. 


Why is the flat iron a difficult cut to find?

Because of the delicious connective tissue that makes this steak so tender, the flat iron is difficult to cut and takes real craft. First, you have to find the connective tissue and cut along the top blade. Next, you have to clean the two sides of the steak and remove any silver skin. Each muscle provides about four steaks and plenty of trim for burgers.

What’s the best way to cook a flat iron steak?

Grilled over the fire or pan-seared. Slice thinly across the grain and serve with pan sauce, Maldon salt or compound butter.  We offer this cut in two different breeds, Wagyu and Angus. Try them both to taste the difference!

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