When a cow is broken down into edible parts such as roasts, steaks, ribs etc. it can get confusing as to what to buy. With beef prices rising, processors are always looking for alternative cost options without compromising a good eating experience.
When it comes to steaks there are so many options based on the cuts and prices. Ribeyes and strips reign supreme but for most of us they are usually designated for a special occasion. So, what is a viable option for the steak lover? Try the flat iron steak. It is not the quality of a ribeye but if it is chosen carefully and cooked properly it makes for a great meal without “breaking the bank”.
The flat Iron steak was discovered in early 2000’s and goes by many names. The more popular ones are top blade roast and top shoulder blade roast. It is part of the muscle that comprises the chuck part of the shoulder. It is the top part of the shoulder and is usually about 3/4″ to 1″ thick and weighs around 12 ounces. There will be two in a pack. The key to having a good eating experience is to pick a pack that has great marbling (striated fat within the muscle fiber). This marbling is an indication of tenderness and great flavor. Another key element is the cooking process. Do not over cook them. We prefer medium rare (130 degrees) and would not cook beyond medium (140 degrees) for fear the steak will toughen up and dry out.
OK, here’s what to do and what you need:
Cook Time: approximately 7 to 8 minutes
Yield: 2 to 3 servings
2 well marbled iron steaks
Obie Cue’s Double Garlic Pepper
Smokin Guns Hot
Big Poppa Double Secret Steak Rub (unfortunately we are not permitted to sell Big Poppa seasonings online so for online purchases use Historic BBQ Black Bird & Beef).
If the membrane has not been removed, ask the butcher to remove it. In most cases it is removed.
Brush on a coat of Butcher’s Steak House Grilling Oil (helps seasonings to stick).
Apply a first layer of Obie Cue’s Double Garlic Pepper (VERY light)
Apply a second layer of Smokin Guns Hot (VERY light)
Apply Big Poppa’s Double Secret Steak Rub (or Historic) medium coat.
Place the steaks back in the fridge for 2 hours.
Preheat the grill to 450 to 475 degrees.
Place the steaks on the grill.
After 1 1/2 to 2 minutes pick up each steak and rotate a quarter turn and place back down. This will give you the cross hatched grill marks.
After another 1 1/2 to 2 minutes turn the steaks over and do the same process as above.
Once completed, temp the steaks with a good digital thermometer for the desired doneness. If not done enough, let them sit for another couple of minutes.
Rare 125 degrees
Medium Rare 130 to 132 degrees
Medium 145 degrees
Do not let the steaks rest. They are thin cuts and will cool off quickly.
To cook the perfect piece of meat is one thing, but to enhance the flavor of the meat is another.
The barbecue pros will create a flavor profile by a process called “layering”.
Layering simple means combining 2 to 3 off the shelf seasonings that complement each other.
Do not mix them together but layer them over each other.
A basic layering works as follows:
1st layer (White) a seasoning heavy in salt. Salt brings out the flavor in the meat and helps with retaining some moisture.
2nd (Red) a seasoning with a little cayenne or chili but not over powering. Just a slight “kick”.
3rd layer (Brown) a seasoning high in brown or white sugar. It balances the kick and gives great color.
Example L to R: White, Red, Brown
So think white, red, brown when coming up with a profile.
Not all seasonings will work well together.
It requires experimenting, and also figuring out what your own flavor profile is.
At GrillBillies, we experiment with the seasonings we sell to create flavor profiles we like.
Click here to see the combinations we use or rummage through your spice rack and start experimenting.
To create those delicious morsels of crispy deep brown nuggets found on that perfectly cooked steak and brisket, you need the presence of sugar.
When meats are exposed to heat, they release sugar and amino acids.
On a quick cook such as steaks, usually the high cooking temperature will provide the elements essential to achieving those crispy nuggets, which are known as the Maillard Effect.
Here’s what needs to be done:
When cooking a steak, for instance, make sure the surface of the meat is absolutely dry.
If not, when the heat hits it you will be steaming the surface of the meat.
After drying the meat with a paper towel, you can sprinkle sugar on the surface and allow the steak to sit so the sugar can penetrate the surface.
At high heat, place the steak on the grill and keep flipping as necessary to achieve that golden brown surface.
On large cuts of meat, because they are cooked low and slow, we will add brown sugar or a layering of seasonings – one of which is high in sugar – to help achieve a nice bark.
Check out our recipes for smoked brisket and pulled pork.
Layering two or three seasonings that complement each other is a powerful, easy and inexpensive way to up the results of your barbecuing cooking. The process is to identify off the shelf seasoning that have some synergy when “layered” one on top of the other. By doing so you are sensitizing all areas of the tongue providing an outstanding and amazing flavor profile. One seasoning can only be one dimensional. Two can quadruple the flavor profile. Three matched perfectly can make for an outstanding flavor profile that will “up” your BBQ experience dramatically without changing anything else.
Take for example the “Holy Grail” combination listed in our seasoning combination page. Applying the Obie Cue’s Double Garlic Pepper provides a nice base coat on the meat. Topped with Smokin Guns Hot we get a slight “kick”. When finished off with the sweetness of Meadow Creek’s Black Pepper Rub we offset the heat and provide a nice top surface for carmelization. Once you have achieved a few recipes it will become easier to distinguish which seasonings work and which don’t. For example, we have found that the “fruity” seasonings such as Peach or Pecan Rubs can be “in your face sweet”. To cut this sweetness but still achieve the pleasant taste of these rubs we just layer a half part of Chipotle Rub which takes the edge off the sweetness and calms things down.
Layering your seasonings is a great way of taking some of the seasonings that are sitting unused in your cabinet or those that you may not be “shot in the head” about and getting some utility out of them.
“Difference between a great one and an OK one”
Hamburgers appear to “reign supreme” when it comes to outdoor cooking. We may eat 10 million hotdogs per year but the average American eats 150 hamburgers per year for a total of 50 billion per year. Everybody cooks them and therefore there doesn’t seem to be much forethought as to what they’re comprised of or how they
We tell customers that when it comes to brisket, butts, ribs etc. half the battle of getting good results is the quality of the meat. Low quality meat low quality results. It is the same with hamburger meat.
To understand the quality issue is to understand what you are buying. There is hamburger meat and there is ground beef. The USDA allows processors of hamburger meat to add fat. Fat is not allowed to be added to ground beef. With that being said, you may elect to purchase the ground beef over the hamburger meat but remember you still need a certain amount of fat to make a good burger.
We recommend the following, avoid either if you can. With either one you never know what part of the cow you are buying, how old it was, was the meat frozen etc. Remember, the USDA does not inspect meat unless it travels over State lines. Some States have State inspectors but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee high quality meat. You can be getting anything from the head to the a-s. Most butchers have scruples and will grind up better parts of the cow than a processor so they are your best friend when it comes to getting good quality meats.