~ My Pan-Seared Flat-Iron Steak Slider-Sandwiches~
Ok -- I admit it. When my food world is moving so fast I can barely catch a breath, that's when I'm most tempted to order take-out or head for the drive-through (humming the "you deserve a break today" tune all the way). I don't I rarely do. Why? I've got a few fast and furious home remedies that cure a fast-food, "where's the beef" craving or snack attack the moment it starts stealing its way into my brain. I call them "flash-in-the-pan" meals because they go from stovetop to dinner table in almost less time that it takes to say "would you like fries with that"!
In my house, flat-iron steak sandwiches are one such meal. After thinly-slicing some onion and a fresh French baguette, each steak cooks in a skillet for exactly six minutes -- less time than it takes to make the average hamburger, and, the moment you taste that first slice of meat, you just know you're in for a beefy treat. These sandwiches are perfect for a quick weekday lunch or dinner, a late night snack attack, and, here in Happy Valley, PA (home of the Penn State Nittany Lions), they're very popular at our stadium tailgates and in-home bowl parties. If you've ever wondered how the lesser known flat-iron steak compares to it's other flat-steak cousins, read on:
Similar to flank steak (top photo), skirt steak (middle photo) and hanger steak (no photo), flat-iron steak (bottom photo) wasn't always a part of my repertoire. It wasn't because I didn't like them. All of these steaks were really slow to make their way to the part of the steak food chain where the powers-that-be decided to market and sell them to the public. They were the tough, less desirable, but flavorful cuts of beef that butchers tossed into the pile of miscellaneous cuts and trimmings destined for ground beef, or, they saved for themselves. Flank steaks (made famous by Louisiana's Chef Paul Prudhomme and his wildly-popular Blackened Steak Seasoning and recipe), were the first to take the commercial American marketplace by storm back in the latter 1980's.
A bit about flat-iron steaks: A muscle cut off the shoulder blade of the animal, it's sometimes marketed as a "top blade steak". Because it is cut with the grain of the shoulder, rather than the usual cross-grain, it is a bit tougher than its other flat- shaped steak cousins. Once removed from the animal, the roast is separated into two pieces, by cutting horizontally through the center, to remove the heavy connective tissue. The entire top blade yields four, flat, rectangularish-shaped steaks weighing about 8-12 ounces each.
Flat-iron steaks have been around for as long as man has been butchering beef, but, it's only recently that restaurants, especially upscale ones, have been serving flat iron steaks taken from expensive Kobe or Wagyu beef -- it's a profitable way for chefs to offer the beef from these highly-desired animals in an affordable manner to customers. It is said to have gotten its name because it resembled the old, flat, irons women heated on their coal- or wood-burning stovetops and used to press clothing. Read on:
When a flat-iron steak meets a flat iron (a grill press)!
Circa 1980-ish, this superb kitchen gadget is worth its 2 1/2-pound weight in gold. Grill presses are used to keep fried foods flat (bacon, ham slices, sausage patties, burgers, steaks, chops, etc.). It's the precursor to the modern-day panini press. It's not-too-heavy, it's not-too light, which ensures an even flow of heat, an even sear, less spatter, and, a lot less cleanup too!
A well-done flat-iron steak is not well done at all!
In order for flat-irons to be juicy, tender and tasty, these steaks, just like their other flat-steak cousins, are best serve rare, absolutely no more than medium-rare, and that requires high heat over a short period of time -- making pan-searing or grilling the ideal cooking methods. If you require your beef well-done, these cuts should not be on your grocery list. Sometimes they are marinated first, sometimes they are rubbed with a spice blend first, but, once cooked, they are always sliced thinly, across the grain holding the knife at a 30 degree angle. Past that, they can be served just like any other knife-and-fork steak, but, I adore them on sandwiches!
Restaurant chefs like to present their flat-irons garnished with a dollop of some sort of house-made savory compound butter, referred to as "Maitre d' butter". It almost always contains garlic and/or onion and an herb or two of some sort. When I serve my steaks knife-and-fork-style, I dollop them with my recipe for ~ Italian Basil, Tomato, Garlic, Parm & Pepper Butter ~. You can find that mouth-watering recipe in Categories 4, 8, 12, 20 or 22. That said, when I serve my flat-irons sandwich-style, the bread gets slathered with ~ My Herbaceous Holiday Cream Cheese Spread ~. Besides tangy cream cheese and creamy butter, it's flavored with lots of garlic, onion, Herbes de Provence and plenty of black pepper. What's not to love about that combo melting down over a juicy steak of any kind. Just click on the Relatied Article link below for the recipe!
2 8-12-ounce flat-iron steaks, the bigger the better, at room temperature, 1 steak per loaf of bread
freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend, for seasoning steaks
2 tablespoons salted butter + 2 tablespoons olive oil per steak, a total of 4 tablespoons butter and 4 tablespoons olive oil
1 3" wheel of ~ My Herbaceous Holiday Cream Cheese Spread ~, or, 1 5-ounce wheel store-bought Boursin (garlic & fine herbs-flavored), at room temperature, 1/2 wheel per loaf of bread
1 cup very thinly-sliced (shaved) red onion, 1/2 cup per loaf of bread
~ Step 1. Just prior to cooking the steaks (no longer than 5 minutes), season their tops lightly with freshly-ground sea salt and generously with freshly-ground black pepper. In a 12" skillet over low heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter into 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
~ Step 3. Cook steak three minutes on the first side and three minutes on the second, preferably with a cast-iron grill press placed on the top for the full six minute cooking time, turning only once. Do not overcook this steak. Using a paper towel, wipe the skillet clean and repeat the process with the second steak.
Transfer each steak, as they cook, to a warm plate to rest for 10-15 minutes prior to slicing.
Now don't these look just perfect? Resist. Desist. Rest.
Special Equipment List: 12" skillet; cutting board; chef's knife; plastic wrap; 12 sandwich picks; serrated bread knife
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014)