I have previously discussed the joys of flat iron steak - it is relatively cheap, it tastes good, and now I have some easy ways to prepare it.
Tip #1: Use a Rub
Here is a great way to prepare flat iron steak with minimal effort and maximum creativity. Create a rub. This is your chance to raid the spice rack and go crazy with anything that catches your interest. The simplest rub is salt and pepper. You can throw in garlic powder too. If you use four parts salt, one part pepper and one part garlic powder, you have Paula Deen's House Seasoning. Another simple choice is your migraine-friendly taco seasoning. I usually st a art with an approximation of the House Seasoning, add onion powder, then select a style of cooking. If I just want a little more flavor complexity, I love cumin. You can add other Mexiothcan ingredients to that like chili powder, coriander, ground chili pepper (if you can tolerate it), paprika or my newest addition to the spice rack, Tabasco Salt. If I add heat from other sources, I will often reduce or skip the black pepper. If you want to go Asian, you could try five spice or powdered ginger. Both of these ingredients can benefit from a touch of sugar; however, the sugar will burn if you cook the way I'm going to suggest. I generally avoid dried herbs like basil, oregano, parsley, etc for rubs, as they can also burn in a bad way.
Once I rub the top of my flat iron steak, I flip it into a hot oven-safe pan for 2-3 minutes, just long enough to put a good sear on the meat. You probably do NOT want to use a non-stick pan here because the heat will damage the coating. While it sears, I CAREFULLY apply rub to the other side. If you want to be extra careful, you can use the back of a spoon to rub the spices into the meat. After the first side is seared, flip the steak and sear for another 2-3 minutes. These steaks are big, so I use tongs.
When both sides are seared, put the entire pan into a 400 degree oven for 12-15 minutes (longer if you don't like tender, pink steak). Remove the pan and let it rest for five minutes before cutting.
Tip #2: Slicing on the Bias
I have worked enough with flat iron steak now to determine that you come up with really good results if you slice the meat on the bias. That means laying the steak in front of you on your cutting board so that the length runs left-to-right. You point your chef's knife straight ahead of you and tilt it so that the flat side is at a 45 degree angle to the cutting board. Hold the meat gently with your tongs in your non-cutting hand and cut the meat thinly at the same 45 degree angle.
"C'mon!" you say. . . Stop saying that. This is not about being fancy. This is cutting method angles the cow's tissue fibers such that they are least able to hold together. In other words, you make the meat more TENDER, just by cutting at this angle rather than straight up and down. This works so well that it can eliminate the need to remove the long piece of connective tissue that gives flat iron steak a bad name with some people. Worst case, that tissue is much easier for the consumer to eat around. If you want a full explanation of the gross anatomy and physics behind why cutting this way makes such a dramatic difference in the texture of the meat, you can read here.
Tip #3: Braising
The last time I cooked this way, I went Asian. I used five spice and Tabasco salt as my extra ingredients. When I was done searing, I added some water and beef-flavored Better than Boullion, a good bid of oyster sauce, and just a touch of soy sauce (omit if you are sensitive, let the family add it to their portions). Stock would work just as well as the water and base, depending on what you have handy or need to use up. If you like sugar with your five spice, this is a better time to add a bit than when you are making the rub. This is a good time to add thawed frozen veggies, rinsed canned veggies, or sauteed fresh veggies. Because of the liquid, the meat required the full 15 minutes in the oven and may require a bit longer.
While your meat is resting, you can thicken the resulting sauce with corn starch. Make a slurry with the corn starch and either water, stock, or some liquid from the pan. Fully dissolve the corn starch in the liquid, add it back to the pan and mix in, heat the liquid in the pan to slow boil, reduce heat and simmer to desired thickness. Don't overheat the cornstarch or it will not work.
I like the plain rub steak with a baked potato. Asian style goes great with rice, or noodles would work. If I'm going Mexican, I'll sometimes cook white rice with a touch of paprika for flavor, and add in a bit of olive oil after it's cooked to give it more of a finished, restaurant quality.