While the popularity of the Denver steak may be increasing in other parts of the country, in our area the flat iron steak is still the popular choice for grillers on a budget.
Cut with the grain from the cow’s shoulder, the flat iron – which ranges in price at locally owned butcher shops from about $4 to $7 a pound – is similar to a Denver cut. Both are sold as part of a chuck roast, but cutting them separately and removing the gristle increases the steak’s tenderness while keeping the price low, says Mark Renninger, manager at Hill’s Meat Market, which sees sales of flat iron steaks increase every year.
It’s an inexpensive steak, but it’s a good steak, he says. And it grills up really nice. You can’t beat that.
Also getting requests at Hill’s is the tri-tip steak (a small muscle from the bottom sirloin, closely related to the culotte steak) and the chuck tender (a cut from the shoulder, involving the teres minor muscle).
But it’s rare that we get requests for those cuts, Renninger says. People just really like the flat iron.
At Manley Meats in Decatur, lesser-known cuts of meat are given their own nicknames by the store’s owners.
Looking for a chuck eye? It’s called a family steak there.
But the flat iron steak gets so many requests, the store usually calls it by its most common name, even though co-owner Ron Manley has seen them referred to at other shops as sizzler steaks, broiler steaks and grill steaks.
Manley says the combination of low price and tenderness has increased the store’s flat iron sales in recent years.
It’s really tender, some say as tender as a filet, he says. But I’d have to argue that. You can’t beat a filet.
Tim Swick, a meat cutter at Custom Quality Meats on Carroll Road, suggests marinating a flat iron steak before grilling because, although it’s more tender than a chuck roast, it still cooks up a little tough. He uses Lawry’s bottled marinades, he says.
The reason flat iron steaks are becoming so popular is because it’s a great-tasting steak, Swick says. You don’t want to mess with that, so just keep it simple, cook it on the grill and enjoy it.