If you haven’t given much thought to what to toss on the grill, try a simple, marinated flat iron steak.
Flat iron is among my favorite cuts of meat. You don’t have to trim any fat, and it takes to all cooking methods; it is especially good on the grill.
Whenever I mention flat iron steak to people, they often ask if it is like flank steak. It’s not. Flat iron is cut from a chuck roast — the neck and shoulder area of the animal. Flank steak is from the lower back or hindquarter of the animal.
Sometimes you will find flat iron labeled chuck steak or top blade steak. Some people say that flat iron steak is as tender as a sirloin, rib eye and even tenderloin.
With beef prices on the rise, flat iron steak is economical and extremely versatile. A flat iron cut runs about $6.99 a pound. You can grill it as you would your favorite steak, cube it for kabobs or use it in stews or braises. Most stores sell flat iron steaks prepackaged in 1 1/4- to 1 3/4-pound steaks.
Flat iron steak works well with all kinds of marinades, rubs or seasonings.
When buying a bottled marinade, be sure to check the nutrition label and ingredients. Many bottled marinades are loaded with sodium and corn syrup or granulated sugar. I sometimes buy Dale’s Seasoning, which is sold in regular and reduced-sodium varieties.
When I make my own marinades, I always use low- or reduced-sodium soy sauce. Again, be an avid label reader. Many soy sauce brands may say, for example, “50 percent less-sodium” on the label, but the fine print reveals that they have 50 percent-less sodium than their regular product, which could still be a lot of sodium.
Here are five marinating tips from Elizabeth Karmel’s “Soaked, Slathered, and Seasoned: A Complete Guide to Flavoring Food for the Grill” (Wiley, $19.95) and from the Free Press Test Kitchen:
• Marinades are made up of an oil, acid (vinegar or citrus) and seasoning. According to Karmel, oil locks in flavor, helps caramelize and keeps the food moist and juicy. Acids add brightness and flavor, she says.
• Don’t use too much sugar in marinades because it can burn quickly.
• Marinate foods at least 1 hour and, depending on the food, even overnight.
• Marinate food in plastic bags or nonreactive bowls (glass or stainless steel).
• To use a marinade that food has soaked in as a sauce, bring it to a full boil and boil for 5 minutes in order for it to be safe. A safer bet is to make an extra batch of marinade and serve it on the side.