Monday, August 17, 2015

Flat Iron Steak with Red Wine Sauce

Flat Iron Steak with Red Wine Sauce
Sous Vide and Grill methods
Flat Iron Steak with Red Wine Sauce
Serves: 6
Difficulty: Easy
Sous vide temp: 131 degree F; Time: 5-12 hours

Steak, cooked sous vide, is the most exciting advancement in carnivore cooking! Flat iron steak, my favorite cheap steak, is cut from the chuck blade roast – the shoulder of the cow. That’s right, this is a piece of a chuck roast. It grills well on its own, but after several hours tenderizing in the sous vide, it cuts like a filet mignon. Sous vide precision cooking offers unparalleled control over the results of your steak, letting you very precisely cook the steak to the level of doneness that you prefer. No guesswork or poking with a thermometer, no cutting and peeking, no jabbing with a finger – just perfect results each and every time. Finally, sous vide offers results that are not attainable by cooking with traditional methods. With standard high heat cooking, you develop a temperature gradient within the meat. The very center, where you shoved the thermometer, may be perfectly medium rare but the steak will be increasingly more well done as you approach the exterior. With sous vide, the steak is evenly cooked from edge to edge. I added a simple red wine sauce to accompany the steak. But, it truly can stand on its own. 

  • 3 (1-pound) flat iron steaks
  • Kosher salt, Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh herbs - optional
  • 1 Tb canola or vegetable oil
  • 3 Tb olive oil
  • 6 Tb cold unsalted butter (divided)
  • 1 onion, thinly slice
  • 1 Tb minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ C tomato paste
  • 2½ C dry red wine (use wine you would drink) 

Start by trimming the flat iron if your butcher has not done so. Season steaks with salt and pepper.  Add aromatics if you wish – a mix of oregano, thyme, parsley for example 1-2 sprigs per steak. See below for sauce preparation, which is the same for both methods of cooking the beef.
Trimmed flat iron steak with spices
For traditional barbeque
Prepare grill to medium-high heat. Season as above and sprinkle steaks with 3 TB olive oil. Grill to desired doneness, about 5 minutes per side for medium rare. Transfer steaks to a cutting board. Tent with foil and let stand 10 minutes.  Be certain to cut across the grain before serving.

For sous vide
Preheat the water bath to 131 degree F – for medium rare, 121 degree for rare, 135 degree F for medium, 156 degree F for well (heaven forbid!!!).

Place the steaks in their individual zip lock bags sealing by displacement method. To do this, slowly lower your bagged steak into a pot of water letting the pressure of the water press air out through the top of the bag.  Once most of the air is out of the bag, carefully seal the bag just above the waterline. Alternatively, seal the bag using a vacuum-sealer. Drop the bags in the water bath. If properly sealed, the steak should sink or clip to side of pot. Cook 5-12 hours.
Ready for sous vide!
After you take the food out of the pouches pat it dry, either with paper towels or clean kitchen towels. I tend to dry it off 5-10 minutes before I will sear it, allowing the remaining moisture to evaporate and the meat to cool slightly. The goal of post sous vide browning is to create the crust while heating the interior of the food as little as possible. The main keys to accomplishing this goal are dry foods, high temperatures, and short times. Moisture that is on the surface of the food will prevent it from browning, increasing the cooking time needed, and potentially heating the food further. Place a heavy cast ion or stainless steel skillet with 1 TB vegetable or canola oil over the hot burner and preheat skillet until it starts to smoke. Gently lay the steaks in the skillet. If desired, add a Tb of butter and/or aromatics like whole thyme and rosemary sprigs with leaves still attached, sliced shallots or crushed whole garlic cloves. After 15-30 seconds, flip the steak so that the second side comes in contact with the pan. It does not need to rest after cooking by sous vide.
The advantage of sous vide: medium rare from end to end. It is both perfect and easy.
Red wine sauce
Melt 2 Tb of butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt. Add the garlic and oregano and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in the wine. Simmer until the sauce reduces by half, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove skillet from the heat.  Strain the sauce into a small bowl, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids in the strainer and return the sauce to the saucepan and bring back to a slow simmer. Cut remaining 4 Tb butter into small chunks and whisk in the sauce a little at a time. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper.
Cooking up the red wine sauce. Solids are discarded before layering over meat.
Final prep
Serve the flat iron steaks, sliced, with red wine sauce alongside.  This is one great meal – turns that tough inexpensive cut of beef into a gourmet treat. Try it as soon as possible.

This sous vide timing and technique works well with skirt steak, flank steak, flat steak and other tough steaks that you normally cut against the grain to make tender.  I would not use the longer cooking times with loin steaks – New York strip, ribeye, and tenderloin – because they do not have much connective tissue and would not benefit from the prolonged cooking time. For loin steaks, go with 1-4 hour maximum cooking time depending size of steak.


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