How to Braise a Flat-Iron Steak (Great Recipe for Braising Pans!) » Chez Bonne Femme
The best way to cook a flat-iron steak? Braise it, my friends. And thanks to Molly Stevens’s braising cookbook, “All About Braising,” I’ve rediscovered a classic: Smothered Steaks.
Smothered Flat-Iron Steaks: The first recipe I cooked from Molly Stevens’s braising book, and it was an all-out hit.
PS: If you’re thinking “been there, done that, no thanks,” think again—with the right cut, the old-time recipe becomes a revelation. I promise.
I finally ordered All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cookingby Molly Stevens. It’s the perfect book for my project this season: testing all the best-known braisers on the market. And if you love braising as much as I do—or if you own a braiser and you’re wondering what to cook next—you really must buy this book.
This season, I’m reviewing top braisers on the market. Loved the All-Clad Braiser!
(Even if you don’t buy the book, read the introduction, Why I Cook. This moving essay gets to the heart of why we all cook—click on “Look Inside,” then click until you get to page xi).
I have bookmarked dozens of recipes that I want to try in this tome, but even in the highly unlikely event that I didn’t get to another one, the price of this book would be well worth it just for her recipe for Top Blade Steaks Smothered in Mushrooms & Onions.
Smothered Steaks? You ask. Isn’t that midcentury cafeteria food at its worst?
Well, yes. It was often that way. As Stevens points out, traditional recipes called for top round steaks, “a cut that becomes dry and leathery when braised…” And if you grew up in the 70s (as did I), you might have had an even worse version of this dish: minute steaks smothered in canned cream of mushroom soup. Later, in college, I used to feed it to my roommates. It did the trick, but I doubt I’d ever want to revisit that.
Yes! Flat-iron steaks are a great braising cut!: Look at all that marbling—as the meat braises, it becomes amazingly tender and that wonderful marbling melts away and enriches the sauce.
By using the right cut—and some amazing flavorings—this recipe gives Smothered Steak back its good name. Stevens’s recipe calls for Boneless Top Blade Steaks, which she mentions are the same as flat-iron steaks. While that may be true in her neck of the woods, in my neck of the woods (Amerique profonde), flat-iron steaks are top blade steaks with the mid-layer of gristle removed. Don’t sweat it—either will work splendidly for this recipe.
Of course, I changed a few things in the recipe; Stevens calls for paprika; I couldn’t resist using smoked paprika, which has become more widely available (and de rigueur!) since her classic cookbook was published 10 years ago. She also calls for finishing the sauce with 1/4 cup heavy cream and a generous squeeze of lemon; I omitted both from this recipe. When I tasted the amazing concentration of beef juices, sherry, smoked paprika, thyme, mushrooms, and onions, it was truly everything I wanted the dish to be.
I made the recipe in the All-Clad Braising Pan, a pan I reviewed recently and that I’m quite thrilled with. Of course, any braising pan will work, as will a large deep skillet with a lid.
Enjoy. As I’m sure you will.
Smothered Flat-Iron Steaks with Mushrooms and Onions
Adapted from All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking.
4 3/4- to 1-inch-thick boneless flat-iron steaks (you might have to cut 2 large steaks into 4 portions total)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 pound (16 ounces) cremini or baby bella mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 large yellow onion (about 3/4 pound), sliced about 1/4 inch thick
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme, crushed
1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
1/2 cup dry sherry
2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley
1. Using a meat mallet (or the bottom of a heavy saucepan), pound the steaks one at a time between two sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap until about 1/2-inch thick. Season both sides of each steak with salt and pepper. Place the flour in a shallow dish and dredge the steaks with the flour, shaking off the excess.
2. Heat the olive oil in a braiser over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Cook the meat, turning as needed, until nicely browned on both sides, but not cooked through, about 8 minutes total. Remove the steaks from the pan.
3. Reduce the heat to medium. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter to the braiser, and when it is melted, add the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring as needed, until the liquid that they’ve released has mostly evaporated and they’ve started to lightly brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl.
4. Return the braiser to the heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter; when the butter has melted, add the onions, thyme, and paprika; lightly season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the onions are tender but not brown, about 8 minutes. Add the sherry; bring to a boil while stirring to loosen the browned bits clinging to the bottom of the pan.
5. Reduce the heat to simmering; return the mushrooms and their juices into the pan and stir to combine. Tuck the steaks and any juices into the mushroom-onion mixture, covering the steaks with some of the mushrooms and onions. Cover the pan and allow to simmer. After a few minutes, make sure that the liquid is at a gentle simmer and adjust the heat as needed. Simmer for 1 to 1 1/4 hours or until the steaks are fork-tender.
6. Transfer the steaks to a serving platter, but leave the mushrooms and onions in the pan. Increase the heat to a boil and allow the liquid to reduce to a sauce-like consistency. Season to taste, then spoon the sauce over the steaks. Sprinkle with fresh parsley.
This content was originally published here.