What’s the butter steak cut, and why is it called that? Like many cuts of meat, it goes by several different names, and butter steak isn’t the most common. But you should still get acquainted with the definition, just in case you ever run into this particular cut.
Butter Steak Cut
The flat iron steak, which is taken from the chuck, is sometimes called “butter steak.” It’s not an easy cut to find, but it’s considered the second-most tender steak on the cow, just after the tenderloin. Since the muscle gets a bit of exercise during the cow’s lifetime, the meat is juicy and flavorful to boot.
What Is The Butter Steak Cut?
The cut of beef known as the butter steak is usually called the flat iron steak. It may also be labeled as shoulder top blade steak, boneless top chuck steak, or simply top blade steak.
This cut is taken from the shoulder of the cow, also known as the chuck. As such, it gets a bit of a workout during the animal’s lifespan, so it has plenty of beef flavor.
Unlike the tenderloin, which doesn’t get much exercise at all, the butter steak is exceptionally flavorful. Nevertheless, it’s widely regarded as the second-most tender steak cut of them all.
The flat iron steak is long and vaguely oval-shaped, with a visible grain and a fair amount of marbling. Like the tenderloin, it’s best when served rare to medium-rare—you don’t want to overcook a steak this tender.
While the flat iron doesn’t enjoy the same popularity as some of the more well-known cuts, it does have a base of devoted fans. What’s more, if you decide to try it, you can expect to pay considerably less than you would for a filet mignon.
Where To Buy Butter Steak
As we mentioned, the butter steak cut isn’t all that well-known. As a result, it can be difficult to find in supermarkets, or even at your local mom-and-pop butcher counter.
Fortunately, online retailers such as Omaha Steaks, Williams Sonoma and Wild Fork Foods are there to fill in the gaps. This isn’t our favorite way to purchase meat, mainly because you can’t see what you’re getting until it’s been delivered. But it will do if you have no other options.
How To Prepare the Butter Steak Cut
Since the flat iron steak has so much flavor on its own, go easy on the seasonings. Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper should do nicely, but you can mix in a bit of garlic powder if you’d like. Lawry’s Seasoned Salt is another good choice.
Try to bring the steak up to room temperature for about 30 minutes before you start cooking. This will allow it to cook more evenly.
For best results, grill the steak for about 5 to 7 minutes per side, or until it’s cooked to an internal temperature of 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Then allow it to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing it against the grain.
Serve the sliced steak warm, topped with butter if desired (see below).
Why Do Chefs Top Steak With Butter?
Often, after removing a steak from the heat, chefs will top it with a pat of butter. This is meant to imbue the cooked steak with flavor and moisture. As such, it works best with cuts that are lean to begin with, such as the tenderloin.
Should you opt to take this step, try adding minced herbs and garlic to the softened butter before adding it to the meat. That will provide the steak with an extra hit of flavor.
About Butter Aged Steak
Have you ever heard of butter aged steak? It’s not easy for American shoppers to find it. However, those who have tried this product tend to agree that it’s worth the effort. You can also butter age steak yourself, though you’ll have to have patience.
If you can find butter aged steak, don’t buy it unless it’s a Prime cut. This will ensure that the meat is tender and flavorful, with plenty of marbling throughout.
The tenderloin, the T-bone, the porterhouse, the New York strip, and the ribeye are all good cuts for butter aging. These are popular and delicious cuts to begin with, so be prepared to drop some serious cash.
To butter age steak yourself, bring the butter to room temperature. You’ll need about 6 tablespoons for every 6- to 8-ounce steak. It’s best to use unsalted butter, as this will help you control the amount of salt that goes into the steak.
Set the steak in a deep pan, then coat it all over with butter. The steak should be completely covered in a layer of butter. Once you’ve done that, place the steak in the refrigerator for 30 to 60 days.
If you’ve done the job properly, the steak won’t spoil during this time. It may give off a funky smell, similar to the aroma of blue cheese. That’s normal. But if the steak starts to smell sour or rotten, then it’s no longer safe to consume.
You should use a dedicated fridge whenever you’re aging steaks. The meat needs to remain very cold and uncontaminated by other flavors. If that’s an issue, you’re better off buying steaks that have been aged in advance.
Finally, don’t be tempted to season the steaks before you start the butter aging process. The long storage period will imbue them with plenty of flavor. In any case, you’ll be able to season them before you start cooking.
Is Tenderloin Steak the Same as Butter Steak?
Some people refer to tenderloin steak as “butter steak” because the meat is tender enough to be cut with a butter knife. However, this is a confusing designation.
As we’ve pointed out, butter steak is actually a different cut entirely—one that’s taken from the chuck, not the loin. If you’re expecting a tenderloin and you buy a steak labeled as “butter steak,” you’re bound to be surprised, if not outright disappointed.
Our advice would be to check with the butcher if you’re not sure which cut of steak you’re looking at. Fortunately, tenderloin and flat iron steak don’t look that much alike, so if you’re familiar with both, it should be easy enough to tell the difference.
Alternatives to Butter Steak
Can’t find flat iron steak? Fear not—there are plenty of other delectable steak cuts out there.
The most obvious replacement would be the tenderloin. As far as texture goes, it’s even more tender than the flat iron. It might not have the same beefy flavor, but you can offset that with the proper seasoning and by cooking the steaks over an open flame.
Ribeye is another good option. It’s not quite as tender as the flat iron, but it’s exceptionally well-marbled, which gives it a superb juicy texture. The ribeye is also one of the most full-flavored steaks available.
You can also substitute New York strip steak. This cut has a fine grain and decent beef flavor, with a modest amount of marbling. If it’s well-seasoned, it serves as a fine stand-in for flat iron steak.
The Bottom Line
The butter steak cut, or flat iron steak, is a flavorful yet tender cut of meat. If you can find it, you’re in for a great grilling and dining experience.
Best of luck, and happy grilling!