As all grilling aficionados know, every cut of meat is different. The cooking process that works perfectly for a ribeye won’t yield quite the same results when you’re grilling flank steaks. In order to bring out the meat’s best qualities, you’ll need to adjust your technique depending on which cut you’re dealing with. That’s what prompted us to put together this guide on how to grill top blade steak.
What Is Top Blade Steak?
Sometimes called simply blade steak, this cut is taken from a muscle in the beef chuck portion of the cow. The chuck is what’s known as a primal cut, which means it’s taken from a piece of meat that was initially separated from the animal during the butchering process. The steak can be left whole or separated into flat iron steaks (see (Top Blade vs. Flat Iron, below.
Butchers obtain the steak by cutting across the top blade muscle, which leaves a row of connective tissue running through its center. While some purists might scoff at this, the meat on either side of the strip is actually quite tender, with plenty of beef flavor. The cut is also quite affordable, which makes it easy to purchase in bulk for large gatherings.
Top Blade vs. Flat Iron
If you choose to remove the band of gristle that runs through the middle of a top blade roast, you’ll end up with a flat iron steak. Many experts consider this steak to be nearly as tender as the filet, and it’s a great choice for kabobs and stir-fries. However, leaving the connective tissue in place will give the meat more flavor and texture.
For a detailed guide on how to cut a top blade roast into flat iron steaks, take a look at this video tutorial.
Is Top Blade Steak Good For Grilling?
Some chefs claim that the top blade steak is actually not suitable for the grill on account of the tough inner membrane. While it’s true that low-and-slow cooking applications such as braising will cause this fat layer to melt until it’s as nearly as tender as the rest, there’s no reason to forgo the grill. As long as you cook the steak according to the directions we’ve outlined below, you should be more than satisfied with the results.
Tips On Grilling Top Blade Steak
- Because the cut is relatively thin, you’ll want to use an instant-read thermometer to test the temperature. Try to insert it through the side of the steak without touching the membrane of fat–this will throw off the reading.
- Cook these steaks to medium-rare (no more than 140 degrees) to keep the meat juicy and flavorful. Thinner steaks dry out easily, so don’t let yourself get distracted!
- Always let steaks rest for at least 5 minutes before serving. This allows the juices to redistribute. Also, bear in mind that the steaks will continue to cook slightly during the resting period, so remove them from the grill when they’re about 5 degrees below your desired temperature.
- Turn the steaks with a pair of heatproof tongs. If you use a fork or other sharp utensil, you’ll risk losing juices to the flames. This can also cause flare-ups, which may impart a bitter flavor to the meat.
- It’s fine to cook top blade steaks for a short time over high heat, as they’re thin enough to cook quickly. Keep a close eye on the temperature if you choose this method.
How To Grill Top Blade Steak: A Step-By-Step Tutorial
The seam of connective tissue means that top blade can be a challenging steak to grill. However, with the right technique, you’ll achieve satisfying results that will make you the envy of the neighborhood.
We’ve kept the ingredients simple, but feel free to get creative with side dishes. Grilled tomatoes will help to underline the beef’s natural sweetness, while herb mashed potatoes will provide an earthy flavor while absorbing all the delicious juices.
- 4 top blade steaks, about 6 ounces apiece
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
1. Remove the top blade steak from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature for 30-45 minutes.
2. Sprinkle the steaks liberally with salt and pepper, pressing lightly to allow the seasonings to adhere. Because they’re so flavorful on their own, there’s no need to get fancy with the seasonings, but Lawry’s Seasoned Salt can be a fine substitute. If you choose to marinate the steaks, keep the process brief–no longer than 12 hours.
3. Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill. If using a gas grill, preheat on high for 10-15 minutes, then adjust the heat to medium-high. A pellet grill can be set to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. If the grill has a searing station, you can use that in lieu of the regular burners.
4. Cook the steaks over direct heat until they’re about 5 degrees below your desired temperature. This should take only about 3-5 minutes per side.
5. Remove the steaks from the grill, set them on a plate, and tent the plate with aluminum foil.
6. Serve at once. If you’d like to make it easier for guests to avoid the tough center membrane, you can slice the steaks crosswise into strips beforehand.
If you’re anything like us, you’re bound to appreciate the challenge that top blade steak represents. Unlike the more grill-ready cuts of tenderloin and ribeye, it requires a keen eye and an experienced hand to wield the tongs. Once you’ve tasted the results, you’re bound to be hooked.
Best of luck, and happy grilling!