margarita grilled flat iron steak with orange salsa


 august 9, 2013

margarita grilled flat iron steak


The sweet scents of summer : freshly cut watermelon, peppery blossoms of abelia draping over my back yard fence, just-made pesto redolent of basil and garlic and the smoky aroma of steak on the grill.

The livin’ is easy in summertime, and nothing makes an easier dinner than grilled steak.  Served hot off the grill or chilled the next day in a colorful salad with tomato, cucumber and blue cheese, grilled steak is a production so simple you can’t even call it cooking.  Call it flipping, and then call yourself satisfied.

My favorite steak for grilling is the flat iron.  Relatively new to the market, the flat iron is an inexpensive cut from the chuck shoulder introduced in recent years by the beef industry to decrease waste and present an economical cut more flavorful than costly cuts from, for example, the tenderloin. The flat iron steak, or top blade steak, is nicely marbleized and well suited for grilling, the sauté pan and in any recipe calling for strips of beef.

I’m still following noted food columnist Mark Bittman’s dictum of “less is more” when it comes to red meat consumption, so I am perfectly satisfied with three or four ounces of meat.  In this recipe I specify one pound of steak serving four, but you can adjust this according to your own tastes and appetites.  The little sprinkle of brown sugaringredients for margarita flat iron steak marinade just prior to grilling gives a tantalizing caramelization, but the acids in the marinade keep sweetness in check.

The only drawback to flat iron steak is a fibrous band of tissue running the length of the steak, mostly removed before packaging, but still there in remnants, making you work just a little for your supper.  A little extra elbow grease at the table in exchange for a remarkably flavorful cut of meat? Sure, count me in.

The orange salsa may be made a day ahead, but is best if served on the day of production.  Peeling the orange with a sharp serrated knife makes this task easy – just peel, trim any white pith and remove the center white pith after cutting horizontal slices.

peeling an orange with serrated knife

orange salsa


margarita grilled flat iron steak with orange salsa

recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company

serves four


one pound beef flat iron steak
2 large cloves garlic, zested or finely minced
juice of one half a lime
juice and zest of one large orange
1/4 cup  pure agave tequila
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 t ground cumin
light brown sugar
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
for salsa : one large navel orange, peeled and diced
1 T finely minced red onion
juice of one half a lime
1/4 t cumin seeds
one small jalapeno pepper, finely minced
2 T cilantro leaves


  1. Combine salsa ingredients and chill in refrigerator; option : add small pinch of salt.
  2. Whisk marinade ingredients of lime and orange juices and zest, garlic, tequila, cumin and oil.
  3. Place marinade in shallow glass or non aluminum metal oblong baking pan, and add steak.
  4. Marinate steak at room temperature 1 1/2 to 2 hours, turning every thirty minutes.
  5. Heat grill to high, drain off excess marinade and season meat well with salt and pepper.
  6. Just before adding to the grill, sprinkle one side with about 1 teaspoon brown sugar and place this side down on the grill.
  7. Grill (lid closed) without turning about 5 minutes, flip meat and add another teaspoon brown sugar to other side, and grill with lid closed about another 5 minutes for medium rare, or to your liking.
  8. Allow meat to rest about 10 minutes before slicing thinly across the grain.  Serve salsa on side.
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