How to Braise a Flat-Iron Steak (Great Recipe for Braising Pans!)

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

The first recipe I cooked from Molly Stevens's braising book was an all-out hit. Truly amazing.

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.

If you've been following along, you know that I've been reviewing top braisers on the market.  Loved the All-Clad Braiser!

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.

It’s All About the Cut

Yes! Flat-iron steaks are a great braising cut!: Look at all that marbling—as the meat braises, it becomes meltingly tender and that wonderful marbling enriches the sauce.

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

Smothered Flat-Iron Steaks

Smothered Flat-Iron Steaks with Mushrooms and Onions

Adapted from All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking.

Serves 4.

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.


Other links you might enjoy:
What is a Braiser? What is a Dutch Oven? Should I invest?
Review of the All-Clad Braiser
Review of the Lodge Braiser
A list of all recipes in my Braiser Cookbook
 How to Braise without a Braiser

Also, check out Molly’s book. The reviews on Amazon are great!

All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking

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14 comments to How to Braise a Flat-Iron Steak (Great Recipe for Braising Pans!)

  • Definitely going to try this recipe! I giggled at the comments about top round steak- my mom used to make her version of pepper steak- strips of top round and green peppers cooked TO DEATH all day. Our small town grocery deli always has the cubed steak in cream of something soup too. Good memories, but not good food!!

  • Thanks for the recipe. This looks so good. Perfect for a chilly evening meal.

  • Jill P.

    Had this for dinner tonight. Super easy and oh so delicious!!! It’ll be a good one to use to impress the in-laws! Thanks for the recipe!

    • Wini

      Thanks for the report. And remember, it was Molly Stevens’s recipe. I commend her for giving “Smothered Steaks” back their good name!

      • Jill P.

        I’m ordering her book today. I love recipes you prepare and then walk away from while they do their thing! And, Wini, your cookbook is a staple in our house. It’s full of ingredients I usually have on hand, they are simple to prepare, and so good. I have a daughter in Lille this year so we have been trying to expand our sense of flavors over the past year so that I am ready for a visit to see her. I am a food chicken, so all these recipes have been a great, but safe, experience for me!

  • dianne obeso

    I have your cookbook..gave one to my sister for Christmas and just gave one to a student from Korea who cooks neither Korean food nor anything else. We did several of your recipes and she could see how easy they were and tasty. I am enjoying your blog now. I shop at Sprouts and Whole Foods so ingredients are day to obtain..not so with some areas of the US I know. I used to go to Tante Marie School of Cooking in San Francisco but they are closing now sadly. Thank you again. Dianne

    • Wini

      Thanks for the report, Dianne! If I couldn’t find an ingredient in the mid-size Midwestern city where I live much of the year, then I didn’t put it in the book (or I gave a viable substitution). It was very important to make the recipes accessible to everyone. I’m glad you noticed that.

      Thanks for spreading Bonne Femme around to your friends and family! I’m touched.

  • Christine

    I got a Le Creuset brassier for Christmas and i made this recipe tonight, increased mushrooms, onions and sherry by half (I like a lot of sauce for leftovers) and had to substitute flank for flatiron. Came out AMAZING. Couldn’t wait for it to be done the smell in the house and apparently outside the house was ridiculous. I am in love with Le Creuset cast iron cookware. Lasts a lifetime and will pass it down to my kids.

    • Wini

      Thanks for the comments…I’m inspired to try it with flank steak, since flatiron can sometimes be hard to find. Good to know that it worked so well.

  • I have made this recipe from Molly Stevens’ recipe three times, every time a huge hit and so delicious it’s hard to describe — the steak is so tender and flavorful — yumm! I’ve always made it with flat iron steaks with the gristle in them. Now I have a flat iron steak without the gristle and I wonder if I should adapt the recipe in any way? Not sure we need to cook as long if not “melting” the gristle. Any thoughts? I can’t find any recipes I trust using this new form of flat iron steak. Thanks!

    • Wini

      Sorry this too me a while to respond. I’ve been in France sans WiFi. I think you’re absolutely fine to cook with or without gristle, because as you mention, that streak of connective tissue will melt away during the long cooking process.

      And now I’m wondering if I can find flat-iron steaks in France….I’m sure I can–I’m just not sure what they’re calle. But you have me hungry for Molly’s recipe!

  • […] How to Braise a Flat-Iron Steak (Great Recipe for Braising … – 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, … […]

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