We finally know (sort of) the origins of name "Flat Iron Steak". We were quite pleased to be contacted by Chris R. Calkins, a scientist at the University of Nebraska who explained about the steak's name.
"I am the scientist who led the project that characterized beef muscles and lead to the development of the flat iron steak. It was developed through a cooperative effort with a national meat processor and a local restaurant chain. The name is an old industry term that has proven to have a lot of charisma with consumers. We have been unable to trace the source of the name. In its current use, it refers to a particular piece of meat cut in a specific way. This new form in no way resembles "an old flat iron" in shape - or in taste. It's one of the two most tender muscles in the beef carcass and has a rich, succulent flavor that most consumers appreciate."
As self-respecting sleuths, we don't want to be purveyors of urban myth. The quest for finding the history of how this steak was named started by an email from Stephen when he asked us to help find the lineage of the name of the flat iron steak.
First we performed the requisite web search, something Stephen had no doubt spent hours at long before asking us. Then we were off on a book search at the local chain bookstore. We located the book "The Complete Meat Cookbook" by Aidells & Kelly. The author made a vague reference that the steak was named because of the resemblance to the old flat iron. Although this historical reference was not conclusive, it was the only one we could find.
In additional readings, our curiosity was piqued about the Flat Iron Building in New York City. We found it once housed a well-know steak house and that encouraged us to wonder..........?
Later we contacted the chef from a very old, very well-know steak house in San Francisco, California but he was unable to shed any light on our culinary mystery.
Today, [November 20, 2001] Stephen has provided us with yet a new theory. According to Stephen, a gentleman named Bill from a meat market in Napa, California had a very different historical perspective. According to Bill, "the French were the first to discover the Flat Iron Steak, not too long ago. This steak, which has a thick gristle and sinew plate running through the center of it, must be trimmed to remove this undesirable gristle. The gristle is so tough, the French got to calling it "iron hard," and since it is flat...voila."
Well, fast forward to [March, 2002] and we have our answer. The quest was a good one. If any readers have other interesting questions you'd like to have answered, please write us and we'll research them for you.
Mix all ingredients thoroughly and marinate steak for one hour. Grill over hot coals 4 minutes per side. This steak is best cooked rare to medium rare.
Wine Recommendation: Villa Mt Eden Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel or Pinot Noir