Yes, you can eat steak on a frugal budget

I discovered a new (for me) cut of steak a couple of months ago when I was reading an informative and well-detailed chart from one of my favorite cookbooks (America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook).  It’s known as the Top Blade, Blade or Flat Iron steak, depending on how it is cut.  The reason it caught my interest was because in the cookbook’s chart, they evaluated all types of steak according to three criteria:  taste, tenderness, and price.  Obviously, for someone on a more limited budget, the price is important, but if you’re like me, you’re also wanting to maximize the quality of the steak compared to what you pay.

Now here’s what’s interesting:  Filet Mignon, which we all know is both good and expensive, had a tenderness rating of four stars, a flavor rating of one star, and an expensiveness rating of four stars.  Top Blade had a rating of three stars for tenderness and flavor, and an expensiveness rating of one star.

I discovered that our local Safeway carries these steaks for $3.99/lb normally, and when they go on sale, you can get them for $2.49/lb.  Not bad when a good price for chicken breast is $1.99/lb.

I finally got to try the package that we had purchased and froze last night when I made some Beef Kebabs with Asian flavors in our oven under the broiler.  And the results?  The beef was cooked medium-well as one-inch cubes on skewers, and was amazingly tender and flavorful.  I think it was even better than the New York strip steaks I splurged on at $3.99/lb for Labor Day weekend.

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Additional notes:  This may get confusing, but Top Blade Steaks are basically cross-cut sections of Flat Iron steaks, kind of like what salmon steaks are to salmon filets.  Flat iron steaks can be a bit more expensive, but essentially, they are the same thing, just either the top or bottom portion of the “blade roast” with the gristle removed.  The top blade steak also comes with a thin ribbon of gristle down the middle (see picture above), but it was easily removed with my knife when preparing the kebabs.

When I was reading up on this cut on the Internet, I saw in some comments that occasionally this cut can have a slightly livery taste.  This concerned me, as I really don’t like liver, and I had a couple of bites of our kebabs that had a hint of that flavor, but for the most part, it just tasted like really really good steak.

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