Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cheap Steak Sandwiches

by John Smith

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My schedule is always changing and often I'll come home long after the dinner has been devoured and there is nothing left but crumbs and the gravy and mashed potato finger painting on the kitchen table. My wife tries to save me a little something, but the kids seem to have other ideas. If it's good it's gone, and if it's not good, then I politely, out of the goodness of my heart, tell the wife not to bother herself with warming up the leftovers. "After all," I tell her, "you've been working hard all day. I'll just rustle up a little something myself."

Now if I had any warning at all that there might be massive amounts of an unidentifiable substance posing as a leftover in the fridge, I'll maybe grab a little steak meat from work for sandwiches.

My favorite steak by far is a nice big juicy rib eye. Then again a great big porterhouse with lots of marbling is hard to beat. Either one of these top end type steaks will make outstanding sandwiches. Of course, they will cost you a pretty penny. Even on sale, they are not going to be cheap. There is an alternative.

What I do, when I get the urge to eat something that doesn't look like it could be used as a prop in a horror film, is cut a few thin slices off the front or narrow part of the flat iron. The flat iron is probably the most underrated cut of beef on the planet. It is tender and well marbled, meaning that it is juicy and flavorful. When cut into steak it is called top blade steak. In most meat markets, the flat iron is cut into boneless country style ribs. The top blade steaks do not sell well. It's probably because they are not a very attractive steak. It has what appears to be a thick seam of gristle going right down the center of it. It is actually a gelatin type substance that melts away when you cook it, which may not sound that great, and is, I suppose, another reason the steak does not sell well. But it has the best flavor, and when cut thin for sandwiches, it is very tender.

Next time you are feeling adventuresome or you just want a nice juicy, tender steak for a sandwich that can't be beat and you want to save money, ask the butcher at your favorite supermarket how much flat irons are going for. They should be the same price as boneless country style ribs, which are about the same as a boneless chuck roast. If not, try another store. Once you have determined that the butcher isn't trying to work you over, ask him to slice you several 1/2 inch steaks off the front or narrow part of the flat iron. Some of the younger butchers may not know what a flat iron is. If they don't, just humbly explain to him or her that it is the hunk of meat on the side of the cross rib that is usually used to make boneless country style ribs.

If that little seam of gelatin bothers you, just cut it out. Then throw those little steaks on a very hot skillet for ten seconds on each side for medium to medium rare and make your sandwich. Have plenty of napkins ready as you're going to need them.

John Smith has been a butcher/meat cutter for 30+ years. He's written the book Confessions of a Butcher - eat steak on a hamburger budget and save$$$," which is available at You can check some of his archived articles or post any meat related question and get it answered usually within 24 hours. John, his wife Vickie and their 8 kids live in eastern Idaho in the shadow of the Tetons.

Take the Next Step:
  • The next time you're grocery shopping ask the butcher at your favorite supermarket how much flat irons are going for.
  • Calculate the cost of meat per serving by using this free online calculator. This gives you the true cost of meat after factoring in waste from fat and bone.

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