Hanger? I Hardly Knew Her!
Face it, kids. Filet mignon is overrated. Yes, it’s tender. Yes, it costs more than most other steaks. But really, if you ask me for the cut that I turn to time and time again for an in-home, steakhouse experience, it’s all about the hanger steak. Centered between the other popular cuts of brisket and flank. It’s sometimes referred to as skirt, even though it’s actually a completely separate cut of meat (though close by). If you see “onglet” on a French bistro menu, they are referring to hanger steak. The steak itself is comprised of two long strips of meat, with an inedible white membrane running down the middle. I’m usually too lazy to cut this out when I cook the steak at home, but if you want to be a fancy pants, trim this out before you cut portions of steak.
Prized for it’s beefy flavor and chewy goodness (read: chewy but not at all tough), it’s referred to as “the butcher’s cut” because it was the steak that the butcher kept for his fam. I’m not so sure that this is the case these days, but because of its caché, it’s been marked up in price from time to time. Funny how the cheaper cuts (short ribs, skirt steak) have suddenly gone up in price once people collectively “discover” how good they are.
Like a good daughter of Brazil, I like my meat simply seasoned with kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper. Because you aren’t putting a bunch of schlop on your steak, please do it the service of using kosher salt (no iodized please) and fresh pepper. That’s all you need. Nothing getting in between you and your steak. Even though the steak doesn’t need marinating (it’s incredibly flavorful on its own), Anne Burrell has a slick recipe that uses dijon and rosemary as an overnight spa treatment. Check it out if you enjoy this steak recipe and want to have an alternative to add to your bag of tricks.
I served this last one that I photographed for the blog with Purple Potatoes Vinaigrette, but you could serve just about any side with thin slices of hanger steak – mixed greens, a pomme purée (smashed spuds), or a tangle of pomme frites (freedom fries – how stupid was that expression “freedom” fries, especially in that fries were created in Belgium. So it goes). Also, because I live in an apartment, I cook this steak in a large skillet with a modicum of olive oil. That being said, if you have a grill, definitely make use of it.
Simple Hanger Steak
3 lbs. of hanger steak, membranes removed (or not)
1 tbs. of kosher salt
2 tsp. of freshly cracked pepper
2 tbs. of olive oil
Bring your steaks up to room temperature before cooking. Rub with the olive oil and liberally sprinkle salt and pepper over the steaks. Let sit while your pan heats up. Heat a dry skillet on high until it’s just about smoking. Put steaks in the pan and leave them still – if you move them around or fuss with them, you won’t get a lovely char on the outside, and that’d be a shame. I like my steaks medium rare (actually, almost rare), so I cook a meaty 1.5 lb. piece of hanger steak for about 7 minutes on each side. That being said, this is a great opportunity for you to use the doneness test when cooking up your steak.
When you’ve cooked your steak to your liking, let it sit for at least 5 minutes so that the juices can redistribute in the meat. Slice against the grain and serve to carnivorous fiends.