Tuesday, October 1, 2013

"Hanger" Steak? YES! Hanger Steak!!

It is my opinion that the humble Hanger Steak is probably the most flavorful piece of beef that you can get out of a heifer, steer, or cow.  The problem is, you can rarely find them. There are good reasons for this, and once you understand the secrets of a good Hanger Steak, you'll want to find one.  Now!  Start asking your butcher, your grocer, your internet meat provider, etc, it may take some time, but your efforts will be very well rewarded!

Facts about Hangers:
  1. It is also called, "The Butcher's Cut" because traditionally, butchers would keep this tender and flavorful prize for themselves, rather than offer it for sale.
  2. There is only one "V-Shaped" twin-muscled Hanger Steak per cow.
  3. It is a twin set of muscles, connected in the middle by a thick and inedible membrane.
  4. Each half of a good Hanger weighs between 1.0 and 1.5lbs.
  5. Hanger steaks are "fragile" and must be cooked very quickly over high heat to an internal temperature of 125 degrees (Medium Rare).  If you cook them any longer, they'll become extremely tough.
  6. Hanger steaks lend themselves very well to a good marinade.
  7. Anatomically, this muscle "hangs" from the diaphragm of the cow, and helps with expansion/contraction as the animal breathes.
  8. Other names for Hanger Steaks include:  Bistro Steak, Arrachera, Fajitas Arracheras, French Skirt, Onglet, Lombatello, and Solomillo de Pulmon!
With a little extra prep time, you can cook up some beef medallions that rival the taste of a hearty Ribey or New York Strip, and that rival the cost of ordinary hamburger.  Scour your local meat providers for a Hanger Steak (or two) and grab a sharp trim or boning knife.  Your guests will have no idea how spoiled they're about to become!

You Will Need:

  • Two full Hanger Steaks (5-7lbs total weight)
  • Kosher Salt

For the Marinade:
  • 2 Tbsp Yellow Mustard
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 3 Tbsp Fresh Garlic (peeled, smashed, and minced)
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • 1 Tsp of Chili Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Whisk the marinade briskly in a small glass bowl until it all comes together.  Set it aside in the refrigerator.  Now, it's time to trim your Hangers.

Hanger steaks are cheap and there's a very good reason for this.  A lot of trimming and preparation is required for this cut of meat and most shops will leave that up to you.  No problem, it's easy!  Start with the first cut, right down the middle of the Hanger Steak, to separate the twins.  Follow the white line of a tough rubbery membrane.  It's easy to find because the grain of the muscle runs to the middle along this line (see the picture here on the left).  If you bought two Hangers, you'll end up with four long tubular steaks.

Now that you have your four steaks, you'll want to trim any excess silver-skin, membrane or fat away from the muscle.  Simply slide your knife under the layer of unwanted tissue, and "shave" it off of the meat.  You may need to hold one end tight, while you slide your knife to the other end to shave off the silver-skin while keeping as much red meat in tact as possible.  Keep your knife hand clean and dry, and use your other hand to handle and position the meat.  Greasy hands and sharp knifes do NOT a marriage make!

When you're finished, you should have four nice long portions of Hanger Steak!  Notice that they're extremely well marbled, and they're quite a bit darker in color than most cuts of red meat.  This will all translate into an impressive richness of flavor!  You may also notice that there is quite a bit of elasticity in these cuts.  Do what you can to keep them squished together, don't stretch them out!  They'll swell up a bit when they're on the grill and you want to retain those juices (and flavor)!  Season these beauties with a generous sprinkle of Kosher salt on both sides, then grab your marinade.

Let's talk about the marinade for a second.  Your brain might be thinking, "Ken is crazy, there is no way that mustard and red meat will go well together!"  Trust me.  Remember the Rib Recipe?  Remember how the heat from the grill transformed the mustard into an amazing crusty and sweet "bark" on the outside of the ribs?  The same thing will happen here, you will not taste any mustardy flavors... only a garlic citrus flavor with a sweet finish.  It's amazing!  Smear all sides of each Hanger loin with the marinade and park them, uncovered, in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours.  Overnight is better.  Take them out and let them come up to room temperature while you get your grill ready.

Light up your charcoal (or pre-heat your propane... Honestly, have you not at least purchased a small, cheap, charcoal kettle grill yet?) and get the grill HOT HOT HOT!  Burn off any gunk from your last foray onto the grill and while it's hot, scrape it well and then brush it with canola oil.  Lay your Hangers across the hot part of the grill and watch for flare ups.  If a flame up occurs, roll the meat out of the way or immediately close the lid to snuff out the flame.  Continue to roll and cook these marvels until your reliable "Instant Read" thermometer says, "125 degrees F."

Remove them from the grill and cover them with foil, and let them rest for 10 minutes.  Slice them into medallions for serving.  Take a good look at the picture on the right.  Do you see any yellow mustard?  No!  Do you see all of that juicy goodness?  That was AFTER a 15 minute rest!  These are so good, they're a bit like Filet Mignon medallions but with a little more "bite" to them, a lot more juice, and a ton more flavor. 

I promise you, once you've had a good Hanger Steak, you'll keep looking for them and you'll want to keep them all for yourself!


  1. I just finished eating some beef ribs by following Kens directions. They came out tender and delicous


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