Know Your Meat: Hanger Steak is Awesome!

Hanger steak. Love.  If, like me, you love beef and if what you really love about beef is that deeply beefy, umami defining beefiness, then you too will certainly love hanger steak.  (Was that a little too enthusiastic?)

Why hanger steak is awesome:

  • First, it’s spelled hanger, not hangar. Why? Because it pretty much hangs there off the cow’s diaphragm near the belly.
  • It is one of three flat steaks that come from beef – the other two being skirt steak and flank steak.  Most steaks are from the loin or rib. Flat steaks are the only steaks that are not cut from a larger roast. You will rarely see them in a supermarket because there is only one per cow.  Think about it one 3 pound piece of meat from a 1500 pound cow!   It usually ends up as ground beef.
  • What’s even better is that it’s relatively inexpensive.  Price per pound for hanger steak at my butcher in Los Angeles is $5.98, whereas the price per pound for other beefy cuts is much higher: skirt steak- $$7.98/lb, rib eye – $17.98/lb, and filet mignon – $22.98.  Can you say value?!
  • Hanger steak is really two loosely-grained muscles (think of a flank steak) that are bisected by gristly connective tissue and wrapped in silver skin. Once broken down, they look similar in size and shape to two pork tenderloins.  If you are unsure of your butchering skills, ask your butcher to do it for you.  However, do not let him butterfly the steaks for “even cooking”.  Once butterflied, they are too thin for getting a great sear on the outside along with a juicy pink center.

Ask you butcher to trim it or give it a try:

Whole Untrimmed Hanger Steak

The first step is to remove the silverskin from the muscle.  Using the tip of a very sharp knife, slide the knife under a corner of the silverskin.  Lift the piece that you just cut, use the knife tip too loosen the meat from the silverskin taking care to get as little of the meat as possible:

Removing the Silverskin

With the silverskin removed, you can see the line of connective tissue that runs top to bottom just slightly off center.

Trimmed Whole Hanger Steak

Cut strait down on both sides of the connective tissue to remove.  The clean it up removing any excess fat – not all, just the excess.  After all, fat is flavor!

Hanger Steak Trimmed and Se

How to cook hanger steak:

As I mentioned above, hanger is a loose grain steak which means that is a really good candidate for marinades – especially those containing some sort of citrus.

Medium-rare to medium is the sweet spot for hanger steak. Any less and you’ll end up with with slippery mush and any longer you’ll chew for days. High heat is your friend in this case in order to get a good sear and char on the outside while maintaining tender, juicy deliciousness inside.

It’s the perfect 15 minute steak from the time it hits the grill until it’s in your mouth!  High-heat for 5 minutes, flip, 5 minutes, rest 5 minutes.  Until you get the feel for it, use a digital probe thermometer like Bull BBQ’s Instant Read Flip Tip Thermometer and pull the steak when they reach 125°F to 130°F.

Once you pull it from the grill, let it rest 5 to 10 minutes before slicing it against the grain of the muscle fibers to ensure the tenderness of the meat.

Don’t miss my recipe for Cilantro Marinated Hanger Steak with Charred Corn and Avocado Salsa!  You can make it part of a meal or serve it grilled crostini as an appetizer.

Cheers and Happy Grilling!
-Jeff

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6 responses to “Know Your Meat: Hanger Steak is Awesome!

    • Hello Erin!

      I’m not sure where in LA you are so here are a few options. I have bought it at both butchers in The Grove — Marconda’s Meats and Huntington Meats (but call ahead). In Los Feliz there is a fantastic Butcher called McCall’s Meat and Fish on Hillhurst they seem to always have it even last minute. Lindy & Grundy on Fairfax should have it but I would call ahead first to double check. In Santa Monica there is a new place called ACA (A Cut Above) Butchershop – I have never been but if you are out that way, it would most definitely be worth checking out as I have only heard great things. It shows up periodically at Trader Joe’s, although it usually is already in a marinade. Any Whole Foods should be able to order if they don’t stock. It’s a great cut of meat, but since there is only on per cow, it usually goes to the butcher or into a grind.

      I hope this helps! Please let me know what you find. Thanks for reading!
      Cheers –
      Jeff

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