The Best Steak You’ve Never Tried
Is it possible for a cut of meat to be trendy? There’s only so many parts of a cow, yet somehow every few years it seems a new piece of meat finds the spotlight. Lately, it’s been hanger steak. Over the past year, I’ve seen it popping up everywhere, most recently on Bon Appetit’s YouTube channel: And for good reason – it’s a tender and delicious piece of meat that’s easy to cook. In this article, I’ll go over what makes it special, how to break it down, and how to grill it. Let’s jump in!
What Makes Hanger Steak So Special?
From an anatomical standpoint, hanger steak is unique because there is only one on the entire cow. Its name comes from the fact that it just hangs near the diaphragm, between the cow’s rib and loin. Because it doesn’t do any work, it is extremely tender. It also has a great flavor that rivals brisket in beefiness.
Because there is only one delicious piece on each carcass, butchers used to reserve this bit of meat for themselves. That’s why hanger steak also goes by the name “butcher’s steak.” But the secret’s out, so head down to your local butcher and see if you can snag one.
Preparing Hanger Steak
Frankly, the hanger steak is a somewhat strange looking cut. When you unwrap it, this is what you’ll see:
Running lengthwise down the middle is a long, inedible membrane. You’ll want to carefully remove that. Take your time and make sure to keep your knife close to the membrane, so you don’t waste any meat.
After the central connective tissue is removed, you just need to clean up any silver skin that’s visible on the outside. Depending on your butcher, there may be a considerable amount or almost none at all.
While I hope my directions have been clear, I definitely recommend watching a video on preparing hanger steak before you dive in. This one from Food Wishes is a great example.
Don’t worry too much about perfectly preparing your hanger steak, but in the end, you should have two fairly long steaks that are free of any inedible bits. After cleaning up the steaks, I will sometimes cut them in half to make four, but that’s up to you.
How to Cook Hanger Steak
When it’s time to get cooking, you’ll want to approach it like most other steaks. Salt, pepper, and high heat are all you need. I prefer using my grill, as I’m sure a lot of you do. Specifically, I recommend using a natural hardwood lump charcoal, especially if you’ve never tried one before. It provides amazing heat for a killer sear, and the smell is absolutely wonderful. The lack of additives is a plus as well.
For doneness level, medium-rare is recommended. That means you’ll want to take your steak off the grill in the 125°-130° degree range. By the way, I used to think using a probe on steak was kind of silly, but you really can nail doneness down to an exact science, which is especially helpful for thicker cuts like the hanger steak. It’s also a great tool if you’ve got picky friends or family.
While I will find any excuse to use my grill, a cast iron pan also works great for hanger steak. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you could even cook it directly on the coals.
When you cut into your hanger steak, you’ll immediately notice how large the “threads” are that make up the grain. In this regard, it’s almost more similar to a brisket visually. It also makes for a delightfully tender bite.
Summing Things Up
I hope I’ve convinced you to give hanger steak a try. It’s amazingly tender, super beefy, and – most important – perfect for the grill. While it takes a little time and effort to prepare, it’s very easy to cook. So throw a hanger steak over some coals next time you get a chance, and be sure to let me know how it goes!
BIO: Tim Nelson is a grilling and smoking enthusiast from northwest Ohio. He loves to write about all things BBQ on his blog BBQ Smarts. If you want to contact him, feel free to send an email to email@example.com!