Master the Art of Hanger Steak: Chefs’ Hidden Gem Now in Your Hands!

Tucked under the Cow’s diaphragm, the flavorful hanger steak was once a prized cut enjoyed almost exclusively by butchers. Now considered a bistro staple abroad and a rising star stateside, this richly marbled steak offers a big beefy flavor at a budget-friendly price – if you know how to make the most of it.

Our complete guide covers everything from where this flavor powerhouse comes from to what makes it unique and how to shop for it and cook it to perfection at home. Read on to learn the insider tricks for transforming the humble hanger into your new favorite weeknight treat.

Anatomy of a Lesser Known Cut

What is Hanger Steak?

Shaped like a flat “V,” the hanger steak hangs (hence the name) between the rib and loin as part of the diaphragm muscle right beneath the animal’s belly. One of several so-called “flat” steaks akin to flank and skirt cut, this supporting muscle sees little movement, keeping the meat exceptionally tender.

Due to its obscure location and anatomy quirks requiring extra butcher work, the hanger steak was largely unknown outside professional kitchens until recently. However, the French have long adored this cut, where it stars on rustic bistro menus as onglet. Italians call it lombatello while the Spanish dub it solomillo de pulmón (lung tenderloin).

Hanger Steak

Why Was it Called “Butcher’s Steak”?

Before hitting mainstream menus, the hanger steak built a cult following with butchers who set prime cuts aside for discerning clients while secretly stashing these richly marbled beauties for personal enjoyment. Home cooks and restaurant goers have thankfully caught on to this expert’s best-kept secret.

Where is it on the Cow?

Attached to the last rib and the lumbar vertebrae, the diaphragm muscle powers breathing via the Cow’s lungs. The paired muscles that hang down from this essential organ give us the aptly named hanging tender or “hanger steak.” Located just under the animal’s belly, close to popular cuts like short ribs and flank steak, this flavor factory has rightly joined premium steaks on discerning diners’ radars.

Flavor, Texture, and Optimal Cooking

Tantalizing Taste and Tenderness

Cut from constantly working muscles, flank and skirt steaks lack marbling and can turn tough, dry, and stringy unless handled with care. The untapped hanger steak boasts melt-in-your-mouth tenderness thanks to subtle fat striations built into the muscle fibers. This marbling allows it to achieve a perfect medium rare delivery with vibrant, juicy, and full-bodied flavor, rivaling prime ribeyes and strips for a fraction of the price.

For the best bite, slice this fibrous cut thinly across the grain once rested. Failure to do so makes even this most tender cut cheek distortingly chewy. When handled properly, expect pure steak perfection.

Cooking Methods for Optimal Enjoyment

This thin cut shines when exposed to blistering heat. Opt for high-heat, quick cooking methods: grilling, broiling, or a smoking hot cast iron pan. Any longer than medium rare threatens this steak’s delicate texture.

While a simple salt and pepper rub never fails, marinading for a few hours unlocks even more succulent, beefy depth thanks to the acid tenderizing meat fibers. Go bold with zesty spice blends, garlic, rosemary, and red wine reductions to complement underlying flavors rather than mask them behind sugary sauces.

Hanger Steak

Buying and Preparing Like a Butcher

Shopping for Superior Steak

Hanger Steak’s increasing popularity makes it easier to source at higher-end grocery stores and butcher shops. Prices run slightly higher than flank or skirt but a fraction of premium cuts, averaging $15 per pound. For gratifying marbling, splurge on Prime-graded American Wagyu or Black Angus whenever possible.

Navigating shape variances takes a little more finesse. Whole hanger steaks weigh around 1.5 pounds each, but two half-pound portions remain once the tough inner silver skin is removed. Erratic sizing means thickness ranges from pencil-thin to over an inch. Plan accordingly when timing doneness instead of relying solely on appearance.

DIY Prep to Maximize Enjoyment

If you buy the steak whole, remove the silver skin with a sharp boning knife. Lay the steak flat and slice the entire length of this thick white membrane. Square off uneven edges for uniform cooking.

Next, a brief soak in the salty marinade with acidity helps tenderize while boosting juiciness and flavor. The steak’s extensive connective tissues absorb spices and oil quickly. Go bold with garlic, citrus, vinegar, or soy marinades.

Freezing for Flavor Flexibility

For maximum convenience, vacuum seals individual steaks with marinade up to three months ahead without sacrificing quality. Hanger steak holds up exceptionally well to freezing and thawing. Defrost overnight in the fridge before proceeding.

Now you’re ready to unlock this underdog cut’s full potential. Time to get cooking!

Grilling, Pan Searing, and Broiling

Backyard BBQ Perfection

Nothing says summer quite like smoky, charred hanger steak hot off the grill. These thin cuts cook lightning-fast over a live fire. Use tongs to flip instead of stabbing meat, which releases precious juices. Pull at 125oF for rosy red interiors. The meat keeps cooking off the heat, so resist tenting thicker pieces to prevent overcooking.

Perfect Pan-Searing

If you lack outdoor space, a cast iron skillet is the ideal vessel for developing that flavor-unlocking dark crust indoors. But stick to stainless steel or ceramic-coated pans to avoid reacting with acidic marinades.

Crank the stovetop heat to high. Rub the pan’s surface with enough oil to coat it using a heatproof brush. Wait until smoking hot but not burning. Sear undisturbed for 2 minutes per side. Keep a close eye to prevent charring.

Broiler Method

For a hands-off approach, position oven racks just under the heating element set to high broil. Line sheets and pan with foil and grease lightly, even if marinaded. Cook for 4 minutes total, flipping once halfway. Monitor closely to avoid drying out.

Regardless of technique, let the meat rest for at least 5 minutes; cover loosely with foil before slicing thinly against the grain. Now you’re ready for endless serving possibilities.

Tantalizing Recipe Inspiration

This rich, marbled cut effortlessly adopts global flavors from zesty Tex-Mex to herby Mediterranean preparations. Hanger steak’s hearty texture also adapts to more extended cooking methods like braising.

Foolproof Fajitas

Sizzle sliced hanger steak with peppers and onions for crowd-pleasing fajitas. Serve with all the fixings – salsa, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, and warm tortillas. Switch up marinades from spicy adobo to tangy citrus blends.

Savory Korean Bulgogi

Thin slices soaked in a sweet soy ginger marinade and grilled create incredible Korean-style Bulgogi tacos, rice bowls, or lettuce wraps. Add caramelized onions, garlic, and spicy gochujang paste to the desired spice level.

Bistro Braised Perfection

For a sublime French brasserie-style supper, brown whole steaks, then slow braise in bold red wine reductions rounded out with pearl onions, mushrooms, and lardons. Blissful is served atop buttery egg noodles or mashed potatoes to sop up the ultra-rich sauce.

However, you serve seared hanger steaks, accomplishing medium rare interiors that unlock this supple cut’s full potential. Now, you can finally serve restaurant-quality steak any night of the week with all the tricks to truly doing flavorful, budget-friendly hanger steak justice right at home. Bon appétit!

As consumer tastes grow more adventurous and ingredient costs continue rising, previously underappreciated cuts like hanger steak present an appealing option for everyday meals. Once enjoyed almost exclusively by those in the know – mainly butchers who would set aside these obscure yet exceptionally flavorful and tender hidden gems for themselves – hanger steak has emerged from anonymity. Now a staple on French and Italian menus, this richly marbled cut can stand shoulder to shoulder with premium steakhouse favorites.

Yet the average cook just learned how to make the most of the humble hanger steak. Using insider techniques in this guide, you can fully unlock this cut’s tender and beefy potential right in your kitchen for a fraction of the price of celebrated cuts like ribeye or New York strip. A little hands-on prep, like removing the silver skin and cutting properly across the grain, makes all the difference in optimizing texture. Bold marinades and quick, hot cooking methods seal the deal.

Hanger steak’s versatility means you can enjoy it in endless dishes, from fajitas to Asian stir-fries to elevated French bistro classics. This previously overlooked cut has officially earned its place among the best steaks for flavor and value. So the next time you spy hanger steak at the butcher counter or grocery meat section, remember this guide and try it. In no time, you will also appreciate why professional chefs and home cooks now covet the once lowly hanger steak.

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