What Is a Hanger Steak?
Even the most experienced home chefs might not have tried cooking a hanger steak yet. That’s because this tender and flavorful cut of beef doesn’t always occupy as prominent a place in the butcher’s shop. But we think everyone should know about this cut of beef. It’s flavorful, relatively inexpensive and perfect for many savory dishes like steak tacos, bulgogi and more.
Similar to the skirt steak or flank steak, the hanger steak can be an excellent choice for those hoping to learn how to cook flavorful steaks without paying steakhouse prices. Plenty of cooking classes in NYC, cooking classes in San Francisco or cooking classes near you might offer courses in how to properly prepare different cuts of beef, including a hanger steak. But for the time being, this guide will teach you everything you need to know to buy, season and cook this lesser-known cut with confidence.
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- What Is a Hanger Steak?
- Flavor and Texture of Hanger Steak
- How to Cook Hanger Steaks
- Where to Buy Hanger Steaks
What Is a Hanger Steak?
The hanger steak is a tender, flat steak like a skirt steak or flank steak. This cut of meat comes from the plate or belly area of the cow or steer, and it “hangs” along the diaphragm of the cow — hence the name. You might also hear the cut referred to as a "hanging tender steak" or "hanging tenders."
No matter what name it’s called by, the hanger steak cut is a pair of muscles that meets in a v-shape. Between the two sides of the muscle you will find a tough membrane. Most butchers will remove this membrane before selling the meat, or you can remove it yourself before cooking. The result of removing this dividing membrane is two long, flat cuts of steak that are thin and quite tender.
Flavor and Texture of Hanger Steak
Because the beef hanging tender is cut from a relatively inactive muscle that supports the cow’s diaphragm, this cut of beef can be very tender. It also has considerable fat marbling, which makes it a little more full-flavored than its nearby neighbors, the flank and skirt steak. This marbling can also increase the steak’s tenderness as long as it is prepared correctly. Just like with any cut of beef, the proper preparation and cooking techniques can really make or break the tenderness and flavor of this steak.
How to Cook Hanger Steaks
Most foodies agree that hanger steak tastes best when it has been marinated first and then cooked quickly on high heat, preferably a hot grill. Allowing the beef to sit in a marinade of your choice will really help increase the flavor and tenderness of the meat. You can let a hanger steak marinate for up to 24 hours for maximum flavor, but any amount of seasoning will boost the flavor of this cut of beef.
Because the hanger steak is so thin, it cooks very quickly, so be sure to watch out for that when you are grilling this cut of beef. The steak cooks best if placed directly on the hottest part of the grill for three to four minutes per side. If grilling is not your style, you could also broil or pan sear the hanger steak and achieve similar results.
Definitely use a cooking oil with a high smoke point for this cut of beef, as the heat needed to properly cook the steak can also smoke up your kitchen. Whichever cooking method you use, be sure to only cook the meat to medium-rare — about 130 to 135 degrees. Any more than that and the beef will likely lose some of its tenderness.
After the steak is finished cooking, remove it from the heat and let it rest before cutting and serving. This ensures the meat has time to settle. Be sure to slice thinly and against the grain in order to preserve the tenderness of the meat.
The hanger steak cut is great for traditional recipes like steak with vegetables and potatoes, or you can use the marinade as a chance to spice up the beef. The cut’s thin, flat shape makes it perfect for slicing and serving on sandwiches, beef tacos, bulgogi and more.
Where to Buy Hanger Steaks
If you’re looking to make hanger steak at home, or maybe you’re looking to prepare for an online cooking class, you’ll want to know how to shop for this cut of beef yourself. The hanging tender steak has certainly become a more readily available cut of beef, and you will often see it sold in grocery stores next to closely related cuts like a flank steak or skirt steak.
A local butcher should also be able to supply you with this cut of beef, as traditionally it was called the “butcher’s cut” or “butcher’s steak.” Since many people did not know about the beef hanging tender, often the butcher would save this tender and flavorful cut for his own family! All in all, finding a hanger steak should not be the most difficult part of the process; if your grocery store doesn’t stock it, your local butcher certainly will.
Whether you’re used to filets, sirloins or ribeyes, we think that all steak lovers could benefit from knowing more about the relatively unknown hanger cut. Thin, tender and full of flavorful marbling, the hanger steak is perfect for home chefs looking to add something new to the menu or spice up their culinary lives with deliciously marinated steak dishes.
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