If you look up ‘underrated’ in the dictionary, chances are you’ll find a picture of the hanger steak.
While this chunk of beef is a favorite in Europe, it’s almost off the grid when it comes to other parts of the world.
Safe to say, you’re missing out if you’ve never had a bite of this soft cut of beef.
Packed with intense beef flavor, it’s my go-to cut when making delicious recipes such as steak tacos.
It would be criminal for me to keep this great cut of meat to myself. Therefore, I present to you everything you need to know about the hanger steak.
- Hanger steak, also known as butcher's steak, is a tender and flavorful cut of beef that hangs from the cow's diaphragm.
- Hanger steak is part of the flat steak family, and each cow only produces two, making it slightly premium.
- Best cooked medium-rare or medium, it can be used in various recipes and is recommended to be grilled or cooked on high heat.
What is Hanger Steak and Where Does it Come From?
The hanger steak gets its name due to the way it hangs from the diaphragm along the lower belly of the cow, attached to the last rib.
According to Michael Casciello, chef and CEO at Food Fire + Knives, the delicious buttery, offal flavor is also unique to this cut due to its location in the abdominal cavity.
Since this steak is literally just hanging there, it does no heavy work, and in turn, is extremely tender .
The hanging tender is packed full of flavor and covered with lots of marbling.
Coming in a close second to the tenderloin, the hanger steak is the tenderest cut you can find. While it is a thin cut of steak, it’s loved for its meaty and robust flavor.
The hanger steak is a part of the flat steak family, along with the skirt and flank steaks.
Since the cow only has two of these steaks to offer, the hanger comes at a slight premium. However, it is highly recommended by many butchers.
If you’re having trouble finding the cut at your local butcher or supermarket, you may also find it under these names:
- Butcher’s Steak: When I said this steak comes highly recommended, I mean it. Even butchers would keep this cut all to themselves (or use it for ground beef), hence the name ‘butcher’s steak’.
- Skirt Steak: If you go to the UK, this is the name you will find the hanger steak under. It is rather confusing since the skirt steak is a different cut altogether.
- Onglet: In France, they refer to the hanger steak as the Onglet, a very popular and sought-after dish.
- Bistro Steak: Often called this on restaurant menus.
- Arrachera: Mexico
- Fajitas Arracheras: South Texas
If you fail to find it under any of these names, the industry ID number is 140. Skirt and flank steak can also be used as an alternative.
Hanger Steak Vs. Skirt Steak
The main difference between the skirt and hanger steak is the tenderness.
While the hanger is the most tender cut, the skirt is the least. It is also far less expensive than the hanger steak.
That being said, all flat steaks will cost less than a rib eye.
While hanger steaks are tender by nature, skirt steaks will taste much better with a good marinade.
Where to Buy Hanger Steak
A few years ago, you may have been able to pick the hanger steak up on a budget.
However, over recent years, hanger steak has gained popularity among home and restaurant cooks.
It may not be a complete bargain anymore. However, you can still get it at a good price.
You may have a difficult time finding the steak since each cow produces only two hanger steaks, but craft butchers are more than likely to stock them. You can also shop online to find the hanger steak.
How to Cook Hanger Steak
There are a few cooking methods when it comes to the hanger steak. Since the meat has a rich flavor already, it can be used in quite a few recipes.
No matter how you choose to cook it, your hanger steak should be medium-rare or medium.
The hanger steak has a fairly coarse texture to it. Therefore, if the steak is cooked beyond medium, the hanging tenderloin will become too tough and chewy. If you undercook the steak
hanger, it will be too mushy. So, the perfect temperature for a hanger steak is 125° to 130°F - use a meat thermometer to measure this .
Grilling or cooking your steak on very high heat is essential, no matter the recipe.
The hanger is rather thin, so you’ll want to give it a nice crust before it overcooks.
A grilled hanger steak will need to be cooked on full blast, with the chimney coals piled up on one side.
Grilling your hanger steak will take constant attention, and the steak will have to be flipped occasionally.
“Cooking steak is a joy because it is a terrific piece of meat that has great flavor whether it is grilled or pan-fried.”
- John Torode, Chef
Before you grill your hanger, add some salt and pepper. It doesn't have to be overly marinated.
Fire up your grill on high heat, cooking for two minutes on each side. Cook on the grill until your meat has reached 125° to 130°F.
Remove the meat from the grill and let it rest for 5 minutes. After cooking your meat, always cut against the grain.