I haven't had much luck finding solid info on hanger steaks, either on the internet or in my book collection. I have few recipes and a few mentions, but nothing really informative on what you're are supposed to do with the cut. My local Restaurant Depot always has them on hand and they are under $3 a pound, so I always grab a pack when I'm there and have gone through a good number of them in the past few months. Since I have a bit of practice with them, I thought I'd put together this post to encourage others to try this really unique cut. I'm also hoping some wiser board members can inject some useful information, so I can learn something too.
From what I read, the hanger steak hangs in the abdominal cavity near the tenderloin, and it sits near the kidney. It’s said to have a mild kidney flavor, which might explain its unique taste. I suspect most of the kidney-like flavor lies in the hanger's fat, which I judiciously remove, leaving me with a nice tasting steak that certainly has a unique flavor but nothing disagreeable (personally I love the flavor).
I’ve read that the hanger hasn’t been traditional marketed because there is only one per cow, and the butcher would take it home rather than sell it. The hanger is not symmetrical, so I can’t figure out how there can only be one per cow (when a cow is clearly symmetrical). You’ll see the hanger consists of a thicker and a thinner side.
Here’s a shot of the cryo 2 pack. It weighed in just shy of 5 lbs.
Out of the cryo, the hanger has a bit of a membrane that is similar to the “skin” found on ribs, but generally easier to remove. It seems to be most firmly attached to the outside edges, where it tends to be fatty so, I’ll use the knife to free it, taking some fat with it.
These shots show the two sides of the “skinned” hanger. At this point, the connective tissue, which runs down the middle, is clearly visible. Also the grain, which angles away from the connective tissue like a feather, can be seen.
From here, I’ll separate the two sides by cutting down the vein of sinew. With a fillet knife, I’ll clean it off from the muscle. I also trim off any bits of fat and sinew around the edges of the muscles.
You’ll be left with 2 slender logs, one a bit larger in diameter. At this point they can be handled as is, butterflied into thin steaks, or cubed for skewers. The thick side will make a meal for us (2 adults and a small child) so I’ll freeze them individually for later. Tonight, I grilled the two thin sides (other thin side not shown)for tacos.
the top muscle shows where the sinew has been removed.
Because of the slightly stronger flavor of the hanger, they take well to other bold flavors. The rub I used for these tacos consisted of: ancho, orange zest, cumin, Ceylon cinnamon, and clove.
After grilling and resting, I’ll thinly slice them across the grain. Sorry for the lack of gratuitous plate pic but we were running late for softball practice and this was supposed to be a quick meal.