The hanger steak is not familiar to most folks these days as you don’t find it in the supermarket.  It is also known as the hanging tender, bistro steak or the butcher’s steak as the old time butchers would hoard it for themselves!  Technically, the hanger steak is the crura, or the legs of the diaphragm, the large muscle separating the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity in cattle. The hanger steak hangs off the diaphragm and attaches to the last rib and lumbar vertebrae of the steer.  There is a dense membrane running down the center of the steak.

So why do we care about all this?  The hanger steak is one of the most flavorful and versatile cuts of beef, not to mention tender! It is part of the flat steak family which includes the flank and the skirt steaks, but the hanger is much more tender as it does not get much exercise.  The hanger also has well defined muscle fibers which help it to take a marinade well.

The hanger steak should be marinated in something acidic, like balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire, wine or citrus juice.  Add your favorite seasonings and herbs like salt, pepper and garlic, coat both sides of the hanger steak well and place in a glass dish, covered in the refrigerator for several hours to overnight.  Before cooking, allow your steak to come to room temperature.  The hanger steak can be grilled or pan seared in a cast iron skillet.  Get your grill or skillet quite hot, around 500 degrees and sear the steak for about 2 minutes per side.  If using a cast iron skillet, use tallow or an oil with a high smoking point. The hot temperature will sear the outside of the beef to help retain moisture.  The hanger is best cooked to medium rare only!  Going longer will dry it out and make it tough.

Remove the hanger from the heat and allow it to rest on a warm plate for 4-5 minutes.  Using a very sharp knife, slice the steak thinly against the grain for maximum tenderness.  Carefully remove the dense membrane running down the center. 

The hanger steak can be served with roasted vegetables, or grilled cabbage, or sliced atop a summer salad or in to-die-for beef tacos.  It is especially good with a chimichurri sauce!  So, now that you are hungry, check out your local beef supplier for the best kept secret in steaks, the hanger steak!