Thursday, June 16, 2005


...with a hanger steak.

This is an interesting cut of meat, sometimes difficult to find in this country but gaining in popularity. Popular in France, where it’s called onglet, it is also sometimes known as “butcher steak” – because the butcher takes it home for himself rather than selling it.

The hanger steak takes its name from the fact that it is the part of the diaphragm muscle that “hangs” between the ribs and the loin. It is therefore similar to skirt steak, another diaphragm cut. Like the skirt, the hanger tends to be somewhat grainy, but full of nice, beefy flavor. It also responds especially well to marinating. Because it tends to dry out, you need to be careful when using dry heat cooking methods.

I’m a big fan of the skirt steak, so when I saw a chance to cop a hanger steak, I jumped on it. And I’m glad I did. Here’s what I did with mine:

First, I coated the meat with a sprinkling of kosher salt and a liberal application of freshly ground black pepper. Then a dusting of dried thyme leaves...and fresh would have worked even better, but sometimes ya gotta Make Do With What’s In Da House.

I heated up a skillet and threw in some olive oil. Once the oil was hot and shimmery, I put the meat in, about five minutes on each side over medium-high heat. After the steak was done – seared dark brown and crusted on the outside, medium rare inside - I removed it to a platter to let it rest.

Into the still-hot skillet went two or three (I used three) chopped shallots. I turned the heat down to medium and sweated those bad boys for about 5-10 minutes. With the residual Meaty Juices and oil in the pan, they cooked down to a lovely caramelized brown. Then I dumped the shallots on the steak. Ready to rock – it’s food o’clock!

As much as I love skirt steak, this was even better, with a texture somewhere between sirloin and skirt and a rich flavor, nicely accented by the herbal taste of the thyme. All it needed by way of accompaniment was a salad of Belgian endive, romaine and radicchio to make a perfect Bachelor’s Supper, washed down with some McManis Family Vineyards cabernet.

Sorry, no photo: She Who Must Be Obeyed absconded to Texas with the digital camera, so you will just have to use your imagination. But trust me when I tell you, it was a Damn Fine Meal.

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