A hanger steak is a cut of beef prized for its flavor. Derived from the diaphragm of a steer it was sometimes known as “butcher’s steak” because butchers would often keep the cut for themselves rather than offer it for sale. Very popular in Europe, It is also occasionally seen on menus as “bistro steak”. Anatomically the hanger steak is said to “hang” from the diaphragm of the steer. It is a vaguely V-shaped pair of muscles with a long, inedible membrane down the middle. As it is a supportive muscle and not an active muscle it is a unique cut of beef. It is redder than any other cut and has a pronounced, deep beef flavor unlike any other steak. Since there is only one hanger steak per steer and it is gaining popularity here in America pricing has gone up steadily.
French themed “Bistro” restaurants have been opening increasingly throughout the country with such chefs as Daniel Bouled and Thomas Keller opening Bistros in the last ten years. Invariably “steak frites”is featured on the menu. Steak frites is a strikingly simple dish of seared hanger steak and French fries often fried in duck fat.
In my opinion the hanger steak is a great piece of meat, however if overcooked it will become very tough. Here’s my secret to the perfect Steak Frites recipe:
Steak Frites recipe-serves 4
2 each hanger steaks about one pound each
2 cups cabernet sauvignon
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup sliced shallots
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
Separately, bring wine to a boil to remove alcohol. Cool completely. Combine with other ingredients. Place steaks in a zip lock bag, pour in marinade, seal and refrigerate. Marinate 3 to 4 hours. Remove from marinade and wipe dry with a towel. Season with sea salt and cracked black pepper.
Heat a heavy skillet over medium high flame, add a few drops of vegetable oil to skillet (olive oil or butter will burn) when oil is shimmering add steaks. Sear approximately 3 minutes, flip steaks and sear 3 minutes. Do not overcook! Anything beyond medium will be a disappointment. Alternately the steaks can be prepared on a grill. Remove steaks to a plate and let rest 3 or 4 minutes. Slice against the grain and serve with fries and caramelized shallots. Enjoy!