If you like Rib Eye but are looking for something more affordable, this marbled cut is a great alternative to rely on for grilling season.
When Angie Mar suggests a cut of meat, we listen. The executive chef and owner of NYC's Beatrice Inn, and a 2017 Food & Wine Best New Chef, stopped by the Test Kitchen today to school us on all things steak, and when Culinary Director Justin Chapple asked her what her favorite cut of meat to grill is, she said it was a Rib Eye. There's a reason it's so popular: it's large, marbled and versatile. But because Rib Eyes are so well-liked, they can also be expensive.
If you're looking for a more affordable alternative this summer, Mar recommends a hanger steak.
"It has a beefy flavor like a Rib Eye, but it’s more cost-effective and a little bit different and it actually cooks quicker," she says.
And, fun fact from Serious Eats: It comes from the front of the cow, where the meat literally "hangs off the cow's diaphragm, hence the name."
The first step when prepping a hanger steak is removing the sinew, if the butcher hasn't already done so. Mar does this with a long sharp knife, pulling the sinew taught and slicing in long strokes. For a better grip, Chapple likes using a paper towel to grab the sinew. It's really simple to do, and it's cheaper to buy the meat with the sinew, so Mar and Chapple both recommend taking this route. A bonus? Instead of throwing it away, Mar suggests browning the inedible bits and throwing them into a pot with bones to make stock.
Once the meat is ready to cook, you should season it liberally with salt as you would any other piece of meat. (You can use black pepper, too, but Mar doesn't like the taste of burnt black pepper, so she sticks to just salt.)
The big difference between the hanger steak and the Rib Eye isn't flavor, but texture, and here's where the crucial distinction in cooking comes in. Though Mar likes to cook Rib Eyes rare, hanger steak benefits from longer cooking, so she cooks them medium. "The heat helps all the tissue break down and you’ll get a more tender piece," she says.
Though it used to be known as a butcher's steak, it's becoming an increasingly popular cut, Chapple points, out, so get on it. Here are seven recipes to get started with:
Grilled Hanger Steak with Garlic Brandy Butter
Garlicky Herbed-Rubbed Hanger Steaks
Grilled Hanger Steak with Kimchi Apple Slaw
Chile-Glazed Hanger Steak
Hanger Steak with Herbed Nut Salsa
Grilled Hanger Steak with Bacon Chimichurri
Grilled Hanger Steak with Spring Vegetables and Hazelnuts