Well, this has been on my bucket list for a long time. So, when I was at Restaurant Depot yesterday picking up some other odds and ends, I decided to go ahead and pull the trigger on a cryovac pack of hanger steaks.
Based on my research, hanger steaks are a support muscle for the cow’s diaphragm, and they sort of “hang” from the underside of the steer/heifer’s body cavity in close proximity to the liver. There’s only one hanger per cow, and up until recently, they were usually taken home by butchers and not marketed on their meat counters because of their unsightly appearance. But, they’re rumored to have a huge beefy taste and tender chew if prepared correctly. This means that they’ll need to be cooked hot-n-fast only to about med-rare, and sliced across the grain on a bias. Basically, the same procedure as flank and skirt steaks.
In my haste, I didn’t manage to snap any pictures of the hangers before I started butchering them. However, I did happen to find this picture from finecooking.com that was a very close analog to what I was presented with when I opened the cryovac…
You’ll notice there is a very pronounced amount of connective tissue covering the meat. All of that needs to be trimmed off. Then, once you get that trimmed, you’ll find a thick ribbon of connective tissue that separates both halves of the hanger long-ways. Using a sharp knife, trim along both sides of the sinew until it’s removed. This will leave you with two oblong hunks of meat, one slightly bigger than the other.
Next, I grabbed a 5 oz. package of our Santa Maria Steak Seasoning off the shelf in my office and proceeded to coat every square inch…
I covered the sheet pan with plastic wrap and stuffed them in the refrigerator while I got the fire ready and finished my other two side dishes. Since our Santa Maria rub contains such a high percentage of dehydrated spices, it needs sufficient time to allow the rub to reanimate itself and re-hydrate all of those spices before you put the meat on the grill. This typically takes about 30-45 minutes. So be patient. I promise, your patience will be rewarded.
So, while the hanger steaks are chilling out, I whipped up a batch of camp potatoes. The recipe for these is very simple. Wash and dry about 5-6 large russet potatoes (or Yukon Gold), then slice thinly into 1/8″ thick chips. Half and slice one medium sweet onion. Then mix potatoes and onions and place in the middle of two sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil and dot with pats of butter (use 3/4 stick of butter total). Then, for seasoning, dust liberally with Oakridge BBQ Game Bird & Chicken rub. To seal, gather up the two long ends and roll them together until they are down tight against the pile of potatoes, then roll each end in the same way. Make sure you don’t poke any holes in the foil and your wraps are nice and tight.
Usually, I put this foil package right on top of a good-sized bed of white-hot coals and cook for about 30 minutes on each side. However, my grill is too small to cook these and everything else I wanted to cook, so I cheated and threw these in a 400º oven on a sheet pan for 1 hour. Worked great.
By this time, my lump charcoal was just about ready, so I got my Weber kettle setup for indirect cooking. Here lately, I’ve been experimenting with using one coal basket and no coal grate. I’ve found this allows me to situate the coals about 2 inches lower in the kettle which helps give me more even heat at the cooking grate level.
For this cook, I was using the reverse sear method, so I put the hanger steaks on the opposite side to start with indirect heat.
For the long, thin ones, you’ll notice I folded them in half. This helped them cook more evenly and at the same rate as the larger pieces. After I placed them on the grill, I put the lid on and left it on for about 35 minutes.
By this time, several of the steaks were reading around 120º internal, so I flipped those over the coals and began searing them. After a few minutes on each side, they were right at 135º, which was a bit higher than I wanted, but not too bad. I removed them and placed them in a aluminum pan and covered with foil tightly to let them rest.
Then I quickly replaced the coal grate and dumped the coals out of the basket and added a few more. This set the stage for my final dinner guest… grilled carrots.
These were super-easy. Just give the carrots a good scrub with a rough kitchen sponge then a good rinse in cold water. Pat dry and apply a light coating of olive oil and sea salt. Note: next time I make these, I’ll dust them with some of our Santa Maria Steak rub in place of using just plain salt. I meant to do that this time but I forgot!
The carrots took about 15 minutes total. But you had to watch them like a hawk and keep rotating them or else they’d get burnt on the bottom side. The end result was nothing short of phenomenal carrots, so I’ll be doing this again for sure!
Now, it’s time to slice the hanger steaks and plate everything up. I decided early on to make steak sandwiches. So, I needed a suitable sauce. I ended up making a simple horseradish sauce that went perfectly with the meat. The sauce consisted of 1 tsp of fresh ground horseradish, 1 Tbsp of dijon mustard and 1 Tbsp of real mayo.
Now for the money shots…
WOW! Talk about flavor! Hands-down, this was the best piece of beef I’ve had the pleasure of eating in a very, very long time. Beef flavor was off the charts, au jus was fantastic and it was very tender. Almost melted in your mouth. Plus, I know I’m biased, but the Oakridge BBQ Santa Maria rub went perfectly with it.