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A long-time contributor to SeriouslySmoked. Jim has had a lifelong relationship with the art of grilling, passed on from his father and grandfather to him.
Doug is a hardcore barbeque enthusiast and connoisseur. While he spends most of his time on editing and research,
he sometimes moonlights as a product tester for particularly interesting things he comes across.
Hanger steak is also known as butcher’s steak because the public thought of it as a crude cut of meat compared to filets, sirloins, and rumps. However, butchers also consider it their best-kept secret because of its quality. There is a rich, beefy flavor to hanger steak, and it is also a more affordable cut than many other meat types.
You need to take great care when grilling hanger steak to ensure you don’t lose the unique texture and flavors found in the meat. When you master the art of grilling the perfect hanger steak, you’ll wonder why you have not been eating it more often.
1. What is Hanger Steak?
Hanger steak comes from the muscle between a cow’s rib and diaphragm. It hangs from its body and only offers support to the diaphragm. Because it doesn’t perform much activity, it is one of the most tender meats available. These cuts are also exclusive, with each cow producing only one hanger steak.
For context, if you remove 800 oz. of beef from a cow, hanger steak makes up no more than 32 oz.
2. Trim Your Hanger Steak
One of the grilling steak tips to follow is you need to trim your hanger steak. Use a sharp boning knife and position the tip under the silverskin. Use your free hand to lift the skin in the air and gently slice off the excess fat. After trimming, it should leave you with two meaty cuts attached by a central piece of sinew.
Cut down each side of the sinew with your boning knife to separate one piece of meat into two hanger steaks. Throw the sinew away, inspect each piece of meat and trim off any remaining excess fat.
3. How to Prepare Hanger Steak
Let your hanger steak rise to room temperature by taking it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before grilling. Placing cold meat on a grill can result in overcooking on the outside while leaving the inside undercooked. As the steak becomes warmer, it also tenderizes, increasing the absorption of marinades and seasonings.
4. How to Grill Hanger Steak
Unlike most other steaks, there is little margin for error when grilling a hanger steak. Attention to detail is crucial. If you undercook this meat cut, it feels slippery and soft. However, if you overcook the steak, it tastes rubbery.
When learning how to grill hanger steak, you should only grill it to medium-rare or medium. If you take your eye off the grill or don’t keep track of your cooking times, you could be disappointed with the result. Hanger steak has a coarse texture, and you want to ensure there is a consistent high heat during grilling.
Start with a Clean Grill
One of the most significant aspects of grilling hanger steak is to start with a clean grill. If there are food pieces stuck to the grates from a previous cookout, it can affect the heat distribution. You could also find bits of fat dripping off the grates, causing flare ups that lead to charring.
Use a grill brush to clean the rates, and if you have a charcoal grill, empty any old ash and coal that could block the air vents.
Heat the Grill
Hanger steaks grill best over high heat, so you need to use plenty of charcoal for optimal results. If you have a gas grill, you can turn the setting to a higher heat level. Ideally, the cooking chamber should be at around 400°F before placing your steak on the grill.
To prevent your hanger steak from sticking to the cooking grates, you can spray some nonstick cooking oil on the metal before use.
Season Your Hanger Steak
If you marinate your hanger steak overnight, there may be no need for further seasoning. However, if you don’t want to marinate, just rub a small amount of oil into each side of the steak and use a simple mix to introduce some extra flavors.
There are many recipes, but a straightforward and tasty option is to mix salt, pepper, butter, and oregano in a bowl. Use a brush or spoon to lightly coat each side of the hanger steak with the blend.
Turn Your Hanger Steak
Hanger steaks are a relatively thin meat cut, so you want to avoid letting too much heat char one side of your steak. This aspect is one of the most crucial factors when learning how to grill hanger steak and can be the difference between a delicious meal and a rubbery-tasting disaster.
Grilling hanger steak should take no longer than 12 minutes and probably only around eight minutes if the internal cooking chamber remains high throughout the cooking process. Turn the meat frequently, once every 2 minutes, to ensure even heating on both sides of the steak.
A meat probe thermometer is invaluable when grilling hanger steak because the margin of error is so thin. The perfect internal temperature for a medium-rare hanger steak is 125°F, while 130°F is ideal for a medium hanger steak.
Let Your Hanger Steak Rest
Understandably, you want to eat your hanger steak as soon as it’s ready, but it’s worth it to wait another 5 minutes. Set your grilled steak on a cutting board and cover it with tinfoil. Steak needs to rest to allow the juices to redistribute, ensuring moisture and flavors are present throughout the meat.
Let steak rest for the same amount of time as you had it on the grill. Don’t worry about the meat going cold because the residual heat keeps it warm, and the tinfoil covering prevents unnecessary heat loss.
Final Thoughts: Grilling Hanger Steaks
Once your hanger steak is ready, you can add further seasonings and garnishes. Because the steak cut is slimline, it doesn't overpower the taste of other foods. If you’re cooking for other people, prepare to answer questions about what type of steak they’re eating and where you bought it.
Although most people have heard of hanger steak, this cut will have plenty of fans once they experience the juicy flavors of the butcher’s best-kept secret.