Hanger steak, or onglet as it’s sometimes called, is not normally a cut I cook with. I’ve ordered it plenty of times at restaurants, but I’m more likely to stick to a cut I know if I’m at the butchers.
Taken from the centre of a cow it’s a muscle that does nothing more than hold the diaphragm in place. It does little work, so it’s amazingly tender and full of rich, sweet flavour. Traditionally known as the butcher’s cut (because they’d take it home for themselves), it’s actually counted as offal in the UK, as it’s not attached to the carcass, but is found within the animal.
Having popped into The Butcher’s Quarter in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, general manager Rich suggested I try something new and went about breaking down a hanger steak for me. It’s characterised by its thin, long appearance (a bit like fillet) and it’s lengthy, visible muscle fibres – making it good for cooking slowly – but Rich suggested I flash fry it to really get the best out of the meat. Priced at about a third of what fillet goes for, it was a bloody good suggestion.
I was originally going to pair this steak with a fresh, zesty herb laden sauce like a sauce vierge or a chimichurri, but a) the parsley at the greengrocers had wilted beyond saviour and b) that was just a bit too predictable. The accompanying tapenade-style sauce can either be a thick chopped affair, or you can blend it a little smoother. The sauce is salty and punchy, the hanger being able to stand up to the strong flavours – don’t skip the lemon out though, it cuts through everything and is needed to perk the dish up.
Hanger steak with green olive tapenade sauce
Half an hour prep and cooking
1 bulb of garlic, cut in half down the centre
15 green olives from a jar, just the plain ones in brine will do
6 sundried tomatoes
2 tblsp extra virgin olive oil – a grassy/peppery one works best here
Half a bunch of basil, chopped fine
1 intact piece of hanger, about 450g
Light olive oil to rub on the steak
Sprig of thyme or rosemary (or both)
Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 180c. Once the oven has come to heat cut a bulb of garlic in halve across the middle. Reserve one half and wrap the other in tinfoil, with a little light oil dribbled in. Roast for twenty minutes, until the garlic is soft but not burning (you will have to peek, wear oven gloves!).
- Whilst the garlic is cooking prep the rest of the sauce by dicing or blitzing the olives and tomatoes together with the lemon and extra virgin olive oil.
- When the garlic is done, dice fine/blitz and add to the sauce. Add the basil last when you’re happy with the texture. As the olives and the tomatoes are salty enough, and the basil is peppery enough, you probably won’t need any seasoning, however taste and adjust – you want it to be salty/savoury with a peppery perk and a little tart pick up. Either chop everything very fine on a board, or blend to a thick paste.
- Set a large, heavy-based frying pan over a high heat and lightly oil and season the meat. When the pan is smoking hot, add the meat the pan and cook for approx. five minutes on each side for medium-rare. For the last minute of cooking add a massive knob of butter, the reserved garlic and a spring of thyme or rosemary (or both) to the pan. Spoon the herby butter over the meat for the last minute of cooking to add a beautiful salty sweetness to your steak (and to make you feel like dead proper chef). As hanger steak is thinner at one end than the other, I can’t give you proper times here – it’s a case of checking the meat. I usually use a digital thermometer; you’re looking for an internal temp of 57c for medium-rare (drop to about 30-50c for rare). If you don’t have a digital thermometer, then you can use the touch test to see how done the meat is. More info here.
- Once the meat is cooked to your liking, take it off the heat, pop it on a plate and cover with foil and a tea towel for about five minutes. DO NOT SKIP THE RESTING STEP, without it your meat can be tough, you need to give the fibres time to loosen after being in the pan.
- Whilst the meat is resting, place your sauce on the plate (don’t be stingy, use the whole of the sauce you’ve made) and get everything ready.
- Carve the meat across the grain into thick circles, place on top of the sauce and serve with seasonal veg or a lightly dressed salad and frites.