For a very, very long time, I've wondered how the heck it is that restaurants always have those hanger steaks that are thick, long, squarish deals, whereas what I see at the stores are a flat, thin, pieces of meat.
Not much thought went into this, until the fella over at iamnotachef.com brought it up, in reference to the quite good hanger steak salad at Park West Tavern, whose bar has been ground zero for much spirited discussion on important topics like meat and music and politics and my dislike of sports. And whose website definitely needs to lose the autoplay. I'm all for the Clash, but only if I want to hear The Clash.
The hanger steak at Park West Tavern is indeed that thick, squarish shape. iamnotachef attempted to explain to me that this is because the hanger steaks we generally see at the market have actually been butterflied, and PWT does not butterfly theirs. Unfortunately, this exchange was over email, and the word "butterflied" was never uttered during the discussion. His attempt to explain this to me went on for some time, until he finally sent me a link to this video, which cleared it up. Oh, now I see. What I want is non-butterflied hanger steaks.
Why this didn't occur to me is anyone's guess, but I have to think that the idea of butterflying a piece of meat like that was so outside of the realm of logic that I didn't even consider that this happens de rigueur. It does.
Armed, finally, with a little bit of knowledge (this occasionally happens), I went off to Fairway to get some unadulterated hanger steaks. The meat guy was a bit confused, but I was finally able to explain to him that I just wanted him to do...nothing. That was harder than you'd think.
When the hanger is not butterflied, and left in its natural, squarish state, you can get a great char, while the inside stays rare or med/rare. You can also get picture perfect slices. Appealing little squares from much of the steak. Make sure you're cutting across the grain, being mindful that the grain changes a bit from end to end.
The hanger does have two sides, one of which is larger than the other. But both are wonderful, but the bigger size yields those big square beauties.
I don't think I'll ever buy a butterflied hanger steak again. There's really no point unless you're making something that requires not-squarish slices.
Speaking of butchering steak, here's what I've done in the past:
Vietnamese marinated steak, based on this recipe from the NY Times: Vietnamese Marinated Flank Steak. I'm not a big fan of flank steak. Hanger worked wonderfully with this dish.
For the salad, instead of red radishes, I used daikon. I also used palm sugar instead of regular, and if I wanted some more heat, I would have used Thai chiles instead of jalapeno.This was topped with a big handful of cilantro and mint, after the picture was taken, because I totally forgot.
A simple chimichurri, recipes for which are all over the internet. I tend to enjoy chimichurri with a mix of herbs (parsley, cilantro, mint). A quick and simple no-cook sauce that packs a wallop of flavor for very little effort. Exactly how I like to cook. I generally marinate the steak in a mixture of soy sauce, Worcestershire, black pepper, and ground cumin, adding a lot more depth of flavor for zero effort.
This steak and olive vinaigrette looks all f*cked. It tasted much better than it looked as far as you know.