Hanger Steak is a lesser known but very flavorful cut of beef. It has so much flavor because it comes from the diaphragm that is needed for breathing, and has therefore had a lot of use in the life of the steer or cow. Hanger steak is called onglet in French, and longhaas or karweivlees in Dutch. It is best when served medium rare, but it can be slightly tough when prepared like a regular steak. With sous-vide we can fix this, because we can cook it for a longer time without taking it over medium rare or we can apply the technique that I have called warm aging.
It is possible to tenderize beef by boosting the activity of calpain and cathepsin enzymes in the meat through bringing the meat to temperatures of 39.5C/103F for calpains and 49.5C/121F for cathepsins. These are the same enzymes that are at work when meat is aged at refrigerator temperatures (both for dry aging and for aging in vacuum), but much faster and (compared to dry aging) without drying the meat. If you can find dry aged hanger steak there is no need to apply warm aging, but I don’t expect this to be a cut that is available dry aged. I finished cooking the steak at 55C/131F for medium rare. You could also cook it longer at 55C/131F instead of applying warm aging, but the meat would turn out less juicy and a bit more like medium.
This was the first time that I tried hanger steak sous-vide, and I was happy with the result. The meat was different from other beef: it had a ‘loose’ texture, lots of flavor and a very red color. It’s not as tender and juicy as for example a rib eye steak, but certainly tender and juicy enough.
salt and freshly ground black pepper
red wine (optional)
Brown the steak quickly over high heat. (I added the pre-browning as an additional step before warm aging to make sure any pathogens on the surface have been killed before the meat is kept for a few hours at temperatures that would allow pathogens to grow quickly.)
Allow the steak to cool to room temperature and then refrigerate it for a few hours until thoroughly chilled. If you try to vacuum seal the steak while it’s still warm, you will suck out too many juices and it won’t seal.
Remove the steak from the water bath.