Investigating Flat-Iron and Hanger Steaks
Tuesday 22 December 2015 — Category: Cooking & Food
As part of this year’s exploration of Portland, Oregon, I have also been virtually exploring the city’s restaurants online. While examining quite a few menus, I noticed that a fair number of them featured flat iron steak and hanger steak — both of which I was unfamiliar with. Having grown up in Santa Maria, California — home of the world-famous Santa Maria-style barbecue — I am much more familiar with tri-tip and filet mignon.
I also noticed that many Portland restaurant menus specifically mention that their beef is locally produced by Painted Hills Natural Beef, located in Wheeler County (where I once visited the magnificent Painted Hills).
Not long ago, while shopping at Market of Choice in nearby Corvallis, I saw that they carry a fairly-wide selection of Painted Hills beef. Rather than paying a lot of money to eat this premium meat in Portland restaurants, I bought a small package of both flat iron steak and hanger steak to try at home.
Although I love to eat good food, I definitely can’t pack away as much as I used to in my younger days. My motto in mid-life is “moderation in all things.” Therefore, whenever I buy some meat, I cut it up into 3½ to 4 ounce portions (100-115g), wrap each piece in plastic wrap, and stick them in the freezer. Using this methodology, I got four servings out of the package of flat iron steak, and three from the hanger steak.
For my first time eating a flat iron steak at home, I took a single portion and fried it at high heat in a cast-iron skillet with some extra-virgin olive oil, seasoning it with my favorite Weber Steak 'n' Chop seasoning. Once it was ready to eat, I topped with my homemade obatzda spread, accompanied by Israeli couscous and carrots sautéed in butter and basil. I hate to make you envious, but it was awesome!
My first time eating a hanger steak at home occurred a couple of weeks later. I cooked it in the same way as I did the flat iron steak. The hanger steak was topped with some McCormick Brown Gravy mix — made with milk and a bit of red wine instead of just water — to which I added some of the chanterelle mushrooms my daughter had given me. The steak was accompanied by leftover Thanksgiving mashed potatoes, and zucchini chunks fried and seasoned just like the steak, with the addition of some dried basel.
From my experience I am able to verify some of the details in the hanger steak Wikipedia article. It is indeed a very flavorful cut of meat. And there is indeed a long, inedible membrane down the middle — at least there was some on the portion I cooked. Because it is inedible, it would be better to remove it before cooking.
As a result of my investigation into flat iron and hanger steaks, I will definitely be buying these Painted-Hills-produced cuts of beef in the future. I will have to keep my eyes peeled for when Market of Choice has them on sale. So go ahead ... buy local ... eat well ... and all things in moderation!
P.S. On a related note, just as I was writing this article I saw this headline in the news: Why the Washington Post named Portland America’s top food city.