Who’s got my hanger steak?

Come On, Martha, London Broil

Once a month, I browse the menus section of marthastewart.com for the latest trends in American WASP fare, which frequently involve anglicizing up a European, Asian, or South American dish based on an uncommon cut of meat. So I should have braced myself for disappointment before heading out with Billy the Kid to pick up the ingredients for her French Hanger Steak with Shallots. Now, BK loves a trip to Hannaford. He inspects the apples and pumpkins if in season, checks the swing-back on the frozen foods doors, and enjoys trapping an unsuspecting bagger into a game of “hiya.” However, after two Hannafords and a Market Basket in search of the elusive steer diaphragm, we were both cranky and in need of a doughnut. Alas, these are not Butcher Boy times. So, I used a London broil instead, and since I have no idea what hanger steak tastes like, nor its formerly conjoined twin, the skirt steak, I didn’t miss the aromatic “trace of kidney” reported by admiring butchers. Both Mr. P and I agreed that this is even better than Spot-on London Broil, but then again, we’ve had that a lot lately; it’s a cheap cut and I’m strictly pro bono at present.

1 London broil
1/4 C olive oil
2 tbsp butter (come on, Martha, you want me to sauté shallots in oil?)
1/4 C cooking sherry
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
5 shallots, quartered
salt and pepper

Whisk together the oil, sherry, garlic, mustard, Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Marinate the meat for 2 hours, sealed at room temperature.

Set the highest rack to allow for two inches between the meat and the flame, and turn the broiler onto high. Transfer the steak to a wire rack over a roasting pan or a broiler pan. Broil for 7 to 10 minutes (depending on thickness), turn with tongs, broil another 7 to 10, and the internal temperature should be just under 140. Take it out of the oven (is that condescending?) and let it stand on the rack for 5 minutes before slicing it into thin strips parallel to that infernal diagonal fat ribbon.

While the oven does its job, heat the butter in a skillet over medium and when it stops foaming, add the shallots. Separate the layers as they soften, and cook them until they caramelize, then turn the heat down to warm until the steak is done. We had no problem polishing off all the shallots with a modest steak, so don’t hold back while piling them on.

You have enough to worry about. There’s nothing wrong with beef.

Spot-On London Broil

Let’s be honest, we’re cooking at home because we’d rather save our entertainment dollars for something special, like heat and electric. Fortunately, money and time are almost always interchangeable in the kitchen, and a cheap cut of fresh meat has unlimited potential. Chances are, if there are enough of you to merit an entire London Broil, somebody’s unemployed and has the extra clock to marinate a piece of meat.

1 London Broil
2/3 C olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 tbsp rice wine vinegar
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire
1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried cilantro
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

Whisk all the ingredients together in a medium bowl. The resulting marinade will be an off-putting speckled tan. Pour 1/3 of the marinade into a glass pie plate or metal cake pan, and shake the pan to coat the bottom. Place the meat in the dish, and cover with the remaining marinade. Marinating uncovered for 2 hours at room temperature yields the best results, but this may only be possible in the colder and insect-free months. Otherwise, cover it up and stick it in the fridge.

Heat up your broiler as hot as it will get. Place the top rack at the highest possible level that will allow two inches of space between the steak and the flame. Broil for about 10 minutes, until the top is a respectable brown, then turn the steak over with tongs and broil for another 10 minutes. I don’t have a knack for judging the temperature of meat, so when I think it’s done, I remove it from the oven and cut halfway into the middle along that useless seam of fat. This allows you to determine if further broiling is necessary but does not detract from the final presentation, since the steak will be sliced.

Once the steak is cooked through, remove it from the oven and let it stand for 10 minutes. Any less and you’ll have tough meat and bloody plates. Using a super sharp knife, slice the steak into strips, cutting parallel to the fat seam mentioned earlier. Cut the slices as thin as possible, but keep in mind that the meat will cool quickly, so have any sides already plated and serve immediately. This goes really well with homemade mac & cheese and an early night.

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