Grilled hanger steak, unadorned, is nothing shabby. But grilled hanger steak with a dollop of this sorta smoky, slightly sweet, incredibly versatile red onion raita? Spectacular.
Grilled hanger steak, unadorned, is nothing shabby. But grilled hanger steak with a dollop of this smoky, slightly sweet, incredibly versatile red onion raita? Prepare to collect accolades. The raita goes with countless things beyond steak, including pita bread, lamb burgers, chicken thighs… Care to let us know how you dished up your raita? Let us know in a comment below.–Janet Fletcher
Grilled Hanger Steak
- Skewers (if using bamboo, soak in water for at least 30 minutes)
For the grilled hanger steak
- 1 1 ⁄ 3 to 1 1 ⁄ 2 pounds hanger steak* (or substitute skirt steak or sirloin flap steak)
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 1 teaspoon coarsely crushed black or mixed peppercorns (white, black, green, pink)
For the raita
- 1 large red onion
- Mild vegetable oil
- Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
- 1 clove garlic, grated or finely minced
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro or 1 1 ⁄ 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh mint or a combination
- 1/4 teaspoon toasted and ground cumin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
Rub the hanger steak
- Combine the salt and crushed pepper. Season the meat all over with the mixture. Place a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet and place the meat on the rack so the air circulates underneath. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 4 hours and up to 1 day. Remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before grilling.
Grill the hanger steak and the onion for the raita
- If using a charcoal grill, prepare a moderate charcoal fire in the center of your grill, leaving the outer rim devoid of coals for indirect grilling. If using a gas grill, preheat it to medium, leaving one burner unlit for indirect grilling.
- Peel the onion and slice it neatly into rounds about 1/2 inch (1 cm) thick. Carefully thread a skewer through each round to hold the rings together. Brush the slices with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over indirect heat—not directly over the coals or gas flame—turning once, until the onions are soft and slightly charred, 25 to 40 minutes. Don't rush the onions or they'll blacken before they're fully cooked and they'll lack that smoky campfire aroma. Move to a cutting board and pull out the skewers. If the outer ring of the onion slices is dry and papery, discard it. Chop as much of the onion as you wish to use in the raita—somewhere between 3/4 and 1 cup ought to do the trick
- Meanwhile, grill the hanger steak directly over the coals or gas flame, turning once, until the meat is done to your taste, about 10 minutes for medium-rare. (Hanger steak is best if not cooked beyond medium-rare.) Let rest for at least 5 minutes. If you tied the steak, remove and discard the string.
Put the finishing touches on the hanger steak and raita
- While the steak rests, whisk together the yogurt, garlic, cilantro or mint, and cumin in a small bowl. In a skillet over medium heat, warm 2 teaspoons (10 ml) vegetable oil. Have the skillet lid handy. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds. Protecting your face with the lid, cook until the mustard seeds pop and become fragrant, 1 minute or less. Pour the hot oil and mustard seeds over the yogurt and stir in. Fold in the grilled onion. Season the raita with salt.
- Thinly slice the steak against the grain. Serve immediately with the red onion raita.
*What is hanger steak?Hanger steak belongs to a category of beef known as flat steaks, which also includes flank and skirt steak. It hangs between the rib and the loin, where it supports the diaphragm. It's also one of the most underrated cuts on the steer. It has a rich, beefy flavor that will reward you for dealing with the tough membrane running down the center. You can leave this membrane in place, trimming it away as you eat the steak, or you can remove it before grilling. To remove it, use a sharp knife to slice carefully on either side of it and lift it out cleanly, with little or no meat attached. You'll be left with 2 disconnected strips of hanger steak. Rearrange the strips side by side and tie them in several places with butcher’s twine to recreate a single steak.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
Full disclosure: I only came for the raita. It's one of my favorite condiments, and I'd never thought to add grilled red onion to it. The raita came out insanely flavorful—I want to put it on everything! The steak came out excellent as well. I also happen to love hanger steak so this wasn't a hard sell. I've grilled hanger steaks before and had them in restaurants, and have never found it necessary to remove the middle membrane. I did it this time, and it turned out just fine, but in the future I'd skip that step. I know that the texture of meat can vary greatly depending on where you're able to source it, so maybe the author is being cautious.
I'd also bump up the flavor of the steak by adding a little bit of the same spices in the raita to the dry rub on the steak. Just a teeny bit of ground cumin and crushed mustard seed would marry the steak and the raita perfectly. I used both cilantro and mint—1 tablespoon of each. I refrigerated the steak for 12 hours. My onions only took about 20 minutes and were very soft and sweet. The raita served more than 4 as we had leftovers! Not a problem, as it was delicious.
The steak came out lovely and flavorful with a great salt and pepper crust on it. But the real star of this dish was the raita. No reason to stop at just putting it on meat as it was equally delicious dolloped atop the warmed pita that I served alongside. I used sirloin steak and cilantro, because I like it, but I think mint would be equally delicious. Simply an outstanding dish! Served it with some warm pita, which was excellent dipped into the leftover raita.
Other than seasoning and drying the meat for a few hours before cooking (I dried mine in the fridge for about four hours.), this recipe comes together in less than an hour. I had about 1 3/4 pounds hanger steak, which my butcher kindly trimmed to remove the membrane and silver skin. It turned out to be 3 strips, like sirloin tips.
About an hour before I wanted to eat, I started the onions. I grilled them indirectly at a temperature of 450°F to 465°F for 35 minutes until soft and slightly charred (I personally like them a little charred!). For the raita, I used full-fat goat milk yogurt from Redwood Hill Farm (not necessary unless you, like me, are lactose intolerant--but it's darn good yogurt). Goat milk yogurt tends to be on the thin side, which I think is better for raita than thick Greek-style yogurt.
I used mint from my garden, ground cumin, and black mustard seeds tempered in olive oil. The meat was tender and delicious. The raita was lovely with the meat, but I thought it could have been more flavorful. I wouldn't be afraid to increase the amounts of cumin and mustard seeds and even the herbs to your taste. That being said, I ate A LOT of it, so it must have been pretty good as is. Always tinkering. What can I say?
Originally published August 3, 2016