Here's Why Your Butcher Wishes You'd Stop Ordering Hanger Steak

Just give it up already.
The Washington Post via Getty Images

There are certain steak cuts that carnivores have come to love. They’re prized for their tenderness, like the filet mignon, and amazing flavor, like the porterhouse. But we shouldn’t order them every time just because they’re delicious.

And there’s one cut of meat in particular that the butcher wishes you’d stop ordering.

We talked to Sutter Meats butcher Terry Ragasa in Northampton, Mass. and he told us loud and clear: the hanger steak.

The problem with the hanger steak.

The hanger steak comes from the muscle that helps support the diaphragm between a cow’s rib and loin. It gets its name because it just hangs there. In other words, the hanger steak does no work, which means it is incredibly tender. There’s only one per animal (and it’s formed into two lobes) ― and that’s the problem.

“When the animal is split in half, before it’s processed, each muscle has a counterpoint on the other side. So you have two filets, two top rounds, two chuck eyes, but there’s only a single hanger steak,” Ragasa told HuffPost.

And it’s pretty small.

“Out of an 800-pound animal there is a pound and a half of hanger steak,” Ragasa explained. ”It’s delicious because it doesn’t do any work, it literally hangs next to the kidneys, but if 10 people order a hanger steak at a restaurant, that represents 10 animals slaughtered for those dinners.”

And that is not a very sustainable way to eat.

Instead, Ragasa recommends, try different cuts of meat that good butchers have available. Ragasa explains that expanding your meat cut horizons “will help the farmer and the butcher get the most out of the carcass.”

This is good not only for the livelihood of the butcher and the farmer who have to account for the raising and purchasing of a whole cow. It’s also a more sustainable practice because it minimizes waste of the animal. And that’s good for the environment because we all know what what a toll raising animals can take on our planet.

What should you order instead?

Ask your butcher for advice. “I think waste conscious consumers should consider eating more cuts from the chuck, as it makes up nearly a third of the total meat available from a single head of beef,” shared Ragas.

He also recommends the Denver and the Ranch, both of which are new cuts that offer loads of flavor. The Denver is similar in texture and flavor to a rib-eye. And the Ranch is “a leaner cut that’s very similar to a top sirloin, and has the tenderness of a sirloin with the flavor of a work muscle,” Ragasa shared.

You can get either of these for lower price points than the more classic cuts, which is just one more reason to try something new and stop ordering the hanger.

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