When you order a steak at a Paris bistro, instead of saying “rare”, many folks ask for their steak “blue”, the hue of the meat when it is so rare/raw that it is purplish blue. As an added amusement, most waiters don’t even listen to most foreign customers when they say “medium” or “well-done”, and bring the steaks rare or blue anyways. If you had asked me when I was 12 years old if I would ever eat a piece of meat so rare it looked like it was ripped straight off the side of cow, I would have laughed nervously and shook my head violently. Well, now, depending on the cut of meat, I sometimes like it blue. :)
A couple of weeks ago, in my mad search for large turkeys, I spied a whole onglet or hanging tender or hanger steak at Santis delicatessen. I was thrilled to spot it, as it is a more economically priced cut of meat, with excellent attributes, packed with flavor and an appealing texture. I immediately bought it and put it in the freezer for a future use. A popular cut in Europe, the onglet or hanger steak has become rather chic in top American restaurants looking to serve more than just your well known cuts like tenderloin, rib-eyes or sirloin steaks.
For a more technical description, try this one from The Meat Buyer’s Guide, and I quote: “…a soft, grainy-textured, elliptical-shaped muscle approximately 7 inches long. There is only one hanging tender in a carcass and it is found between the 12th and 13th ribs on the right side of the carcass close to the backbone.” It’s best if you remove that central piece of gristle or tendon before cooking the hanging tender. I used to think it came from the belly area, but apparently it does not…
Some folks like to marinate this cut overnight or for several hours at least. We had an impromptu dinner a few nights ago, so didn’t have the time to do that. I simply prepared the meat, sprinkled it with salt and pepper and rolled it in some fresh thyme leaves, seared it on a hot cast iron pan and served it very rare. For side dishes, we cooked some very thin pommes frites or french fries, and I prepared a creamed spinach with truffle oil as well. The creamed spinach was particularly good, and the addition of truffle oil inspired (I read this in a cookbook somewhere). There are several decent recipes for creamed spinach on the net, but essentially it is good cream reduced down to thicken it further, blanched or steamed frozen or fresh spinach that has been squeezed to remove excess water, lots of butter, lots of grated parmesan or other cheese, salt and pepper, and in this case, a tablespoon or two of black truffle oil and finished with a bit of truffle salt before serving. My version was a bit too creamy, but it tasted good nonetheless. Then again how can anything swimming in cream, butter and truffle oil taste bad? :)
For a simple appetizer, we served this intense two year old plus aged cheddar from Washington State (a present from Farida at the Vancouver eyeball) with a bit of homemade guava jelly and crackers. Thanks, Farida! People often ask me for restaurant recommendations, and I often answer that I don’t eat out THAT much. The reason? I actually find much better value, comfort and pleasure dining at home. And if you look at my actual plate two photos up, that’s how I like to enjoy this meal, with steak sauce on the side, and lots of ketchup for my fries (and this is the first serving, I had seconds)… While it may not have been made by a chef or a professional kitchen, this dinner probably cost some PHP500 each to prepare per person, while in a restaurant, you would have to pay upwards of say PHP1,500 each, assuming you could even find a good onglet on offer paired with creamed spinach with truffle oil… Then again, I enjoy cooking, and others simply do not or can not be bothered.