Welcome to Beef Week 2018! This year, we are celebrating beef’s power to make cooking on a tight budget feel easy, exciting, and even luxurious. Won’t you join us? 

Credit: Greg Dupree; Food Styling: Karen Rankin; Prop Styling: Kashara Johnson

OK folks, here’s your hang-in-there-because-it’s-almost-the-weekend-steak… get it? Because we’re talking about HANGer steak? No? Alright, well, this hanger steak with all the trimmings truly is an excellent way to treat yourself on a Friday.

Hanger steak is a cut from the plate primal, or lower belly, of the cow, which means it’s naturally quite tender. It also happens to be exceptionally rich in the flavor department; in fact, ask around in any serious beef-enthusiastic circles (i.e. butchers and chefs), I guarantee you, you’ll find more than a few people who’d name hanger as their overall favorite steak. So, how can this be considered a “budget cut?”

Here’s the thing. Once upon a time, hanger steak was one of those well kept food “secrets” that only industry folks really knew about… and yeah, it was super cheap. As most secrets eventually do, this meaty intel gradually seeped into the mainstream consciousness, causing hanger steak’s popularity to grow in recent years. Thus, its price tag isn’t going to be as shockingly cheap as it might have been a few years back. However, it’s still generally going to be an economical choice compared to your ribeyes and New York strips—and by many accounts, these pricier cuts simply can’t compare to the hanger in terms of flavor. With all of that said, I’d consider this an excellent budget-conscious “splurge.” Which is a totally appropriate moove for a Friday.

Naturally, our feature recipe today is highly supportive of the #TreatYourself mentality; not because it’s labor intensive or demanding—but because it’s not. We’re looking at a single-skillet supper that’s ready to rock in under an hour, yet feels like a special occasion meal. Here’s how it’s done. Because you’re a total pro who’s not messing around, you’re gonna par-cook your Brussels sprouts and potatoes in the microwave so that you can finish them off quickly in the cast-iron that you’ll use to sear your steak in first.

Not feeling overly confident about your searing skills? Just remember, the keys to a perfect pan-sear are dry meat + high heat. Say it with me now: dry meat + high heat. In other words, pat the moisture from the surface of your beef with paper towels, season well, and crank the heat up to high. That, and please don’t forget to baste. I talked about this on Tuesday, it’s so important—basting is truly the only thing that differentiates your home-cooked steak from the one you’ll pay 2-3 times as much for at some fancy-pants bistro. For anyone who’s more of a “visual learner,” the video below provides a great refresher on the art of pan searing steak like a pro.

While you’re steak is resting—undisturbed for 10 whole minutes—you can just go ahead and toss those pre-softened veggies right into the pan drippings to finish cooking over medium-high heat. You’re gonna be so pleased with your decision not to wipe the pan out first; don’t even mention that it’s part of the instructions when the compliments to the chef start raining down (it’s a simple fact, vegetables cooked in beef fat tend to make it rain), just tell ‘em it was your idea. I realize this might seem excessive, but yes, you should go ahead and top the whole shebang with lemony herbed compound butter. It’s really not a pain to make, this recipe will leave you with plenty of leftovers (just wrap up and freeze what you don’t foresee yourself using this week), and it makes virtually every meal—barring dessert—feel better. Just do it.

One last general note about hanger steak: Despite that whole narrative above about it becoming a cool-kid-on-the-block cut, you may still have to specifically ask your butcher, or a meat department employee at your preferred supermarket, for hanger steak. It depends on the day and what store I go to, sometimes I’ll come across it readily available in the case… oftentimes, I won’t. But look, if hanger steak is a new cut to you—trust me, it’s definitely worth the additional human interaction. Plus, 9 out of 10 butchers you ask will give you major praise for your admirable shopping list. They may not deliver this praise out loud, but you’ll know… and as you walk away with your package of beef, don’t be surprised if aisle nine starts to feel more like cloud nine.

Be sure to come back tomorrow for more beefy inspiration, and show us your favorite ways to make beef work for your budget by sharing with the hashtag #BeefMyWeek.

By Darcy Lenz and Darcy Lenz