Spiced Hanger Steak & Wilted Arugula

Monday, October 15, 2012

I'm inclined to start off with an apology about how long its been since my last post, but you know what? Life happens. Work gets crazy, kids need a little more help after school, friendships and relationships require attention...and the list goes on! Sometimes when I'm stressed it's a little harder to find any motivation at all to make the extra time required to edit photos and write about the very meal I struggled to get on the table that night. But there are other times when blogging is exactly what I need to be doing to take my mind off everything else, and tonight was one of those nights. After a lazy, rainy weekend I wanted to cook something warm, comforting, and hearty that wouldn't keep me in the kitchen all day.

I've been experimenting with different cuts of meat lately, and since I never have eaten a lot of red meat I'm definitely a long ways from knowing my steak. Luckily the guys at Penn Dutch have been pretty helpful whenever I have questions, and I usually scan a few articles online to get an idea of what to look for. This afternoon I picked up an inexpensive pound of hanger steak, which the butcher trimmed and repackaged for me right there at the meat counter. I had no idea they offered that service so I'll definitely be taking advantage of such a time saver. So from what I've learned, this cut of steak is flavorful and benefits from quick cooking over high heat. Since I didn't plan far enough ahead of time to do any real marinating, I wanted to impart high flavor in a short amount of time with rich curry spices. Smoked paprika really helped round out the spices and added a nice smokiness to my curry blend. I liked it so much that I'm adding it to my spice mix from now on.

I served this over long grain brown rice that was subtly spiced with cinnamon and bay leaf, an idea I picked up from watching cooking shows on PBS (my latest guilty pleasure after going without tv for almost a year!) Lemon juice is used throughout the dish to add a touch of brightness and acidity, and the sweet onions and yellow peppers added just the right amount of sweetness to contrast the bitter arugula. From start to finish, including the rice, this took me about an hour to get on the table and cost less than $10 excluding pantry items. That's my idea of a fabulous pick-me-up in the form of Sunday Dinner!

Spiced Hanger Steak & Wilted Arugula

1 - 2 lb hanger steak, trimmed
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. curry powder (see recipe, below)
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 T. dark brown sugar
2 lemons
1 sweet onion (yellow or red would work)
1 yellow bell pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 c. arugula
2 T. high smoke point cooking oil (I prefer grape seed)
Sea salt, to taste

For the rice:
2 c. brown rice
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 small bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 c. diced sweet onion (yellow or red would work)
Sea salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Squeeze of lemon
(Makes 4 c. cooked rice)

Angela's Curry Spice Blend:
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. turmeric
2 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. mustard powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne powder
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. white pepper
(Makes approx. 4 tbsp curry powder)

Servings: 2 - 4 (1 lb hanger steak is 2 servings)
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 1 hr (includes rice)
Equipment Needed: Heavy bottomed skillet, medium pot

The first thing you'll want to do is get your rice going since that takes about 45 min to cook. Rice will stay warm in the pot for quite awhile so there's no harm in making it early. To begin, heat the olive oil over medium high heat and add the bay leaf, cinnamon stick and diced onions. This helps to flavor the oil.

Add your rice and stir it for a couple minutes, gently toasting it in the seasoned oil. I used regular brown rice for this but you could use brown basmati rice too. For brown jasmine rice or white rices, it will take slightly less cooking time so follow package directions.

Finally, add 4 cups of water to the pot. Alternatively, you could use a beef broth or vegetable broth for extra flavor, although I thought a very simple rice went well with the rest of the dish. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer 45 minutes until rice is cooked.

Once done, remove from heat and fluff rice with a fork. Season to taste with sea salt, black pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Remove the bay leaf and cinnamon stick prior to serving.

While the rice cooks, prepare your curry spice blend if making that yourself (and I hope you do, because it's so easy to make great curry powders using spices you probably already keep in the pantry!)  Combine all spices. This will make about 4 tablespoons, or enough for 2 or 3 liberally seasoned dishes. I keep leftovers in a tightly sealed container.

Combine the olive oil, soy sauce, curry powder, garlic, brown sugar and juice of 1 lemon. It will make a quick marinade for the steak. The soy sauce and curry spices will really add a ton of flavor in a short amount of time.

As I stated above, my hanger steak was trimmed at the store so there was literally nothing else I had to do after opening the package. If you purchased your steak whole, you will want to trim excess fat. It already comes in fairly thin strips so I didn't cut it any more prior to preparing my dish.  Add the steak strips to the marinade and toss to coat well. Allow the steak to marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes while prepping the rest of your ingredients. You could certainly refrigerate and marinate your steak for several hours if you have the time.

Slice your yellow bell pepper into thin strips and thinly slice the sweet onion. Chiffonade or roughly chop up some fresh mint leaves, and get a good size lemon ready to squeeze.

Heat your skillet over medium high to high heat, depending on your stove. You want it to be just shy of smoking when the oil is added. It's really important to use a high smoke point oil - do not attempt this with extra virgin olive oil. Trust me, I had a frightening experience this summer when my skillet caught on fire because I accidently grabbed the wrong oil! While the skillet heats up, drain off the marinade from your steak. Sprinkle steak with a pinch of sea salt.

Carefully add the hanger steak to the oiled skillet, being careful not to crowd the skillet. Allow it to sear a couple minutes on one side before flipping over to sear on the other side. You're looking to serve the steak at about medium rare to medium. Since these strips weren't big enough to poke with a thermometer  I tested doneness by gently pressing the steak with my finger. It should give a little, and feel similar to the the area where your palm of your hand meets your thumb. If you really need to, you could always take a small piece and slice it to check that way too, but try learning to test doneness by touch for best results!

Once cooked, remove steak from the pan and allow to rest. It will smell amazing and you'll be tempted to eat it all now, but I promise it's worth the wait! Drain off any excess oil from the pan, you only need a tablespoon or so to finish the rest of the dish.

In the same pan over medium high heat, saute the onion slices until soft. The onion will start picking up all the flavors left in the oil from the curry spices, including a beautiful golden yellow color from the turmeric.

Add the bell pepper strips and saute until the peppers are crisp tender.

Deglaze the pan with the juice of a large lemon, approximately 2 tbsp. Be sure to scrape up all the browned bits at the bottom of your skillet where all that good flavor is. Add the chopped mint leaves and cook for a minute or so, then turn off the heat.

Add the arugula to the skillet and toss it with the onions and pepper mixture just until wilted. If you aren't crazy about arugula that's fine, spinach would be a great substitute here for similar results. Season with a pinch of sea salt.

To serve, spoon some rice onto your plate and top with sliced hanger steak. Pile a mound of arugula on top being sure to get lots of onions and peppers in there. Serve with lemon wedges for garnish and enjoy!

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  1. Wow that looks super awesome and seems pretty easy! My son would love this. I'm gonna make it tomorrow. I'm taking the steak out of the freezer right now.

    BTW...I love your blog. You and I are living the same lives! Love to cook, single mom to one son (Corey), project coordinator at an electrical construction firm, over-achieving procrastinator and definte ADD sufferer! I couldn't stop laughing reading about you in drug store on Thanksgiving. I can't tell you how many times my ADD has set in in the local CVS when time and money are the only things I don't have plenty off. And that sigh of relief when you see the word "approved" after that debit card swipe. Sheesh...been there, done that and bought the tee shirt! I will definitely visit often. Best of luck to you!

    Karen Rainey