Pannicolo – The Diaphragm

I am becoming a little more adventurous with my cuts of meat.  During the very long spell of snow we had last February, it  wasn’t only polenta and spare rib sauce that I resorted to.  I actually cooked tripe for the first time.  And a few weeks later, at a butcher’s I went to for the first time, my eye caught the sign “Pannicolo”, a cut of beef I had heard of only last year.  You may have heard of it as Hanger Steak, and it is basically the diaphragm of the animal.

I asked the butcher about it and he recommended it especially for children and people suffering from anaemia because of its high iron content.  He gave me a a few tips on how to cook it (which I didn’t follow) and told me that many of his clients like to grind it and make meat balls out of it.  It was a very pleasant chat and he was delighted to be drawn into a conversation about cuts of meat that many people do not appreciate any more.  When I mentioned that veal cheek or jowl had got quite popular again, he got most indignant about how pricey it had become since chefs had decided it was ‘fashionable’ again!

Once home, I decided to go the whole hog and flavour it with liquorice powder.  I had bought the liquorice powder some time ago and never used it.  I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, so brought out some pear mostarda out of the cupboard too.  Mostarda, like any other good sauce or condiment worth its salt (think ketchup, HP sauce, Worcestershire sauce, tabasco), is a great leveller!

I also liked the look of this fennel …

And here is the liquorice powder.

Here is the hanger steak that the butcher cut up for me.

I sprinkled a little liquorice powder over it.

I sautéed some garlic in a little olive oil with the dried fennel.

I cooked the meat on a very high heat … for only a few minutes.  When the blood rose to the surface …

I turned it over and cooked it for another couple of minutes and served straight away.

Me and my ‘fetish’ for fresh herbs …. scattered on top as garnish … and salt and pepper too, of course.

And here it is ready to be eaten.  I managed not to overcook it in the nick of time … and the taste was good enough not to have to add Mostarda to it.  Even so … am not quite convinced that I like it enough to want to buy it again.  I’ll give it another go as meatballs.

Here is some technical information on hanger steak from :

flank steak
Hanger steak
Photo Credit: Paulina Meat Market

Hanger steak or hanging steak comes from the hanging tender that is the portion of the diaphragm muscle attached to the back section of the last rib. Found between the 12th and 13th ribs of the carcass, it’s a soft, grainy, elliptical-shaped muscle about 7 inches long. The plate area indicates the diaphragm, which anatomically is one muscle. The cut gets its name from the fact that it “hangs” off the plate from the diaphragm near the kidney. The butcher cuts this into two sections: the “hanger steak,” considered more flavorful due to its being close to the kidneys; and the outer skirt steak, which is composed of tougher muscle within the diaphragm. Hanger steak, sometimes called onglet from the French, has a long, inedible membrane down the middle. It’s also called a butcher’s steak because before it became popular in restaurants (it’s rarely sold elsewhere) butchers would keep it for themselves.


About myhomefoodthatsamore

Community celebration via food, wine and all beautiful things.
This entry was posted in italian home food, Polpette: Meatballs as well as vegetable crocquettes, Secondi (main course, usually meat based), Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Pannicolo – The Diaphragm

  1. I vaguely remember ‘hanger steak’ from childhood but don’t think I’ve used it, so really interesting to read this. I’m also lucky enough to have a good butcher locally who will recommend different cuts.

  2. gareth says:

    Also called ‘bavette’ in France and ‘skirt’ in England – where, sadly, it mostly goes for mince as there’s no take up of the cut. It needs careful handling so as not to toughen in cooking. It is hard to write this during my meatless 40 days! Love your story weave.

  3. gareth says:

    Best not go into an English butcher as ask for a ‘bit of skirt’.

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