Hanger steak is seasoned with an irresistible mole-inspired dry rub with a hint of chocolate and served with a refreshing strawberry-avocado salsa. Thank you so much to ButcherBox for sending me grass-fed meat for this post!
Wouldn’t you be thrilled if a giant box with of a wide variety of cuts of grass-fed meat showed up at your door, just chilling over some dry ice and waiting for you to defrost as you please and get creative in the kitchen? I think any paleo or real-food cook would love it, and that’s why I’m so excited about ButcherBox.
ButcherBox is a grass-fed meat subscription service that carefully curates a unique selection of cuts each month and sends them straight to your door, complete with informative cards showing where each cut comes from, explaining how to best prepare it, and detailing a delicious recipe to try with each one. I shared about my first box and what I did with it in this slow-cooker Cuban short ribs post, and now I’m sharing a delicious hanger steak recipe along with some info on my second box. All the meat I’ve eaten from ButcherBox has been exceptional, with such good taste and texture that it’s hard to believe it was ever frozen.
This month’s box contained hanger steak, four ribeye steaks, two pounds of ground beef, thinly sliced beef (perfect for stir-frying or pho), and a Scotch roast, and paleo bacon (if you’re interested in paleo bacon, too, you can get a package of it for free when you buy your first ButcherBox right here!). I was especially excited about the hanger steak because it’s so flavorful and so hard to find–it’s also known as butcher’s steak because butchers often keep it for themselves instead of selling it.
When I started thinking about how to season the steak, mole came to mind. Mole is an amazing and complicated Mexican sauce that’s usually served with chicken, and I’ve loved it ever since one of my students’ mothers first brought me a plate of it when I was teaching in Houston. I have a great recipe for chicken drumsticks with mole poblano in Paleo Planet, but I usually save it for special occasions because there are so many ingredients and it takes a while to make. I’ve really been craving the taste of mole lately, though, so I decided to use some of its main ingredients in a simple and easy-to-make dry rub.
Mole is usually made with dried pasilla negro chiles and a variety of spices, including chocolate and cinnamon. (Is chocolate a spice? I think vanilla is technically considered one, so maybe chocolate is, too. If you know about this, please enlighten me.) For the mole dry rub, I toasted pasilla negro peppers with cumin and coriander seeds to bring out their flavors, and then ground them with a little salt, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, allspice, and cayenne. Spice blends last a very long time, so you can make this in advance to speed up the process at dinnertime. This recipe also makes a little extra mole dry rub, which I think you’ll appreciate because its flavor is so addictive. Once you try it, I bet you’ll be craving the taste of mole all the time, too.
I wanted something light and fresh to complement the richly spiced steak, so I decided to make a fruit salsa. I’ve known for a while that fruit + avocado + shallot or onion + citrus juice + cilantro was a synergistic combination; see this pineapple-avocado salsa for an example. I decided to try strawberries because they’re finally coming into their own this time of year, and also because I thought they’d play nicely with the hint of chocolate in the dry rub. Did you ever think you’d enjoy chocolate and strawberry in the same bite as a juicy steak? I promise you won’t hate it at all. On top of that, the salsa has the colors of the Mexican flag, so it’s perfect for your Cinco de mayo menu.
If you’re looking to round out this easy meal with one more thing, it’s great with yellow rice, breakfast potatoes (which shouldn’t be confined to just the morning!), or pretty much anything else that can soak up a little of these epic pan juices. If you’re ready to try your own box of grass-fed meat, order one here or learn more about ButcherBox here. Have questions about ButcherBox, this recipe, or anything else? Just let me know in the comments!
- 2 dried pasilla negro chiles*
- 2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds**
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1¼ teaspoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon raw or coconut sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1¼ pounds hanger steak, in 6 pieces
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 2 teaspoons lime juice, or to taste
- 8 ounces strawberries, hulled and chopped
- Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 ripe Haas avocado, pitted, peeled, and chopped
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil or ghee
- Start by making the mole dry rub. It will keep indefinitely, so feel free to prepare it in advance. Use kitchen shears or a sharp knife to cut the chiles open, removing the stem and seeds and cutting the chiles themselves into a couple flat pieces.
- Toast the pieces of chile with the cumin and coriander seeds in a dry skillet over medium to medium-low heat, turning the chile pieces frequently, until fragrant and slightly darkened. Transfer to a plate and cool for a few minutes.
- Put the toasted chiles and seeds in a spice grinder with the rest of the dry rub ingredients and pulse until finely ground and well mixed. Store in an airtight container if not using right away.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Pat the steaks dry and rub them with a heaping tablespoon of the mole dry rub (you'll have some left over for next time). Let the steaks sit on a plate while you prepare the salsa.
- To make the salsa, put the shallots and lime juice in the bottom of a large bowl. Add the strawberries, cilantro, avocado, and a little salt and pepper. Toss gently to combine, then taste and adjust seasonings as desired. The salsa will taste even better after the flavors have had a few minutes to meld.
- Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the avocado oil. Once it's shimmering, add the steaks in a single layer and sear for about two minutes, until very well browned but not burnt, lowering the heat a bit if necessary. Use tongs to flip the steaks and sear for two minutes on the second side. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the steaks for about five minutes for medium-rare. Rest the steaks on a plate for five minutes, then slice against the grain and serve hot with the pan juices spooned on top and strawberry-avocado salsa on the side.
ButcherBox provided me with free product for the development of this recipe, and this post contains affiliate links. If you make purchase from ButcherBox or Amazon after clicking one of my links, I receive a small commission (the price you pay will not be affected). Thank you so much for supporting my site, and rest assured that I only recommend products and services I love!