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Apr 11, 2009 11:17 AM

PRIME Steaks @ Costco

Costco (Everett) is now selling fresh Prime Ribeye and Prime New York Strip steaks for $8.99 and $9.99 per pound respectively.

Excited at this unbelievable deal, I chatted with the butcher who indicated that the steaks were selling below cost and surprisingly, were not selling well.

Go get them!

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  1. Great news. Did the butcher say if they were planing on carrying prime regularly (if it sells)?

    21 Replies
    1. re: Gabatta

      They've had them for at least a month. Remember to judge with your eyes, though, and not by the label. A woman next to me reached for a prime porterhouse when the choice porterhouse next to it was clearly a better steak. The graders do what they can, but it's an inexact process.

      1. re: almansa

        The butcher intoned their days were limited at the everett location unless sales spiked but said that they "probably would" be available at larger locations like Waltham.

        Almansa, out of curiosity, which location was selling prime porterhouse? This is the first that I've heard of Costco selling prime porterhouse (only have heard of - and seen - ribeye and strip to date). Would love to try their prime porterhouse.


        1. re: almansa

          Meat is graded by the steer, not by visual inspection of the cuts. Very often lesser grades are actually better meat.

          1. re: AHan

            OK, now I'm confused. I thought prime grade beef should be better then choice since it is taken from only the top 2% of all beef. I thought prime has more marbling the choice.

            So how do we pick the best beef?

            1. re: Torolover

              eyeball it. I've gotten Choice grade at costco that should have been graded prime, but since it's by the cow ;-)

              That said, the pack I tried of the prime ribeye has been exemplary. I didn't know they'd stop doing it at the Everett location unless it became more popular or I would have mentioned it as well. It's inexpensive for what it is...Shaw's at the Pru Center also carries Prime but it's more like $16/lb, but they're the same company that made up their own "Blue Ribbon" grade which was worse than Choice :-)

              1. re: Torolover

                Sometimes the graders get it wrong. They judge the marbling between the 12th and 13th ribs; this is the primary factor in grading. Also they verify the maturity and bone quality. Finally they check color: a dark or purple "cutter" as they call it, shouldn't grade prime, but they still often do. These are animals who were stressed at time of slaughter, and as a result, will yield tough meat. The line is very fine between top choice and bottom prime - like a B+ vs an A-, and it's easy to get it wrong based on the marbling of one particular muscular region.

                1. re: almansa

                  check them out...clearly solid prime. sorry, I am trying to post a picture of the steaks - very beautiful and delicious.

                  1. re: almansa

                    Great info, thanks! You have inspired me to do some research on this.

                    1. re: almansa

                      This is not true. As mentioned earlier, it is graded by the steer, not the steak inspection itself.

                      Processing plants charge five grand at minimum to stop the processing line between grades. There are so many small farmers out there that simply can't afford to stop the processing line to get higher cash for their 2 prime steer, so they go all choice, select or no roll.

                      Perhaps individual butcher shops grade their beef through steak inspection, but not the USDA itself.

                      This is why as someone pointed out below, that you can find even 'no roll' beef that is prime quality at places such as Hilltop.

                        1. re: negrazer

                          Help me understand this.

                          As Almansa wrote/intoned (and limited internet research supports). A key part of the process involves graders checking the marbling of each steer's ribeye area. Presumably, the USDA has determined a high correlation (but probably not perfect) correlation between ribeye and rest of the cow marbling. Thus, based on this per cow inspection, the entire carcass is given a grade.

                          Thus, isn't every cow individually graded?

                          1. re: CambridgeFoodie

                            Much of the meat at hilltop is, as said above, and by Negrazer below, not graded for quality at all. You could get prime, or you could get a poor quality cut. If you really look at the meat, and know what a prime steak looks like, you can find some nice meat for small money.

                            Even when graded, the USDA graders take a cursory look at one piece of ribeye and inspect the overall cow. So you are talking about making a judgement on the meat of a 1,500 pound animal that you have inspected for maybe 30 seconds, based on one slice of meat.

                            If that particular slice of that particular cow is not a good indicator of the rest of the cow, then you've got a choice (or worse) ribeye in an otherwise prime cow. These are animals after all. Big, messy, heterogeneous living organisms. Trying, in a 30 second inspection, to definitively grade every single one is impossible.

                            I once read an article about the woman who selects carcasses for Peter Luger. Her name eludes me now. She basically has the pick of any Prime meat coming into NYC, and even she, amongst hundreds of Prime steer she reviews every week, only finds two or three that meet her much higher standards. This is a woman who has been putting her heart and soul into her work for years as opposed to the average USDA grader who may or may not give a hoot.

                            Short version of the story. If a steak looks like Prime, it might just be Prime quality even without the USDA stamp. What do ya have to lose.

                    2. re: AHan

                      I made this point a while back when I picked up a prime quality ribeye at Hiltop Butcher shop of all places. It was an amazing steak for $6 or 7 / pound.

                      1. re: StriperGuy

                        quick question,can someone tell me if there are any costco stores around boston that sell beer and wine?

                          1. re: messyheat

                            So does Avon/Stoughton. Dedham has a liquor store but it is "independently" owned to get around the law of no more than 3 liquor stores per chain law (grrrr).

                          2. re: StriperGuy

                            Did you, by chance, take a picture of the gem you picked up at Hilltop...I'd love to see what made you judge the meat prime.

                            1. re: CambridgeFoodie

                              Not as compulsive as some, I take no pictures of any of the marvelous meals I eat every week... having eaten MANY Prime steaks in my day, I know Prime when I see it.

                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                If there is one thing that I indeed am, it is compulsively accurate.

                                For example, I know with 100% certainty that porterhouse steaks have bones in them.

                                "I think the porterhouse was even boneless." from line 13 of:

                    3. I've been buying USDA Prime at several Costco's across the country for the past few years, it's a deal. Waltham carries them and I hope Costco continues to expand the stores that will carry them.

                      1. I am not surprised - beef's generally beyond even my not-exactly austerity budget for over a year. A great deal that is not within one's budget is not a good deal.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: Karl S

                          Even more the reason to be an opportunist. Hilltop has whole strips and ribeyes on sale all the time for $5 a pound. Whenever I'm in the area I pop in and usually 1 in 5 times I'll find a prime quality piece of meat and generally half the time a choice quality. If neither is on the shelf, I pass and wait for my next visit.

                          A bit over a year ago I purchased an old fashioned hand crank meat grinder for $35. Now I buy a whole 12 pound strip and out of that cut my own steaks. For $5 a pound I get a dozen prime quality steaks AND a few pounds of great burger from all the scrap.

                          The downside is I have to freeze some of the steaks, but they end up being better than what you'll pay double for at a grocery store.

                          Same goes for Pork and Chickens, I always buy whole loins or birds, never chops or breasts and do the butchering myself.

                          I haven't purchased portioned meats in over a year and I'm eating far better quality, saving hundreds of dollars each year and it really doesn't take much time once you get the hang of it.

                          1. re: negrazer

                            Sorry to say that Hilltop beef is far from Prime, not even close, not even select grade, you can regularly get USDA Choice cuts at Costco for around $5. p/pnd

                            1. re: treb

                              Have you actually looked at the cuts at Hilltop, on an ongoing basis? Because I agree that technically the are not prime, how could they be at those prices, but I assure you, that as negrazer says, every now and then Prime quality beef IS on the shelf at Hilltop.

                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                I recently loaded up on ribeye on sale at Hilltop. Looked fantastic, tasted mediocre. Iw as definitely disappointed. To me the expression "you get what you pay for" is a total copout, and completely lacking a basis in reality, but in this case it was true.

                                1. re: AHan

                                  I will say, since my original foray I did have another ribeye that was not nearly as good as the first one I mentioned in a previous thread. Maybe I need to get a costco membership...

                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                    Or get a chowhound friend to walk you in for a pack so you can taste it yourself ;-)

                                    1. re: Spike

                                      Seriously, it's not like we are talking about going to North Dakota, killing a steer, burtchering it yourself, and digging out the Ribeye. Get in the car, check it out, they have decent, and sometimes excellent meat for very small money.

                                      The bolognese sauce I made from Hilltop meats was mouth wateringly wonderful as well. I hand minced about 3 pounds of sirlion tips and then added other meat as well. Yum.

                                      Sadly, I was at Peter Luger in NYC about 3 weeks ago and the Porterhouse for 4 we ordered medium rare came out black and blue.

                                      Really just charred on the outside totally raw inside. It was a bit much for most of us, and I am not a big believer in sending meat back so we choked it down. The holy of holies even varies from time to time.

                                2. re: StriperGuy

                                  At times, I have searched high an low for a USDA stamp on the beef, nowhere to be found. I've even asked people in the back cutting, they'll not tell you what it is, they tend to keep very mumm on this subject. I've looked for some marbling and the color of the fat and most times there is no marbling and the trim fat is not really white. The other thing that lacks quality is how they cut steaks, not too uniform. Finally, a chef friend of mine knew someone that worked at HT and they indicated my feelings about the quality.

                          2. I went to Costco in Everett today and they had plenty of Prime Boneless Ribeye ($8.99 lb) and Prime New York Strip ($9.99 lb) steaks for sale. The packed on date was 4/11/09 with a sell by date of 4/14/09. Both steaks had alot of marbling but I didn't buy any today. I checked to see if any of the packages were just packed but they were all packed on 4/11/09. Next time I think I'll try the Prime New York Strip steaks. Is there a noticeable taste difference between a Prime steak and an USDA Choice steak?

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: buffet king

                              As many of the above posts reference, individual steaks are not graded, but come from a graded beast. Some Choice will be better than some Prime.

                              1. re: buffet king

                                If you don't try it, you'll never know. There's a big taste difference to me...more of a steak taste w/ Prime. Watch out for the big cloud of grease when cooking it indoors though...more fat = more grease ;-)

                                1. re: buffet king

                                  I've been to some Costco's that sell tenderloin butt portion, the large end portion for the same price as the whole tenderloin, minus the tail and a real deal. BTY, when it comes to tenderloin, IMO, USDA Choice is fine.

                                  1. re: buffet king

                                    We bought a package of rib eye steaks today, and wish that they had been packaged more recently. But we then found the cremini mushrooms... Wednesday will be steak night. Simply grilled with a little salt, served with mushrooms sauteed with a little shallot, butter, wine, fresh thyme. and then reduced. One of my favorite combinations. The other two steaks have already been packaged for the freezer.

                                  2. The original comment has been removed