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Prime Steak (at Costco?)

I'm in the mood for steak, and just saw this article. Has anyone been able to find prime beef at Costo; how did you prepare it...more importantly, how did it taste?

Portion of Wall Street Journal Article...
For years, Brian Wong, a 25-year-old technology consultant in San Jose, Calif., longed to buy USDA prime beef. He had tried it at an expensive steakhouse, but whenever he looked in supermarkets or at Costco for the beef with the Department of Agriculture’s highest grading, he was told they didn’t carry it.

So when Mr. Wong saw a cut labeled USDA prime at Costco—selling for $9.99 a pound—he was so startled that he knocked on the window of the butcher department. “I asked them, ‘Is this a joke? Is it really prime?’ ” Mr. Wong says. The rib eyes he bought were the real thing: They were “more tender, more juicy” and more “delicious” than any other steaks he has cooked, Mr. Wong says.

(Due to the slowdown of sales in upscale steak restaurants, the article says prime meat has now become available at places it has never been in the past--at great prices!)

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  1. According to the costco website they do sell usda prime here is the link

    1 Reply
    1. re: pikiliz

      Yippee--just called my local Costco and they carry prime NY steaks!!!

    2. The Costco I go to has prime beef on a hit-or-miss basis. Last time I was in they had whole untrimmed strip loins for $8 and NY Strip steaks for a couple bucks more per pound. I got the whole loin (seems like it was 12 or 14 pounds) and cut it into steaks and a couple of roasts.

      The meat is great. I prefer simple preparations. Salt liberally, let stand for an hour or two on the counter, then either sear in a cast-iron pan and finish in a 275F oven, or just toss 'em on the grill. (When grilling, note that Prime beef is especially susceptible to flareups. More fat = more drippings = more potential for a grease fire. Have a squirt bottle of water handy, and don't leave the grill unattended.) Regardless of prep method, be sure to let the meat rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

      The main thing with Prime beef is not to cook the meat past medium-rare. The primary difference between Prime and Choice beef is the amount of intramuscular fat. The more you cook the meat, the more fat melts and runs out into the pan or onto the grill. If you like your steaks well done, save your money and buy Select meat.

      13 Replies
      1. re: alanbarnes

        I usually don't salt steaks before cooking (but do brine my chicken). Wasn't there a post about this a while back--makes the steak juicier?

        Last time I grilled some Porterhouse steaks, I seared them on high on one side, then turned them and moved them to the low heat side of the grill (while I was shooting before the sun went down). They came out nicely; served them with a Tuscan style "sauce" of olive oil, fresh rosemary, garlic, and dash of lemon juice--very tasty.

        1. re: Funwithfood

          Telling you, dry brining is the way to go.

          I do like a nice olive oil or butter blend to go on top, but not necessary on prime steaks. Save it for less fatty cuts.

          1. re: Phurstluv

            I really need to give that method a try. How much time would you recommend, and how much Kosher salt per pound? BTW, do you rinse (and pat dry) before cooking?

            1. re: Funwithfood

              I'm tellin' ya, it's the bomb. I wouldn't cook a steak any other way.

              Let's see, I just bought two steaks, bone in ribeyes that weighed total of 2.30 lbs.
              So, I would say, if I was salting alone, I would use about a tablespoon of kosher salt, per steak. These particular steaks are being frozen for later, so I also seasoned with Mont. steak seasoning blend and Lawry's garlic powder, and decreased the straight kosher salt b/c blend already has some coarse salt in it. But, make sure it's kosher or coarse salt, never table.

              And I do not rinse and dry the steaks at all. I leave them in the fridge for up to 2 1/2 days! Uncovered, on a rack, over a sheet pan. The longer you leave it in, the less moisture on the outside, sometimes look a little desicated, but they sear beautifully, and crisp the skin on poultry like you wouldn't believe, esp. if you can roast with convection. Now, I do have some special conditions that allow me to do this. I have a second full fridge in the garage, that was original to the house, but we replaced it to be a beer fridge b/c all it would do was freeze my produce & eggs! It stays at about 39 degrees F, and when you fill it up, it gets colder. Already tried replacing the thermostat. No good.

              So I can almost recreate a dry aging situation. I have never taken the relative humidity level, so I can't call it aging, but the steaks, and chops, roasts, birds and poultry pieces that I dry brine regularly come out beautifully juicy, tender and fully seasoned. And not so much so that you can't make a sauce from the fond. Never have oversalted yet. It beats a water brine for something like a turkey! Been doing this for 7+ years. Try it, you won't be sorry.

              1. re: Phurstluv

                Well, I salted the steaks on Monday and cooked them on Friday. The flavor was concentrated and rich, but the meat had a stringy texture, which was atypical and off-putting. I would definitely recommend a cabernet reduction to cut the richness. I'm not sure what caused the stringy texture. Next time I will cook the steaks within the first couple of days for comparison sake. So, I'm on the fence technique-wise until then...

                1. re: Funwithfood

                  Not sure what would make them stringy either. You used Kosher salt, right? Never had that happen. Try for only a couple of days next time :)

                  1. re: Funwithfood

                    How thick were your steaks? I'm a big advocate of the salt early technique but 4 days is a long time.

                    1. re: Funwithfood

                      4-5 days? You're approaching corned beef territory there.

                      1. re: Funwithfood

                        I cooked one of the steaks the next night...unfortunately a bit too long (very little pink), but the texture was much better, and the flavor was not compromised at all. Because I felt like the richness of the steak on night #1 necessitated a cabernet reduction, I made this for steak #2. The sauce *greatly* improved the eating experience.

                        Either the night #2 steak was diffferent, or the night #1 steak was undercooked...? This rich steak is much better with a complementary acidic sauce; my Cabernet reduction was perfection! Also, next time I will dry brine for no more than 3 days. Kosher salt in the amount of 1 Tbsp. for 2.5 lbs seemed just right, but not sure the impact of more...

                2. re: Funwithfood

                  There was a discussion awhile back about the following article on salting to turn a Choice steak into Prime. Interesting article if taken with a grain of salt :-)

                  1. re: RondoChar

                    I'm being overly anal here, but dry-brining a choice steak doesn't turn it into prime meat any more than dry-brining a chicken turns it into a duck. I've got no quibble with the method, but the characterization is simply incorrect.

                    1. re: alanbarnes

                      I agree. It totally has to do with the marbling.

              2. Our Costco has Prime Ribeyes and NY strips. The taste is and tenderness is outstanding well worth the extra $$ as compared to Choice; ours sells for $9.99 lb. The ribeyes are20oz and we cut them in half for the two of us. I grill on the BBQ until medium rare.


                1. our Costco in soCal has decent prime steaks. I usually buy the bone in rib eyes at the same price as above. Very good, although I doctor them just a little with a good salt rub, maybe Mont. steak blend, and dry brine them in the fridge for as long as I can before charcoal grilling. Superb, as long as dh doesn't overcook!

                  1. My husband was surprised to find prime steaks at the Restaurant Depot. Perhaps more evidence of the downturn in upscale dining....

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: roxlet

                      It's been on the news......ranchers have increased the size of the herds of their beef cattle to keep up with restaurant demand. Now that restaurants are in a slump, we're reaping the benefits of too much prime beef. (much of it on sale at Costco)

                      1. re: MIss G

                        I don't think they consider it a sale price. Just their price for prime beef right now. Get it while you can!

                        1. re: Phurstluv

                          Costco ribeye for dinner tonight. The price and quality just can't be beat. We are choosey when picking which package to buy, grill to rare, and enjoy the meals that follow tremendously.

                            1. re: MIss G

                              I agree this is a great deal. Our local COSTCO has had the prime beef for months, so it's obviously not just a promotion. Love those rib eye steaks.

                              1. re: oakjoan

                                I don't think it's a promotion either, they really don't tend to promote anything. And we've had them here for more than a year, so I think it's just the economics of it all for the warehouse. They're still making some money off of it.

                    2. My local Costco puts the "regular" cuts of meat on white trays and the "prime" beef on blue trays, Makes them easy to spot.

                      24 Replies
                        1. re: boogiebaby

                          That is how they do it here in Hawaii.

                          1. re: Joebob

                            Got it. Probably not worth an extra shipment. And those cost you 9.99/lb, also?

                            1. re: Phurstluv

                              Yes, but , being a stingy so-and-so, I carefully check out the choice steaks, where I occasionally find well-marbled steaks that could have been graded prime at a lower cost.

                                1. re: Phurstluv

                                  I thought so too, until I tried prime. I've seen some Costco prime that looked like wangyu, and I greatly regret not getting them.

                                  1. re: Joebob

                                    Well, yes, prime is always better, but some choice steaks are fine.

                          2. re: boogiebaby

                            "My local Costco puts the "regular" cuts of meat on white trays and the "prime" beef on blue trays"

                            Same here except the "prime" steaks I see at Costco here have to be about the lowest poissible denominator for "prime". I often see choice meat that looks better even right at costco. Doesn't help any that the meat cutters at Costco here are such total hacks.

                            1. re: Fritter

                              Don't know about them being hacks, but agree totally that the Prime at Costco is definitely a lower grade of Prime than you would find at most retail locations.

                              Still good, though, but not necessarily the uber-bargain that some folks are making it out to be.

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                Prime is Prime,if it was a lower cu it would be choice. I think that at most places that have prime have them displayed unwrapped behind a window and a butcher takes your order and wraps them for you. The sales experience is different, but it is still prime.

                                1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                                  Yes, prime is prime.

                                  But there are different grades of prime.

                                  See link for full explanation: http://meat.tamu.edu/beefgrading.html

                                  1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                                    I disagree. There is a range between the best of what is graded prime and meat that just "makes the cut". The best steakhouses and butchers get first crack at what comes from the purveyors and they choose the best of the best. If you think the prime steaks you get at Costco are identical to the prime steaks at somewhere like Peter Luger you are mistaken. I'm talking before the meat is aged.

                                    1. re: KTinNYC

                                      shhhh. more better stuff for us.

                                    2. re: normalheightsfoodie

                                      >>"Prime is Prime""<<

                                      Um, no. USDA Prime encompasses a significant range of quality. There's Prime- (slightly abundant marbling), Prime° (modestly abundant), and Prime+ (abundant). Moreover, within each of those groups, an individual carcass is scored on a scale of 1-100. So a Prime-00 steak will be indistinguishable from one that's Choice+100, but clearly inferior to one that's Prime+70.

                                      And that's without getting into Japanese-style grading of Prime beef...


                                      Don't get me wrong, Costco Prime beef is great stuff. But it's nowhere near the best that's out there.

                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                        Probably not, but I liked it and the price..regardless of its 'level' of prime (was very rich and buttery). I'm looking forward to buying it again soon!

                                        1. re: Funwithfood

                                          In total agreement. It's delicious stuff regardless of price. As to bang for the buck, there's nothing that compares.

                                          The real problem is that Costco makes it easy and affordable to eat way too much Prime beef. I think it's a marketing setup for when they start selling DIY angioplasty kits next to the multivitamins.

                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                            That is a problem...and how do we 'go back' when the economy recovers!!

                                            1. re: Funwithfood

                                              I'm hoping to go back to the pants I used to be able to wear.

                                    3. re: ipsedixit

                                      "not necessarily the uber-bargain that some folks are making it out to be"

                                      Gotta agree with that.
                                      The meat cutters at the costco I shop at are terrible. Often the meat is cut unevenly in wedges. I have yet to see a USDA prime stamp on the meat being sold as prime at costco. Country of origin has an impact on quality and price.
                                      I find it interesting that so many here think so poorly of CAFO meat, grain feeding with steroids etc and then think the prime meat at Costco is the MOAB.

                                      1. re: Fritter

                                        It would be fun to do a blind tasting of different levels, etc.

                                  2. My Costco had prime boneless ribieyes, I'm doing what Phurstluv recommended...kind of chickened out on the amount of salt--used only 1 tablespoon for 2.5 lbs. I'll report back.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Funwithfood

                                      Waiting to hear how they came out!! Give them as long as you can in the fridge!

                                        1. re: Funwithfood

                                          For dry brining? As long as your fridge maintains a cold temp, and there's air circulating around the meat, it can be as long as a week! Some dry age for 4 weeks, but I have never gone past 4 days. I just start to get paranoid, and don't want to have to trim off any dried out pieces of that gorgeous cut.

                                    2. OMG, they are the best ever. I have been buying the strip, it is fantastic. It did the same thing as Mr. Wong. When I heard that Costco had prime, it thought it was an urban myth, I was in search of the elusive "good" Costco, and then it came to mine, life has not been the same.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                                        does usda prime beefs have to be from US? could they be from aussie ?

                                        1. re: hae young

                                          "prime" has to do with fat content. They could be from australia, but must be labeled with the origin.

                                          1. re: Phurstluv

                                            And they have to be graded by a USDA inspector. Not all imported beef is. No matter how beautifully marbled a carcass may be, it's not USDA Prime unless a USDA inspector says it it.

                                      2. Be Serious. Restaurants and Grocery Stores order the same product from the same people. The quality is determined by the receiver. As a former employee of a specialty foods distributor I can tell you the fish, produce and meats are the same. Its the receiving that changes. Most grocery stores weigh in and accept all products. Restaurants who deal with food costs and are quality driven sometimes return an inferior product.

                                        Secondly. Unless aging or drying, you dont season meat multiple days in advance. You can marinate it. Rosemary, thyme, garlic, pepper and olive oil. But you add salt the morning or afternoon of. Think about how salt melts the snow and effects the evaporating point of water. Now imagine what it would do to a steak. You always season right before.

                                        17 Replies
                                        1. re: ChanceTDaily

                                          "You always season right before."

                                          Judy Rodgers, Michael Ruhlman, Bill Niman and many others disagree with you.

                                          1. re: KTinNYC

                                            Rather than going into detail pertainging to my relationship with two of the above names. Ill just say, using "the elements of cooking"as a reference, one can defer how to season different quality and grades of meats. The chapter on the egg is the most enlightening (sp?) though. And I recommend picking up the book. In either case, this thread is about when to season a steak at home. So in reference check out this website: www.videojug.com/film/how-to-make-rib.... and enjoy the sunny weather outside.

                                            1. re: ChanceTDaily

                                              I would agree with not salting steaks in advance unless air drying (aging) in the fridge (just going on my own experience--easier to get a good sear on dry meat.)

                                              1. re: Funwithfood

                                                I go with my own experience, have always seasoned my steaks well ahead of time, sometimes, 3-4 days. I have never had an oversalted, or overseasoned steak, using the above ref. product.

                                              2. re: ChanceTDaily

                                                I would love for you to go into detail about your relationship with two of the people I named. Wouldn't it be interesting if they advocate something in their books and then something different to you.

                                                1. re: ChanceTDaily

                                                  "Restaurants and Grocery Stores order the same product from the same people"

                                                  In my experience it's not even remotely true if you are trying to apply that across the board. That's painting with a very broad brush.
                                                  While there are indeed only a handful of beef packers nationwide IMO you are waaaaay off the mark if you think EVERY restaurant is getting beef from IBP, Excel, National, Morrel etc.
                                                  You would have to over look all of the other options such as Chicago Beef, Niman, Coleman etc. not to mention all of the specialty farm options for that to be an absolute truth.
                                                  Not many Chef's I know order fish the way you suggest.
                                                  In either event I was back in Costco yesterday. More hacked up "Prime" rib eyes and now they have done away with the standard top sirloin here and they have replaced it with "prime" sirloin. Same meat as before, higher price and a cute little blue tray. Since a picture is worth a thousand words I'm going to pick up some choice Top Sirloin from a butcher this week and a pack of the "prime" sirloin they are selling at Costco and post some photos.

                                                  1. re: Fritter

                                                    If your Costco butchers are such hacks, why don't you complain to the meat manager there? It's such a shame that they have such inexperienced meat cutters that are doing a disservice to the public by hacking up the meat. I'm sure if enough people at your store felt the same way, and no one was buying the product, the store will notice and take some action. But, what that action will be is anybody's guess. So if they get specific complaints, they can then address the specific problem. It may be as simple as better training.

                                                    1. re: Phurstluv

                                                      Wait a click. We're just talking about prime meats, and in the NYC area. Not aged or other grades. Thats what this threads about right?
                                                      So, "(Due to the slowdown of sales in upscale steak restaurants, the article says prime meat has now become available at places it has never been in the past--at great prices!)"-orig thread.

                                                      So, After an afternoon visit to costco, I found they get their prime meats from d'artagnan. A very popular vendor in the NYC area who sells to reastaurants. It's the same product, just restaurants have always been more picky with what they expect from their purveyor. I've always noticed a difference in the raw seafood at whole foods compared to what we see at raw seafood/sushi/sashimi places.

                                                      Pertaining to seasoning....which isn't really anything to do with this thread but I was interested in , as I've always heard different.

                                                      Alton Brown, Gordon Ramsay and Traci Des Jardin/ NY Times say season right before for seared and grilled meats.

                                                      l20 Restaurant ( on ruhlmans blog) say season an hour before.

                                                      The Niman Ranch cookbook says different things per different sizes of beef, I.e. up to 2 hours for a 16oz ribeye.

                                                      I guess its all just personal preference. I for one could care less and would rather go to a place like keens or lugers and have someone else cook it for me.

                                                      1. re: ChanceTDaily

                                                        I didn't even get past the 1st line before I clicked on reply!!! No, we're not just talking the NY area!!!!!!!! The rest of the country has Costcos that have prime steaks for sale!!!!!!

                                                        And, if I recall correctly, the OP did ask re:seasoning advice. Frankly, I don't give a fig's tree what other chef's think you should do with your steaks seasoning-wise. I go by my own experiences (10+ years doing dry-brines) and what tastes good to us, my audience.

                                                        OP, Funwithfood, was happy to get other CH recs and experiences, and actually found that they were relevant to what he/she wanted to know. So no one else's opinion (like you or the chef's you read about) matter.

                                                        1. re: ChanceTDaily

                                                          "I found they get their prime meats from d'artagnan"

                                                          I have no idea where you got that intel from. D'Artagnan does not sell sub-primal CAFO beef. As a Chef I have bought a lot of product from Ariane and she focuses on high end specialty products.
                                                          Truffles, Boar meat etc.
                                                          She does carry a few sub-primals but they are imported or kobe style meats.
                                                          I have no idea why you think this is just related to the NYC area.


                                                        2. re: Phurstluv

                                                          "If your Costco butchers are such hacks, why don't you complain to the meat manager there?"

                                                          That's a fair question so let me start with a friendly FYI.
                                                          Costco does not employ "butchers". They employ meat cutters that work at a far lower pay scale. This is one reason you don't see T-bones or Porterhouses in the fresh meat department. They do not have a band saw or any one with enough skill to operate it.
                                                          With regards to the complaint we have four Costco's near by and the product is exactly the same so I never thought about it.
                                                          The next time I go I will fill out a comment card.
                                                          It can't hurt any.

                                                          1. re: Fritter

                                                            I realize the guys behind the counter at costco are not "butchers". I do see T-bones, occasionally at my costco, so whether they've got a band saw back there, I'll ask next time I go. Maybe have them cut something fresh for me while they're at it, too!

                                                            1. re: Phurstluv

                                                              We have T-bones as well just not in the fresh meat department. T-bones and Porterhouse's come from the same loin. If they are cutting them then they would have both in the fresh meat department.
                                                              I could show a child how to cut up a Pismo into "tenderloin" the way Costco does it in about two minutes flat. Open package, slice.
                                                              They don't even bother to peel the loins or take the chain off. They just cut into steaks and sell.

                                                              1. re: Fritter

                                                                I bought packages of both choice and prime top sirloin today at costco. I'll start another thread as soon as I get the photos processed.
                                                                A few things worth noting here. The prime meat at Costco is from Mexico. I guess the real question we may all want to ponder is if that beef had previously been imported to Mexico before being brought to the USA.
                                                                The labels say processed in the USA. I went through many packages and found no evindence of a USDA inspectors roll stamp.
                                                                The choice steaks are from the USA.
                                                                They do have a small band saw at the store I was at today. I assume they are cutting pork chops with it.
                                                                Maybe I should vent on CH more often. I've been a Costco member for roughly six years and today was the first time I've ever seen tenderloins that had the chain removed.
                                                                Go figure.
                                                                I'll add a link with my review of the two steaks SxS soon. The BGE is rocking right now so it's almost CHOW time! ;-)

                                                                1. re: Fritter


                                                                  The Costcos here in Northern New Jersey have had Porterhouse and T-Bones in the past. They also usually have both Veal Rib Chops and Loin Veal Chops on a daily basis. I cannot recall if they ever have Lamb Loin Chops.....so, yes to the band saw for me locally.

                                                                  1. re: fourunder

                                                                    We have lamb loin and lamb rib chops here. The band saw at the store I was in yesterday might not be capable of cutting a short loin for T-bones or Porterhouse steaks. It was in the back of the shop so a bit hard to tell. It was not a large saw. Smaller than I have had in several kitchens.
                                                                    We have had veal rib chops here but they were not cut in house. The same is true of other lamb and veal products here that are not in Costco meat packaging.

                                                  2. The only Costco cut available at my store was a boneless rib eye. Did anyone find different cuts? (weren't very photogenic, I'd prefer bone-in).

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Funwithfood

                                                      At the newest Costco on Oahu, we can buy NY strips (not club steaks, which Safeway here calls "bone-in NY steaks"), boneless ribeyes, and, sometimes, T-bones.

                                                      1. re: Funwithfood

                                                        We have bone in ribeyes, & boneless NY strips. Usually hold out for the bone in cuts, better flavor, slightly more forgiving to cook. But will take a prime NY strip over a choice bone in rib eye, unless the rib eyes just look better.

                                                      2. Costco Blade tenderizes their steaks in Canada. I'm pretty sure they do it in the States too. That's why they are so tender.
                                                        But on a much bigger scale.

                                                        6 Replies
                                                        1. re: Bryn

                                                          I've never had a needled steak from Costco although the texture on the prime sirloin was unusual so when I thaw one I will closely inspect the surface. The Chice steaks here have not been needled.
                                                          If you buy the pre-marinated meats in the cryo they are often needled but that's not done by Costco.

                                                          1. re: Fritter

                                                            I don't believe they are tenderizing the steaks here in LA either. If it's prime, I don't understand why they would, it shouldn't be necessary. Pre-marinated stuff is a different animal, tho, and I never buy them, you just don't know how long it's been sitting in that stuff. Only exception for me is the Galbi, that comes from a diff. manufacturer.

                                                            1. re: Fritter

                                                              They blade tenderize the cut steaks in the huge packages up here (not necessarily marinated).

                                                            2. re: Bryn

                                                              I've never had a cut of beef -- steak or otherwise -- from Costco that's been tenderized.

                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                Weird... I wonder why they do things differently in Canada....

                                                                1. re: Bryn

                                                                  Their meat grading is a little different, too. I wonder if all USDA Prime beef would make Canadian Prime, and vice versa. http://www.cbef.com/images/beefqu7.jpg

                                                                  Well, whaddayagonnadoaboutit? Blame Canada, of course: