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Jul 27, 2009 08:05 PM

Cumbrae's Steak at $7/lb!

I went into the Bayview Cumbrae's on Sunday and asked for a 1 kg shoulder steak.
A butcher was summoned, and he brought out a shoulder piece, about 3 lb and 3" thick. It was cut close to the rib end, and aged.

He said it would be good for braising or slow grilling, off the coals. That is what I had in mind.
And it turned out near perfect.

I took the best marbled part of the roast, and butterflied it. (First photo: look at the marbling. There is no chewy sinew in this well raised piece of beef.)

I seared and grilled slowly in a simple Weber kettle.

Interestingly, Stephen Alexander is quietly promoting cheaper cuts, but you have to look for them, or ask. On display was Bravette (bottom sirloin steak) at $13 lb, and Wagyu tri point at $14'lb. (I forget if this was brisket or sirloin, but it looked good.)

Srephen is interested in selling ongelet, hanger, and flatiron steaks, (chefs take a lot of them), as he wants to sell the entire carcass, head to tail. And the pricing of these lesser known parts, including organs such as sweetbreads, is fair and attractive.

Here are the photos; it was a quite easy Sunday evening grill for me. The steak was juicy and tender, no sinew, and lots of front quarter flavor.

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  1. Maybe, just maybe, it's dawning on the Meat Boutiques that there's no market now for hyper-pricey merch. Good quality and a little value are nice for a change.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Kagemusha

      There's always a market for hyper-pricey merch. However, I echo your view that good quality and a little value are nice for a change.

      I wish most butcher shops would carry the more interesting cuts. Too many dumb it down. Not all of us go ga ga over T-bones or the Paris Hilton of steaks, aka filet (stole that line from mario batali).

      thanks for the post and pics, jayt.

      1. re: grandgourmand

        The first butcher I know of who sold hanger and skirt steaks was the late Paul Estrela of Royal Beef. Even 5 or 6 years back, you could buy those cuts there.

        1. re: foodyDudey

          Yeah, I've got to check Royal Beef. I'm not saying that these butchers don't exist, I'm just saying they are vastly outnumbered by butchers who only seem to carry prime cuts and a whole bunch of pre-marinated "convenience" stuff.

          1. re: grandgourmand

            My test is to ask for a cut like beef cheeks and see what happens. Someone who says, "give me a few days and how much do you want" is serious.

            1. re: Kagemusha

              I would prefer someone who says "I've got some out back". To be fair, each time i've called Cumbrae's for off cuts (pork jowls, veal cheeks) they usually have it in the Bayview store, allowing for same day or next day delivery to the Church St. location, which is more convenient for me.

              I'm going to call them up and see if they can provide some flatirons for this weekend's BBQ.

              1. re: Kagemusha

                Ahh beef cheeks! The first time I had them was at Crush; I knew I had try my hand at them with a small group of wine loving friends. Ordered them without problem at Cumbraes, they asked for 48 hours notice. They were beautifully trimmed and ready to use. I think they were about $6-7 lb. After a slow braise, the cheeks were enjoyed by all with great Gusto!

            2. re: foodyDudey

              Ding Ding Ding! FD spells hanger steak right, and Cumbrae's has it wrong on a brochure!

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. "Wagyu tri point at $14'lb. (I forget if this was brisket or sirloin, but it looked good.)"

            I bought that Wagyu tri-tip and grilled over charcoal to medium last week and it was really, really good. I have also recently tried the Wagyu flatiron (it was the same price as the regular flatiron so I decided to give it a try). It was also very nice. Truly surprising just how utterly tender the meat was given the cut and the fact I had to cook it to med or med-well for my mother.

            1. thanks for the heads up. glad to hear some of these quality cuts are coming down a bit in price. now i just have to get a good meat grinder for burgers and i'm set :)

              5 Replies
              1. re: toothpicvic

                Do it, you won't regret it. Kitchen Aid attachment or stand-alone for about $100.

                1. re: grandgourmand

                  thanks for the rec. i've got a kitchenaid and i've been trying to determine if the attachment is worth it or if i should just get a more classic hand grinder. not that i plan on doing tonnes of grinding, i just like to get things that will last more than a few years.

                  anyway, thanks for the tip. the scales are now on the kitchenaid side :)

                  1. re: toothpicvic

                    I love my Kitchenaid meat grinder attachment. Just ground 2 pounds of chuck for burgers last night. There are some useful tips for using the grinder over on the Home Cooking board that you may want to look for.

                    1. re: toothpicvic

                      I bought the KA grinder attachment with stuffer, on eBay, unused for about $50.
                      It works well. I have to keep strands of gristle out of the blade assembly, but this would apply to most grinders.

                  2. re: toothpicvic

                    For the bargain hunting chowhound - I purchased a flat iron steak from Medium Rare last weekend and prepared it rare on coals. It was fantastic and tender and only $10 lb. Skirt steaks were the same price. Although I don't believe it was Wagyu, the price can't be beat for the quality of the meat.

                  3. A little update...I was at the Church St. Cumbrae's locaton yesterday. They had flatiron (from the shoulder) and bavette (around ribcage) for $14.99/lb each. The looked amazingly marbled. I was tempted to buy, but my wife really wanted ribeye (cowboy cut is thick, single bone, $18.99/lb vs. $23.99/lb for regular ribeye steaks). I didn't lose out because the steak was amazing. But I really do want to try the flatiron and bavette and hangar (if they get it in). I've had some really good ones at restaurants.

                    Does anyone know if the lesser known cuts are dry aged 30+ days like the rest of their meat? I forgot to ask.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: grandgourmand

                      I didn't ask, but the shoulder steak I got had one small untrimmed area that showed the edge aging. Perhaps they age the carcass halves for two or three weeks, then sell off the cheaper cuts and set aside the best steaks for individual aging.
                      We really should ask, as Stephen is very upfront about what they are doing.

                      1. re: jayt90

                        I should have, but didn't think of it until after. I'm thinking of picking up one of those bavettes or flatirons for grilling later this week. Like I said, I had an awesome flatiron at a restaurant a while back. I find the beef flavour much stronger in these cuts.

                        1. re: grandgourmand

                          I really think $14.99/lb is high for those cuts, but they are very tasty. They must be eaten rare!

                          The flatiron is just a piece of the shoulder - I think it's the top of the blade. If you get the whole piece and slice the meat off both sides of the very prominent gristle in the centre, you'll get two big, beautiful flatiron steaks for the very cheap shoulder price instead of the expensive, trendy "flatiron" price.

                          My favourite is the skirt steak (the diaphragm muscles). You can get them flat (a long thin strip of meat) or rolled up as "pinwheels". Pinwheels can be any thickness and are easier to cook, but flat is more tender when you slice it. In addition to places like Cumbrae's and Healthy Butcher, Nortown and kosher butchers will have it. Possibly also Royal Beef. It shouldn't be very expensive.

                          1. re: embee

                            I've bought skirt steak at Royal Beef, and it was fantastic.

                            1. re: embee

                              I don't disagree that the price is high. That's why I want some more info on aging. If it's dry-aged 30+ days, plus from a good source, the price is somewhat reasonable.

                              Flatiron is top of the blade. Unfortunately, I need a visual to identify it...because I believe if you get blade steak, it has to be cut with or against the bone, I forget. I don't thikn it's a standard blade steak you would see at Loblaw.

                              I really want to ty skirt steak for fajitas or something like that.

                            2. re: grandgourmand

                              We had a bavette steak from Cumbrae's a couple of weeks ago. Grilled rare and then sliced against the grain, it had amazing beefy flavour and nice chewy texture. I would highly recommend it for a "bistro" style of steak - with oven fries.