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Cumbrae's Steak at $7/lb!

jayt90 Jul 27, 2009 08:05 PM

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. Kagemusha Jul 28, 2009 04:51 AM

    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
      grandgourmand Jul 28, 2009 05:21 AM

      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
        foodyDudey Jul 28, 2009 05:36 AM

        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
          grandgourmand Jul 28, 2009 05:49 AM

          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
            Kagemusha Jul 28, 2009 06:14 AM

            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
              grandgourmand Jul 28, 2009 06:20 AM

              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
                l
                lightbulb Jul 28, 2009 04:42 PM

                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
              jayt90 Jul 28, 2009 02:23 PM

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

        2. a
          Atahualpa Jul 28, 2009 12:45 PM

          "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. t
            toothpicvic Jul 29, 2009 06:38 AM

            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
              grandgourmand Jul 29, 2009 06:40 AM

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

              1. re: grandgourmand
                t
                toothpicvic Jul 29, 2009 07:28 AM

                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
                  TorontoJo Jul 29, 2009 07:43 AM

                  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
                    jayt90 Jul 29, 2009 07:46 AM

                    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
                  t
                  tuttebene Jul 29, 2009 07:28 AM

                  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. grandgourmand Aug 15, 2009 06:26 AM

                  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
                    jayt90 Aug 15, 2009 09:08 AM

                    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
                      grandgourmand Aug 15, 2009 09:52 AM

                      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
                        e
                        embee Aug 15, 2009 04:29 PM

                        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
                          c
                          childofthestorm Aug 15, 2009 07:32 PM

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

                          1. re: embee
                            grandgourmand Aug 16, 2009 06:02 AM

                            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.

                            1. re: grandgourmand
                              e
                              embee Aug 16, 2009 11:12 AM

                              He it be...

                               
                          2. re: grandgourmand
                            m
                            maxwellsmart Aug 16, 2009 05:47 AM

                            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.

                      2. l
                        lamaranthe Aug 16, 2009 09:28 AM

                        T&T, now sold to Loblaws for 225 million $, still sells beef flank steak for $5.98 a lb. Excellent, lean meat, perfect for carpaccio.

                        1. Tara9000 Aug 16, 2009 10:46 AM

                          Bought a hanger steak from Royal Beef on Friday for I believe, $5.74/lb. Fantastic deal - a giant piece of meat that fed 6 people (for a total of $14.50).

                          Made a simple dry rub, and grilled it on a charcoal Webber to rare/med-rare, sliced.

                          FYI - I believe RB is closed fro Aug 16-24 for a family vacation. I think those were the dates on the sign...

                          1. grandgourmand Aug 20, 2009 07:49 AM

                            I called Cumbrae's this morning to ask a few questions on the "alternative" cuts. I called the Church and Bayview locations and got different responses on the aging. For $14.99/lb you get cheaper cuts, but it does not sounds like they are dry aged. One guy said a couple days then vac sealed. The other said 1-2 weeks dry aged on the carcass, then vac sealed.

                            So, I can pay $14.99 for an off cut which tastes good or $18.99 for a bone-in ribeye dry-aged 30-40 days. I'm all for the alternative cuts, but the value proposition just ain't there. I think I'll check out Royal Beef.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: grandgourmand
                              jayt90 Aug 20, 2009 04:53 PM

                              Everyone on this thread who has tried Cumbrae's alternative cuts, from $7/lb to $16/lb, (some of them wagyu), has admired the flavor and texture and remarked on the value.
                              For myself, I would compare the $7/lb boneless shoulder steak favorably to the $25/lb boneless rib eye they sold me. Just more muscle divisions, but the flavor and quality was there.

                              Why is Cumbrae's so good, at low price points or high? It's the provenance of the pork, fowl, lamb or beef. The videos tell the story (I wish they used a tripod and better sound for some of the shots!). Stephen is procuring animals that have superb blood lines, and are well raised, just for him. Where does Royal get theirs? http://www.cumbraes.com/main.php?a=re...

                              Recently a New York Times on Peter Luger explained how they chose Porterhouse steaks, and why they had a shortage: The family would go to a huge beef warehouse on the west side of Manhattan, and select Porterhouse steaks from the best corn fed carcasses, already aged, and set aside for them. And there was not enough, so other cuts had to be sold in the restaurant. They did not have a consistent, local supply.

                              This is just the opposite of what Stephen is doing for a consistent supply, but the others, like Royal, will have to depend on suppliers like Cargill, unless they develop a local supply.

                              1. re: jayt90
                                grandgourmand Aug 21, 2009 05:17 AM

                                I don't disagree that Cumbrae's sourcing is much better. I just don't think that at $15/lb, they'll get much traction selling these cuts. I plan on buying a bavette for my next steak dinner. But I think most people would look at that price and probably choose the more familiar cuts for a few extra bucks.

                                I haven't seend anythign for $7/lb. I called two locations, quoted me the same $15 price. Wagyu is $25/lb for these cuts. I also asked. Maybe I didn't ask the right question.

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