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I think I like buying steak from supermarkets more than a butcher.

I've had some really good steaks from butchers (dry aged sirloin) but I recently had some not-as-nice dry aged sirloin from a deli counter.

So maybe it's engrained, but I like the taste of supermarket steaks a lot.

But here's what else I like: when you buy a steak, you can see exactly what the marbling is like on each piece. Usually (girlfirend included) people assume a "good steak" is lean red meat with white fat on the outside.

You won't often see dark red meat in supermarkets as it's packed airtight, but you do see people leaving the meat with the best marbling, sometimes to the point where is has to be reduced (and I snap it up). People must either assume it's gristly (although you can tell the difference between fat and gristle), or scraggy, or bad for you, but they're easily the best tasting.

Anyone else find this?

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  1. If you're asking can you find better meat at the supermarket than the butcher - then yes you can. And then it's time to change your butcher if you can.

    I actually buy most of my meat direct from the farmer, over the internet, supplemented by purchases at farmers markets. From time to time, I'd still need to buy the odd piece of meat. Until recently, the butcher in the village was very poor quality. I wouldnt buy from him and definitely preferred the supermarket. It's now under different ownership and quality is better - I'd say it's now about on a par with the supermarket's non-premium meat (but not as good as the premium stuff - for instance, no free-range or organic meat )

    1. Soop,

      I think there are advantages in both. I think you get to buy fresher meat from a butcher because of the faster turn around. However, I feel you get really "shop" for longer duration in a supermarket in the refrigator isle. You can pick up 5-15 pieces of steak and inspect them closely for as long as you are please. You cannot do that when buying from a butcher. You can grab one piece of meat inspect it for 30 second and then grab another one and then another one ....

      7 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        I purposely pick out beef that is less "fresh" - whenever I see a "manager's special" on a steak that's nearing expiration, i'll pick it up and let it sit for a few more days...why pay for aging when they'll give you a discount on already-aged cuts?

        1. re: joonjoon

          Joon....I agree...A friend saw me pick up a not so bright red steak and said"Hey that one is old......Yup!!!!"

          1. re: joonjoon

            Isn't aging more complicated than leaving it out? I thought it was hung in a particularly conditioned room or something.

            1. re: Soop

              Actually, in the "old days" meat, (game) was left outside hanging from a tree to dry it out and get the enzymes to breakdown the tissue. Now everything gets a little more hype than it needs.If I buy a really good prime well marbled steak I unwrap it and leave it in the cooler uncovered for a day or two.

            2. re: joonjoon

              That is a good point. Do you mind sharing how you usually deal with the funk and slime that is sometimes found on the surface? When this happens, I just rinse with hot water, pat dry and make sure to sear well, and I wonder what others do.

              1. re: tarteaucitron

                When I see that irredescent tint, and the slimy texture, I bin it. Especially bacon.

              2. re: joonjoon

                That's not aging. Aging isn't done on individual steaks. Your meat is turning funky, and not in a good way. Unless you like that funk. But it's not aging.

            3. Is there any reason you cannot see the quality of the steak through the display case or ask the butcher to give you exactly what you're looking for? I've had good meat from supermarkets; I've had bad meat from butchers and vice versa. Neither definitively comes out on top, but as a consumer you've the ability to choose the vendor that best meets your expectations and needs.

              1 Reply
              1. re: JungMann

                I think it's the fact that ... if you asked the butcher to cut a joint up into seperate steaks so you could choose the one you want. And that would be the equivilent.

                I'm not sure what I would do if I asked for x amount of steak, and then said "Hmm. Don't like this one, let's see the next one". I'd probably just suffer with the one I had.

                And while you're right, you can see the surface of the outside, but if that's no good, then there's no other choice.

              2. Gotta say I agree...as long as you are looking at the same grade and not an aged piece vs non-aged. It is much easier to pick out your cut as opposed to the butchers I have gone to where I have ordered a cut a certain thickness, ect and it is cut right off the bone and not leaving me much (any) choice. The only thing I do not love about buying meat from the supermarket is most usually lack any grass fed beef/lamb. Whole foods has some, but not in anything other than off cuts and ground meat, and I have no idea what % of its life it was grass fed. I got some grass fed lamb at Sang Lee farms all the way out east on Long Island, and though it was frozen, it was amazing. I find the difference of grass fed and corn is pretty remarkable and as a bonus, it is much better for the environment.

                1 Reply
                1. re: dcole

                  Like me, Soop is in the UK - so our lamb & beef will be almost exclusively fed on grass or silage.

                2. I like getting my steaks from the butcher, because I tell him how thick I want them and get them that way. I like 1.5 inch steaks, which is a bit thicker than I generally see at the supermarket but not so thick that you run the risk of overcooking the outside and undercooking the inside.