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Where's The Beef

I am about to give up on steak. I have tried many different cuts of steak, but something is missing. Grass fed , Organic , Grain fed, etc... Bring to room temp, pan seared, medium heat or high heat. Salted before or after. Very simple here. It all tastes the same. I seem to have no choice at different markets in the area. California. Where did the different grades go ? Select, Choice, or Prime. It's all being sold as raised on so and so ranch or what it is fed. Besides finding a farm animal to artisan butcher in your area. I am going to give up. It's lamb as the choice for me. I like a good steak now and then but it's not tasting like beef for now.

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  1. Yes, the goal with mass-production beef now
    is tenderness, not flavor.
    For real beef, try AlderSpring Ranch in Idaho.
    Word has gotten around, alas, so it's in short
    supply. Also check out Tallgrass, owned,
    incidentally, by Bill Kurtis. As you probably
    know, maha Steaks (the company) should
    be avoided like the plague.

    1. how do you like your beef? depending on how youre cooking it you'll won't notice the subtle differences between them. i consider the taste of beef tasty, but its not something that's going to hit you over the head and overpower any preparation. that's why for the highest quality beef its usually served raw or simply prepared with at most salt/pepper/butter. aging should concentrate the flavors and help make you taste the beef flavor.

      domestic beef doesn't vary as much as other meats. lamb can vary from a beef like red meat to a very gamey, tough meat (more in the mutton range).

      1. We generally eat lamb/hogget/mutton more often than beef. Partly that's because we like the taste but partly because we find it far more versatile than beef in suiting different cuisines that we like to cook.

        The key factors to great tasting meat is the breed of the animal, how it's raised, how long it's aged and if it;s properly butchered. My beef comes direct from the farm - Highland or Galloway cattle, raised to organic standard (although not certified organic due to costs) hung for 21 - 28 days and butchered on the farm by the family's son-in-law who is a qualified butcher. Tastes pretty good - and I almost never order beef in a restaurant as it just doesnt measure up in taste.

        4 Replies
          1. re: sandylc

            A hogget is no longer a lamb but not yet an adult sheep (usually around 1 year old).

            1. re: sandylc

              Hogget's a sheep that's between one and two years old (generally speaking). Younger, it's lamb. Older, it's mutton.

              Hard to find. Most farmers who want to raise the animal longer for more flavour will tend to want it to grow on to the mutton stage so they can get the higher prices. Hogget's a largely untapped market at present.

              1. re: Harters

                I have learned something new! Now I can give up for the day!

          2. This is where the grading went......


            I'm sure the USDA works similarly in Ohio as in California. Essentially all beef is usda INSPECTED for saftey and is paid for by tax dollars. usda GRADING is optional and paid for by the producer.

            Also saying that a side of beef is hung is a lot different than dry aging primal cuts of beef.

            I prefer prime graded 28 day dry aged bone-in rib-eye. They are usually, no always, quite pricey, but well worth it. I have not found a locally produced un-graded beef product that is worth eating any more than for it's nutritional value alone. Blah!

            Lastly if you are interested in supporting local farmers I have found local/organic pork products to be superior to others in flavor and at time in price.

            1. My first question is How do you prepare your steak? In my opinion...anything about medium rare and you're killing flavor and your results will pretty much be the same. Secondly, what fat content are you buying? I refuse anything less than 80/20. Also, you say different cuts, but of rib eye is tasting like filet mignon, I would say you should see a doctor (I don't mean this to be disrespectful). Also, what is your age. After a certain age, we start to lose our true taste buds and that is why so many older people add salt with even tasting the food.

              Don't give up, but look into other reasons. Although "settling" for lamb is a win/win

              3 Replies
              1. re: jhopp217

                I like my steak rare. I am in good health and my taste buds are fine. I am comparing porterhouse, T bone, new york, rib eye,not filet mignon. It just tastes like all the flavor has been bred out of the cattle. I cant find prime, choice, or select. It's all the same.

                1. re: emglow101

                  I understand your dilemma. We are lucky enough to get grass fed beef with good marbling. That's the key. You have to find a steak with enough fat to add the flavor. The American public has demanded lean beef and other meat for so long that the producers/packing plants have fulfilled their wishes, to the detriment of flavor.

                  1. re: emglow101

                    You need to try Hanger, Flap, Skirt, Tri-Tip, Top Butt Sirloin or Flat Iron/Top Blade before you give up on beef. All can be enjoyable for steaks or slow roasted for sliced steaks.

                2. If you are buying your beef at a regular supermarket, that may be the problem. Because the public is fat-phobic and hates to chew and cares little about flavor, the markets have emphasized tenderness and lean-ness over everything else. You are unlikely to find Prime or even Choice at most supermarkets, especially budget or low-end ones. They stock almost exclusively ungraded or Select beef, which they then slap a cutesy label on with some made-up name that means nothing.

                  What you really should be doing is buying your meat in the cryo subprimals at Costco and dry-aging it yourself. They stock only Choice and some Prime (unless you shop at a Costco Business Center, which does not have Prime but does have some Select). You'll pay anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 the price you would elsewhere -- if you could even find meat of this quality elsewhere, which you most likely can't.

                  Then you stick it on a tray (unwrapped, obviously) with a rack and toss it into the fridge for anywhere from one to three weeks. Your investment in time and refrigerator space will reward you. Don't let anyone tell you it is difficult or exacting or painstaking to age beef -- those that want to create some great mystery about it are usually those who profit from your hesitancy to do this yourself.

                  I always have at least one boneless rib-eye or standing Rib Roast or whole New York Strip aging in the fridge at any given time. I just slice off a nice thick steak whenever I need one, trim it up, and Bob's Your Uncle.

                  I think if you try this you will be amazed. And doing this even once will save you more than the cost of your membership.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: acgold7

                    Great advice. I will definetly try to age some beef in the fridge. Whats the smallest, size and weight that you should use ?

                    1. re: emglow101

                      It needs to be an entire sub-primal. You can't really age individual steaks for more than a day or two, because by the time you're done trimming them, there's nothing left.

                      You could go with a half standing rib or boneless rib-eye, perhaps 10 pounds or so.

                      Also, fourunder's advice above about other cuts is spot-on. Try other, stronger-flavored cuts. I love flank and skirt.

                      1. re: acgold7

                        I would say you are correct on the aging with a cut 10 pounds or so. I really want to do this. I am cooking for one. I like to eat steak twice a month. Any ideas of how to do this ? Would you be able to freeze afterwards. I know this is not the best, but would it be better than your average supermarket steak ?

                        1. re: emglow101

                          Yes, you can freeze with no problem and I think it will be miles better.

                          I would take a whole Choice or Prime boneless or bone-in rib-eye, age for a couple or three weeks, clean it and trim it up until it's beautiful (save all those leathery scraps for stock!), then cut into individual steaks and freeze. Make sure you double or triple wrap them to avoid freezer burn -- there are tons of instructions on this all over the interwebs -- and freeze in a chest freezer or other non-frost-free unit if possible.

                          A whole rib-eye will be about 18 pounds. After aging and trimming, you'll lose about 50% of that weight. Costco has choice at under $7/lb this week. A whole New York Strip will be about 14 lbs and Costco has them for closer to $5.50/lb this week.

                          Even if you double these prices to account for the 50% loss, it's still cheaper and way, way better than your average supermarket meat.

                          If you don't find your steaks flavorful enough after this, then I'd look at your cooking methods. I like to pan-sear and finish in the oven. And you should salt them quite liberally -- more than you think you need.