Price of dry aged beef
I am looking to buy some dry aged beef for some friends next weekend. Has anyone purchased any dry aged steaks from viandes McCormack? How are the prices compared to going to 40 westt to buy from there? Being a west islander, I don't have a problem going to Verdun or any other butcher that has good beef but if it is comparable to 40 westt, I'll just go there.
Please please try Marchand du bourg, 1661 beaubien est. he specializes in dry aged beef and he is the real deal. His beef is delicious and his store is so quaint that you leave so inspired. His cote de boeuf dry aged for120 days is 100$ (2 pds of meat) which I think will only be ready around Christmas. I think he has 40 day dry aged steaks available at all times. A lot of places that advertise dry aged beef sell you wet aged beef which is very different. Good luck! I've reserved a 120 day dry aged cote de boeuf for Christmas and will let you know how it turns ou! And while you are out there you can stop by patisserie rhubarbe to pick up a special dessert.
CH has cost me some money...
For various reasons I had been abstaining from beef for a few months. With my issues gone, I have been craving a quality steak and came across this thread.
Here is the scoop.
Marchand Du Bourg:
40 day dry age $60/kg
120 day dry age $120/kg
50 day dry age $72/kg
So I called Les Epicurieux first and asked if they had any 50 day and they offered me the entire rack for around $300 (final price to be determined upon weighing, and they sell individual steaks also). Given my beef deficiency I said yes and reserved for the 24th over the phone.
Then I started thinking. Previously, the most aged piece of meat I had had was an 89 day at EMP in NYC. So I called up Le Marchand Du Bourg and inquired about the 120 day and he gave me the price. Steaks are sold in 2 inch pieces for about $100. Tough choice but I believe the right one was made. I asked to reserve one but was told that this could only be done in-store.
So I made the trip to the store and was quite shocked by how unlike a butcher shop this place appears. I can't really accurately describe how it looks. Kind of like an antique shop or a cigar store. In back though is a wood clad aging room with shelves of aging racks. There was even a 360 day being sold at $300 per steak! So I reserved my 120 day for the 24th and plan on cooking this one and the 50 day. For science of course.
While I was there, I also picked up around 500g of ground beef from a 40 day. Not exactly sure what cut it was from but it looked like a brisket. The price I believe was $30/kg. They also sell 120 day but had none available on that day. Long story short, best burger I have ever had. The flavor was intense, almost mushroomy, less minerally than I expected. Anyways, very interesting place. Quirky like the owner.
So having tried neither yet, my expectation is that I will prefer the 50 day. At least I hope I do given the difference in price and the fact that I will have an entire rack. But also the cut from Les Epicurieux is V.S.C. beef (local) whereas Le Marchand Du Bourg sells western beef. Taste is most important though so I will see on the 24th.
Here are the steaks warming up to room temp. I cut off a two inch steak from the whole rib I got from Les Epicurieux. After butchering, the rib yielded 8 steaks 2 inches thick for $310. My initial thoughts:
- The steak from Le Marchand Du Bourg appears more marbled and is quite a bit firmer to the touch.
- I cut a small cross section of each steak and the Epicurieux is much wetter and lighter red. The Marchand is very deep red even in the cross section. It is practically the same colour within as on the surface as seen in the photo.
- The smell of the Marchand is much earthier and mustier. The Epicurieux also has a nice funk but much less than I expected. It still smells very close to a good quality wet aged or young dry aged steak.
- As mentioned in my previous post, I previously purchased some ground beef from Marchand that came from a 40 day aged cut. I would say that the smell of that ground beef and my 120 day steak are very similar. I therefore attribute the vast difference in smell between the Marchand and Epicurieux steaks to aging technique and/or cow breed.
Stay tuned for the cook-off!
The results are in.
The Epicurieux is an excellent steak, but the 120 from Marchand is FAR superior.
The steaks were prepared in the following manner:
1. I let them warm up for 5 hours in my kitchen which I keep at around 21 degrees.
2. 2 hours before cooking I salted both steaks very heavily with extra fine kosher salt.
3. I seared all sides of the steak in a very hot pan with butter and grape seed oil.
4. Steaks were placed in a 350 degree oven to roast until the internal temperature hit 120.
5. I then let the steaks rest on kitchen paper for 10 minutes.
In the first picture you will see the steaks cut (120 on the left). Sorry for the blurriness. But visually, both steaks after cooking are virtually identical. The 120 maintains its earthier aroma, but the 50 is a bit juicier.
In the second picture below you will see the steaks after they have rested (the 120 day is on the left). I should note that my better sense prevailed and I only cooked half of each steak. The other halves will probably be eaten on New Year's.
As mentioned at the start, the 120 wins the taste test hands down. The flavor is vastly more complex, with undertones of mushrooms and minerals. In some ways it is as far from a regular piece of beef as lamb is. I am not trying to be philosophical, but there are moments when eating a large steak, regardless of the quality, that I start to get a bit beef drunk. With the 120 I never hit that point but maybe that is just because the flavor was just so unusual. But please don't misunderstand, the 50 was still a great steak. Probably better than any Angus I have purchased from any store or had in a restaurant. It was extremely tender and flavorful, just not as complex and also eventually brought on the beef drunkiness.
Now the downsides of the 120. Obviously it is very expensive. Second, since it was more marbled than the 50, I found it coated my mouth in an unpleasant fat. This is much different from my experiences with both real Kobe and domestic Wagyu blends where I found the fat to be much more pleasant. This brings me to another point. I have eaten A5 Kobe, and Wagyus from Snake River Farms and Kobe Beef Classic. Of those, for me the A5 wins easily still. After that, it is really a tossup between the Snake River Farms Wagyu and the 120. Below that would be the Kobe Beef Classic and then the 50.
Now to have made this a really comprehensive test I should have also purchased a 40 day from Marchand. As I mentioned in my previous post, I wonder if some of the differences between the 120 from Marchand and the 50 from Epicurieux can be attributed to cattle breed and/or aging technique. In fact it is my strong suspicion that this is the case and perhaps I just prefer Marchand's aging technique and western cattle. Perhaps it is a test I will try next year when my next urging for steak hits.
I hope these long and detailed posts have helped. Happy holidays!
Unless a person has experience dry-aging beef and access to a meat locker with a tightly controlled temperature of between 0-2 degrees and controlled humidity as well, it's a BAD idea to try this yourself in your home fridge, you're more likely to get food poisoning than good dry-aged beef.
I'm not so sure.
I have limited experience (I dry aged maybe 10 rib roasts in 3 years), but I don't have access to a meat locker. I use my 3 door bar fridge (which doubles as my M-I-L's home fridge).
My results ranged from mediocre to fantastic. Never had a problem with food poisoning.
Besides the aging process, you gotta trim the exterior where potential nasties might be present.
I'm not saying its impossible to get food poisoning. IMO, I feel that following basic rules (temps/trimming/proper cooking) you are not more likely to get food poisoning.
I have aged a full rib before in my fridge for almost 2 weeks. the results were great but cannot compare to a professional setup. at this point, given that I eat red meat fairly rarely and view it mostly as a treat, I am willing to pay the premium price at a butcher to avoid the hassle and lower quality results of doing it myself.
Just curious, does the whole rack come au natural, or does the butcher trim the non-edible outside parts?
If you trimmed it yourself, did you weigh out the scraps?
Also, was the whole rack a traditional-sized 7 bone roast? If it was, the $310 price tag would seem like a bargain as a similar, non-aged roast would run $120-$150.
the rack came trimmed already. I asked him to leave it untrimmed but he would not and I didn't make a big deal about it since it takes a skilled hand to properly trim a rack like this. bones were also removed already so I can't say with certainty that it was 7 ribs but based on the size I am pretty certain it was.
in my opinion I think it was reasonably priced if you are in the market for premium beef. there was a butcher I once went to that was going to charge almost 600 for a full prime grade non-aged rack.
Paid $37 for a 20oz Rib at 40 Westt. Works out just a little more expensive than the price quoted above at $60/kg.
I always ask for the oldest cut in stock that's well marbled.
It was a REALLY good steak. More than the aging, you need good fat distribution. That's at least half the battle - you can't age a lean (or unevenly fatty) rib steak into a winner, no matter how long you wait!
TL;DR Most butchers I saw were unsure where the beef was from, or if/how it had been aged. Marchand du bourg is an exception - that fellow knows his beef. If he doesn't have what you want, the sheer number of butchers at Atwater market should make that your second place to visit.
Since this is becoming the de facto Montreal steak thread, I'd like share my recent shopping experiences here.
I moved to Montreal in 2011 from the GTA, where I had access to three great shops (Angus, Cumbraes, and Whole Foods). I got used to having access to dry-aged striploin, cuts to order, knowing where the beef was from, and only rarely having the feeling that I was being lied to just to make a sale.
In Montreal, sadly, this is not the case. Clerks don't seem to know where the beef is from, how it was aged, and seem to make up an answer and pass it along as fact (see below about my experience at Claude et Henri).
How we cook steak:
Blue. In brief, let it rest for 1-2 hours at room temp, pat dry, cook 1-2 minute a side on cast iron, sear the edges for a few seconds, let it rest for 1-2 minutes in a 325F oven, then eat. No seasonings/oil.
These butchers all have a wide variety of cuts, but I only write about the steaks I really looked at or bought at that particular store.
Boucherie de Paris (Atwater Market)
What caught my eye: Onglet, and their pre-cut steaks looked dry (not dry aged per se, but that dryish look that steaks patted with paper towel get)
Prices: $20/kg for Onglet
How was it: Although we bought one, it's still in the fridge...
Fermes St-Vincent (Atwater Market)
What caught my eye: High prices, and (believable) claims of local biological 'Charlevoix' beef, I got the sense this is a boutique butcher dealing in local meat.
Prices: Over $60/kg for filet and rib.
How was it: I'm not rich enough to buy any. Would love to know someone else's impressions.
Boucherie 2 Freres (Atwater Market)
What caught my eye: Dry-aged loin and rib, with a nice dark exterior. The steaks are cut on request.
Prices: $45/kg for filet. Forgot the price of the loin/rib.
Where's the beef from: They claim the beef comes from Quebec
How was it: The filet we had was extremely tender, decently marbled, perfectly trimmed, and tasty. A bit light on flavour (even for filet).
Claude et Henri (Atwater Market)
What caught my eye: The marbling on a few of their steaks (most were marbled like Canada AA/AAA, but a few more like Canada Prime to me).
Prices: $45/kg for filet, $26/kg for T-bone
Where's the beef from: They claim the beef comes from Alberta, although that took some doing to figure out.
How was it: The filet mignon was very good, and checked off all the major boxes: tender, flavourful, well trimmed. The T-bone was a mixed bag. I actually trimmed it and separated the bone before cooking - what started as 590 gr was trimmed to 410 gr. The strip loin side was sinewy in places, and amazing in others. The tenderloin side was outstanding throughout, even more flavourful than the filet mignon I have bought separately. It was thin, which made it tougher to cook blue.
The first clerk I talked to told me that his beef came from Quebec, and was all dry aged. Certainly, some of the T-bones and rib steaks in the display case appeared dry aged (darker meat on the edges) but not all of the meat had that 'look'. Since I have been looking for dry-aged sirloin for some time, I asked him for one steak. Not having any in the display case, he went to the back and brought out a cryovac'd sirloin… full of purge. He told me that they dry-age the steak and then put it in the cryovac bags - something that I don't quite believe given the degree of purge in the bag.
Later on, I spoke with a clerk who was much older (50s or so) and if not one of the owners, certainly a manager who would know a bit more. He told me their beef certainly comes from Alberta. I bought a filet mignon and a T-bone from the display case (about 3/4 inch thick). The T-bone looked aged and was well marbled. Judging from the size of the tenderloin side (and the sinew in the strip loin side) it was most likely one of the first cut steaks (i.e. closer to a porterhouse).
Belanger (Atwater Market)
What caught my eye: How incredibly red their steaks looked, like they were dyed!
Prices: around average ($45/kg for filet, I think)
Where's the beef from: The clerk didn't know.
How was it: No idea, because I bought nothing. Between the way their steaks looked and the lack of knowledge by the clerk I didn't give this store a second thought.
Boucherie AGA (St-Leonard)
What caught my eye: They have 4 whole rib subprimals sitting in the fridge, with varying degrees of marbling (one looked like Canada Prime to me), which they cut to order.
Prices: $45/kg for filet, $33/kg for strip, $30/kg for rib
Where's the beef from: The clerk was not entirely sure where the beef was from, and it was busy enough that I didn't press the issue.
How was it: We bought a 20 oz boneless rib steak (sadly, not the uber-marbled steak). Cooked very well, was tender, and easy to cut. However it was rather bland. We both found it blander than a tenderloin, even the 'outside' of the rib steak. Disappointing, but I will go back to try once more.
Boucherie le Marchand du bourg (Beaubien/Papineau)
What caught my eye: Where to start. The store itself, the walk-in cooler, the aged steak.
Prices: $31/kg for unaged strip, $45/kg for 40-day dry aged bone-in strip, $60/kg for 40-day dry aged bone-in rib, $24/kg for bavette.
Where's the beef from: Alberta
How was it: I bought a strip loin, but since he had been closed for three weeks prior, it was aged 21 days or so. Normally they don't have dry-aged strip. I did trim it a bit more (there were a couple of spots of mouldy fat on the edge, and I'm paranoid). It cooked beautifully, with good browning on the outside. The texture was very good, not chewy at all. There was a slightly nutty taste to the meat, moreso in the outside edges. I've never tasted that before in a steak - I'm still not sure whether I liked it or not (but I'm glad I tried it!).
In closing, I've still not found the dry-aged striploin that started me on this beef-hunt. If anyone knows of a good place, please let me know!
I think what you meant to say is "Charolais" not Charlevoix. Fermes St-Vincent raises Charolais cattle which is more tender and not as fatty as Angus. Their beef is raised on their own farm in St Cuthbert (not in the Charlevoix region) which is only about an hours drive east of Montreal. Their rib steak is very worth a splurge every now and then as it's unbelievably tender. I have never asked if they offer dry aged versions of their products. Their beef will not get carted of to some feedlot at any point like the Alberta stuff. They had some nice marbled rib steaks this past weekend which were tempting, I'm thinking their winter slaughter is slightly fattier (a good thing) as their diet is different this time of the year, more grains less grass probably. Even their chickens are mouth watering.
Most butchers in the city, even the ones with a good reputation (like some of the ones you listed) for the most part carry Alberta beef. I remember during the XL scare in Sept they were interviewing a butcher at Atwater market and he wasn't sure where his beef was sourced from, chances were it was XL or Cargill like the majority of the Alberta beef supply. Some do carry VSC Quebec beef, that's probably what 2 Freres carries if he told you it's from QC. For the most part everyone carries the same stuff here minus some of the smaller shops, do a search for a thread about "Montreal Butchers" if you are interested.
Do try that rib steak from St Vincent one of these days, especially if you've splurged on Marchand du bourg, the price is not that far off when you think about it.
Great post papsology. It is very unfortunate that a lot of professional butchers don't know where their beef comes from. Sadly though I think that most Montrealers are content with commodity beef so butchers probably purchase their beef from wholesalers that themselves don't know all the details of their products. If you are able to get to the West Island though, Les Epicurieux is very knowledgeable about their products although for their dry-aged beef, I still feel that Le Marchand du Bourg offers a better (more $$$) product. See my post earlier in the thread for details.
An update (and a minor edit):
In my post above I mentioned an onglet from "Boucherie de Paris" - that's a typo, as I should have written Boucherie de Tours (which IS at Atwater Market). I have not yet been to BdP (it is on my list of places to try).
The onglet was amazing. Very flavourful, and not tough (slicing thinly was the key). Also, no waste or grisle whatsoever. At this price and with such good taste, I'm certainly getting one again!
Nextguy: I did see your post about Les Epicurieux and it's on my list to try. I have a feeling the 120-day aged from MdB is probably a bit too strong for me, but the 50-day you describe sounds just right.
A second update - today's trip to Marché Jean-Talon added two more butchers to my list:
Fermes St-Vincent (Jean-Talon Market)
What caught my eye: The beef was VERY well marbled (see the first attached image). Speaking with the manager, he mentioned the beef was dry aged by hanging the cuts (I believe he said 40 days but I can't recall for sure).
Prices: $68/kg for striploin.
Where's the beef from: Quebec.
How was it: I followed JerkPork's advice and gave it a try ( striploin, since both my better half and I agree on that cut). The steak was well trimmed, with only a tiny fat cap (they had others in the display case with more fat). Taste and tenderness were both top notch - an excellent beefy flavour to the steak, and only one bite had some sinewy chew to it. My only comment would be that the steaks in the display case are generally thin (ours was less than 3/4 of an inch thick). Next time I would ask 1 1/4" steak cut to order.
Prince Noir (Jean-Talon Market)
What caught my eye: Regular and 'biological' individually vacuum packed steaks, labeled with the origin of the beef. Striploin steaks are cut in half, allowing for thick steaks but reasonable portions (see the attached image of the 'square' looking steak)
Prices: $40/kg for striploin.
Where's the beef from: The steak I bought was from 'Piemontais Naturel', Quebec
How was it: Tender, and flavourful, but not as beefy as the above FSV steak (we ate both during the same meal). A bit of sinew/grisle - comparable to most striploins I've had before. Prince Noir does most of their cutting and packing ahead of time, and I couldn't find a butcher who knew about the aging or what the cows ate. I will mention that, for each different cut of steak, they had about 5-8 vac packs sitting in the fridge, so you do have some choice.
Fianlly got the strip on the BBQ tonite - had to get a new tank of propane - and cooked it rare, 5 mins on side one, 4 mins on side 2, and let it rest 4 mins. Could almost cut it with a fork, tender and quite juicy. Taste was remarkable and as expected. My last experience with Le Marchand bu Bourg was an exquisite taste and this one from Metro ranked up there with Le Marchand's. Looks like Metro on Beaumont at least has delivered the goods on 40-day aged beef. Chalk it up......
I stopped by le Marchand du Bourg today on the way home from JTM. Interesting concept, and unusual location for such a store. It is centrally located so, so as a destination stop makes sense I guess. And cheap rent no doubt.
He was sold out of rib until next week, sounds like he is adjusting to growing demand. Will definitely be back for a 40 days aged rib.
Price is $60 a kilo, which is fair considering what's involved.
We chatted a bit, and he showed us a few cuts that had been reserved. Meat looks and smells great.
Asked where the beef is from. Previously AL, now will be from Quebec. I have no idea whether that is good or not, you would think for the costs of aging and trimming, you would be best to get the best tasting meat whether from here, out west, Colorado, or elsewhere. Supposedly will be AAA grade.
Looking forward to trying it soon and will report back.
I noticed this weekend that Chez Latina carries dry aged beef as well, I didn't have time to ask about pricing/details but I will return. Has anyone tried it?
According to their website, they use beef from a specific area in the US for their dry aged beef.
Chez Latina as I mentioned a few days ago has dry aged rib steaks at $40, it's Alberta stuff though but was still really good, not super marbled, most likely AA, the charcoal did it justice. Sirloin and tenderloin is also dry aged and available, tenderloin was at $47/kg, these two cuts are from the US. I will try to taste some of the other places mentioned for dry aged offerings.