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What's going on with this sirloin?

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Hey everybody, longtime lurker; first post.

Today I picked up a sirloin to grind for tonight's chili, when I cut into it, I found a ring of (what looks to me like) oxidation about 1/4-1/3 of an inch below the surface of the meat. The meat was in a display case at an upscale market; wrapped in butcher paper for the ride home; and cut immediately upon arrival ~20 minutes later. The butcher says he sliced the steak yesterday.

This seems weird to me, but I ask you: are there any natural phenomena that would result in a ring like this?

 
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  1. Give it a sniff -- if it smells ok, you should be fine

    1 Reply
    1. re: rjbh20

      Smells fine--wasn't worried about safety, was thinking more about the premium $$ this market charges for its reputation of freshness.

      It seems oxidation would begin on the surface and then permeate the flesh, so the ring makes me think they're doing something to extend the shelf/sales life of the steak.

    2. Beef is routinely gassed with oxygen to keep the surface attractively red when in its natural state, it would be dark, and have a blue-red color. That's why you sometimes find your ground beef is red on the surface but bluish brown inside.

      2 Replies
      1. re: greygarious

        I'm familiar with the practice of using carbon monoxide to keep beef looking fresh (for instance http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/21/nat...), but using oxygen would seem likely to increase the rate of oxydization as the myoglobin is converted into metmyoglobin, which results in the brown color of raw beef.

        ...but I can't envision a natural process that allows this to occur below the surface of the steak.

        1. re: OffCorse

          I stand corrected - it was carbon monoxide to which I was referring. I remembered the process, but not the correct gas.

          I can see where gassing would create the redness from the surface of your meat to the outer border of the ring but not the redness inside of it unless the meat is impaled on some sort of nozzle or trocar that transmits gas, and that seems exceedingly unlikely.

      2. Very weird shape. The only thing I can think of that might cause something like that (and it would still be weird) is freezing and unfreezing the meat several times in a short period. The brown ring might be the area where the meat never completely thawed between freezings, and the red area in the middle where it never completely froze. While it may be fine for consumption, the ring seems to suggest some kind of shortfall in storage or handling.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ninrn

          eeew. good theory.

        2. I would bring it back to the butcher and ask. I've never seen anything like that before and it would freak me out a little.

          2 Replies
          1. re: nothingswrong

            +1. The store manager comped the steak, while the butcher was arguing that it's perfectly normal and that every piece of beef in his counter would exhibit the same ring...strangely, I didn't find that at all reassuring.

            1. re: OffCorse

              Did you use the meat and if so, how was it?

          2. It looks like something was pressing up against the meat in that shape and thus the surface was differentially exposed to oxygen and oxidized to different degrees.

            1 Reply
            1. re: fldhkybnva

              This was inside the steak...what you're seeing in the picture is a cross-section

            2. Kinda lean for chili, eh mate? Why not chuck?