Everything was wrapped and placed directly in the freezer. On rare occasions, the beef was transported to the local butcher shop to be hung and aged to perfection. Aging tenderizes the meat. There's a fine line between tenderized and ewwww I'm not eating THAT!
Aged beef is what you get at Chris Ruths, or better yet, Gallaghers in New York City. The higher the price, the better the steak, meaning it's been aged much longer and has lots of fat called marbling.
So here's where your cuts of meat come from. Personally, I don't eat anything north of the neck. Brisket was always the cheapest piece of meat, followed closely by flank steak. Nowadays it runs with the big boys closer to sirloin. I've no idea why, because it's still a tough piece of meat.
Lately, EVERYTHING I've gotten at the grocery store (Save Mart in my neck of the woods) has been tough. Not only that, but it has the flavor of the sole of my boots after walking all day in the back pasture. I finally decided to ask why.
In the days of old when things were much simpler, meat was classified as Prime or Choice. Prime, like this T-bone, having lots of marbling giving it more flavor and tenderness. Choice was everything that did not make the prime grade.
The USDA "grades" every carcass for your eating pleasure. To be honest, prime meat was that which stood in the feed lot for months at a time eating grain. Choice came right off the pasture, what I call GREEN meat.
It seems to me I've been getting a lot of "green" meat lately, so I stopped in at the meat counter to ask the question .... just what grade of meat do you sell here? He looked at me kind of funny. "Born on a cattle ranch" I stated. I repeated the question.
The very expensive stuff in the glass case (not wrapped) is PRIME. I never buy it because it's too expensive. What about the rest that you sell in your very long meat case? That's SELECT he said. Wait .... WHAT? That's worse than choice!!
So here's the nitty gritty. Meat is now graded as prime, choice, select, standard, commercial and you-don't-want-to-know. All this time the meat I've been buying isn't even CHOICE .... it's SELECT or OMG STANDARD!! No wonder it's tough and tasteless!! Okay then ..... I purchased a pound of prime hamburger for $5.99.
So there you have it .... all that meat you've been buying at the store and paying anywhere from $4.00 to $8.00 a pound probably hasn't been aged at all, nor has it come from the grain-fed feedlot. No wonder it has no flavor. It's the THIRD or FOURTH rung on the ladder.
So what do you think you are getting when it's on sale for $1.99 a pound????? Yeah, that's what I thought too. It may be expensive and I may have to make three meals out of that steak, but from now on, I'm buying the prime meat. Even better if it's on sale.
The answer to the age old question "where's the beef?" is IT'S THE MOST EXPENSIVE STUFF IN THE GLASS MEAT COUNTER.
So there you have it ..... meat unwrapped!!
Very interesting post! We've usually bought only the wrapped stuff as well. Because of cost. $ does not grow on trees in our neighbourhood either. At least now when I purchase beef (steak and roasts) I'll 'think' longer and harder before taking the plunge. Thanks Nancy!ReplyDelete
Love the reference to 'unplugged'. :)
I've seen on many other blogs that a lot of the meat in Canada is purchased from meat markets instead of your local grocery store. Maybe that means your meat is of better quality?Delete
I agree with Patsy...very interesting post! We don't buy alot of beef, once in awhile hamburger. I can't tell you the last time we've bought steak..mainly because when we eat beef we prefer hamburger..haha.ReplyDelete
I eat mostly chicken! Hahahaha I had too much meat as a kid.Delete
I look at the steaks, I look at the price, I walk away. And I'm sure it's the junk stuff. Thanks for the info.ReplyDelete
Yeah the price of good beef will get you every time.Delete
Never understood the way Meat was graded. Thanks for the lesson.ReplyDelete
Be Safe and Enjoy!
It's about time.
It's all about the marbling, basically the fat that makes it more tender. The leaner the cut, the lower the price.Delete
Nancy you need a new device in your kitchen. Have you looked at getting a, "Sous Vide". It takes time but it turns those less expensive cuts into Prime. On the road, lately I have been enjoying American Lamb.ReplyDelete
Lamb? Wow Peter ... you must be an amazing cook. I've never tried sous vide, but my new Instant Pot says it can do that. I'll have to check it out.Delete
My father bought a beef tongue one time. It tasted just like roast beef but the texture!!! And the thought that it came from a cow's mouth!!! Never again.ReplyDelete
I'm with you Linda! My Mom loved it though ... she used to make it all the time.Delete
Laughed when I saw the tongue comment because I remembered the story of the guy who went into the diner and said, "Give me the special." Then he had second thoughts and asked what the special was. "Beef tongue" was the answer. "Aaargh," said the guy, "I'd never eat something that came out of a cow's mouth. Give me a couple of eggs instead."Delete
OK Chuck eye $7.98 a pound was tonight's meal I much rather have lobster it's cheaperReplyDelete
Or I get tenderloins logs 9.99$ It's a little expensive when you're buying the whole log but have the butcher trim and cut it for me vacuum seal it and I threw it in the freezer
The other thing you could do is buy it from the Texas or Iowa farm
There's a few good ones out there that guarantee grass fed only shipped right to your door
If you want lobster I get lobster all day at 6.50 $ each ( yes each )they run about a pound and a quarter to a pound and a half
But you do get tired of it after a while
Oh my gosh .... I think I could eat lobster for every meal. I LOVE IT!! You are so lucky to live in Florida. Tenderloin is definitely the best. Sadly, the last one I bought was apparently the SELECT version and not very tasty at all. I may just have to try the mail order kind.Delete
My comment went away I think, cyber world?ReplyDelete
Well that's weird ...Delete
A bit late in reading blogs... When I was in the Restaurant the grades of meat were “Prime,” “Choice” and “Good”, with "Good" being broke up into other various categories. In November, 1987 the name Good was changed to Select to better fit consumer attitudes and perceptions. Back in 'my day', only around 25% of all meat was graded "Choice", now it is in the low 40% range. 3-4% of all meat is graded Prime. I find that the meat at Sams Club is generally pretty good...in fact, just bought a large Loin Roast (which can be cut into New York steaks) for Christmas dinner here at my sisters. And to think, we 'could' have been somewhere around Alabama on Christmas had we not broke down. :( lolReplyDelete
The grades they give meat is rather funny .... I bet if you asked twenty people in the store about which grade they like, they wouldn't even know what you were talking about.Delete
On the bright side, you are going to have a fabulous Christmas dinner with that roast!