There is an interesting article in today’s Wall Street Journal about USDA Prime beef. Costco and Wal-Mart shoppers are finding USDA Prime cuts of tenderloin, porterhouse, and rib-eyes in the meat department. Also, prices for Prime at high-end stores such as Whole Foods are dropping. Why? Business is down in big dollar steak restaurants? Sure, business is down in almost every restaurant. I can’t help but wonder if perhaps some big name steak joints have lowered the quality of what they are selling as USDA Prime. It happens. Why do you think many top steak houses lock their dumpsters? Competitors have been known to dumpster dive and expose the “choice” evidence.
But I’m off task. The WSJ author, Katy McLaughlin, interviewed Steven Raichlen, host of public television’s Primal Grill and author of The Barbecue Bible. Raichlen talks about grass-fed beef and why it is rarely (sorry) graded Prime.
By contrast, grass-fed meat, which comes from cattle that haven’t been fattened on grain towards the end of their lives, rarely earns the prime grade because it tends to be less marbled. But it can have a more complex flavor, with herbal notes that reflect the grass diet, and it is also healthier than corn-fed beef, with more omega-3 fatty acids and less saturated fat. This meat benefits from a sprinkling of melted butter or olive oil. For the ultimate garnish, Mr. Raichlen recommends making a cup of aluminum foil, filling it with a piece of beef fat, and placing it over a cooler part of the grill until it melts. Pour a little liquid fat over a cooked steak for a beefy enhancement, he recommends.
In case you don’t read the whole article or the link doesn’t work, here is the money quote: “Man, oh man, it couldn’t be any tenderer” he says. “You chew it with your tongue.” Yummers, that could be a big seller at the Cheesecake Factory.