Cost Cutting | Two Value Steaks from Lesser Known Cuts

If you haven’t heard by now, the USDA is predicting food prices will increase by as much as 4% in the next few months. That makes couponing even more attractive for consumers and cost containment strategies necessary for Chefs and Restaurateurs.

Here are several thoughts…

First, read Carrie Kirby’s recent Trib article on ways to combat upcoming drought-driven price hikes.  Second, consider working with some lesser known value cuts that deliver lower food costs and great taste.

We recently blogged about the trendy Bavette and Hanger steaks as value cut alternatives to traditional steakhouse cuts. Here are two more steaks from lesser known cuts that offer great flavor and can also lower food costs:

Teres Major Steak

Teres Major, also known as Petite Filet and Chuck Tender Steak (MBC #114), is a boneless 8-10 oz. muscle found in the shoulder of the steer. It is the second most tender muscle in the animal after the Tenderloin. Teres is lean, has a great beef flavor, a nice bite texture and is about half the price of Tenderloin.

Many purveyors use this steak in ground beef because the muscle is part of the beef chuck which is difficult to extract. Quality meat purveyors with Master Butchers know how to remove this muscle and thus, are capable of offering it as a value cut – the Teres Major Steak.

These steaks can be grilled, broiled, roasted and pan fried. Buedel Fine Meats customers often serve them as 2 oz., 3oz. and/or 4oz. medallion trios with crusted toppings such as horseradish, crab, blue cheese or Parmesan. They are tender, delicious and far less expensive than tenderloin.

Ball Tip Steak

The Ball Tip Steak (MBG #185B) is a boneless 3 lb. muscle found in the bottom part of the beef sirloin butt. It gets its name because it looks like a round ball when separated from the bottom sirloin butt.

Ball Tips are a lower cost value cut that can be listed on your menu as sirloin steaks. They have good flavor however, they are a lot less tender than a rib eye or top sirloin butt steak. To ensure your guests have a good eating experience, it is critical to tenderize these steaks before serving so they are not tough.

The best meat companies will mechanically tenderize or “pin” the whole Ball Tip muscle prior to fabricating it into steaks. This process breaks down the muscle fibers and loosens the meat making it more tender. The makeup of this muscle takes very well to marinades and rubs.

Once the Ball Tip Steak is properly cut and tenderized, it can be grilled or broiled with high heat at medium-rare to medium. These steaks were first popularized in Michigan where they were called, “Sizzler Steaks”.

Try Teres Major and Ball Tip Steaks to combat rising food prices with a dash of your own creativity!


From the desk of  John Cecala  Twitter @Buedel Fine Meats  Facebook  Buedel Fan Page

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Air Chilled Chicken: Taste Above the Rest

If you’ve yet to experience the rich flavor of tender Air Chilled Chicken, you’re missing out on the enjoyment of some the best tasting all natural chicken you’ll ever have.

Production 101

Chicken processed at a poultry plant are subject to USDA inspection, just like beef or pork, and temperature control is an important part of the process.

The temperature of chicken carcasses after processing is about 100°F. Per USDA regulations, the carcasses need to be quickly chilled to 40°F or less for four to six hours to prevent growth of bacteria that cause it to spoil.

The whole processed chicken carcasses are then aged under refrigerated conditions to allow muscle fibers to relax which helps make chicken become more tender.

Water Chilling

Most chicken processors in the U.S. use a process called water chilling to quickly cool down the chicken.

Post inspection, the chickens are immersed in an ice cold bath of water mixed with chlorine and remain there for about an hour. The water in the bath is continually refreshed and it takes an average of seven gallons of water to process each chicken.

A chicken can absorb as much as 12% of its weight in added moisture during the water chilling process.  This is why there is little sponge like pads in fresh chicken packages – they are put there to absorb leaky water.

Consumers ultimately pay for this extra water weight which evaporates during the cooking process.

Air Chilling

An alternative cool down process called Air Chilling, standard in Europe and other parts of the world for decades, is now gaining popularity in the U.S.

In Air Chilling, chickens are individually hung by their feet to a rail system which moves through refrigerated chambers to quickly cool them down with cold dry air. The chickens “ride the rails” for over two hours and tenderize during the process.

Cleaner, Better Taste

Prior to cooking, Air Chilled Chickens look different with a more matte appearance and tighter skin. They have a cleaner taste that people describe as, “tasting like the way chicken used to taste”.

Research shows that air chilling leads to a better quality of breast filet meat. “In addition to improving meat quality,” says Dr. Julie Northcutt of the USDA Agricultural Research Service, “air chilling [also] provided higher cooked-meat yields than immersion chilling. Color and texture of skinless breast fillets were similar for both chilling methods.”

Northcutt’s research team believes that the lower cooked yield of the immersion-chilled fillets is the result of high moisture absorption during chilling, which is later cooked out of the product.

Air Chilling also reduces the spread of bacteria because the chickens are separated from each other when hung on the rails. It is estimated that air chilling saves about 30,000 gallons of chlorinated water a day. Roughly, 4.5 billion gallons of water per year could be saved if all chickens processed in the USA were air chilled – a definite plus for the environment.

Where to Buy

There are only a small number of companies that produce Air Chilled Chicken today so it can be hard to find in some areas. Consumers can buy it at specialty grocers such as Whole Foods Market, and through select boutique internet retailers.

Buedel Fine Meats & Provisions serves the commercial markets with Bell and Evans Air Chilled Chicken. We choose to represent them because their poultry is superior in quality and because they raise their chickens humanely in minimal-stress environments without hormones or antibiotics. Bell and Evans also has one of the most sophisticated air chilling systems in the country.

According to the National Chicken Council, the average American eats more than 90 pounds of chicken a year, yet many of us have yet to experience the natural flavor of Air Chilled Chicken. Restaurants can merchandise Air Chilled Chicken as a premium menu item; it has a unique story that will upgrade your poultry offerings as well as your profits.

Differentiate yourself with Air Chilled Chicken.


From the desk of  John Cecala  Twitter @Buedel Fine Meats  Facebook  Buedel Fan Page

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What’s Your Beef? | How to Combat the Rising Fallout Cost of Drought

Higher food prices are now predicted from a perfect storm of conditions due to this year’s drought. Recent accounts report there hasn’t been a drought as strong since the 1950’s. Now is the time to reflect upon your purchase strategy.

Trickle Down Affects

The corn and soy bean crops suffered severely from the drought driving up their prices. Higher feed prices mean higher costs to feed livestock forcing feed lots to push through animals faster. At the same time new cattle on feed is 19% lower than last year which means there will be less beef supply down the road.

The reduced corn and soy harvest will also affect the dairy, pork and poultry markets which also rely on these crops for feed. The USDA predicts food prices to rise by as much as 4% by the end of the year.

The Laws of Supply and Demand will also contribute to the situation. If demand remains steady [most likely, it will] or increases, higher food prices will result.

Go On the Offense

What can you do to combat higher prices when it comes to beef and pork? Here are some of our prime suggestions:

  • Lock-in current prices with your supplier. Commit your weekly volume to your supplier now and lock-in a price or, “not to exceed” price.

If your supplier knows your volume and has your commitment to purchase they can plan ahead for your needs. Having a predictable committed customer is a value to your supplier that helps them with their planning. For the operator, having a locked-in food cost allows you to lock-in your margins and menu prices.

  • If you can use frozen product, purchase a percentage of your forecasted volume now and freeze it. Today’s prices are hedge against higher future prices. Your frozen hedge can dollar cost average down your overall spend.
  • Take advantage of value cuts which you can offer on your menu at a lower price, yet deliver the same or higher margins for your operation. An example of these would be hanger steaks, bistro steaks and double bone pork chops.
  • Consider purchasing All Natural products such as Niman Ranch or Tallgrass Beef, which ride their own market for pricing and tend to be more price stable than the commodity market.

…and one more savings tip from our resident Chef, Russ Kramer:

One way to save and still keep product quality intact can be to do some portion size adjustments as a means of saving center of the plate cost. For example, by reducing the portion by 1 ounce from an item that costs $25.00 per lb, it will save them $1.56 in the plate cost. Slight specification adjustments can help save money as well.

Plan now. The best defense really is a good offense – even with meat!


From the desk of  John Cecala  Twitter @Buedel Fine Meats  Facebook  Buedel Fan Page

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I’m Here All Week, Try the Veal | Part II

Traditionally viewed as pricey, today’s variety of Veal cuts are available at a range of prices. Veal can be affordable in everyone’s budget.

5 Types of Veal

Differentiated by raising method, harvest weight and age, there are five types of Veal farmed today:

Bob Veal – Calves that are slaughtered when only a few days old (at most 1 month old) up to 60 lbs.

No.1 Special Formula-fed (or “milk-fed”) Veal – Calves that are raised on a milk formula supplement. The meat color is ivory or creamy pink, with a firm, fine, and velvety appearance. They are usually slaughtered when they reach 18–20 weeks of age (450-500 lbs.).

Non-formula-fed (“red” or “grain-fed”) Veal – Calves that are raised on grain, hay, or other solid food, in addition to milk. This meat is darker in color, and some additional marbling and fat may be apparent. It is usually marketed as “Calf” rather than Veal, at 22–26 weeks of age (650-700 lbs.).

British Rose Veal  – Calves raised on farms in association with the UK RSPCA’s Freedom Food Programme. The name comes from its pink colour, which is a result of the calves being slaughtered at around 35 weeks.

Free-raised Veal – Calves are raised in the pasture, and have unlimited access to mother’s milk and pasture grasses. They are not administered hormones or antibiotics. These conditions replicate those used to raise authentic pasture-raised Veal. The meat is a rich pink color. Free-raised Veal are typically lower in fat than other types of Veal.  Calves are slaughtered at about 24 weeks of age.

Buedel’s Most Popular Veal Cuts

There are over fifteen kinds of Veal portion cuts available from the five key Veal primal cuts. (Buedel Fine Meats offers all of them.) Here are our top ten most popular cuts just in time for the holidays!

Veal Rack 6-Rib Chop Ready  The 6 Rib “Rack” with the natural fat “cap” removed; rib bones are trimmed to 3X3, and the rack is ready roasting or for cutting into Veal rib chops.

 Veal Rack 6-Rib Chop Ready: Frenched To the Eye  This cut is the same as the 6-rib chop ready rack however, the meat is removed from the rib bones down to the loin giving. This is also called a “lollipop” cut.  It makes a beautiful plate presentation.

Veal Chuck, Boneless Shoulder  The main “Shoulder” muscle, it is sometimes “Tied” or “Netted” for  braising and stews.

Veal Breast  The underside or belly of the calf.  Breasts are available Bone-In or Boneless.  It can also be fabricated by a butcher with a “Pocket” cut for stuffing.

Veal Leg, Top Round  This is one of the main muscles of the leg. It is mostly used for slicing into Scaloppini.

Veal Rump  Also known as, Veal Sirloin Butt and Veal Sir-Butt, Rump is a lower cost cut typically used for Medallions and Scaloppini.

Veal Shank  This is the shank from either the front or rear leg of the Veal primarily used for cutting “Osso Bucco”.

Veal Loin, Boneless (Boneless Strip 0X0)  The “Eye” of the Veal Loin removed of all bone and trimmed to the “Sliver Skin” with the tail end removed.  This is a very high quality cut also used for Medallions and Scaloppini.

Veal Loin Chop, Bone-In  The Veal Porterhouse / T-Bone chop is cut from the portion of the Veal “Loin” which contains the “Tenderloin” and trimmed to a 1” “Tail” unless otherwise specified.

Veal Leg, Cutlet  (Leg Slices)  Leg slices can be portioned to a size but are random in shape and appearance. This is a very affordable cut but the lowest in quality.


The old iconic line, I’m Here All Week, Try the Veal, was coined by comedians back when formal dinners were standard nightclub fare. Think, ‘Vegas, in the 50’s, baby’.

…you really should try the Veal.

  Part I: Veal Farming & Menu Options


From the desk of  John Cecala  Twitter @Buedel Fine Meats  Facebook  Buedel Fan Page

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I’m Here All Week, Try the Veal | Part I

Considered by many professional Chefs the most elegant of all meats, Veal is naturally tender, lean and delicate with a subtle distinctive flavor and texture.

Produced from Holstein bull calves, Veal is a product of the dairy industry – female Holsteins are nurtured to produce milk. Male cows (bulls), are raised for five months on a special formula diet to a harvest weight of 500 pounds.

Dated Raising Methods

Historically speaking, the Veal industry has bore its share of controversy. There has long been inhumane animal treatment issues with regard to the way Veal had been raised.

Male calves were often taken from their mothers soon after birth and placed in confinement cages with little room to move. They were chained by the neck to restrict all movement, making it impossible for them to turn around or even lie down comfortably. This severe confinement made the calves’ meat “tender” since the animals muscles could not develop. Veal producers would severely limit what their animals ate, restricting them to an all liquid milk-substitute which was purposely deficient in iron. This gave them borderline anemia and the pale colored flesh fancied by gourmets.

Today’s Veal

Incredible strides have been made in the Veal industry and much has changed dramatically. While the traditional stall method of raising veal calves is still the predominant management technique, stalls have since been redesigned to provide safer environments to enable calves to stand, stretch, groom themselves, and lay down in a natural position. Environmentally temperature controlled Veal barns further provide natural light and a constant source of fresh circulated air for optimal animal health and safety.

In 2007, American Veal farmers announced they were committed to transitioning all farms to group barns. While experience shows that raising calves in individual pens allows farmers to carefully monitor and manage calves’ nutrition and overall health, advances in group housing now allow farmers to provide the same level of quality care in group settings. It is estimated that 30 percent of Veal calves are raised in group barns today.

Milk-fed Veal continues to be a synonymous industry term. Young calves are unable to digest fiber, such as hay or straw, which is the reason why they receive milk feed. Current feed diets have been improved to use special formulated milk without hormones or preservatives which is easy for calves to digest.

Learn more about today’s trends at

Veal on the Menu

Veal has been part of European cuisine for hundreds of years and a staple dish in Italian, French and German restaurants.

Often prepared in the form of cutlets, such as Italian  Cotoletta and Austrian Wiener Schnitzel, Veal can be coated in preparation for frying and/or eaten with a sauce. The traditional Italian dish, Veal Parmigiana, is breaded and served with tomato sauce. Classic French Veal dishes include: fried Escalopes, fried Veal Grenadines (small thick fillet steaks), stuffed Paupiettes, Roast Joints and Blanquettes.

Veal is also considered a diet friendly choice. On average, a trimmed, cooked 3 oz. serving contains 166 calories and only 5.6 grams of fat. Lower in fat than many meats, care must be taken to ensure that Veal does not become tough when prepared. It  is also an excellent source of protein and a good source of niacin, zinc, and vitamin B12 and B6.

 Part II: The Five Types of Veal & Most Popular Cuts


From the desk of  John Cecala  Twitter @Buedel Fine Meats  Facebook  Buedel Fan Page

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Meat Picks | 10.19.12

How to Get Your Lucy & Ethel On

Chicago Eater says you can “emulate Lucy and Ethel” at City Winery’s first ever wine crush event tomorrow. Billed as, “You Never Get Over Your First Crush”, $30 buys: trying out the wine making process, taking a winery tour, tasting wine and having a buffet lunch. Tickets can be bought online by hourly increments beginning at 10 a.m. up to 4 p.m. For more info, call: 312-733-9463.

Rave Review Rates Ravenous

We have a little challenge for you. We dare you to read this review by David Tamarkin in TOC  without feeling wanting and ravenous afterward.

Tamarkin’s major rave over the Peninsula’s revamped Lobby restaurant accolades the food, ambiance and newly hired “Chef de Cuisine”, Lee Wolen, but his artful use of delectable description is the real hook. Here’s a sample of what we’re talking about regarding this passage on “Chicken for Two”:

The thing is a spectacle: Like at New York’s Nomad, it’s stuffed with herbs and shown off to the table before being carried back into the kitchen to be carved. Then it comes back as a perfect breast, stuffed under the skin with butter and brioche, with roasted apples and some chocolate-enriched chicken jus on the plate. It tastes as insanely delicious as it looks, and you think it’s the best chicken you’ve ever had. But then, a few minutes later, a tiny cast-iron crock of dark meat, tossed with chives and a little cream, arrives, and suddenly the best chicken you’ve ever eaten has just gotten better.

See what we mean? If that doesn’t make you yearn for immediate palatable gratification, nothing will! Book reservations here.

Hail to Ale, Tots & Crème Brulee

Congrats to the six Chicago-area breweries who won medals at the Great American Beer Festival where over 2,700 beers were consumed and cajoled over last week. The winning brews, according to the Trib, solidify, “the city’s place as one of the nation’s craft beer hot spots (combined, New York, Los Angeles and Houston were barely to be found).”

If you haven’t read about the history of Tater Tots yet – yes, Tater Tots – it’s quite spudtacular. Turns out, tots are to ‘taters like sticky notes are to 3M. Tater Tots were born in 1953 from left over potato pieces used in making frozen French fries at Ore Ida. Who knew?



Aptly dubbed, “America’s first foodie”, by reporter Bill Hageman, one of our nation’s Forefathers is being credited with bringing French cuisine to the U.S. in a new book: Thomas Jefferson’s Crème Brulee: How a Founding Father and His Slave James Hemings Introduced French Cuisine to America.

If the Hemings name rings a bell, it’s because James’ sister was Jefferson’s long time concubine and mother to three (of his illegitimate) children, Sally Hemings. Drawn from biographical and culinary history, book reviews on Amazon are favorable to date.


From the desk of  John Cecala  Twitter @Buedel Fine Meats  Facebook  Buedel Fan Page

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Tenderloin Filets | 3 Ways to Cut ‘Em & 4 Ways to Trim ‘Em to Manage Food Costs

Tenderloin filets are one of the most popular steaks on restaurant and banquet menus today. They are also pound for pound, the steaks with the highest food costs. By understanding the different ways Tenderloins can be cut and trimmed, you can achieve more cost control.

Filet Mignon 101

Tenderloins are recognized as the most tender cut of all beef because the Tenderloin muscle itself is a non-locomotive muscle in the animal.  In other words, the muscle doesn’t move when the animal does.  The less a muscle works, the more tender it is. This is the reason why steaks cut from the Round or Chuck tends to be tougher.

The whole Tenderloin, PSMO (Peeled, Silver Skin, Side Muscle On) is comprised of three major muscles: The psosas major (the main muscle), the psosas minor (the side muscle, strap or chain) and the ilacus (the wing or ear muscle). The common industry terms used when cutting Tenderloin into steaks are:

Butt End (Head)  The large end of the tenderloin where the wing muscle is attached.

Tail  The tapered end of the tenderloin.

Strap (Chain)  A thin fibrous muscle which runs the length of the tenderloin along one side only.

Silver Skin (Silver)  A thin membrane, silver in appearance, which is found on the top of the tenderloin extending from the Butt End and tapering towards the Tail.  The Silver Skin is edible and typically melts away under high heat cooking.

When portion cutting filets it is typical to square off the tenderloin by removing a standard amount of both the Head and Tail before cutting any type of steak.

Whether you purchase portion control filets or buy whole tenderloins and cut your own filets, understanding  the cut and trim specifications used for Tenderloin cuts can help you manage quality and control your costs. Buedel’s Corporate Chef, Russ Kramer, provides this rule of (Tenderloin) thumb to our customers: There are three ways to cut ‘em and four ways to trim ‘em. 

Three Ways to Cut ‘Em

We can classify the three ways to cut ‘em as: Good, Better and Best.

Good: Full Cut or End to End  This is the least expensive cut because it utilizes most of the Tenderloin. The Head is left intact and the filets are cut from the Head to the Tail. This cut however, yields a somewhat inconsistent set of filets when cutting to specific portion size. For example, if you’re cutting 8 oz. filets, you will get some thicker barrel shaped filets from the center, some thinner double muscle filets from the cut straight across the Head section and some coned shaped filets from the tapering Tail section.

Many restaurants use this cut because it is the most economical which enables them to better manage how they can utilize the different shapes; it is not recommended for banquets because the filets will not be uniform in size and shape. Have you ever been to a wedding where your filet looks tall and thick and the person sitting next to you has one that looks wide and thin? They were probably serving Full Cuts.

Better: Center-Cut  The Center-Cut delivers a very consistent set of filets and utilizes most of the tenderloin.  The Head is split separating the Wing muscle from the main muscle and filets are cut to size from both the barrel of the tenderloin muscle and the wing muscle.

Finished Center-Cut filets are considered to be barrel shaped and because most of the whole tenderloin is utilized, the yield is maximized to lower food costs. This is a good cut for both restaurant and banquet menus.

Best: Barrel-Cut  This cut delivers the most consistent and uniform set of filets. Filets are cut from the center or barrel of the tenderloin and are all equal in height and width. This is the most expensive of all cuts because you only get a few filets per tenderloin – the lowest yield produces the highest cost. It is a  cut which appeals to the most discriminating chefs and provides superior quality choice for restaurants and banquets.

Four Ways to Trim ‘Em

Now that we know the three ways to cut filets, let’s look at the different ways to trim them. Trim specifications are where master butchers can help control much of your filet costs.

Strap On / Silver On  The whole tenderloin is trimmed of any major visible fat, the Strap and Silver Skin remain intact and then the filets are cut.  This is the least costly trim level and is often marketed as Close Trim.

Strap On / Silver Off  The whole tenderloin is trimmed of all the Silver Skin and most of the visible fat is removed. The Strap is trimmed and left attached to the main muscle when filets are cut. This trim level is less expensive and still yields an attractive filet.

Strap Off / Silver On  The whole tenderloin Strap is removed including most of the visible fat up to the Silver Skin which is left intact for cutting. This is a desirable, popular and less expensive trim level.

Complete Trim, Strap Off / Silver Off  The whole tenderloin Strap and Sliver Skin are removed along with most of the visible fat surrounding the main muscle before the filets are cut. It is the most expensive and  appealing  trim level available.

Purchasing Specs

The North American Meat Association (NAMA) established a set of standards for trim specifications for all meats. They publish these standards in The Meat Buyers Guide (MBG) where each cut and trim specification is assigned a number. The meat industry uses these MBG numbers as a common language for cut and trim levels.

Whole Tenderloins are generally available as boxed beef MBG #189A. The MBG numbers for the Tenderloin Filets with the cut and trim levels explained above are:

1189A – Full Cut Filets with Strap On & Silver Skin On [Also known as Close Trim filets]

1189A Modified – Full Cut Filets with Strap On & Silver Skin Off

1190 – Full Cut Filets with Strap Off & Silver Skin On

1190A – Full Cut Filets with Strap Off & Silver Skin Off

1190B – Center Cut Filets with Strap Off & Silver Skin Off

1190B Modified – Barrel Cut Filets with Strap Off & Silver Skin Off

Tenderloin Takeaway

Regardless of what USDA Grade filets you choose, there can be as much as 30% food cost difference between different cut and trim specifications.

Consider how each of these options could work for your operation and avoid missing out on the opportunity to lower food costs and increase quality.

Saving up to 30% on any purchase is a great deal today!


From the desk of  John Cecala  Twitter @Buedel Fine Meats  Facebook  Buedel Fan Page

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Meat Picks | 10.12.12

Going to the Dogs

John Coletta (Quartino), Boris Kirzhner (Saloon Steakhouse), Matthew Mockler (SAX Hotel Chicago) and Randy Zweiban (Province) are just some of the executive chefs who’ll be on hand with “tempting tastings” at the 12th annual Anti-Cruelty Society’s fall fundraiser, It’s Raining Cats and Dogs.

This year’s gala will be held at the Palmer House on Friday, October 26th from 7 to 11 pm. Food, dancing, a complimentary photo-booth, Wine Pull, and a $5,000 cash raffle (only 100 tickets will be sold) set the stage for this worthy event. Last year’s benefit raised over $200,000 to help care for animals.

Event tickets, donations and raffle tickets (winners need not be present) can be purchased online.

Stove Top Tip

Did you ever get one of those emails with simple tips for making the little things in life easier? Anything from how to hang things on your wall without nails to using a fork to dunk Oreos.

We recently received one of those emails that said: if you put a wooden spoon across a pot of boiling water it will prevent the pot from boiling over. Really? Who wouldn’t appreciate a great way to stop stove top spillage? So we researched it, and as shown in this YouTube video, it worked!

LEYE: Always Progressive!

Lettuce Entertain You is throwing a progressive dinner at 3 of their Lincoln Park restaurants on Monday, October 29th from 6 to 8 p.m.

The culinary adventure begins at L2O (that’s L – two – O ) with sparkling wine and a selection of canapés including savory Gougères, Rosemary Croissants and House Smoked Salmon with Crème Fraîche. Then on to Mon Ami Gabi, for Green City Market vegetable crudités with Roquefort Cheese Dip followed by a choice of either Wild Halibut with Polenta, Corn, Bacon and Chive Oil or Prime Steak Classique, Matire D’Hotel Butter, served with frites and your choice of Mon Ami Gabi’s Pinot Noir or Louis Latour Chardonnay. Dessert will be served at R.J. Grunts where guests can choose between a hand-dipped milkshake or R.J.’s famous ‘cookies in a bowl’ dessert with coffee or tea.

The event is priced at $65 per person, plus tax & gratuity. Reservations are recommended by calling Mon Ami Gabi: 773-348-8886.


From the desk of John Cecala   Twitter @BuedelFineMeats   Facebook  Buedel Fan Page








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Trends | How Hip Hot Hangers Got Their Name

A cut of steak rarely offered in restaurants and butcher shops years ago, is now a hot trend that’s here to stay, Hanger Steak.

Hanger is like that indie band that hasn’t quite hit top-40 mainstream status yet, but is big enough that everybody and their mothers have heard about it.                                                       –

Born of Humble Beginnings

Beef carcasses used to be hung on ceiling high meat hooks at packing plants and slid along rails from one processing step to the next.

A lone singular muscle which hung at the bottom of the suspended carcass – where the fore quarter is separated from the hind – would drag along the floor collecting sawdust as the carcass moved through the production line. Meat cutters at the time, aptly dubbed it the Hanger Steak.

The hanging muscle was not used in the normal fabrication process for the most part back then, but was often used for ground beef, cut for stew or discarded.  When red meat was deemed an unaffordable luxury for most in the early 1900’s, plant workers would take the unused piece home for their families.

Hanger Steaks also became known as, “Butchers Steak”, because butcher shop owners often opted to keep the muscle for themselves rather than sell it to their customers.

Cut from the Hanging Tender

All other beef muscles come in duplicate form – there are (literally) two of each type of muscle found in cattle except for this one. Hanging Tender became an industry standard term for this singular muscle sensation.

An extension of the diaphragm muscle, the Hanging Tender is also considered an extension of the Outer Skirt. Comprised of two solid muscle parts connected by a strand of heavy silver skin, the whole Hanging Tender should be separated at the seam. The two halves of the muscle then become steaks; there is one Hanging Tender per carcass, which yields two Hanger Steaks.

Popular & Easy to Prepare

Called, “Onglet” in France, “Lombatello” in Italy, “Solomillo de Pulmón” in Spain, and “Arrachera” in Mexico, Hangers are one of the richest flavored steaks available. They have the grainy characteristics of the skirt and also share the robust beefy flavor with nice marbling.

Proper cooking is imperative – Hangers can be grilled, broiled, smoked, seared and cut for fajita, take to marinade well (because of their loose texture) and are best when marinated. They should be seared rare to medium rare and sliced against the pronounced grain.

When history meets trend, great things happen. Add frites, and you’ll have one of the hippest menu dishes around.

By Russ Kramer & John Cecala


From the desk of  John Cecala  Twitter @Buedel Fine Meats  Facebook  Buedel Fan Page

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Where’s the Beef? Ask Bill Kurtis.

The Tall Grass Beef company, and its famous founder, Bill Kurtis, will be conducting an in store tasting event at Fresh Farms next Saturday. Shoppers will get to speak to Bill, and Bill gets to speak about his passion.

Kurtis first became interested in raising grass fed beef after learning of its health and environmental benefits pursuant to purchasing his Kansas ranch in 2005. Since then, he’s lived a split life between an award winning broadcasting career and a devoted commitment to raising cattle the way they were meant to be raised.

Talking to people about the benefits of grass fed beef is an absolute passion for the Tall Grass owner. What’s the number one question people ask him?

“The number one question people ask is, ‘Where’s Walter?’ Then, we move to the beef.”

The (other) most often asked questions Kurtis gets are: How did you get involved in grass-fed beef? and What does it taste like?  “I tell them it actually HAS taste, the original taste of beef. I explain that corn makes beef bland, more like a platform for condiments. That makes them interested.”

What has his company learned by doing these events? “With education, people get involved and try our product,” says Kurtis. “We have quite a story – the health benefits make grass fed worth the extra cost. And the taste doubles the attractiveness, especially for a predominantly European customer base like Fresh Farms.”

Marketers will tell you these types of in store events can get obtuse quickly, but not for Kurtis. What does he like most about them? “I love meeting the people as they come by. Many are thankful to have beef raised the ‘old’ way and they are very interested in our company.”

Tall Grass believes demos like these are the best sales tool there is. “The smell, taste and conversation are total immersion,” Kurtis says, “the perfect environment to sell beef.”

Fresh Farms International Market is located at 5740 W. Touhy in Niles. The October 13th Saturday event runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Bill Kurtis will be on hand from noon to 1:30.


From the desk of John Cecala   Twitter @BuedelFineMeats   Facebook  Buedel Fan Page 

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Meat Picks | 10.4.12

What’s Hot Now?

Numerous reports from the Multi-Unit Foodservice Operators (MUFSO) show which ran earlier this week in Dallas are now out. According to Nation’s Restaurant News reporter, Bret Thorn; Chicken – that’s all chicken is in – boneless chicken is hot.

Thorn also reports that corporate chefs say, “their customers were willing to experiment with new flavors like never before”, that the thirst for “candy-flavored vodkas” and “spiced rums” are trending big and that just about anything in the beverage cat flavored with chile or cinnamon is a good thing. Read Bret’s full report here.

Oyster Fest Block Party is next week!

The 24th annual Shaw’s Crab House Oyster Fest kicks offs next Monday, October 8th. Special deals and fishy fun like the, “oyster slurping contest”, are scheduled throughout the weeklong celebration which builds up to Shaw’s much anticipated block party on Friday, the 12th 4,000+ attended last year’s event!

Block party doors open at 3 and country singer/songwriter Lee Brice is this year’s headliner. Tickets are affordably priced at $25, (you better get ‘em now) available online. Inquiries by phone at: 312-527-2722.

Little Known Fact

Earlier this week we published an interview with Peter Heflin entitled, What is a Master Butcher?  Peter, who is part of the Buedel customer sales team, is also a master butcher himself – but that’s not the little known fact.

What you probably don’t know is he’s also, “Pete the Butcher”. It’s true, Heflin is a Kevhead.

Peter was part of the Chicago radio scene during the hey days of Loop DJ’s Kevin Matthews and Steve Dahl. His returning on air cut-up role as, Pete the Butcher, was based in fact – Heflin worked at the butcher shop where Dahl and Matthews actually shopped for meat. Who knew?

You can subscribe to Kevin Matthews’ current bi-weekly podcasts (including 30+ years of radio archives) by subscription on the Steve Dahl Network.


From the desk of John Cecala  Twitter @BuedelFineMeats   Facebook  Buedel Fan Page

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What is a Master Butcher?

People often ask us, “What is a Master Butcher?”.

While there is no official certification to become a Master Butcher, like a Master Chef, the title carries equal weight in recognition of achieving the highest level of expertise in its field. With this in mind, I spoke with one of Buedel’s own Master Butchers, Peter Heflin, to share his insight.

What does it mean to be a Master Butcher?

A “Master Butcher” is one who has knowledge in the cutting of all types of beef, pork, lamb, veal, and poultry. Master butchers understand the meat operation process from beginning to end. They know how age rotation is handled, how to make every cut of steak, roast, or chop and have a good idea of yields and cost management through meat merchandising. They also teach others how to cut meat.

In traditional butcher shops, it was a position that typically ran the whole department, from purchasing all the way down to cutting and packing. Master Butchers are fast movers and straight talkers; we’re folks that don’t relax much.

There’s a lot of toil in the meat department from set up to production, to clean up. There should be no duty a Master Butcher can’t do in their shop – that takes years of experience and training.

Why is age rotation important?

Beef needs to be properly aged to insure tenderness and flavor.  Even USDA Prime beef selected from the finest packers, will be tough and flavorless without proper age.

Age has a lot to do with consistency as well. A Master Butcher needs to assure that the meat being cut for final sale always has the same age to deliver the same tenderness and flavor as the last steak the customer bought.

The aging process is simply a breakdown process of fat and muscle tissue that makes the meat softer.  If the beef is not being aged correctly, or rotated evenly, cut steaks will not have the same taste and tenderness from order to order, which will result in loss of business.

How does meat merchandising come into play?

Meat merchandising is about getting the most out of the meat cuts for the most “value”, or money.  When primal cuts (whole loins, rounds and chucks) come in, there are many ways the different pieces can be cut up and sold.

A Master Butcher has the expertise and knowledge to get the maximum dollar for the whole piece.  This can change with the seasons, the economic climate, or even the restaurant application.  It’s never a “set in stone” procedure for every cut.

The main objective is to get the most return for every piece of meat that comes through the department. Good merchandising also creates more options for chefs and satisfaction for their customers!

A Master Butcher is many things. He or she is a master at their craft, understands the business of food and is dedicated to customer satisfaction – always.

Do you think meat cutting is a lost art?

Butcher shops, as we once knew them, have been lost  due to centralized cutting and pre-fabricated product coming from the harvest facilities, however, the art of butchering is making a comeback for sure.

We are seeing more and more chef driven butcher shops sprouting up now, due to chefs looking for cuts not always available from packers and also foodies’ desires to cut their own meat.

One of the best things I like about the Buedel team of Master Butchers is that we help all customers. We specialize in setting up cut steal programs, support those who want to cut their own steaks and chops and actually cut with them to help maximize yields. What other meat company does that?

I believe everything circles back and we are seeing the art of meat cutting returning. And that’s a very good thing for all of us!

Please feel free to contact Peter with any questions or comments. He can be reached directly at:


From the desk of  John Cecala  Twitter @Buedel Fine Meats  Facebook  Buedel Fan Page

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