How Taste & Flavor Affect Your Beef Experience | Part II

TASTESFLAVORSIn Part 1 of our article, we examined what factors affect the way we perceive the taste and flavor of beef. (Remember, flavor is the quality of something you can taste.) We also talked about how beef with higher marbling (intramuscular fat) usually wins the taste test.

There are certain cuts of beef which may be more marbled than others and/or more tender. There are also ways of adding more flavor to beef with Marinades, Rubs and Brines and also increase tenderness.

Adding More Flavor

Marinade is a seasoned liquid that adds flavor and in some cases increases tenderness. Less tender beef cuts, such as several from the chuck, round, flank and skirt, benefit from a marinade with tenderizing ingredients such as food acids or enzymes combined with a long marinating time of 6 to 24 hours.

Tender beef cuts are marinated only to add flavor and, therefore, require short marinate times – 15 minutes to 2 hours. Less acidic marinade ingredients should be used since their tenderizing effects are not required.

Acidic marinade ingredients Marinadeinclude citrus juices, vinegar, vinaigrettes, salsa, yogurt and wine. Fresh ginger, pineapple, papaya, kiwi and figs, also contain natural tenderizing enzymes.

A highly acidic marinade can actually toughen meat fibers similar to overcooking.

Rubs are dry or paste-type seasoning mixtures used for flavoring applied to the surfaces of roasts, steaks and ground beef patties just prior to cooking, they often form a delicious crust during cooking.

Dry rubs consist of herbs, spices and other seasonings that are pressed onto the beef’s surface. Paste-type rubs are spread over the beef and use small amounts of wet ingredients, such as oil, crushed garlic, mustard, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce, to bind the dry seasonings.

Cures & Brines rely on salt mixtures/solutions. For dry cures, salt and sodium nitrate are applied directly to the beef’s surface. Beef is also cured by immersing it in pickling or brining solutions that may or may not contain nitrates.

Originally developed as a form of meat preservation, these methods are mainly used to produce distinctive flavors, such as in corned beef and pastrami today.

Flavor Pairings

When beef is paired with two or more uEpic Burgermami tastes, it creates an explosion of savory, delicious flavors in your mouth.

Popular umami accoutrements to beef are aged cheeses, bacon, barbeque sauce, mushrooms, garlic, onions, red wine, soy sauce, and tomatoes.  Burgers are highly indicative of this practice – cheese and bacon are among the most preferred toppers today. (Pictured above left: Epic Burger)

Less Than Perfect Flavors

There may be times when you experience less than desirable beef flavor. Some of the terms I’ve heard used to describe this are, “livery”, “irony” and “warmed over”. Here are some tips on what you can do to avoid these situations.

Livery Flavor in beef is a complex occurrence without one clear cause, but there are ways to minimize livery flavors. 1. Red blood cells contain iron which has notes of liver flavor. A proper purge of blood during processing will help remedy the situation. 2. Avoid too much aging. Beef does become more flavorful and tender with age, but too much age can also cause a liver flavor. One reason may be that fat oxidizes during the aging process and the affects of oxidation appear to accentuate the liver flavor. If possible, avoid cooking to a high degree of doneness.

Irony Flavor or a Metallic mouth feel or iron taste is attributed to high myoglobin and hemoglobin contents which release iron during cooking. This off-flavor may be reduced by cooking beef to a lower degree of doneness.

takeoutcontainerWarmed Over Flavor occurs from reheating previously cooked meat. (Like when you reheat that doggie bagged steak in the microwave from last night’s dinner.) This undesirable flavor is caused by cooking to a high degree of doneness, improper storage, microbial contamination and exposure of cooked meat to oxygen. Consider having leftovers cold in sandwiches or salads to help minimize the problem.

Flavor Wrap

The taste of beef can be enhanced. Here are our top five flavor tips for getting the most out of your next meal:

1. Choose higher grades of beef, USDA Prime or USDA Choice, that have more marbling  (the marbling score is a large factor in determining the beef quality grade)

2. Opt for Properly Aged beef – anywhere between 14-28 days depending on the cut

3. Keep your beef properly chilled under 40°F until cooking and avoid freezing/thawing

4. Avoid cooking to a high degree of doneness and reheating

5. Experiment with complimentary umami flavors to create a flavor explosion.

Enjoy the taste of beef and savor the flavor!

From the desk of John Cecala || Website LinkedIn @BuedelFineMeats  Facebook

 

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How Taste & Flavor Affect Your Beef Experience | Part I

CreekstoneBeeffiletThe words taste and flavor are commonly used interchangeably to describe eating sensation but in reality they are very different. Appearance, smell, and personal judgment can also affect our beef experience. (Pictured right: Creekstone Farms Filet.)

Triggers & Sensations

If you were in grade school before the late 1990’s, you learned about the basic taste receptors on your tongue for sweet, salty, sour and bitter. In the late 1990’s a fifth taste receptor was confirmed as umami which is the way our body interprets and senses protein or savory taste.

Receptors on our tongue send signals to our brains when we experience certain tastes. The ability to detect these five tastes is instrumental to our decision making. We may decide something is too bitter, or nicely sweet, and then decide to keep eating it or to avoid it in the future.

How our innate survival instinct relates to our taste sensors directing us towards certain foods and away from others is further important. For example, sweet indicates energy-giving carbohydrates; sour indicates potential danger from spoilage; bitter indicates potential toxins.

Flavor is the quality UmamiTongueof something you can taste. It is the combination of the taste, plus the other sensations that influence our perception of food, such as aroma, texture, juiciness, color and feel in your mouth.

People sometimes use words such as, rich, buttery, silky, pungent and earthy, when describing something they eat or drink. When doing so, they are actually speaking of flavor. You may have used the term “off-flavor” when something didn’t taste quite right. That’s because the combination of taste and the other influences were not what you expected or experienced before.

Beef + Fat = Flavor

Beef without fat lacks flavor. Fat imparts juiciness and flavor in beef but all fat with meat is not equal. There are three types of fat in meat:

  • Subcutaneous or External fat that covers the outside of a carcass
  • Seam or Intermuscular fat that runs between muscles
  • Marbling or Intramuscular fat that is found within muscles

Marbling is the visible flecks of fat within muscles that are directly related to the flavor and juiciness of cooked beef. Marbling affects flavor in two ways. First, fatty acids (the building blocks of fat) experience chemical changes during cooking and produce potent flavor compounds. Second, fat acts as a container for aromatic compounds that are released during cooking. Many beef flavor components are found in these aromatic compounds.

There are ten degrees BeefFlavorBlogof marbling USDA graders use for evaluation, from Very Abundant to Practically Devoid. The marbling score is a large factor in determining the beef quality grade.   USDA Prime has the most abundant marbling, USDA Select has the least marbling and USDA Choice is right in the middle.

Part 1 Wrap Up

Our eating and flavor preferences can be altered by the ways we see, smell, taste and even think about foods. In a study conducted by the University of Nebraska, consumer opinion was put to the test with steak:

70% of respondents visually preferred low marbled steaks, but high marbled steaks were rated juicier, more flavorful and taste acceptable.

What’s most interesting about this result is the inertia between a visual and actual taste. By sight, lower marbled steaks may have been perceived as the better alternative, but it was the flavor profile of higher marbled steak that won out.

From a market perspective, grain fed beef tends to have more marbling whereas grass fed beef tends to have less marbling. Consequently the flavor of the beef is quite different.

Read on: How Taste & Flavor Affect Your Beef Experience Part II 

From the desk of John Cecala || Website LinkedIn @BuedelFineMeats  Facebook 

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How to Tell What’s Prime and What Isn’t

Google U.S. Prime Steakhouse and you’ll get over 7.7 million listings in return. Considering that only 2% of all USDA graded beef legitimately qualifies as “Prime”, there are more restaurants across America claiming to serve “Prime” than there is actual prime beef available.

What’s in a Word?

The word “Prime” can be used in many ways. As an adjective – first in quality or value, as in first rate: This steak is prime! As a verb – to prepare or make ready: Prime the grill to prepare beef. As a noun – the highest quality, choice, best part of anything: I ordered Prime steak.Prime definition

According to a recent U.S. restaurant census conducted by The NPD Group, there are over 600,000 restaurants in the U.S. We see items on restaurant menus like Prime Rib, Prime Steaks, Prime Beef and Prime Burgers, described in a variety of ways, but are you truly being served USDA Prime graded beef?

Remember, of all the beef produced in the U.S. only about 2% is certified as USDA Prime grade. Some restaurants use clever menu descriptions that mislead their guests into thinking they’re ordering certified USDA Prime beef when in reality they may be serving something else. One well known national restaurant chain proudly promotes “U.S. Prime” on their menu, yet USDA Prime Graded beef is not served for all their steaks.

Other popular merchandising terms are, “Prime Cuts”, “Prime Aged” and “Prime Beef”, but none of these terms guarantee certified USDA Prime Graded Beef is being served. Using “prime” terms, allows restaurants to buy lesser grades of meat and sell them as “prime”. The ultimate goal being to make an extra buck by getting a premium price for a less than premium product.

USDA primeWhile there are no guarantees for truth in advertising on restaurant menus, one way to determine if you are ordering the real thing is to look for the words “USDA Prime”, or a symbol bearing the USDA PRIME shield. If you just see “U.S. Prime”, it means nothing.

Making the Grade

The USDA has ten degrees of marbling that determine the grades of beef. Marbling is the term used to define the abundance of little flecks of white fat that visually appear within the meat muscle – the more marbling, the higher the quality grade.

MarblingMost restaurants serve these three grades: PRIME, CHOICE and SELECT. USDA Prime is the highest quality grade designation in terms of marbling which helps deliver tenderness, juiciness and rich flavor.

Beef inspection is mandatory, however, beef grading is a voluntary practice. Yes, you can purchase State Inspected beef that is not graded by the USDA, or even USDA Inspected but ungraded beef. When beef is USDA graded, it is given a USDA shield stamp. That shield is the most accurate way to determine what grade of beef you’re actually eating.

Other marketed terms, which can be confusing, are: “Certified Angus Beef” (CAB), “Black Angus”, “Angus Beef” and “Premium Angus”. These terms describe the breed of the animal, not the USDA quality grade related to marbling. There are hundreds of branded and private label beef programs claiming to be unique in some way, but unless that Premium Angus carries a USDA grade certification, it is only describing the cattle breed, not the quality grade.

The next time you dine at a “Prime Steakhouse” look for the words “USDA Prime” or the USDA Prime Shield on the menu. (Use the same rule of thumb when buying raw meat.) If they’re not present, ask more questions. Avoid having, and paying more for something less than certified USDA Prime beef.

From the desk of John Cecala || Website  LinkedIn  @BuedelFineMeats  Facebook

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How to Manage Holiday Menu Costs with Boneless Strip Loin

Buedel Fine Meats StriploinPrime Rib and Beef Tenderloin are traditional favorites for carving stations and banquet events during the holidays. Due to the increase in seasonal demand, price spikes often occur, by as much as 30%.

The good news is, there is a premium alternative without a premium price: Boneless Strip Loin.

Anatomically, the Strip Loin muscle is part of the Short Loin. One side of the Short Loin is the Tenderloin; the other side is the Strip Loin, where the ubiquitous New York Strip Steak is fabricated.

The Strip Loin is a muscle that does little work when the animal moves, thus making it relatively tender. It is an extremely versatile cut of beef used for roasts or cut into steaks. Though not as tender as rib eyes or tenderloins, strip loins are very flavorful due to consistent marbling and nice firm textures.

Breaking it Down

Beef Strip LoinLike any cut of meat, there are variations of quality within the Strip Loin muscle. These variations can be left intact or removed depending on your application. An understanding of the anatomy of the Strip Loin can help better balance your food costs to your menu options and guests’ dining experience. The main parts of the Strip Loin are the Rib End or “Center”, the Sirloin End or “Vein End”, the Back Strap and the Tail.

Rib End or Center This is the main part of the Strip Loin. It’s a single muscle that is tender with a firm texture and delicious taste. The quality is determined by the marbling within the muscle as determined by the USDA grades, Prime, Upper Choice, Choice or Select. The higher the grade, the higher the quality, eating experience and price will be.

Sirloin End or Vein End Found on the posterior end of the Strip Loin, this part is commonly called the “vein end” because it is where the sirloin muscle joins together with the strip loin muscle. Between these two muscles is stringy connective tissue called the vein – a huge variation of quality in the Strip Loin. The connective vein is practically inedible and does not break down when cooked. Vein Ends can however, be removed and used for other applications such as, Steak & Eggs, Steak Salad, Chicken Fried Steak and Sandwich Steaks.

Back Strap Also known as, “Strap”, the Back Strap is a 2” thick ligament membrane which runs along the top-back of the Strip Loin. It is edible and can be left on, however, for higher quality steaks and roasts the back strap is often removed for a better eating experience.

TailTail Sometimes referred to as a “Lip”, the Tail is found at the tapered end of the main strip loin muscle. It is comprised of fat and connective tissue.

When purchasing Strip Loins, you’ll typically hear the term, 0x1 or 1×1, which refers to the size of the tail on the strip loin. 1×1 means the tail size is 1″ long all the way across the end of Strip Loin. 0x1 means the tail is 0″ on one end (No Tail) and 1″ in size at the other end of the Strip Loin. As you would expect, 0x0 means there is no tail on the Strip Loin.

Why would/should you care about the size of the tail? The tail is a variation of quality; the less tail, the higher quality and price. The Tail is often the part left on diners’ plates.

Putting it All Together

Striploin DiagramWhen ordering Strip Loin Roasts or Strip Steaks you can specify the trim level you desire for your menu application and quality. More trim, means fewer variations of quality, a better eating experience and higher price whether you’re cutting your own or buying portion control.

Manage your holiday menu costs with these common options for purchasing Strip Loins, Strip Loin Roasts and Strip Steaks:

Boneless Strip Loins, Roasts & Steak Ready

• Boneless Strip Loin 1×1: A whole boneless strip loin with 1″ tail fat across the entire loin.

• Boneless Strip Loin 0x1: A whole boneless strip loin with 1″ tail fat on the Rib End and 0″ tail fat on the Vein end. This is the most common option for whole strip loins.

• Boneless Strip Loin Back Strap Off Steak Ready: A whole boneless strip loin with the back strap ligament removed. Buyers can also specify the tail length desired.

• Boneless Strip Loin Center Cut No Vein Steak Ready: A whole boneless strip loin with the vein end removed. A single muscle cut for roasts or steaks. Buyers can also specify tail length and removal of the back strap.

Boneless Strip Loin Steaks

• Full Cut or End-to-End, MBG#1180: Steaks are cut from the entire strip loin from the rib end to the vein end.

• Center Cut, MBG#1180A: Steaks are cut from only the rib end up to where the vein end appears one only one side of the last steak. In addition to the portion size, buyers can also specify the tail length and back strap on or off with Full and Center cuts.

The Strip Loin roast is a tender cut with a delightful beefy flavor and texture that when properly aged and cooked, will receive rave reviews. Strip Loins provide a great premium alternative for your holiday menus.

New York Strip Roast Recipe

1 (5-6 lb) New York Strip Roast
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper

Strip RoastPreheat oven to 500ºF. Place roast, fat side up, in roasting pan fitted with rack. Rub roast with olive oil and season all sides with salt and pepper. Place in the oven for about 12 minutes. Reduce oven temp to 300ºF and continue cooking about 15 to 20 minutes per pound depending on desired doneness: Very Rare 130°, Rare 140°, Medium Rare 145°, Medium 160°, Well 170°.

Loosely tent roast with foil and let stand 15 minutes. Slice roast across the grain. Find more recipes at: http://www.yummly.com/recipes/beef-strip-loin

From the desk of  John Cecala   @BuedelFineMeats   Fan Page   Slideshare

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5 Ideas to Spark Fall Menus

Braised Lamb Shank

Braised Lamb Shank

Who doesn’t love Fall? The weather is still enjoyable, football is back, and the leaves will soon turn those gorgeous red, purple and orange colors – it is my favorite time of year.

The seasonal change from warm days to chilly nights also signals the introduction of fall menus for chefs and restaurateurs.

September opens the door to robust dishes and heartier meats; wild game and duck are also now in season.

Here are some inspiring ideas for  building Fall menus using a variety of meat selections and slower cooking methods:

Shanks a lot!

Shanks are terrific for braising. They are fattier with more connective tissue rich with collagen that along with the bone adds fabulous flavor when cooked. Shanks are also relatively inexpensive. Lamb, Pork, and Veal Shanks make excellent braising choices.  

Rack of Lamb

Rack of Lamb

We recommend using Domestic Colorado lamb shanks, though Australian and New Zealand lamb will work too. Compared to imported lamb, which is typically grass fed, American lamb has grain in its diet and tastes less “gamey”. Domestic lamb is larger in size and presents beautifully on the plate; many say it is the highest in quality and consistency.

For pork shanks with a little something special, try the Duroc breed hogs. This breed produces well marbled very tasty meat and competitively compares with higher priced Berkshire or Kurobuta pork.  

When it comes to Veal shanks, Domestic No. 1 Special Fed veal is our favorite. These calves are raised on a milk formula supplement. Their meat color is ivory or creamy pink, with a firm, fine, and velvety appearance superbly tender and delicious.

Other Cuts

Beef Short Ribs

Beef Short Ribs

Bone-In Beef Short Ribs can be braised whole, or portion cut in a variety of ways, from traditional 3-bone short ribs to Tomahawk Cut single or double bone-in short ribs. Boneless short ribs can also be rolled & tied before braising for a unique plate presentation.

Shoulder Cuts of all types are also perfect for braising. Lamb, Pork, and Veal shoulder cuts are typically favored for stew dishes.  

Cheek Meat has become quite popular in trendy restaurants and bistros. Beef, pork, and veal cheeks are rich with flavor and suitable for producing smaller portions. Ox Tails are also excellent for braising.

Rotisserie Raves

Rotisserie cooking allows you to cook whole pieces of meat, which can be used across multiple dishes on your menu. This maximizes your yield, saves labor and leverages your food cost.

The best candidates for rotisserie cooking are Lamb Leg, Lamb Rack, Lamb Top Round, Veal Shoulder Pork Rack and Pork Loin. Chicken, Duck, and Cornish Hens are also traditional rotisserie favorites.

Get Your Game On

Venison 8 Rib Rack

Venison 8 Rib Rack

Game meats have also risen in popularity in recent years. Known to be highly flavorful, some of these meats also have lower fat content.

Elk, Venison, Bison, Rabbit and Duck all make great game for fall menus. Elk and Venison racks lend themselves well to a variety of recipes. Bison flanks and chuck rolls are excellent for hearty pot roast. Rabbit can be stewed or braised in a number of ways, and Duck is always a traditional favorite.

Recipe Starters

To help get your creative juices flowing, check out some of these fab Fall recipes for ideas:

Savuer – 25 Recipes for Braised Meats

Recipes from Chef Hans Susser: Roast Pork Butt, Braised Veggies, Pork Jus & Applesauce  Braised Oxtail & Potato Dumplings  Braised Beef Ribs In Red Wine

Recipes from Chef Danilo Alfaro:  Veal Shank Osso Buco  Braised Lamb Shoulder  Braised Chicken Stew

Happy Fall!

From the desk of  John Cecala   @BuedelFineMeats   Fan Page   Slideshare

 

 

 

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The Difference Between Kobe and Wagyu Beef

Wagyu beef is intensely marbled with softer fat, has higher percentages of monounsaturated fats, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and is lower in cholesterol than commodity beef. The combinations of these fats deliver a distinctive rich and tender flavor compared to other beef.

The most exclusive Wagyu in the world comes from Kobe, Japan.  People use the terms Kobe and Wagyu beef interchangeably in the U.S. thinking it refers to the same premium imported Japanese beef, when it does not.

All Kobe is Wagyu, but not all Wagyu is Kobe

Many restaurant menus feature “Kobe Burgers” or “Kobe Steaks”.  The internet is flooded with on-line companies offering Kobe Beef, Kobe Burgers, Kobe-Style Beef, and Wagyu beef.  The truth is authentic Kobe beef is very rarely seen on restaurant menus in the USA.

Legitimate Kobe beef is priced around $200 per portion for a steak, and $50 for a burger. If you see something on a menu referred to as Kobe priced less than that, it is most likely domestic or imported Wagyu.

How can you tell the difference?

Key Terms & Definitions

Kobe  A city in Japan and the capital city of the Hyōgo Prefecture. Kobe is also considered a region of Japan like Champaign is a region in France, and Parma is a region in Italy.

Wa  Japanese or Japanese Style

Gyu The Japanese word for a Cow or Cattle

Wagyu  Japanese or Japanese Style Cattle.  Japanese cattle consist of four breeds: Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Poll, and Japanese Shorthorn. Ox-like in structure, these breeds are bred for field work.

Tajima-Gyu  The cow that Kobe beef comes from which is classified as a Japanese Black breed.

Kokusan-Gyu  Refers to cattle which are raised domestically in Japan.  Regardless of the country or breed, cattle are classified as “Kokusan-Gyu” if they have spent more than half of their life in Japan.

Japanese Meat Quality Score  Japanese quality meat scores are qualified by four factors:  marbling, color and brightness, firmness and texture, and fat color, luster and quality. Each factor is graded from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest score.

BMS  Beef Marbling Standard.  BMS is a score rating given to red beef for the amount of intramuscular flecks of fat which give the meat a marble like pattern.

Facts & Criteria

Under Japanese law, Kobe beef can only came from Hyōgo prefecture (of which Kobe is the capital city) of Japan.

Kobe cows are fed a special diet of dried pasture forage and grasses such as rice straw with nutrition-rich feed supplements made by blending soybean, corn, barley, wheat bran, and various other ingredients. They are not fed pasture grass.

To be authentic certified Japanese Kobe Beef the following criteria need to be met:

  • Breed of cattle is pure lineage Tajima (Tajima-Gyu), between 28-60 months of age, born, raised and slaughtered in the Hyogo Prefecture of Japan.
  • Certified as having a yield score of A or B.
  • Japanese Meat Grading Association quality score of 4 or 5.
  • BMS score of 6 or higher on the Tajima-Gyu marble grading scale of 1-12.
  • Has the “Japanese Chrysanthemum” seal officially certifying it as Kobe Beef.

This certification process is so strict that when the beef is sold in stores and restaurants, it must carry a 10-digit number to identify the origination of the Tajima-Gyu cow.

Kobe Beef, Kobe Meat and Kobe Cattle, are also all trademarks in Japan. The United States does not recognize these trademarks thus promoting free use of the term “Kobe” in the US without regard to Japan’s strict standards. Consequently restaurants and retailers market various types of American or Australian Wagyu beef as “Kobe beef”.

Japanese beef was actually banned from being imported into the United States from 2009 until August of 2012.  (The “first-ever” Kobe shipment is now on its way to the US according to Meating Place.) What we see most of domestically, is American Wagyu or Australian Wagyu (Kobe Style) beef.

American Wagyu (Kobe Style)

Four Wagyu bulls were brought to the USA in 1976 from Japan’s Tottori Prefecture for cross breeding with Angus cattle creating the American Wagyu Kobe Style Beef.  The crossbred Wagyu cattle were fed a mixture of corn, alfalfa, barley and wheat straw mimicking the Japanese cattle diet. In the mid 1990’s, about 40 more full blooded Wagyu male and females were imported to the US for breeding.

There a few domestic ranches raising pure blood American Wagyu beef today, however, most of what we see domestically are a Wagyu/Angus mixed breed. The Wagyu influence contributes to the intense marbling and the Angus influence contributes to the animal’s size.

USDA Marble Scoring

The USDA scale for upper grade meat quality has 3 levels: Select, Choice, and Prime. Prime is the highest USDA grade. Roughly, 3% of traditional US cattle harvested are graded as Prime – equivalent to a Wagyu BMS score of 5.

Over 90% of domestic Wagyu cattle grade out as at least Prime, with most reaching a BMS score of 7-8.  Wagyu’s intense marbling occurs from genetics and from the cattle spending more time on special feed, about 30 months as compared to commodity beef cattle which are fed about 24 months. The Strube Ranch in Pittsburg, Texas is a notable American producer of quality domestic Wagyu beef.

Australian Wagyu (Kobe Style)

Australia first imported Wagyu in 1990 and began a breeding program using artificial insemination. In the mid 1990’s Australia imported full blooded Wagyu bulls and cows from the United States to enhance their Wagyu breeding program.  Over the years, the Australian Wagyu breed has gained in strength and popularity for intense marbling and taste.

Different from the USDA and Japanese grading systems, the Ausie marble scoring range is 1 to 9 +. One of the most notable brands of Australian Wagyu beef is marketed under famed professional golfer and entrepreneur Greg Norman.  Greg Norman Signature Wagyu beef is sold under BMS 5-11.

There are Canadian and European Wagyu producers, but most of the US market is supplied through Australian imports and domestic purveyors.

Uber expensive and delicious, Wagyu’s American popularity is growing. Remember, true authentic Japanese Kobe Wagyu is still a rarity in the US. When you see it on it a menu, judge it by price. Ask your server if they can attest to the Kobe quality. If their response is at least somewhat knowledgeable to facts in this article, odds are it is authentic.

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

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‘Tis the Season to be Braising

When the weather begins turning colder, at least here in the Midwest, we stow away our back yard barbeque grills before winter rolls in. It’s a change that signifies many things – warmer clothes, winter sports and the start of Braising Season!

Professional Chefs already know the culinary delights of braising meats. Here’s a primer for the rest of us, and some potential new ideas for your menu.

The  4-1-1

Braising is a slow cooking method that combines moisture and heat to break down connective tissue and collagen which makes the meat soft and tender. When combined with your favorite mixture of stock, spices and rubs, the end result is a delicious hearty meal that will warm up your winter. Braised meats are comfort food.

Any type of meat can be braised: beef, pork, veal and lamb – even poultry can be braised. Meat is best braised with tougher and bone-in cuts.

Rule of thumb: Fattier is better for braising, where leaner is worse. If a cut is served as a steak on the menu, it’s probably not the best meat for braising.

Best Cuts to Braise

The best cuts for braising are the locomotive muscles from the animal; they are the muscles that are most moved by the animal.  Think: Shoulder, Tail, Cheeks, Ribs (Short), Shank, Feet. These muscles are fattier with more connective tissue that is rich in collagen. When slowly cooked to about 185°F, the intramuscular fat and collagen break down and melt, tenderizing the meat and making it more flavorful and juicy.

The best cuts for braising are:

Beef – Chuck, Brisket, Top Round Roast, Bottom Round Roast, Short Ribs, Cheeks, Shanks (Osso Bucco), Ox Tails

Veal – Shanks (Osso Bucco), Neck, Chuck (shoulder), Round, Short Ribs, Breast

Pork – Blade Roast, Picnic Roast, Shanks, Cheeks

Lamb – Shanks, Shoulder, Arm, Chuck

Cost Wise & Plate Beautiful

Braised meats are also an economical menu choice. They are typically indicative to less costly cuts, yet plate rich and hearty – the perfect marriage. Go for the “wow” factor and try having your bone-in meats “French Cut” to expose the bone; the affect makes for a beautiful plate presentation.

My favorite cuts for braising are beef short ribs. Buedel Fine Meats fabricates a variety of beef short ribs from traditional 3-bone short ribs to Tomahawk Cut single or double bone-in short ribs. Boneless short ribs can also be rolled & tied before braising for a unique plate presentation.

Enjoy the Braising Season, before you know it we’ll be breaking out the grills again.

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What’s the Diff Between Beef and Dairy Cattle?

When you eat a tasty steak or purchase beef for your restaurant, do you know if it came from a cow, steer, angus, holstein, hereford, heifer or a combination thereof?

There are different breeds and types of animals in the beef and dairy industries and yes… even dairy animals are used for consumption. By understanding the basics, you can make educated choices for your beef selections that will affect taste, texture, quality and price. Check out our quick cheat sheet to help.

There are Beef breeds raised for their meat and Dairy breeds raised to produce milk.  Both breeds have common terms to describe the animal.

Cow: A female that has had a calf.
Heifer: A young female that has not had a calf.
Bull: A mature male.
Steer: A castrated male.
Yearling: An animal between 1 and 2 years of age.

Angus Yearling

Beef Cattle:  There are over 70 breeds of beef cattle, the most popular are: Angus, Hereford, Charolais,Chianina, Main-Anjou, Limousin, Longhorn, Simmental & Shorthorn

A cow gives birth to 1 calf a year.
The top grades of beef are:
Prime, Choice and Select.

A 1,000 lb. steer/heifer = 540 lbs. of meat and 460 lbs. of by-product like leather and pharmaceuticals.

1 cow hide = 144 baseballs or 20 footballs or 18 volleyballs or 12 basketballs.

Holstein Cow

Dairy Cattle: The popular breeds are: Holstein, Guernsey, Jersey, Brown Swiss, Aryshire and Milking Shorthorn

The average dairy cow produces 120 glasses of milk a day. It takes about 2 days for milk to go from the cow to the grocery store.

10 lbs. of milk = 1 lb. of cheese.

The best steakhouses and restaurants typically serve steaks that come from beef cattle, primarily Angus and Hereford steers. However, there are purveyors that sell Holstein meat which is typically less expensive but still can be graded as Prime, Choice or Select. There is a distinct difference in the taste and texture along with the lesser price.

Breed goes hand in hand with taste, texture, quality and price. Inquire about breed the next time you buy or order steak!

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

 

 

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What are the Benefits of Aged Beef?

Did you ever notice the difference in flavor and tenderness between steaks purchased at a grocery store from those ordered for dinner at a fine restaurant? Of course, a lot of the difference has to do with the preparation of the steaks by the chef, but the difference in taste also has much to do with how long the beef has been aged.

Finer restaurants typically purchase beef from purveyors that age their beef for approximately 21-30+ days from harvest in temperature controlled environments.  Grocery stores typically sell beef with less than 14 days age from harvest and turnover their inventory faster.

When beef has been properly aged before serving it has a deeper richer flavor and increased tenderness.  During the aging process the natural enzymes inside the meat breakdown the muscle tissue and make it more tender and flavorful.  There are two primary ways of properly aging beef: Wet Aging and Dry Aging.

Wet Aging

Wet aging is the most common way beef is aged.  At harvest, packing plants vacuum seal primal cuts in plastic film. This process seals the beef and protects it from exposure to open air. Beef left inside this vacuumed sealed package and stored at temperatures under 40 degrees keeps the beef wholesome and allows the natural enzymes to breakdown and enhance the meat. After two to three weeks, there is a noticeable difference in the taste and texture of the meat – that’s about the perfect time to cut into steaks or roasts. Too much age beyond that and the meat begins to spoil.  The best meat purveyors have strict time and temperature controls in place to ensure quality.

Dry Aged Short Loins

Dry Aging

Dry aging is the way all beef used to be aged up until the 1970’s when vacuum packaging was brought to the meat industry.

Dry aging is a time honored, old world tradition where primal beef cuts are aged for 28-50+ days in a controlled open air environment. During this process the external service of the meat becomes hard and envelops the meat with a crust. The beef inside the crust develops a fine rich concentrated flavor and tender texture as the natural moisture in the muscle is evaporated. When the beef has reached the desired age, the inedible outer crust is carefully removed and the meat can be cut into steaks that will have an incredible flavor.

To properly dry age beef you must have separated refrigerated space with precise temperature, relative humidity and air circulation controls along with specific UV lighting to control bacteria growth to create the perfect environment. Dry aged beef is more expensive than wet aged beef because you typically lose about 20% of the meat during the dry aging process. Dry aging is best for cuts of beef that have higher marbling such as Prime and Upper Choice grades. The most typical dry aged cuts are from the short loin (Porterhouses, T-Bone, Bone-In Strip) and the ribs (Bone-In Rib Eye Steaks).

Other factors which affect the taste and texture of beef are breed of cattle, feed and USDA grade. Proper aging of beef is always a beneficial enhancement.

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

 

 

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