Fine Swine: Dry Aged Compart Duroc

Dry Aged Pork ChopsWhat can you find that’s new, unique and affordable to put on your menu? Just when you think there’s nothing on the market that could beat the epicurean luxury of dry aged beef, Compart Farms delivers a stunning alternative – dry aged Duroc pork.

Think dry aged pork is crazy? Think again! Compart Duroc Dry Aged Pork can spark new business for your operation, drive higher food margins, delight your guests and build customer base.

What Makes Fine Swine

Where the Black Angus breed of cattle is synonymous with superior quality, the same phenomenon is also true of Duroc pork. Duroc pork has been identified and documented by the National Pork Producers as a superior genetic source for improved eating.

Duroc-BoarOften described as “red pigs with drooping ears”, Duroc pork is thought to have come from Spain and Portugal dating back to the 1400’s. Unlike commodity pork deemed “the other white meat” by the National Pork Board, Duroc pork is bright reddish pink in color.

Pigs in the Compart Family Farms’ Duroc sired meat program, are of the same genetic makeup and fed the same proprietary ration throughout the growing and finishing phases. This combination reduces the variability routinely found in the pork industry today.

Only Compart’s Duroc pork contains a higher percentage of intramuscular fat (marbling) and a higher pH. Unlike ordinary pork, it is more heavily marbled, yet still 96% lean.

How Dry Aged Pork Works

Dry aging is an old world tenderization process that creates a more complex flavor in the meat. The outside of the meat becomes hard and envelops a crust, while the meat inside the crust develops a fine rich, concentrated flavor and tender texture, as the natural moisture in the muscle evaporates. When the meat has reached its desired age, the inedible outer crust is carefully removed and discarded.

Photo Feb 16, 5 26 52 PMTo properly dry age 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. Compart Duroc whole pork loins sit in their dry aging room for 7-21 days compared to longer time spans used for beef. A shorter aging period is possible because pork loins are smaller and more delicate than beef, and thus take less time to achieve the benefits of dry aging.

The naturally more abundant intramuscular fat present in Compart Duroc pork provides the ability to adapt to the moisture loss of dry aging while still retaining the juiciness in the finished product. These attributes deliver optimum conditions for the dry aging process.

The end result is a firmer yet tender texture with a well refined flavor finish. Dry aging combined with the favorable muscle pH and marbling qualities of the Compart Duroc breed elevates pork to a whole new level.

Bag It Now!

Photo Feb 16, 5 27 32 PMTraditionally speaking, pork has not been dry aged – until now. The best cuts in this category you can buy for your menu are Compart’s Duroc dry aged pork Porterhouses and Ribeyes.

Compart Duroc Dry Aged Pork is an affordable, exciting new option to enhance your menu. It gives meat loving customers a new dining option and helps you drive additional margins for your operation.

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:

From the desk of  John Cecala   @BuedelFineMeats   Fan Page   Slideshare

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What You Can Do When Tyson, Merck & Chipotle Talk Higher Prices

CreekstoneBeeffiletAmericans eat more beef, about 54 lbs per capita, than we eat of pork, veal and lamb combined. Three major announcements in the past week seem to portend higher beef prices down the road.

We have some suggestions for chefs and restaurateurs on how they can control their food costs and better protect their profits.

First, the Headlines…

Tyson Foods (NYSE:TSN), which provides 26% of the U.S. beef supply, notified cattle feeders that as of September 6th, the company would no longer purchase animals that had been given Zilmax (zilpaterol) a drug added to feed which accelerates weight gain by as much as 30 pounds just before slaughter.

Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) is considering bending its rules on serving only “naturally raised” beef amid a supply shortage of beef raised without antibiotics.

Merck & Co.’s (MRK) animal health division said Friday it would temporarily suspend sales of its widely used feed additive Zilmax in the U.S. and Canada following Tyson’s announcement to no longer purchase cattle that have been given Zilmax.

How does this all mesh together?

There’s an interesting dichotomy between the needs to meet consumer beef demand, the growing demand for naturally raised beef, and the need for beef suppliers and retailers to make profits.      

U.S. cattle numbers have dropped to their lowest level since 1973 on the heels of a record-setting drought that decimated feed supplies and forced producers to cull animals.Beef production in the U.S. will decline 4.9 percent in 2014, retreating for a fourth consecutive year according to the USDA. Yet we are producing more edible beef today than sixty years ago in part because of the use of beta agonists like Merk’s Zilmax.That is helping to keep beef prices in check, albeit with lower quality beef because of the drug.  

Suzanne Collett, owner at Fortune Cattle Company, says, “Meat quality is important but losing 15 to 30 pounds off of a Fed Steer makes a huge impact on the supply. If this product (Zilmax) and competitor (Optaflexx), are completely taken off the market this would effectively take away about 5.7 million (and more) peoples’ ability to consume beef at 54 pounds each per year…that’s more than the entire city of Chicago’s population. If all packers follow suit…the impact is much greater. Isn’t it amazing what one product can do…diminish meat quality but feed so many people?”

All Natural beef already commands higher prices than commodity beef. Naturally raised cattle cost more to produce, and they take longer to reach the desired harvest weight. Consequently, few beef suppliers are willing (or able) to sustain on natural beef alone. Hence one of the reasons that Chipolte is  considering bending its rules on serving only “naturally raised” beef amid a supply shortage. With 900 restaurants and growing, Chipoltle’s demand for beef will continue to grow.

If all beta agonists are taken off the market, we’ll have less beef or longer time on feed to get cattle to harvest weight. Both outcomes mean higher commodity beef prices down the road if demand remains the same.

What You Can Do About It

Buedel consistently helps chefs and restaurateurs drive profits in their business with tailored fine meat programs. Here are three suggestions we have to help you preserve profits and control food costs in the face of rising prices.

Use Menu Profit Lock-Ins vs. Weekly Price Shopping Many people we talk with run their businesses by shopping for the lowest price of the week. They assemble the weekly price sheets from vendors, put them all in a spreadsheet and compare prices by item by vendor. Then they buy the lowest priced items from multiple suppliers to control their food costs. While this may ensure you get the lowest price for the week, you will still be subject to the weekly movement of commodity pricing.

Our suggestion is to lock-in menu item profits for blocks of time versus weekly price shopping. To do this, you need to determine your minimum acceptable food cost for the menu price of an item and then work with your purveyor to lock-in a price for a specified block of time. Then you can forget about the weekly price movement because you have your desired profits locked in place.

Doing this may require that you pay more than the current market price for the item at the start, but ensures you won’t pay more when prices rise above the lock. If the prices fall below your price lock point, you still make your desired menu profit. Use your purveyor’s knowledge of the market to your advantage and partner with them to develop a win/win program. 

Embrace the Power of Portion Control Last year I wrote a blog entitled, Should I cut my own steaks or buy pre-cut portion control steaks? which talked about the hidden costs many operators miss when cutting their own steaks or chops. If you’re serving steaks or chops on your menu and cutting them in your kitchen, you’re probably letting profits slip away with unaccounted for costs. 

There are many portion control, or “steak ready” cuts that eliminate the hidden costs of waste and labor. We help our customers quantify their yielded costs of finished goods, and then compare that measure to their desired target profits. Take an educated look at portion control.

Use Small Reductions in Portion Sizes When prices are on the rise a small reduction in portion size can mean large cost savings and higher profits. For example, let’s say you sell a tenderloin filet on the menu for $20.00. Just a small change from an 8 oz portion to a 7 oz portion at a cost of $10/lb increases your menu item profit by 4%! (Of course, we recommend this only when weight is not noted on the menu.) That small 1 oz portion change will be virtually undetectable in size and shape of the filet.

When all three of these suggestions are combined, you will have a strategic and powerful set of tools to put your operation in the best position against higher prices. If you’d like to hear more ideas, contact us:

From the desk of  John Cecala   @BuedelFineMeats   Fan Page   Slideshare

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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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