In the (Rib) Eye of the Beholder

Thick cut, rib eye steaks.  $6.99/lb

If it is too good to be true, it probably isn't.

I visited the new D&W Fresh Market last weekend and immediately worked my way to the meat counter.  What caught my eye was a big "SPECIAL".   Ribeye steaks.  $6.99/lb.  One of my favorite steaks for the grill!  I had to return.  Which I did the next day.

The "too-good-to-be-true" anecdote: I selected four steaks and the price rang up to $14.99/lb.  I said "excuse me".  The clerk said "ooops. not sure why it is priced like that.  Let me check".

After reviewing with his manager (not a butcher) it turns out that the sale price referred to "non-prime" steaks. I am not convinced this young man even knew there was a difference between prime, choice, select and standard but at that point, I wasn't prepared to spend the $14.99/lb so I said I wanted the "special".  He went back, grabbed some other steaks and wrapped them up.  There was no grading listed- so I am not sure if it was select or standard. 

That night I seasoned (olive oil, Worcestershire, Lawry's Salt) and grilled over hot mesquite lump.

The results were OK but grading certainly makes a difference in taste.  And I realized I've been spoiled.  I  buy the majority of my steaks and chops from several neighborhood butchers who I trust. They know the cuts I like and ask for feedback when I return. They certainly use pricing and "specials" as marketing tools but IMHO,  the credibility gap between a supermarket meat counter and a neighborhood butcher is as vast as a Nebraskan prairie!

In my book, local butchers are certified grilladelic.

Quality Grades:

  • Prime grade  is produced from young, well-fed beef cattle. It has abundant marbling and is generally sold in restaurants and hotels. Prime roasts and steaks are excellent for dry-heat cooking (broiling, roasting, or grilling).

  • Choice grade  is high quality, but has less marbling than Prime. Choice roasts and steaks from the loin and rib will be very tender, juicy, and flavorful and are, like Prime, suited to dry-heat cooking. Many of the less tender cuts, such as those from the rump, round, and blade chuck, can also be cooked with dry heat if not overcooked. Such cuts will be most tender if "braised" — roasted, or simmered with a small amount of liquid in a tightly covered pan.

  • Select grade  is very uniform in quality and normally leaner than the higher grades. It is fairly tender, but, because it has less marbling, it may lack some of the juiciness and flavor of the higher grades. Only the tender cuts (loin, rib, sirloin) should be cooked with dry heat. Other cuts should be marinated before cooking or braised to obtain maximum tenderness and flavor.

  • Standard and Commercial grades – are frequently sold as ungraded or as "store brand" meat.

  • Utility, Cutter, and Canner grades are seldom, if ever, sold at retail but are used instead to make ground beef and processed products.

Posted via email from johnrumery’s in search of the secret sauce

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