Retail Grocery Steak Shoot-Out.

Goals

Gaining perspective on what others are experiencing with their retail meat quality choices is important to a beef producer. We tend to get accustomed to our own product and need to force ourselves to explore the larger world. That’s what this post series is about.

Method

We’ll focus on the New York Strip cut as the best compromise between flavor and tenderness. Grass-fed and conventional. Refrigerated distribution steaks will be frozen if unable to prepare b-4 exp. date. All frozen steaks will be defrosted in cold water . NYT Cooks “Cast -Iron Skillet” (“salt the pan, not the steak and flip early and often”) cooking method will be used to a 125 to 130 deg F internal temp. Steaks will be rested 2 minutes on a steam-heated stoneware plate before slicing and tasting.

Scoring

Composite quality score will be calculated by multiplying a 0 to 5 Flavor by a 1-3 Texture score. Flavor has the upper hand here with potential of a Zero score. Why eat beef if it doesn’t taste like beef? Value score will be the Composite Quality score times 10 divided by $ price per pound paid.

The Contestants:

No-Name (Original)

I recall these as being a quality product back in the 80’s and was curious as to the direction they’d taken since. Frozen in 8 oz pouches, $15 for 24 oz net. Country of origin NOT spec’d. Brined up to 7% w/salt, sodium phosphate, dextrose, papain. Cut not spec’d.

The pre-cooking beef is a boneless rectangle unidentifiable as to cut. Surface and partial thru-slices (to tenderize?) appear randomly. Wet, “plumped-up” appearance. Totally saturated a half-sheet of Bounty w/surface moisture.

Flavor Score: Zero (0) No discernible flavor characteristic of beef. Only a vague salty flavor.

Texture Score: One (1) Soft, squishy. Easily chewed.

Composite Score: Zero (0) Value: Zero (0)

This outfit has constrained themselves to a price point that apparently demands they focus only on providing “tenderness” They’ve gone way too far down the rabbit hole for this to even be realistically regarded as steak any longer.

Springerhill Ranch Brand

Refrigerated distribution at Fresh Thyme “Farmers” Market. $12.49 for 10 oz trimmed NYS. Origin USA/Texas. Grass-fed, no added antibiotics, hormones, steroids.

Pre-cooking note: moisture absorbing “bib” built into rear panel of package. Some weight to it.

Flavor Score: Five (5) Robust grass-fed beef flavor. Clean w/no off-flavors.

Texture Score: Two (2) A bit over-tough on both ends of the strip with 2 only partly reducible-by-chewing (dogs got’em) pieces and 1 fatty/gristly piece.

Composite Score: Ten (10) Value Score: 5

Exemplifies the Grass-Fed conundrum of getting both flavor and tenderness in the same cut of beef.

check back for more contestants!