Sunday, February 20, 2022


There are few things I enjoy as much as a good steak. In high school eight of us would gather on a Saturday evening for a "steak-out," steaks charcoal grilled outdoors even in the depths of a Wisconsin winter. I'm more particular about the quality and preparation of beef now, but a quality cut and good sides remain my first choice if given an option. The cost does mean I have the meal less often. I enjoyed reading this review of Glorious Beef: The LaFrieda Family and the Evolution of the American Meat Industry, from which:
Among steak lovers, is there anything more overrated than grass-fed beef? Perhaps you bought it because you wanted to treat yourself. It costs more so it must taste better. Except it doesn't.

In Glorious Beef, author and butcher extraordinaire Pat LaFrieda confirms my suspicions. "The chefs simply didn't like it," he says. "I thought it was a surefire sale given its favorable marketing points, but in the restaurant world, it all comes down to appealing to the chef's palate, and grass-fed beef wasn't cutting it. No one really liked the flavor, and they didn't buy into the sustainability selling points."

The reason for this aversion is obvious. If all cattle do is eat grass every day (as opposed to grain), the beef is guaranteed to be lean and lacking "the delectable intramuscular fat we rave about when acquiring a high-quality cut of meat." What's more, "organic grass-fed beef also tends to be expensive due to the cost of setting up and maintaining organic soil, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into higher quality beef." ....

Carnivores will benefit from the book's guidance on purchasing meat at the store. There's the obvious—look for beef that's bright red and well marbled. But if you've ever been tempted to purchase that marinated meat on sale behind the glass, "just keep in mind it is likely meat that is on the verge of going bad."

If you can't find a label indicating a grade—Prime, Choice, or Select—it's likely below that. But there are actually eight grade levels. The bottom three are Utility, Cutter, and Canner, "used in pet foods, and canned goods, and … shipped to prison systems and to the armed forces." ....

The author's current obsession is with dry-aging, a costly process that requires twin cooling and dehumidifying systems—moisture will otherwise spoil the meat. Primals are aged 14 to 120 days and the result, says LaFrieda, "is ten times more tender and has ten times the flavor of its fresh counterpart." ....
Victorino Matus, "Butcher Confidential: REVIEW: Glorious Beef: The LaFrieda Family and the Evolution of the American Meat Industry, The Washington Free Beacon, February 20, 2022.

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