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Need some meat selection help

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I've got a big cook coming up with this weekend for the father-in-law's birthday. Per his request I'm going to be cooking filets. I want to buy prime steaks as this is a special occasion for him and I'm going to be buy 7-8 8oz steaks. 

 

I am am looking around locally trying to figure out where to purchase these steaks. I went to a local butcher in town that is very reputable. They sell choice for $26.99/lb and Prime for $36.99/lb. That to me was a little high. 

 

So so I decided to dive into Fresh Market (you know the chain grocery that sells lots of natural and organic). Their choice meat is $15.99/lb and Prime is $19.99/lb. 

 

Someone explain to me why the big difference in price? Am I getting a greatly infererior product if I buy from Fresh Market? 

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My quess would be volumn. If your local butcher only sells meat then he's a small business and needs to make reasonable profit on every piece of meat he sells to pay the mortgage, utilities, taxes and then his profit. Since he's small business he probably has a low volumn of sales so he can't buy the meat in huge volumn with a discount. The market can spread their profit over lots of other items and they can buy in bulk which lowers the cost per pound of meat. I believe potato chips and carbonated beverages have a profit margin extremely high and they sell lots of them. This allows the market to sell the meat for less. Just mu quess.

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9 minutes ago, smoker08 said:

My quess would be volumn. If your local butcher only sells meat then he's a small business and needs to make reasonable profit on every piece of meat he sells to pay the mortgage, utilities, taxes and then his profit. Since he's small business he probably has a low volumn of sales so he can't buy the meat in huge volumn with a discount. The market can spread their profit over lots of other items and they can buy in bulk which lowers the cost per pound of meat. I believe potato chips and carbonated beverages have a profit margin extremely high and they sell lots of them. This allows the market to sell the meat for less. Just mu quess.

 

So you think the quality is likely the same?

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For the choice meat probably yes. For the prime you have to realize that there is very little percentage of beef that is graded prime. Most of it gets snatched up by big expensive steak houses and folks that get to the butcher houses first. This is were your local butcher may, and I say may have better prime that the market. If the local butcher is getting his prime from the local area and they know him they may be letting him choose the best of the best. Of course you can't know for sure till you butcher the critter and check the marbleing. Some steak houses go so far as to have a prized bull do all the calve making to get the most prime meat from the herds. Then there's always Kobe beef. if you think $36.99 lb is high take a look at true Kobe from Japan. Can you say well over $100 a pound? However, I hear the really true sliced Kobe melts in your mouth without it even being cooked. It's Thursday and you're doing this this week end. The best way to know for sure is go by each today and buy 1 steak from each place. Take it home and cook it. Make sure you remember which is which and do a taste test.

 

And just think of this when you buy the meat. This is the guy that fathered your bride and raised her. How much do you appreciate what he did for you?

 

Best of luck to ya.

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Beef is graded by USDA inspectors while it is still at the slaughterhouse/packing house and hanging in sides. I worked at a slaughter house while going to school and one of my (many) jobs was to walk behind the inspector and stamp the sides of beef with the appropriate grade once the inspector classified it. The inspector looks at one side of a butchered head of cattle that has been split at the 13th vertebrae (I may be a little off on this number, been a long time) exposing a cut of what would be come a Ribeye. Based on the marbling he sees there he makes a judgement of how to grade the entire head -- select, choice, prime, etc.

Once the entire cooler of beef has been stamped with the grade, key customers are allowed to come in and chose the sides/heads of beef they want to purchase. Since they get first pick of the day's offerings they get the best there is in any grade. And yes, there are different levels within each grade i.e. one prime may have more marbling than the prime next to it.  Most other companies that buy beef just place an order for X sides of beef of Y grade; they get whatever the packing house picks -- still a Prime grade for example, so still good, but not the best of that day's offerings for that grade.

Ask  the butcher you went to if he gets to pick what beef he buys or if he is just sent whatever the packing house choses. If he gets to pick then he may indeed have a little better meat available.

Sorry for the lengthy post... hopefully it give you a little insight in what you may be getting.

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After some research and learning about the butcher shop meat quality I went and placed an order for Choice filets from them. 

 

They have Certified Angus Beef (CAB) meat which is supposedly a better quality meat. The butcher told me there would not be much taste difference between their Prime and Choice so I went with the Choice. It was still $29.99/lb. I think I misquoted in the original post. 

 

Now, should I marinade these steaks with anything or just use sea salt and pepper? I had thought about doing an Allergo marinade which is like a Worcester sauce. Thoughts? 

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Certified angus just means the breed of cow. Select, choice, and prime are all that really matter. Don't let anyone tell you it's premium choice, or high choice, no such thing. It one of the three.

That said, a choice filet should be fine, and I agree S&P is all you need.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Yep, choice should be fine, I save prime for NY strip, rib eye, porterhouse etc.

I gotta say that $29 a pound for choice seems insane and if it cost me that much I wouldn't eat beef.  I routinely get it for under $6 per pound.  I'll get up in the $35-$40 per pound range for dry aged prime rib eye from some place like Whole Foods or Central Market.

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Lately I've been getting excellent fillet's from one of our local chain grocers, Albertson's. They've recently began selling much of their beef in choice cuts and I will say that the choice fillets that I've been paying $17-$19/lb. have been simply fantastic. I always bacon wrap them (partial cooking of the bacon in the microwave first) and cook direct over moderate/high heat (400 deg. f. or so). Pre-cooking the bacon gets them to finish rendering and even char just a little bit. The flavor of the bacon mixed with that great cut of beef is............:-P.

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38 minutes ago, Flypops said:

Lately I've been getting excellent fillet's from one of our local chain grocers, Albertson's. They've recently began selling much of their beef in choice cuts and I will say that the choice fillets that I've been paying $17-$19/lb. have been simply fantastic. I always bacon wrap them (partial cooking of the bacon in the microwave first) and cook direct over moderate/high heat (400 deg. f. or so). Pre-cooking the bacon gets them to finish rendering and even char just a little bit. The flavor of the bacon mixed with that great cut of beef is............:-P.


That's interesting, the Albertsons here has always claimed to sell only choice beef (although you do find prime there also) and they have been here since 91. Was a Jewel Osco before that and a Skaggs-Alpha Beta before that.  That's one place I can get rib eye for $5.99 per pound routinely.  Another is Kroger and even Sams Club however Kroger will also sell select so you gotta watch.  I've noticed that Walmart doesn't even tell you what grade they have on the package, it just says, "USDA GRADED".  Hmmmmm  The USDA has 8 grades all the way down to canner grade I would guess that if Walmart sold at least choice they would put it on the label.

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