real beef

Joined Feb 4, 2001
I am getting so tired of arguing with butchers!

Slowly after a number of years we are losing our real butchers. I mean a person who knows and cares about the meat he sells.
I use mainly fillet steak. I don't know what this is called in the U.S. but we use it for tournedos and Chateau Briand. Anyway...Meat arrives in all our supermarkets and most butchers in cryovac bags. I can't use this stuff. I'm constantly told it is the same as meat that has been hung in hindquarters etc. It isn't.
The animal is killed and cut up and packed sometimes all in the same day. The steak is packed and allowed to 'mature'. All the time it is soaking in blood. The result is a wet, soft steak. I cook mine in a cast iron skillet made red hot on the flame with just a knob of butter. Cryovac steak is full of liquid which turns to steam and prevents the meat browning and crusting and when held in a hotplate for the time it takes to assemble, say a meal for four, it steams away until the centre is grey and when sliced shows holes in the fibre as if it had been frozen.
REAL meat does none of this. I can produce a blue steak with an almost burned crusty exterior.
WHY? The reason is greed. A carcass has to hang for 10-15 days. All the time it is losing moisture to the air, drying out. This can be in excess of 15% of the weight. If you are a supermarket with a million pounds worth of meat hanging there doing nothing except costing you interest or the earning of it and all the time getting lighter what would you do? Why, pack it in a bag and ship it out as soon as possible. What I can't understand is why people put up with it. I'm often asked where I get my meat. I am reluctant to reply. It's taken me a long time to secure my supply and I don't want anyone stealing it.
Is it the same in the U.S.? I really would like to know.

It's all right I'm feeling a bit better now.

Joined Nov 29, 2001
Yes, I too miss butchers. When I was a kid my mother had an "arrangement" with a butcher. Now don't get that gleam in your eye...He'd save these particular parts of the cow for her that had just been deemed "unfit" by the USDA - the esophagus and windpipe. She used to make them in tomato sauce. The only reason she was able to get this contraband was because she was friends with the butcher!

If you are familiar with the butchering of meat (something I wish I knew more about), maybe you could purchase a large section which you can age and cut as you desire. If you get it from a respected meat purveyor who is intimately in the know about a particular piece of meat, he/she can clue you in as to when it was slaughtered, any treatment since, if/for how long it was hung, etc. You could then make some determination about how you would like to handle the beef once it was in your possession.

Lots of ranchers in this area deal "privately" with people who know meat, own restaurants, etc. This may be your only recourse. Unfortunately, the Butcher Shop is perceived as a "relic" from the past with the advent of superstores :cry:
Joined Jul 31, 2000
My dear David, I understand your plight, You see as more and more food establishes increase there menu selections, they focus on labor cost, and look for portion controlled food stuffs. In the USA any fast food or "theme" restuarant relys on prefabe and PC cuts of meat. I could spend a night on this post but I will spare you. But, There is abolutly no substitute for working with primal or sub primal cuts. Also the grading is key. When you go below "choice" you are asking for trouble
Joined Oct 13, 2001
Cape you are dead on with your reply . Do not go below choice .
I once worked for a chef who only used prime and he still aged his beef for a bit before he cut and cooked it . It realy did make a difference ! You must let the blood ( from the greedy meat purveyers ) leave the meat in order to creat the perfect dish .
Nothing is better than buying your beef or game from a REAL butcher . Of course thats just my opinion .....................:bounce:
Joined Jan 4, 2002
I hope you all don't mind if I contribute my recent experience about the lack of a good meat purveyor. I found myself with some free time several weekends ago and thought I might do something I'd never tried before which was to make a veal demi-glace from scratch.

I came to find out after driving around town from supermarket to supermarket and butcher to butcher that one can no longer buy veal bones because all veal already comes prepackaged from wholesalers preportioned and pre-boned. There wasn't a neckbone or shoulder to be had. I had no idea that the man behind the counter was only there to restock the meat displays and not actually to cut meat. How disillusioned was ? :(
Joined Jul 31, 2000
Unfortunatly, Most super markets deal with "Boxed Beef" houses.
The demand for so many different cuts of meat and the shear volume of these stores has all but killed off the real butchers of the world. The time of going to the local butcher, fish house and produce market are gone to a certain degree, When you are a duel income family with 2 or 3 children, all with 2 or3 activities a week has had a big play on the way people shop, Convenience is what it is all about. If you want to make a fond de veau at home and cannot find the veal cuts you need, I suggest going to your local butcher shop and asking them to order you some shanks,breast flaps etc. you see,instead of a butcher buying a whole leg of veal, they may order only the top round. If they want to sell veal chops or lion chops they will buy them chimbed and trimmed. Because of the way people work now in our country, butchers are having less and less people coming in for bones and the like, so they opt to have there meats sent to them boneless, Now....depending on where you live and the ethnic background of your area you will find different results. Believe me there are still butchers who will be glad to offer you bones to make stock...Just like there will always be farmers at farmers markets who want you to enjoy there hard work.
Joined Sep 21, 2001
There is at least one company that I know of that sells and ships dry aged beef. They age it under UV lights so that the correct enzymatic aging occurs without the bacteria. Very good. Very expensive. It is sold by a wild game purveyor out of Denver and FedEx'ed out. I also know that they don't sell to retail customers, only restaurants, etc. So the non-pros are out of luck.

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