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Steak I'm Frustrated


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#1 mrdecoy1970

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 06:14 PM

I'm having troubles with simply cooking a steak. I usually buy Sam's Club rib eyes that look well marbled, maybe I need to up it to "choice" or "prime" I usually take them out an hour ahead of time, salt well with kosher and fresh cracked pepper. I've grilled with oak lump, charcoal briquettes using a chimney starter, I've tried making on cast iron, all with mediocre results. Any ideas? thanks.

#2 gfweb

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 06:39 PM

What's not good? Flavor?

#3 mrdecoy1970

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 07:11 PM

Yeah not mouth watering like a good steak house. I check temp and never cook over medium. Just blah I guess. I think I need to get a really great rib eye and find out if it is the meat or the cook.

#4 Ttogull

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 08:15 PM

Yeah not mouth watering like a good steak house. I check temp and never cook over medium. Just blah I guess. I think I need to get a really great rib eye and find out if it is the meat or the cook.


There are lots of possibilities. I only learned how to cook in the past few years, so I remember making comments like yours and what I did to fix things. But I fixed things for ME, and what I did for me might not be what YOU want. But for me going to a steakhouse is pointless because I make something I like better.

First, the meat can be an issue, but not necessarily the grade. I know a lot of people are fans of Costo, but in my experience mass produced beef can be rather bland. One time I got ribeye to make a faux hot pot I like from a Halal butcher. Then I realized I hadn't gotten enough, and picked up more at the nearby chain grocery store. I intentionally kept them separate, but treated them identically. The difference was amazingly clear. I've had the same experience with lamb, chicken, and produce. I recommend oing to farmers markets, farms, good butchers, anybody who gets beef from a happy animal.

Second, I m not sure what you mean by oak lump. Natural charcoal, as I understand, contains no wood flavors since that is all lost while making charcoal. So, it seems oak lump charcoal would give as much flavor as any other hardwood charcoal. I do not use briquettes for short cooks like steaks, veggies, etc. I have used wood chunks in a chimney starter -real wood - and let them burn down to coals, and this does give nice smokiness. My favorite, though, is to start a chimney of hardwood charcoal and then a few minutes before dumping throw in a couple of wood chunks. My favorite is mesquite, but everything is good. This gives the convenience of charcoal with plenty of smoke flavor on short cooks.

Third, I divide the cook into two to three stages, depending on the meat. The first is searing. I like a hot, hot, hot grill for this. As hot as I can get it. At a minimum, I dump the charcoals into the two holders you can by from Weber designed for indirect grilling. But I keep them together and use them for direct. Why? Because it raises the charcoal to where it is just underneath the grate. Basically he width of he grate is the distance between my meat and the coals. Depending on my mood, however, I'll eliminate the grate too and just lay he steak on the coals. Check Adam Perry-Lang's pinching method for this. Pork chops this way are stunning.

From there, the remaining stages are simply backing the meat up away from the heat to get the interior to temp. If I lay directly on he coals, stage 2 might be putting in the grate and direct grilling. Stage 3 might be putting the meat on the cool side.

You might get responses about sous vide, etc. I agree with the advantages of sous vide, and frequently do it myself. Based on my experience, however, the advantages of sous vide will be elusive if you cannot cook a steak using just a grill. I am at least 93% happy with a simple grilled steak; sous vide just adds a little awesomeness.

One more thing - as discussed in Modernist Cuisine, you want smoke from fat dripping on coals. I've cooked lamb chops directly on coals, and you need firemen's equipment to get through all the smoke. But they are so tasty...

Edit: I forgot to mention, placing meat on the coals will not give flare ups because there is not enough oxygen between the meat and the coals. But sometimes there is enough smoke to make you think the whole neighborhood is in flames...

Edited by Ttogull, 14 February 2013 - 08:25 PM.


#5 mrdecoy1970

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 08:34 PM

So you put the pork chops right on the hardwood charcoal? thanks.

#6 Ttogull

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 08:43 PM

So you put the pork chops right on the hardwood charcoal? thanks.


Yes, directly on them. Never on briquettes since those might have unnatural ingredients. Adam Perry-Lang discusses this in great detail. I tend to forget important steps that I've learned to do automatically with time. For instance, I always grab a piece of mail (why mail?) to fan the ashes off of the coals first. Even if you get ashes on the meat, it brushes right off. Sometimes coals stick to the meat, so you want to pluck them off with tongs before putting the meat on a cutting board. I learned this when grilling something and suddenly wondered where that beautiful cedar smell was coming from. It was my cutting board smoking!

#7 Baselerd

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 08:58 PM

Another easy way to cook a reasonably thick steak is a low-temp oven. Pretty foolproof too. It's described below in detail, although I prefer to throw on olive oil with rosemary and thyme.

http://modernistcuis...emp-oven-steak/

Edited by Baselerd, 14 February 2013 - 09:00 PM.


#8 FeChef

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 09:29 PM

If your looking for more flavor i think you should try a marinade. Theres lots out there. One that i like is mixing italian dressing and A1 steak sauce. Another is soy sauce, worchestershire sauce, and italian dressing. Iusually let them marinate in the fridge for a few hours.

#9 JoNorvelleWalker

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 09:29 PM

Recently I have been using this method:

http://forums.egulle...-a-thick-steak/

#10 Keith_W

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 06:32 AM

Steak is my favourite food and I have spent more time thinking about how to cook the perfect steak than I care to remember. I have constantly evolved my steak cooking method, and this is my latest thinking with my rationales behind it. Some of my recommendations might be quite controversial among the eG crowd but I don't mind a bit of debate :)

A perfect steak is juicy and flavoursome.

The juiciness comes from not overcooking the steak beyond medium rare (55C).

The flavour comes from the quality of the steak in the first place, how adequately the Maillard reactions have been developed, and whether flavours that accentuate beefiness have been added.

A good quality raw steak is one that has been grass fed, has been well slaughtered and butchered, has adequate marbling, and has had appropriate dry aging. Older cows are more flavoursome, but less tender. Corn fed cows are more tender and have better marbling, but are less beefy.

Maillard reactions - I now believe that a thinner cut of steak, cooked correctly, is more flavoursome than a thick cut of steak. Why - because the ratio of Maillardized and delicious surface to interior is greater. A thick cut steak gives you protection against overcooking, but the proportion of Maillard flavours to interior is less. The ideal steak is thin cut, has a lot of Maillard development, but is still medium rare.

Furthermore, we also know (from MC) that beef fat burning on hot coals contributes flavour.

How do I achieve this? By using a lot of heat, and a lot of resting. I have not seen this method published anywhere else, and I developed it myself ... so I think I can claim that I invented it. These are the steps before cooking:

- use a high quality steak - preferable grass fed, has excellent marbling, and has been dry aged for at least 4 weeks, and cut to 2cm thickness.
- use extremely hot coals. I heat a large amount of hardwood coals until all of them are glowing red.
- seasoning - I have experimented with early and late seasoning. I now season late - i.e. just before cooking. Do not pepper as the pepper will burn.
- added flavours - I infuse olive oil with garlic before rubbing steak with this oil. I also have beef fat offcuts - the sole purpose of this is to drip fat on the hot coals, which contributes flavour.
- refrigerate the steak to protect the interior from overcooking. Many chefs actively counsel people against cooking meat directly from the fridge, but they are concerned about overcooking the exterior before the interior is cooked. A thin cut steak needs to start from a cooler temperature, else it will be overcooked.

Cooking method:

- place the beef fat on the grill and allow it to melt and drip on the coals
- place the steak on the grill, avoiding the yellow flame from burning fat. Count to 15 then flip. Count to 15 then remove from the grill and onto a plate.
- the steak on the plate will give up heat and cool down. Place back on the heat and repeat the 15 second alternate searing method. The bursts of heat followed by resting selectively heats up the surface of the steak.
- continue until done to your liking. Or, if the surface cooks first while the interior is still raw, finish cooking in a cooler part of the grill.
- rest 15 minutes.

You will hopefully end up with a thin cut steak with a lot of Maillardized meat compared to the tender interior.
There is no love more sincere than the love of food - George Bernard Shaw

#11 budrichard

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 06:52 AM

Until we know what is meant by 'mediocre', we can't really help, but.
I mostly disagree with the above.
Discounting real Kobe beef which requires an entirely different cooking process, USDA Prime, Dry Aged and cut to your specs while you wait is the best beef for grilling in the world.
I find a supplier and have dry aged steaks cut a minimum of 2" and for more than two people, three inches.
The butcher should show you the dry aged Primal and tell you the number of days to allow you to make a decision on whether you want a steak or not.
After that it's simple really.
Lump charcoal sold these days is mostly mill tailings from wood manufacturing. We use Nature Glow, Royal Oaks commercial line.
Use a chimney starter, not lighter fluid and get the coals red hot. Season your steak with salt & pepper simply. Sear one side at a time amd don't flip back and forth, be prepared for flare from fat with a water bottle. Cook internally unitl 100F and then rest 20 to 30 minutes depending on the initial thickness. You want a nice char but not burnt crust and a proper rare is a nice pink, blood rare is not rare but raw.
I would not expect a great steak your first try nor for a while until you develop what is best for you and what you like.
Sam's beef is the lowest of the USDA Choice and can make a good steak but not an exeptional steak.-Dick
BTW if in the Midwest, get yourself to Burke's Primehouse and order a dry aged Rib steak to set the bar.

Edited by budrichard, 15 February 2013 - 06:57 AM.


#12 Ttogull

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 07:41 AM

@KeithW

Although not entirely the same, the philosophy of some of the things you do is present in Adam Perry-Lang's book, "Charred and Scruffed." He also likes late seasoning and the mid-cook rest, but IIRC does not do it to the extent you do. That's a neat idea. As I mentioned before, he likes to put stuff directly on the coals. Having done it, I cannot grill pork or lamb chops any other way as it magnifies the Maillard flavors beyond belief. Another technique that might be of interest to you is what he calls "scruffing," which is scoring the surface of the meat at a bias. According to him, it gives more nooks and crannies to develop the Maillard flavors. He says something like "the meat won't be pretty, but you can't taste pretty." For some reason, I haven't tried it, but I should.

This discussion has me longing for a hot summer day!

#13 gfweb

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 10:27 AM

I'm happy with the meat from Costco, but the local Acme Markets meat really is lousy. It looks like a nice steak, but tastes like cardboard.

Steak flavor comes mostly from seasoning, the fat, and the surface char/maillard. I cook it three ways...sous vide plus sear, grilled, or pan seared and oven finished. With good meat they all taste great.

RE "you can't taste pretty": Looks-bad-tastes-good isn't for me. It should look good.

#14 rotuts

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 11:27 AM

you might want to age the steak in the refig for 3 - 6 days. that dramatically changes the flavor. for good or bad depending on your personal taste.

then your take on the above.

#15 HungryC

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 11:49 AM

Count me as "one of those people" who thinks that supermarket beef is damn near inedible. Quit buying feed.ot beef at Sams and seek out a local source for grass fed beef. In many parts of the country, it's not too hard to find locally raised and slaughtered animals. You'll pay a little more per pound, but it won't taste like cardboard and corn.

As for cooking it, I prefer a screaming hot charcoal (good quality hardwood lump) fire. Dry the surface of the meat, rub with a little fat or butter, sprinkle with your favorite seasoning blend, and stick it close to the fire. Turn just once.

#16 rotuts

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 12:04 PM

there really are two classes of meat: grass-fed and feed-lot finished. you may like grass fed or not. its quite different that FL beef.

GF does not guarantee a steak with interstitial fat. there is good GF as there is good FL

beef is relatively expensive as a food source. eat less, but eat better of either type. if the meat is not contaminated, an aging in the refrigerator brings out a certain type of flavor.

'Prime Meat' from the olden days is rare ( :huh: ) to find and $$$.

#17 basquecook

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 04:36 PM

I'm having troubles with simply cooking a steak. I usually buy Sam's Club rib eyes that look well marbled, maybe I need to up it to "choice" or "prime" I usually take them out an hour ahead of time, salt well with kosher and fresh cracked pepper. I've grilled with oak lump, charcoal briquettes using a chimney starter, I've tried making on cast iron, all with mediocre results. Any ideas? thanks.


It has to be that you don't like the actual piece of meat you are buying at Costco. By what you described in your original post, you know how to cook a steak. It's not like you are getting grey soggy steaks, or dry over cooked steaks. Are you happy with the way the steak was cooked?

It must be you don't like Costco steaks. The next time you go somewhere and like the steak ask about it. Find out whether you like grass fed or corn fed. Try steaks that you know are dry aged. Try wet aged.

The easy way out would be to order steaks from the Internet. But it would most likely be better in the log run if you find a local place.

A steak needs very little besides a fire, sometimes it doesn't even need the fire.

If you are going to stick to the Costco steak, char it and keep it medium rare to rare, slice it, throw a bunch of salt and serve a garlicky salsa verde or chimichurri or drizzle the salty sliced meat with an awesome olive oil and drink a bunch of Tempranillo. Just keep it salty I guess.

Edited by basquecook, 15 February 2013 - 04:44 PM.


#18 paulraphael

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 06:24 PM

First, check out the thread on Alan Ducasse's method for cooking a thick steak. A lot of other methods get thrown in for comparison. Piles of information.

Second, I'd suggest being warry of grass-fed beef. It's great when it's great, which is occasionally. Most of U.S. pastureland gets way less than 12 months of green grass. This means a significant amount of a steer's diet will be hay or sillage, which contributes little flavor or marbling: the worst of both worlds. I've given up on the many grass feeding ranches here in the north east. The best I've had is from Hearst Ranch in central California, where they have 12 months of green. That was great, but a completely different great from high end of prime, grain-finished beef (preferably with a lot of dry age). The latter is hard to find retail in most parts of the country, unless you mail order it. But it remains my favorite.

Like a lot of people I'm not a proponent of grilling good quality beef. Grilling is about adding gobs of char and smoke flavor. It's not subtle. I love a nice grilled piece of meat, but when I get the really good stuff, it gets sauteed with butter, or cooked sous vide, with a pan sauce served on the side. No smoke or fire gets near it.

Edited by paulraphael, 15 February 2013 - 06:25 PM.


#19 DiggingDogFarm

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 07:11 PM

Genetics plays a bigger role in quality than diet, no matter how an Angus is fed, it'll never be a Wagyu.
Seek out a local grower with a good genetics and feed program, if not Wagyu, then Piedmontese or something similar with good marbling and quality.


~Martin

Edited by DiggingDogFarm, 15 February 2013 - 07:16 PM.

~Martin
 
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#20 FeChef

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 07:44 PM

Most steakhouses use flavor enhancers via solution or marinade. I remember ponderosa (local chain) used a brine they called a steak ager. Even the cheapest cut of meat was tender and full of flavor. I really think the OP should try a marinade before going out and spending $$$ on prime and still not being happy with the flavor. Because it sounds like he is expecting something bursting with flavor.

#21 basquecook

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 09:14 PM

to suggest someone use salad dressing as a marinade on a rib eye steak, we are talking about two different things. in my opinon, if you have to soak a steak in flavor enhancers, maybe just drink the flavor enhancers and don't bother with the steak.

it's not about the money it's about buying meat that hasn't been bred to be sold in a ponderosa.

Edited by basquecook, 15 February 2013 - 09:15 PM.


#22 DiggingDogFarm

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 09:32 PM

....in my opinion, if you have to soak a steak in flavor enhancers, maybe just drink the flavor enhancers and don't bother with the steak.


That is EXACTLY what I was thinking!!!!!! LOL

Hey, it's a heck of a lot cheaper too! :laugh:


~Martin

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#23 gfweb

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 10:10 PM

You can make cheap meat taste good (see classic French cooking) or classy cuts taste as good as they are. Part of a cook's skill is to know when to marinate a steak and when to let a steak speak for itself.

#24 basquecook

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 05:40 AM

No doubt there needs to be some cooking techniques or alteration to some of the tougher cuts of meat. Or even in Europe they will often eat the older milking cows which does not have the best meat. But the purpose of French Cooking is not to brtter these genetic nightmares we produce in this country.

You sure could add tons of salt and all sorts of sauces but, you are covering up a really terrible product. In the long run, it is best he just find a place with good steak. I do a lot of my meat purchasing from a farm a few hours a way from me. I call the rancher, he processes his cows a couple of times a year and I buy multiple ribeye steaks at one time for 7.99 a pound. I also do that with my pork most of the time. For my house, I will split a hog between my inlaws and a few of our friends.

Berkshire Pork that sells at the fancy butcher for 12 bucks a pound, I get for 2.99.

Edited by basquecook, 16 February 2013 - 05:41 AM.


#25 budrichard

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 06:47 AM

Grass fed beef in Wisconsin.
Last summer I put in an order from a farmer about 4 miles west of us who I had been buying pigs from and had gotton to know fairly well. He raises steers also and has some very good looking animals grazing.
I ordered a small 1200# steer. In our discussions, he and other farmers I have talked with locally made it very clear that you cannot raise strictly grass fed beef in Wisconsin, you have to supplement. One farmer about 40 miles away has a very extensive website extolling the virtues of his grass fed beef. Whether or not you believe the hype is up to you.
The local processor would only hang 21 days as the local inspector doesn't want anything longer.
We settled on how to cut and package, no ground beef, trim packaged so we grind our own, steaks 2", roasts 3# and the list goes on. We have used this processor for about 40 years,
Animal weighed 1157#, a couple of cents above market price.
Processing, over $400 at this time. It's been over 10years since we last bought a steer and the processing price certainly had changed.
The beef has the cleanest taste I or other family members have ever experienced, it's really astonishing how good it tastes. Now it was partially grass fed and fed corn raised on the same farm.
We decided to go back to purchasing whole animals because of the contamination problems occuring at large packing plants and the unknown source of feed for those animals. We will purchase a local lamb at the 4H Auction as we had done many years ago.
Anyway, the farmer wanted to know what we thought of the beef. He also asked about marble and whether I wanted the next one fed corn longer. I would describe the beef as USDA Choice. While I would like Prime,my wife likes the beef the way it is. We will see.
In tems of aging, hanging with the Primals still within the carcass, doesn't do to much. The processor does not dry age the Primals once removed from the carcass. For the next beef, I am going to speak with the Inspector about dry aging the Primals. I'm not sure what his jurisdiction is after hanging and processing but it seems like the dry aging I am familiar with in both restaurants and butcher shops, is all done in house so to speak.
So at least here in SE Wisconsin, 100% grass fed beef is not possible, Prime as we already know is a hard target to hit which is why Luger's selects which Primals they Dry Age. Dry Aged beef from a local processor doesn't look possible but I need to do some more investigation.
The beef we purchased exceeds our expectations but there is a trade off between a Choice 21 day hanging steak and a Prime Dry aged steak. In my case, I want to avoid factory beef as much as possible and only source my beef, pork, lamb, fowl locally.
So I think for the future I will confine my Dry Aged steak eating to David Burke's Prime House.-Dick

#26 rotuts

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 07:05 AM

thanks for the 'tip' on David Burke's Prime House
i went to their site and will be drooling all day

I also appreciated that you can order and take home some of their meat and deal with it yourself.

what a treat that would be. has anyone done this?

Yum Yum.

#27 gfweb

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 08:25 AM

Grass fed beef in Wisconsin.
Last summer I put in an order from a farmer about 4 miles west of us who I had been buying pigs from and had gotton to know fairly well. He raises steers also and has some very good looking animals grazing.
I ordered a small 1200# steer. In our discussions, he and other farmers I have talked with locally made it very clear that you cannot raise strictly grass fed beef in Wisconsin, you have to supplement. One farmer about 40 miles away has a very extensive website extolling the virtues of his grass fed beef. Whether or not you believe the hype is up to you.
The local processor would only hang 21 days as the local inspector doesn't want anything longer.
We settled on how to cut and package, no ground beef, trim packaged so we grind our own, steaks 2", roasts 3# and the list goes on. We have used this processor for about 40 years,
Animal weighed 1157#, a couple of cents above market price.
Processing, over $400 at this time. It's been over 10years since we last bought a steer and the processing price certainly had changed.
The beef has the cleanest taste I or other family members have ever experienced, it's really astonishing how good it tastes. Now it was partially grass fed and fed corn raised on the same farm.
We decided to go back to purchasing whole animals because of the contamination problems occuring at large packing plants and the unknown source of feed for those animals. We will purchase a local lamb at the 4H Auction as we had done many years ago.
Anyway, the farmer wanted to know what we thought of the beef. He also asked about marble and whether I wanted the next one fed corn longer. I would describe the beef as USDA Choice. While I would like Prime,my wife likes the beef the way it is. We will see.
In tems of aging, hanging with the Primals still within the carcass, doesn't do to much. The processor does not dry age the Primals once removed from the carcass. For the next beef, I am going to speak with the Inspector about dry aging the Primals. I'm not sure what his jurisdiction is after hanging and processing but it seems like the dry aging I am familiar with in both restaurants and butcher shops, is all done in house so to speak.
So at least here in SE Wisconsin, 100% grass fed beef is not possible, Prime as we already know is a hard target to hit which is why Luger's selects which Primals they Dry Age. Dry Aged beef from a local processor doesn't look possible but I need to do some more investigation.
The beef we purchased exceeds our expectations but there is a trade off between a Choice 21 day hanging steak and a Prime Dry aged steak. In my case, I want to avoid factory beef as much as possible and only source my beef, pork, lamb, fowl locally.
So I think for the future I will confine my Dry Aged steak eating to David Burke's Prime House.-Dick


Do you find that freezing has any effect on the beef?

#28 budrichard

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 04:21 AM

"Do you find that freezing has any effect on the beef? "

To answer that question quantatatively we would have to perform blind tasting with beef from the same carcass unfrozen and frozen then thawed and both prepared the same.
To answer that question qualitatively, no.
When thawing, the beef has practically no moisture that is in the wrap.
My son who does the grinding of the trim says that the trim has very low moisture compared to an unfrozen round of factory sirloin that we would purchase and grind.

Burke's has the ability to put the best crust I have ever experienced on a steak whether with just with a commercial broiler or finished in a salamander, I don't know. I cannot prepare a steak at home on coals or in my Viking with its ferocious broiler as god as Burke's.
Go to Burke's, order nothing but steak. You will be happy.-Dick

#29 rotuts

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 05:37 AM

then bring a couple of steaks home for the freezer/SV !

#30 pufin3

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 08:15 AM

Steak houses' and other places that serve a lot of steak by them from commercial butcher shops. The average grocery store shopper will never get their hands on the same quality. The meat is likely air dried longer meaning it contains less water. But the steak house factors this into their price to their customer. That's the most important element.
Steak houses etc often use a drop of liquid smoke rubbed on the steak.'Try this: From a busy local butcher spend the money to buy say a couple of bones thick rib eye. Room temperature of course. Medium hot grill. Not screaming hot. Black pepper gives off a bitter flavor when the oils in it get scorched. Rub the steak on both sides with a good quality balsamic vinegar. This will caramelize and help with that nice dark surface you want. Grill to 5 degrees F less than you want the steak to 'finish' at. Let the steak rest longer than you might think you should. Steak could be eaten at just above room temperature. Check this outhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bk96BgsXMFg