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Alberta Beef


Rosie
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SteveW:

I hope you do not mind me "butting" in with regard to your question to Junior.

I would not agree that Cdn Angus beef is "junk".  Quite the contrary.  Certainly the striploins I buy from Urban Fare are delicious.  Nicely marbled, very tender.

In Edmonton I would not say that there is a particularly good steakhouse.  I guess the closest to a true steakhouse would be Hy's.  I am not a fan.  Most of the better restaurants serve decent steaks but are not steakhouses per se.  Some serve Triple A.  Have never seen prime.  Occasionaly, "Kobe" beef produced in Alberta or Idaho makes an appearance.

In Calgary there are more steakhouses.  Caesar's, Hy's, Smugglers, Carvers, Owl's Nest [more old fashioned fine dining than a steakhouse].

I don't understand how Kobe beef can come from Alberta or Idaho. Are there really ranches or farms that raise and finish beef the same way as in Kobe? It is is prohibitively expensive in Japan, and would be unmarketable here.

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I don't understand how Kobe beef can come from Alberta or Idaho. Are there really ranches or farms that raise and finish beef the same way as in Kobe? It is is prohibitively expensive in Japan, and would be unmarketable here.

Jayt90:

I am not in the cattle...Kobe or otherwise...raising industry so cannot vouch for the methods employed.

My knowledge of the Japanese rearing of Kobe beef is probably limited to my reading of the James Bond novel many years ago which was centred in Japan :biggrin:

However, American Kobe beef or Kobe-styled beef is certainly sold locally. It may not be AS expensive as Kobe beef from Japan if you could get the same here [i believe it may still be banned as a result of their "mad cow" issues] but it is REAL expensive comparitively speaking nevertheless.

I do not know of the name of the Alberta producer. A chef who is a friend of mine did not tell me the name but he does have an Albertan supplier.

Snakeriver Farms from Idaho was producing the product Urban Fair was selling.

www.snakeriverfarms.com

You can draw your own conclusions.

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Merlin I respect your opinion in regards to Canadian Angus beef. Could we be talking about different Canadian Angus beef? There seems to be several different Canadian Angus beef programs around. I'm thinking about Candian Certified Angus(CCA). It has since been replaced by the name Angus Pride(with slightly higher standards). Maybe the best Alberta beef are kept in Alberta(similiar to the effect that NYC gets the best USDA Prime produced). I've tasted several times CCA at 2-3 different Montreal steakhouses, & have never been impressed. I've talked to several Montreal steakhouse owners who have tried Candian Angus beef, & they're not impressed, & say the product is inconsistent.

I've tried Sterling Silver beef numerous times, & have been impressed. Is Sterling Silver the best branded Canadian beef around(all their beef are Triple A)? Interested to getting more opinions on what's being discussed here. Merlin thanks for your imput.

-Steve

Edited by SteveW (log)
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  • 2 weeks later...

My perspective on the differences in steak from different places or different grades -

I live in a place - Hong Kong - that's unusual in that there few import restrictions on food products. So in my building, I can buy rib-eye - the best cut, IMHO - steaks from, at least before the current mad cow nonsense:

Canada

USA

Japan

Australia

New Zealand

Argentina

in a variety of regular and premium grades, all at prices ranging from very high to absolutely insane. Plus I have connections with a meat wholesaler here, where I can get Australian regular, Certified Angus and Organic beef, at more rational prices. And I've cooked them all in the last few years, usually the same way: grilled medium rare on a cast-iron grill pan with a little cracked pepper and sea salt. My conclusion as to which was best?

The one that's best marbled. Country of origin made far less difference.

And marbling varies greatly from primal cut to primal cut, even within a grade. Sometimes I'll find some regular Aussie meat that's better marbled (and far cheaper) than top American Angus. You have to buy steaks by looking at them. There's no magic brand or grade that guarantees the best meat. When beef is graded, it's very difficult for the inspector (who is usually looking at a side of beef, not a primal cut) to know how evenly the fat will be speckled through the rib muscle. Really good steak houses, like Peter Lugar in NYC, use their own staff to select their meat after it has been partly butchered, they don't just rely on grading. If you're eating at a steak house, you have to rely on their reputation, not the grade or brand or country of beef they claim to be serving - which you have no way of verifying anyway.

My personal approach is to be friendly to my butcher. Once she knows that you can appreciate the good stuff (hint: ask her to cut you some rib steaks from the small 'prime' end of the primal cut rather than the tougher but larger 'standing' end) you'll get some great quality. I recently was at my supplier and was able to pick up a 3-bone rib roast - Aussie Angus, in this case - which had the most amazing marbling I've seen anywhere. Hey, someone has to get the good stuff. I cooked it as for prime rib, and it was suck-it-through-your-teeth tender. It's been a while since I've bought meat in Vancouver, but the folks I used to make sure I was friends with were Jackson's Meats on 4th Ave. Are they still there?

This is an over-simplification of a complex topic. Grain-finished beef (white fat) is usually more tender but less flavorful than grass-fed (yellow fat), but in North America you're unlikely to see grass fed. Also, dry aging, properly done, makes a difference, but is now getting so rare that it's barely worth discussing. Wet aging is a meaningless term - it's a storage method, not a way to make meat tender or to add flavor.

To answer the earlier question about how you can get Kobe beef that's not from Kobe - what you're getting is extremely well-marbled beef from Wagyu (or Wagyu cross) cattle, the same breed as used for Kobe. Because of the BSE-related difficulties in shipping beef between countries, Wagyu are now farmed in Australia, Canada and USA. I feel the Kobe level of marbling is excessive for steak, it lends itself more to Japanese style preparations. If you do use Kobe for steak, don't take it much past rare or you're wasting money. For that matter, don't take any decent steak past medium or you're wasting your money. For well-done, just use something cheap or old.

Cheers

Hong Kong Dave

Edited by HKDave (log)

Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.

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I dont go out when I am looking for a good steak.

I am a resident of Calgary Alberta, and a huge supporter of the Canadian Beef industry.

The reason I dont go out to have a good steak is because I can cook for myself equal to, if not better then most steak places.

I personally love to get an extra thick AAA Alberta Beef tenderloin or rib eye, oil, salt and pepper, and then grill or broil it until its rare/medium rare.

I just love the flavor of grain feed Alberta beef, I am currently home on a work term, but when I was in Waterloo @ school last semester, I tried some Ontario beef, done up the same way so I could taste the meat itself, since Ontario beef is supposedly corn fed, there was a different taste to the steak, I prefer Alberta Beef, but Ontario beef could grow on me.

I really dont think you can have a good steak any other way, just a little salt and pepper. :wub:

*edit*

Thanks for pointing out the typo jayhay,

Edited by FireWire (log)
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I personally love to get an extra thick AAA Alberta Beef tenderloin or rib eye, oil, salt and pepper, and then grill or boil it until its rare/medium rare.

Hope you meant to type "broil".... :shock:

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Steve W Sterling Silver is the top 5% of the beef produced in Canada. So I am not sure whether or not where it comes from. I'm pretty sure most of it comes from Western Canada.

For me i know about steakhouses in Calgary, Winnipeg, and Saskatoon. I cooked at Carvers in Saskatoon and we used Sterling Silver beef all the time. The other major butcher in Saskatoon carries Certified Angus. As for there being different Angus brands that are certified. I can not see the government doing this ?

This beef (Sterling Silver) is less marbled than American beef but I think that why there are such differences in opinion about both kinds.

I recently saw a documentary on Wagyu beef in... I didn;t catch where. It was on CBC but again I did not catch the show it was on. The owner was ayoung Asian fellow who worked over in Japan with Wagyu beef there and came back and started his own ranch.

I am opening my own restaurnat in the fall and we are working with some area ranchers to get our own beef for the restaurant. We are hoping that this beef will be of superior quality to Sterling Silver. All 3 farms are ceritifed organic. The beef is slaughtered at a Provincailly inspected butcher and then will be sent to us. Steve W I would invivte you to come to Saskatoon in September to try some of our steaks. Acutally we'll make that invite to anybody who is in the area to stop in.

Dan Walker

Chef/Owner

Weczeria Restaurant

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Sterling Silver is a brand name used by Cargill, one of the International mega-companies in the meatpacking biz. It's not an official grade of beef, it's a Cargill marketing concept.

In Canada, Cargill's plant is in High River, Alberta, so all 'Sterling Silver' beef in Canada does get packed in Alberta. They take the good stuff off the same line as everything else and sell it at a higher price as 'Sterling Silver'. But there's no special place or breed where 'Sterling Silver' cattle come from, they're beef cattle that get trucked in from anywhere.

'Certified Angus' is the same idea - it's a brand-name marketing concept, not an official grade. In fact, for Canada it comes from the same Cargill High River plant as Sterling Silver, as well as from other meatpackers. Doesn't mean it's bad - quite the opposite, both Sterling Silver and Certified Angus are usually pretty good - but there's still no substitute for looking at your meat when you buy it. You can buy excellent quality - in your case, Canada Prime - unbranded (as in no brand name, not as in no brands on the cattle!) beef that's better marbled than brand-name beef, for less money.

Here's what Canada's official meat grades mean:

http://www.telusplanet.net/public/cbga2/grades.html

And here's what 'Sterling Silver' means:

http://www.ams.usda.gov/lsg/certprog/Schedules/schedG-2.htm

I suspect it's the same spec in Cargill's US and Canada plants.

Basically, if you can learn to recognize good marbling, you can do better shopping on your own.

- Hong Kong Dave

Edited by HKDave (log)

Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.

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Can anyone out there tell me why beef comes in different colours? I noticed some beef is a very bright red whereas other beef has a brown colour. Does the colour change when the beef is aged? Is the colour a sign of quality at all?

Thanks!

Cherie

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Can anyone out there tell me why beef comes in different colours?

To start with, anyone with any interest should check out Steingarten's wonderful piece on dry-aged beef in _It Must've Been Something I Ate,_ "High Steaks," if they haven't already.

Anyway, when the myoglobin in blood is exposed to oxygen, it turns bright red. In the absence of air, it is a dark, purple-ish colour. This is why the blood in your veins appears blue while that in your arteries red. You will likely never really see blue blood: as soon as you cut yourself and it is exposed it saturates with oxygen.

Some purveyors of meat (Safeway) will wrap their product in permeable film because consumers seem to acquaint bright-red meat with freshness. This is somewhat true: old blood/meat doesn't go red as readily. Thus, after some time exposed to air in this manner, beef (esp. ground beef) will turn greyish-brown. This is a bad thing, esp. if everything below the surface doesn't regain it's flush in the open air.

At the same time, a nice, aged piece of beef will also be somewhat brown, but a darked, mahogany colour, a burnished reddish-brown, more on the outside of a primal cut than in a single steak itself. So, just look out for the slimy, truly brown-grey ones. Those are probably rotten. : ) Also, if it smells bad, it is. You will know.

Buy your meat from a reputable source and you will not have to worry about all this. You are never going to know by looking at a wrapped up cut how long it's been aged, the method of aging, freshness, the quality of the source product, etc., and that's what's important!

Also, you could search on Google for "aged steak color" (sic.) which will deliver unto you a wide variety of pages saying somewhat what I said above.

For what it's worth, buy no meat whatsoever at Safeway (incl. poultry and esp. not seafood!). They are known to repackage it when it gets old, and I am convinced sometimes it is aged not at all it is so tough and tasteless. Plus I have never seen a nicely marbled cut.

If you're in Calgary, the best steak I've had in my life was from a place called Andy's in Avenida. I cooked it myself, and did a somewhat worse job than usual, and it was still better than any steak at any of the steak houses, which are usually absolutely wonderful at any rate. I have friends who like Co-Op as well, and their meat frequently has that appealing, kinda-dead-red look, instead of looking like it's been dyed, so that might be a good choice too (though, their customers also seem to like meat with no marbling!).

You will pay more for good beef, but IMO anything less isn't worth eating, and the price difference isn't that great. Otherwise, tofu is tastier, tenderer, healthier, cheaper, and doesn't rape the earth/starve the hungry. The rest of you Albertans can boo all you want, it's a dirty industry as far as I'm concerned.

As far as branding, I too have been disappointed in Angus and Sterling Silver. I've tried Galloway a few times, which is from Galloway cattle raised locally, and it's been usually flavourful but not so tender. Also pricey. You can purchase a number of organic/local options at Community Natural Foods I believe. Also Fleur de Sel on 4th Street offers a Galloway ribeye.

I think if you want the best beef you have to avoid the typical retail channels, as was mentioned, and try to get something from local ranchers, or a local butcher who has done that for you. Try farmers' markets, too. This will be organic, tastily-fed, long hung, dry-aged beef, although I don't think anyone goes over about 28 days, which is disappointing.

Edited by dillybravo (log)
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  • 5 months later...

Hi all; I do not know about egullet policy of puling old post out of the dust, but I felt that this post did not really fulfill its quest, with all that has happened in the last year in Canada with the beef scare and the flu epidemic with chicken in the lower mainland in BC, I felt that I needed to bring on further discussions to specifically the Canadian beef industry and all the logistic companies involved.

Firstly I would like to say Canada does not even have free trade within its own borders, protectionism runs rampant in this huge nation with its small population mostly situated near our American cousins, especially the Golden Triangle, Ottawa-Toronto, and Montreal.

Secondly the West, specifically Alberta and BC and the Industries relationship with the US producers, from what I can gather from this Canadian beef crises, the relationships which where relatively hidden from us the consumers, a crack in the armor of the big producers showed the huge flows in the whole system.

Canada specifically Alberta is one of the biggest growers but does not necessarily process their own product, the US ban has really showed the huge weakness in the current system of production and logistics, the main victim here has become as usual the lonely farmer, the got caught holding the bag for the producers, Cargill come up with huge profits on the backs of the consumer and especially once again the farmer. WHY?

Well from what I could gather is they control the flow of beef and these companies are multilateral meaning there really is no border for them. Canadian beef is grown in Canada but can be process in the US then shipped back to Canada, I do not know the numbers but judging by the crises in the Western Beef Industry it must be very significant. these companies had the gull to except money from the Alberta government to assist in the Blow of the mad cow Scare, this assistance went to their bottom lines; I was really happy with King Klein’s straight up approach with the Producers, lets see your books he insisted empirically, wow it took a court of law to force them to reveal their bottom lines, prove it he insisted, well when the dust settled, this inquiry showed that these multinational companies profited off the mad cow scare, really of the backs of Ranchers, talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

the BC system seems to not focus on Canadian beef but what is the cheapest, that is the whole logistic system, the wholesalers, the have no alliances to Canada, they buy Aussie Beef and push it with wild abandonment, with no regard to the Canadian economy, I have never understood this mind set being a chef and restaurateur for my whole life I am set aback by this lack of Canadianism, we would sell our Grandmother to save 50 cents a pound, come on where is your nationalism.

I am going to give a example of the huge trade problems within Canada, but it is related to chicken, sorry it is not beef but it is really related and I know more about the specifics and I feel it is really related to the same crises the beef industry has had, also it is really related to my closing statement of this essay and that has to do with free trade within Canada and its effects and its relationship to NAFTA, GATT and the WTO, we sell our selves short, cut of our nose to spite our face.

British Colombia's Chicken Marketing Boards run on a quota system, you purchase quotas that enable you to produce a amount of chicken for each quota, in BC most producers are federally inspected, the first thing I noticed this year when the Lower Mainland had its crises was there are no federally inspected plants on Vancouver Island, all the quotas where sold off to the lower mainland. This in my opinion is the reason the whole system collapsed, if there was at least one federal producer on the island this would have kept the system going, and the system could have had chicks to help the mainland producers out when the flu ran its course, but no, the system bit of its own hand for their own shortsightedness, why is my question is their no federal producers on the island?; and why is the control of production only in the hands of the few, also farmers with quotas before the flu epidemic are not producing to capacity, they keep the price high by having low volume, that is why the call the supply management system, which in my opinion is got to go, we need to get free trade in our own Country, before we loose it all to world trade, the WTO now supercedes all trade agreements we have with you the United States. The WTO is trying very hard to abolish all our supply management systems, which now play the game for their own benefit, not the whole benefit of the farmer, grower, rancher or consumer, these big companies are profiting on the backs of Canada’s old socialist system, The Supply management system, it is out dated and hides under wolfs who dress in sheep’s clothing, the federal government must relinquish power and get our Agriculture industry back in business and enable farmers to compete on the world stage; we are no longer a provincial society, we are a global village competing against each other, this is the Multinational , not the farmers.

Cargill, Monsanto and Adm have no country to call home, the only have share holders, who live all over the world, let us bring the power back to the farmer and the consumer.

Quebec and Ontario hold all the cards, the are the biggest producers and have all the national quotas, changing the rules of the game to meat( pun) ( was a spelling error but kept it in cause I thought it was funny) their own needs, but all the other players are still playing the game by the old rules, let us open up this great country to our selves and develop the infrastructure that will enable us to compete in this global market place, because if we do not we will get slaughtered like a lamb going to market.

Quebec and Ontario are trading quotas like the stock market but why can not other Provinces do this, Quebec produces more cheese then almost all the other Provinces put together, this results because of old trading problems the two provinces had in the past, the marketing boards were put in place to accommodate their needs not the whole interests of the whole Country, bring the power back to the Western Provinces not Ottawa, The queen does not have the interest of us at heart, they do not need Westerners to win the election, also what do a bunch of bureaucrats in Ottawa know about framers needs in the west or even the Consumer, the restaurant industry pays through the nose for all these commodities, why should, butter, cheese, milk, beef and eggs be the price they are, because they are subsidized , oh no I said it; that is the WTO argument right now and they are winning in international trade court. We all have to work so why is it that you, mostly the big three benefit from our old socialist system, that is so out of date and is not fare to the whole Canadian Market, there is so many spinners in the Government keeping us fearful of the catastrophe that will occur when we relinquish the power, as the band REM said “ it is the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine”

I would feel great if we could make a living running a restaurant, we pay so much taxes and do all the work for the Government, I for one do not want to subsidize agriculture any more; if you can not run your farm and make a living get out, but it is not the farmers fault it is the big three, they control all the commodities in the world but keeping the Supply management system will not keep the wolves at bay it is only keeping them hidden, soon all farms will be owned by them, I feel we will have a chance to compete when we can get top dollar for the product, a real supply and demand system, think globally and buy locally this is where the future is, not with the supply management system.

Cook To Live; Live To Cook
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stovetop, you make some excellent, valid points in your post, not the least of which deals with the problems of trade within Canada and across provincial borders. This situation was worse 10 years ago, granted, but is still at a level that is incomprehensible to other large countries such as the USA.

I have noticed recently that there are a few private butchers in the large cities with contacts in Alberta etc. that are able to buy and sell some great Canadian beef, however this is still the exception, not the norm. One hopes this will change in the near future.

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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