Making High End Beef Accessible

Posted by: Great East ButcherPosted on: 10-26-2020
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When I took over as General Manager at The Great East Butcher Co. in February of 2020; two of my bigger, more ambitious missions involved bringing high end, specialty products to our customer base for a more accessible price. I came from a long background in fine-dining, and I knew exactly how wide of a gap there was between what people were paying for steaks, and what they actually cost. 

First, I had to start with our own house dry aging, because it would obviously take time to produce. I only use local beef for our house dry aging. Maine Family Farms, and Pineland farms Ribeye. I knew that I could make it more approachable to the average person, if I did it right. So, I set up a rack, in our walk-in cooler, and started aging. I had previously bought dry-aged beef for restaurants I ran, for anywhere between $35 and $60 per pound, I knew that we could do better, and we have. Our 30 day dry-aged ribeyes sell for only $27.99 per pound, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

Next, I had to tackle the task of getting Wagyu beef in, and to sell it for a price that would work for people who weren’t necessarily educated on Wagyu, or why it is so expensive. I went through several vendors for samples, and finally landed on one of our best beef vendors, who had channels to import it from Australia. Australia has the second largest purebred Wagyu population in the world, behind the breed’s home: Japan. Their products are never bred out with less expensive caddle, and they follow the same strict guidelines, and certification processes as their japanese colleagues. Offering A4, and A5 Wagyu for under $40 per pound is pretty unheard of, but I promised myself we would do it, and we have. 

Ribeyes, Sirloins, Tomahawk steaks, and even Briskets have sold so much faster than I had anticipated. Clearly there was an unknown demand for these products that we were happy to fill.

I have a lot of people come in that are (rightfully) nervous about cooking their first Wagyu or dry-aged steak. It is a lot of money to spend on something that may get burned, or cooked poorly if you go into the experience blindly. So, I thought I would cover my favorite way to cook both types. 

Wagyu (Grill): So, Wagyu is known for their dense, and rich intramuscular fat marbling. They have a distinct “beefier” flavor that you really don’t want to mess with too much. So here’s what you’ll need:

-1 ¼” to 1 ½” Wagyu Ribeye

-Sea Salt (not too fine)

-Freshly ground black pepper

-Digital Probe Thermometer

So, unwrap your steak(s) and place it on a plate, on your countertop or 30-40 minutes, to come up to room temperature. This step is crucial to making sure you can bring the middle of the steak up to medium rare without burning the outside of it.

While that’s coming up to temp, preheat your grill on the highest setting, closed. The secret to a perfect steak is getting it cooked as fast as possible.

Once the grill is hot, and the steak is ready, salt one side of the steak liberally, place the steak on the grill, salt side down and press it down a little to ensure solid contact with the grill, now salt the other side. If you don’t hear a sizzle, take it off and wait for the grill to be really hot

Let the steak sear for about 90 seconds, then rotate it 90* (for those nice grill marks). After another 90 seconds, give it a flip, press down lightly again for contact, sear, rotate, and insert your thermometer into the very middle of the steak. You want an internal temperature of 125*F-128*F for a Medium-rare steak

Once internal temperature is reached, take your steak off the grill to rest, on a plate or cutting board for at least 8 minutes. Apply your black pepper to one side, flip the steak, and pepper the other side. We wait until the very end to add pepper, so that it will not burn. The warmth, and fat from the steak will aso wake up some of the oils from the pepper, making a much nicer flavor profile. 

Slice your steak in ⅓ slices against the grain (which runs top to bottom on a ribeye) amd enjoy!

Dry-Aged Ribeye (Pan): Dry-aging beef does more to the quality, and flavor of the meat than one can really explain. It removes excess moisture, causes the flavor to concentrate, and produces beautiful nutty flavors, like no other meat really has. Here’s what you’ll need:

-1 ¼” to 1 ½” Dry-aged Ribeye

-½ stick salted butter (I prefer Kerrigold)

-2 cloves of fresh garlic lightly crushed with the side of a knife, but still in one piece

-1 sprig fresh rosemary

-2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme

-neutral oil (I prefer Canola, just don’t use olive oil)

-Kosher salt

-Fresh ground black pepper

We’re going to start basically the same way, let your steak come up to temperature on a plate, preheat a frying pan, cast iron if you have it, on medium high heat, coat the bottom of the pan with canola oil, salt one side of your steak, and place it VERY CAREFULLY  into the hot pan laying the steak AWAY from you. Just like before if you don’t hear a sizzle your pan is not hot enough.

Let the steak sear on that side for about 3 minutes, or until a nice crust forms, grab it with some metal tongs and take a peek. You should be hear the sizzle the entire time, otherwise you are boiling the steak, not frying it. 

Now, once you have your sear, salt the other side, flip your steak, and pour out the excess oil into a mason jar, and set it aside to cool. Allow the steak to sear for about 30 seconds.

Place your butter, garlic, and herbes in the pan. Tilt the pan carefully toward, take a metal spoon, and start basting, just scoop up some melted butter from the edge of the tilted pan, and put it on top of the steak, over and over for about two minutes.

When the garlic, and herbs start to brown, place them on top of the steak, and continue to baste, tossing the melted butter on top of the herds, garlic, and steak. 

Once your steak reached 125*F-128*F take it out of the pan, place it on a plate or cutting board to rest. Make sure the herbs, and garlic are still on top of the steak, give it one last baste from the pan, and allow it to rest for 8-10 minutes, from and discard the garlic and herbs, slice your steak against the grain in ⅓” strips, top with fresh cracked black pepper, and enjoy!

Masking steaks takes a little practice, but it’s well worth the money, and time to learn. It enables you to treat your family to restaurant quality meals at a fraction of the price, and nothing impresses like a perfectly cooked steak.

-David

“Keep your knives sharp, and be patient.”

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