Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tallgrass Beef Follow Up

A couple of weeks ago, in anticipation of Bill Kurtis guesting on The Gourmet Club, I ordered the new customer introductory package of beef from his Tallgrass Beef company. The package includes one pound of ground beef, an eight-ounce flatiron steak, a 14-ounce ribeye, one pound of fajita meat and four two-ounce patties. The package costs $49.95 plus shipping. For me, the total came to $76.02. And, instead of the promised flatiron, I got a culotte steak.

I received the package a week later, courtesy of a reusable cooler stocked with dry ice. I decided to try the culotte steak first. This is a top sirloin capsteak--very flavorful but because it's so lean, it needs a lot of marinating. I put together a Meyer lemon vinaigrette and let the two sit together for about three hours before running the steak under the broiler.

Meyer Lemon marinade/vinaigrette

Grated lemon peel from one Meyer lemon

Juice from half a Meyer lemon (about ¼ cup)

3 cloves minced garlic

1 tsp champagne mustard

1 tsp minced fresh rosemary

Salt and pepper or red pepper flakes to taste

½ cup olive oil

Mix together all ingredients except olive oil, then slowly drizzle in olive oil using a small whisk to emulsify the marinade.

Enough for two small steaks

And the verdict? The little steak was very tender and very tasty. Could I immediately tell the difference between the flavor of this beef from grass-fed cattle and the usual corn-fed variety? Not really. But I probably should have bought something equivalent from the supermarket to do a side-by-side taste test. I still have the others to try and may just do that.

But, I think the bottom line is balancing health and environmental benefits with cost. Certainly, eating free-range grass-fed meat is better for us and better for the animals -- and better for the earth. I like what Bill Kurtis and the ranchers he works with are doing. The challenge is that Tallgrass has a $99 minimal order rule and let's face it, the additional $26 I spent on shipping could have been spent on more meat. This could be one of those situations in which you do a group order with friends. Or it could mean trying to find something similar that's a little closer to home.

One option I'm going to try comes from a grass-fed beef producer out of Uruguay called Estancia Beef. Okay, this is a lot farther from home -- and this causes concerns in terms of the environment -- but the beef is now being sold in San Diego at Boney's Bayside Market in Coronado so my money will go a lot farther. According to the press release, Estancia beef has been a menu item in high-end San Francisco restaurants and is showing up in top LA restaurants as well. This is the first time it's being sold in San Diego.

Have some thoughts about buying meat in San Diego? Do you have a favorite neighborhood market or shop that carries unique or unusual foodstuff? Let me know or add to the conversation by clicking on comments below:

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