Minneapolis meat advice. Butcher recommendations & meat related questions.
October 1, 2008 9:22 AM   Subscribe

I am an ex-vegetarian (7 years) that is looking for some STEAK related advice.

1. I live in South Minneapolis (near Richfield). Does anyone have a butcher recommendation in that area? I just had a bad experience with Cub foods with some salmon so I am looking for some reasonably priced alternatives.

2. Does it make sense to freeze steaks or can you notice a big difference when they are frozen/thawed?

3. What cuts of beef would you recommend for someone that likes filet mingon (t-bone freaks me out)?
posted by rdurbin to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
1. Clancy's. In Linden Hills (4307 Upton Ave. S). If you're near Richfield, you should be able to get over to Upton Avenue and just take it north into the Linden Hill's neighborhood.

Clancy's, however, is not always the cheapest option. But the meat there is of amazing quality and the staff know their products very well.

2. I personally don't notice a difference.

Can't help you with number 3, but the staff at Clancy's certainly could.
posted by iwhitney at 9:32 AM on October 1, 2008

This doesn't directly answer your question, but I would get a copy of The Complete Meat Cookbook - it has a lot of meat related knowledge and has definitely improved my ability to cook meat.

As for cuts of beef I would maybe try ribeye steaks - they're still pretty tender but more flavorful than filet.
posted by pombe at 9:34 AM on October 1, 2008

I wouldn't freeze a good raw steak. Never the same. If you have to, cook it first THEN freeze it. Once thawed and heated up it can be very good indeed.

If you like filet mignon you probably want to go for the less fatty cuts like sirloin. However these less fatty cuts like to be cooked rare or medium rare, because they dry out if you go much further than that. If you like your steaks well done, go for something with a lot more intramuscular fat like a ribeye.

A good butcher will discourse happily and endlessly on this stuff. I personally have found that the best meat is almost always sourced locally, and the butcher who carries a lot of local meat is likely to be the good one.
posted by unSane at 9:35 AM on October 1, 2008

1) Everett's Foods. It is like a time machine to old time butcher shops. 1833 E 38th St
Minneapolis, MN 55407 (612) 729-6626 (awesome display case, and I have to say i am very partial to their jerky.)

2) If you buy a frozen steak, it's OK. But don't buy a good cut of meat to freeze and eat later. A frozen steak that I always found good: No Name Steaks. You can find them on sale often enough at Cub or Rainbow with a coupon.

2) I'm with unsane as far as letter your butcher put you in the right direction and the people at Everett's are the perfect folks to talk to. When i go out to eat and see a hanger steak on the menu, I will order it - it's is fantastic.
posted by wocka wocka wocka at 10:09 AM on October 1, 2008

Stupid easy indoor steak recipe:

Get a flank steak. Flank steaks are long striated pieces of muscle from the belly of the cow. They're relatively lean, and tougher (and therefore cheaper) than many other cuts. A two-pound flank steak (ie, dinner for two with some left for sammiches) should run about $15 bucks. You can also use the (even cheaper) London broil or even a top sirloin, but a flank steak will give you the best results.

Now make a marinade. In a mixing bowl, put two ounces of teriyaki sauce, four ounces of orange juice, a dash of garlic powder, the juice of one lime, a dash of Worchestershire sauce, and the secret ingredient.... love. OK, not really. The secret ingredient is Italian dressing. Use about two ounces of it. If you don't have Italian dressing, use some olive oil, red wine vinegar, and oregano.

Then get all stabby! Using a fork, repeatedly stab the flank steak all over. It is fun to do this while screaming the name of a sworn enemy. Once the flank steak has been thoroughly perforated, pour the marinade over it. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

THIS PART IS IMPORTANT! This marinated flank steak is a pretty thin piece of meat, and it's going to cook quickly. Especially because we're going to cook it under a hot, hot, hot broiler. But. We don't want it raw in the middle, and we don't want it well done. The best way to achieve a medium rare is to make sure the steak is at room temperature when it goes under the broiler. So pull it from the fridge a couple of hours before you plan to cook it! Just leave it covered on the counter.

When you're ready to cook it, pull it out of the marinade and place it in a broiling pan. Place it under a blazing hot broiler. It's gonna smoke, and it's gonna curl up at the ends. Let it. You want to broil it about three minutes on each side, maybe more, depending on the temperature of your broiler and the height of the rack. When it's done, let it rest about five minutes (this will allow the inside to cook a bit more as the steak resorbs some liquid) and slice it in THIN SLICES ACROSS THE GRAIN. It should have a nice crisp brown crust on the outside and a warm pink center.

Om nom nom.

The great part of this recipe is that once you get your marinade down, you can make this with less than ten minutes of prep and ten minutes of cook time.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:11 AM on October 1, 2008 [7 favorites]

I'll offer up my steak recipe:

Eye of round. It's tender anyway, but I tenderize all of my steaks with a cheaper version of this. Rub in some seasoning salt. I use Johnny's. Don't cook it cold. Let it come closer to room temp. Pan or griddle-fry with butter.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 10:35 AM on October 1, 2008

I don't tenderize steak or marinade it. I just buy a good thick cut, sirloin, ribeye, whatever. As others say, let it reach room temperature. Rub with olive oil, then lots of ground pepper and sea salt on the outside, plus whatever fresh herbs you can lay your hands on, some garlic if you want.

Then cook it fast and searingly hot. It's not easy to do indoors without filling the entire room with smoke, which is why I use the BBQ. I whack it with the tongs to see if it's done... as soon as it stops feeling flabby, it's off the grill and into aluminum foil to rest for four or five minutes.

For cheaper/tougher cuts the marinade is a godsend though. Balsamic vinegar and oil plus all the good stuff described above is excellent and easy. Basically, it's vinaigrette, but lighter on the oil than you would use for a salad.
posted by unSane at 11:08 AM on October 1, 2008

Costco has good steak. So does Sam's Club. If you like filets, the raw cut you want to look for at the butcher is generally called a tenderloin steak.

I've found that freezing steaks in the refrigerator/freezer doesn't work very well, but they turn out okay when freezing them in our freezer chest, which is set at a lower temp and isn't opened nearly as often.

The key is freezing them as fast as possible, and avoiding any partial freeze/thaw/freeze cycles at all costs. Freezing meat at relatively higher temperatures takes longer and the resulting ice crystals that form within the meat are (as I understand it) larger. These larger crystals puncture the internal meat tissues, which then release a lot more of the moisture during cooking, and you get a drier steak.

If you don't have a dedicated freezer, you might be able to counteract the effect with a marinade prior to cooking, but I that's just a guess.

The best steak cooking advice I have is to let your steak warm to room temperature before putting it on the grill, and then let it rest under foil for 10-15 minutes after cooking before you dig in.
posted by OilPull at 11:09 AM on October 1, 2008

2. In general, I'd recommend not freezing steaks. The only time I freeze them is when I can get a bunch on sale at the grocery store and I can't possibly eat them all.

3. IMHO Filet mignon is the most tender but also the most tasteless of the good cuts of meat. You might want to try a boneless NY Strip for a good mix of texture and flavor. I'm guessing a ribeye is too caveman for you if a T-bone freaks you out.
posted by charlesv at 11:56 AM on October 1, 2008

Fresh and Natural has great grass-finished steaks (these are the ones that are best for you and yummiest). Not exactly super-close, but if you're in the area...

Since everyone's sharing cooking techniques, here's my super simple non-grill fave. Just did it last night! The only tweak I made was that I shortened the last step considerably, since I like my steak pink on the inside. But this came out so tender and chewy and awesome. I had the leftovers with lunch today and it was still really tender. Mmmmm, I wish I had more.

Red meat is the best thing about post-vegetarian life!
posted by lunasol at 2:19 PM on October 1, 2008

Slate on buying steak.

"Breed. Every rancher, meat packer, and butcher I spoke to told me an Angus steak would taste better."

"Feed. Just as soil affects the quality of wine, a cow's diet can change the quality of its flesh. One rancher told me that barley makes for flavorful beef and warned that wheat can make beef tough."

"Hormones. Almost all feedlot cows are injected with growth hormones to help them gain muscle mass; critics charge that doing so merely causes cows to retain water and produces bland meat."

"Aging. ...most beef connoisseurs agree that dry-aged beef tastes better."

And the winner is…

Grass-Fed Beef
Price: $21.50 per pound
Aging: Dry
Purveyor: Alderspring Ranch (www.alderspring.com)
What it is: Beef from cows that have never ingested anything other than mother's milk and pasture, which is just as Mother Nature intended. Like great wine and cheese, grass-fed beef possesses different qualities depending on where it's grown and what time of year it's harvested. The grass-fed steaks for this experiment came from a ranch in Idaho where cattle graze on orchard grass, alfalfa, clover, and smooth brome (a type of grass) in the summer and chopped hay in the winter. Also: Some studies have shown that grass-fed beef is lower in saturated fat and higher in omega-3 fatty acids, making it healthier than regular beef.
The knock against it: Consistency, or lack thereof. One grass-fed rancher I spoke to refused to send me any steak for this article because, he said, it sometimes tastes like salmon. Restaurants and supermarkets don't like grass-fed beef because like all slow food, grass-fed beef producers can't guarantee consistency—it won't look and taste exactly the same every time you buy it. Grass-fed beef also has a reputation for being tough.
Hormones? None
Breeds: Alderspring cattle are 90 percent Black and Red Angus, with some Hereford and Short Horn, Salers, and Simmental bred in. ("Red Angus cattle finish particularly well on grass," according to Glenn Elzinga, who runs Alderspring Ranch.)
Raw impressions: Not good. It had the least marbling, and what little fat it had possessed a yellowy tinge.

"Tasting notes: Never have I witnessed a piece of meat so move grown men (and women). Every taster but one instantly proclaimed the grass-fed steak the winner, commending it for its "beautiful," "fabu," and "extra juicy" flavor that "bursts out on every bite." The lone holdout, who preferred the Niman Ranch steak, agreed that this steak tasted the best, but found it a tad chewy. That said, another taster wrote, 'I'm willing to give up some tenderness for this kind of flavor.'"

"The Verdict:
Marbling, schmarbling. The steak with the least intramuscular fat tasted the best—and was also the cheapest. That said, the steak with the most marbling came in a not–too-distant second. Do the two share anything in common? Interestingly, neither was finished on straight corn or treated with hormones. Both steaks also hail from ranches that pride themselves on their humane treatment of bovines. That made for an unexpected warm and fuzzy feeling as we loosened our belts, sat back, and embarked on several hours of wine-aided digestion."

posted by Exchequer at 3:28 PM on October 1, 2008

The difference between the frozen steak you buy and the cut of meat you put in your freezer is how fast the meat was frozen and how tightly it was sealed. I avoid freezing meat as rule, but I will buy pre-frozen meat.

Is it the fat or the bone that bothers you when you're presented with a t-bone? Filet is very tender. The other very soft meats are roasts, like prime rib. (I think it's actually the same part of the animal). The more marbled the meat is, the more tender it will be.

Welcome back to the top of the food chain!
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 3:47 PM on October 1, 2008

thanks everyone!

@gesamthunstwerk: it's both the bone and the fat :)
posted by rdurbin at 7:11 PM on October 1, 2008

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