Help identifying mystery cut of meat
February 16, 2021 3:00 PM   Subscribe

A friend is bringing me this package of meat in just a couple of hours. Neither of us knows what it is, can you help me identify it? I need to cook it this evening because it’s defrosting as we speak. (Pic inside)

Photo here:

Provenance: my friend is helping remodel a restaurant. It used to be a Mediterranean restaurant, it will be something different now. The freezer was being cleared out, and this was about to be thrown away! So my friend is bringing it to me to cook once he finishes work. It’s defrosting right now, so I must cook it tonight. But, what is it? Looks like maybe beef?? Is it a leg? Or some long cut that gets rolled up? Help!
posted by Joh to Food & Drink (13 answers total)
Beef tenderloin?
posted by Ideefixe at 3:05 PM on February 16, 2021 [4 favorites]

pork tenderloin? Looks too small to be beef.
posted by Morpeth at 3:07 PM on February 16, 2021

Best answer: That looks like it could be a beef tenderloin.

Please enjoy the North American Meat Processors Association Meat Buyer's Guide. You're gonna wan tto go to the section on Beef Foodservice Cuts.

The only thing on my Christmas list one year when I was in college was a paper copy of The Meatbuyer's Guide. I don't know why. I guess to learn things about meat? This is the first time I've ever actually used it for anything other than idle knowledge! Neat!
posted by phunniemee at 3:11 PM on February 16, 2021 [15 favorites]

p.s. If there's someone on your gift list you never know what to buy for, get them a copy of The Meat Buyer's Guide. Packed with great info, just weird enough to be a good conversation piece. (Maybe not the right choice for your vegetarian and vegan friends.)
posted by phunniemee at 3:15 PM on February 16, 2021

Mediterranean.. is it lamb?

Lamb tenderloin photos.
posted by firstdaffodils at 3:15 PM on February 16, 2021 [3 favorites]

Since it was a Mediterranean restaurant, there’s a good chance it’s lamb.
posted by ejs at 3:16 PM on February 16, 2021 [3 favorites]

Lamb or goat shank?
posted by Don Pepino at 3:22 PM on February 16, 2021

Scale would be helpful: how long is it, how thick is it, how much does it weigh?
posted by beagle at 3:28 PM on February 16, 2021 [3 favorites]

It looks like the way my store gets beef tenderloin (filet mignon) in. How much does it weigh? four to five pounds? Beef and lamb do look very similar especially while cryovaced, but I've never seen a piece of lamb that big (depending on the size). Then again I'm only in a supermarket meat room, not in the restaurant industry.
posted by annieb at 3:40 PM on February 16, 2021

Best answer: Does the grain (muscle fiber bundles) consistently run from end-to-end? If so, it could be tenderloin - ie., fillet mignon if cut into medallions cross grain.

If there is silverskin/ connective tissue inside of it against the grain, it might be a cut of round from the leg and can be tough and requires slow cooking.

Using the rubbermade tote for size comparison, that's likely beef - too big for lamb or goat.

If it's tenderloin, cutting into medallions for grilling/ pan frying will be tender and delicious. Wrap the circumference with streaky bacon optional. Cutting into kebabs for skewers on the grill would be heavenly. Try a quick 30min-1hr marinade with yogurt + spices (remove excess before grilling). Or you could cut it into roasts for the oven (tenderloin is the base for Beef Wellington). Or all three.

If it's round (leg), cube and stew. Or cut into a roast for a slow cooker pot roast. If you have lardons (streaky bacon), you can thread them into the roast (long thin sharp knife - poke through the roast, use a chopstick or the like to push strips of streaky bacon into the holes; you can stuff some whole peeled garlic cloves in there too) and oven-roast it.
posted by porpoise at 3:40 PM on February 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: All I got so far is that its about 15" long.
posted by Joh at 3:57 PM on February 16, 2021

Best answer: I don't think you really need to cook it up tonight, especially considering that it's cryovacked! If you think it's going to go bad overnight: chill out, open the packaging later in the week, and wait to pick out a recipe until you cook up a test piece and try to guess which U.S. Acres character it tastes like. It looks pretty tenderloiny to me and this is my go-to recipe for beef tenderloin – pretty foolproof if you have a meat thermometer.

If you want to cook it tonight and enjoy a big impromptu Restaurant Depot pirate feast with your friend, I kinda like the idea of throwing everything at the wall and trying as many of porpoise's meal ideas as you can. Again, it looks like tenderloin to me, so I would lean towards quick high-heat cooking methods like grilled kebabs and pan-seared steak; maybe try a slow and low oven roast like the recipe I posted above if you don't mind eating late. Recommended pairing: A couple of bottles of crappy Greek airport wine scavenged from the dumpster behind the restaurant. Enjoy your mystery meat!
posted by katiec at 4:36 PM on February 16, 2021 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you all! I am going to take katiec’s advice and cook it tomorrow so I’m not in a rush. It’s in the fridge. I’m pretty sure it’s beef, and I’ll go with the suggestion that it’s tenderloin (lucky me!).
posted by Joh at 6:56 PM on February 16, 2021 [2 favorites]

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