Where’s the (better) beef?

Can we take a brief turkey time-out and talk about beef instead?  Here’s the deal – the boys and I have developed a routine when it comes to meals – Tuesday nights are generally simple, Thursdays seem to have evolved into cleaning out the fridge leftover smorgasbords, Fridays are take-out (or worse) and Saturdays we eat something kind of pricey special.  The past two Saturdays, we’ve  had beef, tenderloin one week, brisket the other.  Let me share some details.

Week one, I stopped at the Slingerlands Shop Rite and cruised their meat aisles.  There’s something about their displays or the lighting that makes everything look really good to me and the whole tenderloins caught my eye.  I initially didn’t realize that the price on the package didn’t reflect the sale price of $4.99 a pound.  Once I did the math, I decided to grab one and have it sliced into 1″ filets.

All sliced and pretty
All sliced and pretty

I paid around $18 for this package and ended up tossing three uncooked steaks into the freezer for another night.  To prepare the steaks, I brought the beef up to room temperature by letting it rest on the counter for about an hour prior to seasoning it with salt and pepper and throwing it on a hot gas grill.  I grilled it for about 10 minutes total time, flipping once.  I also built 10 minutes into the dinner plan to let the beef rest, post-grilling.  Here’s what we brought to the table.

A plate of meaty goodness.
A plate of meaty goodness.

We were very pleased with meal – the beef was super tender and delicious. Well worth the price I paid, beyond a doubt.  Week two, I went with a different cut of beef (brisket) and a different grocery chain – Price Chopper.  I want to make it clear that I know very little about beef – what part of the cow it comes from and whatnot.  I liken my beef knowledge to my wine knowledge – if I like it, it’s good.  For the record, I’m a fan of brisket and I’ve prepared it a number of times.  After picking up a 3.5 lb. brisket (on sale for $5.99 a lb, I think) from the Slingerlands’ Chopper, I went with an uber simple recipe.  I love slow cooking dinner in the oven all afternoon while I’m off doing other things and my house smelled amazing.

Brisket, seasoned and topped with onions
Brisket, seasoned and topped with onions
The cooking liquid composed of beer, brown sugar and chilli sauce
The cooking liquid composed of beer, brown sugar and chilli sauce
The finished product
The finished product

Like I said, I’ve made brisket before and I don’t know jack about meat.  That being said…I was a bit disappointed.  I don’t know if the butcher trimmed too much fat off, but it was kind of dry and not as flavorful as I expected.  Considering this meal cost more ($21) than the tenderloin, I’d be more inclined to buy “splurge-y” cuts of meat at Shop Rite than Price Chopper.  In a perfect world, I’d get my butt to Falvo’s, but, perhaps  you’ve noticed we don’t live in a perfect world.

Obviously, this is only a single comparison, but I’m wondering what your experience has been.  Where are you spending your meat money??

5 thoughts on “Where’s the (better) beef?

  1. I usually go to Fred the Butcher in Clifton Park 1/month to stock up. Inbetween I have the choice of Price Chopper Hannaford and Walmart and I usually choose Price Chopper for the meat.

  2. If I really want good quality meat, I go to Fred the Butcher or the Meat House. In between i usually choose PC. I can never seem to find what I am looking for at Shop Rite. Maybe it’s because they cut to order and don’t have it laid out in a display case.

  3. It’s been a while since I’ve bought beef in a store, but I prefered Price Chopper to Hannaford. Although by the looks of it, the meat department at Hannaford has improved in the past few years. Depending on how you time it, Honest Weight might have a few cuts that interest you, I believe the Cheese Traveler was planning to carry some beef too.

    Not sure what happened to the brisket which is tragic since that is such a fantastic cut of beef. From the picture it looks like you might have sliced with the grain instead of against it. Don’t think that would have helped the flavor but definitely the tenderness.

  4. My uncle Jack Carr owned a meat packing business.
    Back in the 1980’s i was a bookeeper/cashier for the owners of Selected Meats. Unless a cut is prime i wouldn’t buy it. For corned beef i buy the fatty cut. Put tons of garlic, onions, peppercorn, and bay leaves with the cabbage, carrots, and potatoes added. When the vegatables are done i add butter, dill weed,and serve it wilth seeded rye,and ginger ale. I always add garlic, oregano then marinate london broil in soy, or worchestire sauce. My Argentine brother-in-law made a store bought cheap cut of beef taste heavenly by adding chimichuri sauce

  5. I also buy the vast majority of my meat at Fred the Butcher. Sometimes I can find a decent, well-marbled piece of beef at Price Chopper. Hannaford’s beef is never marbled enough for me to even consider buying it. And all the ShopRites are too far away to even check them out.

    Of course, in DelSo (where my daughter lives) they always have decent beef at Cardona’s.

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