Wow, what a whirlwind day yesterday was!  Up early to meet everyone down in the lobby of the hotel.  A few people went to a cow ranch, while the rest of us went on a retail shopping tour of how beef gets to different kinds of retail establishments.  I chose this excursion because that’s what matters to me most – how to look for good quality meat no matter where I buy it.

We started out at a Safeway.  We met the meat manager and I have lots to talk about that, but not enough time to do it justice, but I did learn a lot – I’ll be sharing that stuff next week.

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Next we went to a local specialty meat market called Tony’s – if I had this kind of place where I lived, I would shop there every weekend.  Well, that’s not true.  They dry age their own beef for 21 days before selling it, and well, at $28 a pound, not sure I could afford that but the butcher said that people will come in and order 4 steaks for about $110 and not blink an eye!

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Next we went to Costco to pick up beef to learn how to butcher subprimal cuts of beef.  Primal cuts are the huge pieces of beef – think 150 to 200 pounds of beef that are then cut down into subprimal cuts of beef like a strip loin or beef tenderloin.  I’ll write about that more next week too when I have time, but super cool to learn about where, and how the beef is processed.  While the National Cattleman’s Association meat scientist took our meat loot back to the culinary kitchen at the Association headquarters, we were treated to a lovely lunch at Seasons 52.  I ended up getting the red mole beef tacos and they were really good.  With a glass of wine, duh.  I also shared in the appetizers – shishito peppers and hummus.

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But the best part of the whole day was going back to the Culinary Kitchen and learning how to cut down your own big pieces of meat.  It saves you money by the pound – sometimes upwards of $5 a pound if you just take your time and cut the beef down yourself.  It actually wasn’t all that hard once I watched how to do it.

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We went through all different kids of cuts of beef and Dani placed the cuts of beef where they would be found on the steer.  The chuck or above the shoulders are the most tender and the meats get least tender as you go to the back of the steer. 

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I got to choose the beef tenderloin to butcher.  She showed us how to take off any silver skin and most of the fat.  With the tenderloin you are always going to have an uneven piece of beef – with a tail of meat at the end that can be trimmed and used for kabobs or stir fry.  You may be looking at that Beef Bottom Roast and think it looks a bit off, and that’s because it was.  Oxygen causes the meat to brown like that and while you shouldn’t be concerned about little brown spots on your beef here or there, this one has gone a bit too far.

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I ended up with about a 1.5 pound roast, eight 9 ounce filets, about 1 pound of cubed filet for kabobs, and the tail of the tenderloin that can be cooked and then chopped over a salad.  Best part is that they are freezing and shipping me all the meat I cut – my tenderloin was about $90! 

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Look at all that gorgeous marbling!  I will recap our cooking portion on a later post – I think I took about 265 pictures today!  We had to create a dish with our cut of beef and I ended up making a rosemary, sea salt and cracked pepper crusted filet over a baby potato, corn, carrot and zucchini hash then topped with a blue cheese mushroom sauce.  Um, let’s just say this dish didn’t suck and it only took 20 minutes from beginning to end – I’ll definitely write the recipe up soon.

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And it’s going to be a whirlwind day again today – finishing up at the culinary kitchen and HQ, then leaving for the airport.  Such a fun few days and I can’t wait to do a better recap.

I am proud to say that Hannah cooked the night before last and Jacob cooked last night – love that they were able to make stuff without resorting to fast food.  I guess it won’t be too bad to go to work tomorrow and then have the weekend off to regroup.  This will probably be my last trip of the year since I only have 3 vacation days left for the rest of the year!

Make it a great day!