You very well maybe right. Grade A Prime beef is Very Expensive, selling for around $24.00 to $30.00 a pound, and is almost impossible to find now days.
USDA’s grading system gives a good way to assess beef quality.
Beef that’s richly marbled gets a higher grade; it’s more tender, juicy, and flavorful because the intramuscular fat melts and bastes the flesh during cooking. Also, since fat insulates, marbling provides some insurance against overcooking.
The highest grade in the United States meat grading system. Prime has the most marbling and is produced in limited quantities. Prime beef is most commonly sold in finer upscale restaurants, specialty meat markets and is exported to upscale restaurants in foreign countries.
Dry aging prime beef occurs while the beef is hanging in a refrigerated cooler, at a specific temperature and humidity, for 10 to 28 days after harvest and prior to cutting. When prime beef is dry aged, two things happen. First, moisture evaporates from the muscle meat creating a greater concentration of beefy flavor and taste. Secondly, the prime beef’s natural enzymes break down the fibrous, connective tissue in the muscle, tenderizing it. Most of the tenderizing activity occurs within the first 10 to 14 days.
Choice has less marbling than Prime but more than Select. It is typically found in the self service meat case at your local grocery store. Not the very best choice steak but is the most common meat served in steak houses and homes across America.
Select has the least amount of marbling of the top three grades, making it leaner but less tender, juicy or flavorful than Prime or Choice. Select is most commonly found in the self service meat case at your local grocery store. Not considered or recommended as a top quality steak.
This is the problem facing beef producers. Marbling is only created when the animal reaches its physiologically mature size. Many of today’s cattle have a physiological mature size larger than beef buyers want.
Steers typically marble at around 100 pounds heavier than their mothers. With more and more mature cows now weighing in excess of 1500 pounds (36 to 40 Months Old ) yet typical slaughter weights remaining in the 1200 pound (26 to 32 months Old) range, the natural result is fewer cattle grading Choice and almost none grading Prime.
Steak house lies to it’s customers. Many steakhouses now are saying that the “prime beef” mentioned in their menu does not refer to the USDA grade used but is a mere advertising term and admit they have substituted USDA Choice.
Steakhouse chefs say that the best steaks for them are small steaks cut thick. It is almost impossible to cook a thin steak to medium rare at the 900 degree F temperatures they commonly use to shorten preparation time.
Ruth’s Chris steakhouse uses a super-hot 1800 degrees to purposely char the surface of the steak. This surface charing does not improve the eating quality but makes the steak look different from that cooked at home. Most home ovens only reach 600 degrees.
Prime beef has traditionally come by growing early-maturing English-breed cattle to physiological maturity on grass and then feeding them whole-shelled corn for 100 days to produce extreme intra-muscular marbling.
Why is common sense so uncommon?
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