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Beef cuts renamed steak...premium names on inexpensive cuts to entice buyers
Charlotte News Observer ^ | 7/13/05 | Vicki Lee Parker

Posted on 07/13/2005 1:24:10 PM PDT by hispanarepublicana

Published: Jul 13, 2005
Modified: Jul 13, 2005 5:27 AM
Beef cuts renamed 'steak'
Stores, restaurants put premium names on inexpensive cuts to entice buyers

Butcher Ruben Pineda cuts slices of beef from a sirloin tip knuckle for the display case at Cliff's Meat Market in Carrboro. Meat prices at the shop have increased between 50 cents and $2 a pound over the past two years.
Staff Photo by Harry Lynch

Is a steak by any name other than T-bone, ribeye or N.Y. Strip still a steak? Many beef sellers say yes.

A stroll down the meat aisles of local grocers offers proof. They are stocking an array of newer cuts of beef, with names such as "beef chuck thin steak" at Food Lion and "ranch steak" at Lowes.

As beef prices have hit record levels -- with filet mignon averaging nearly $14 a pound -- the beef industry has turned to less expensive steak cuts.

These cuts come from the chuck or shoulder and the round or hindquarters of the cow and typically cost 20 percent less than premium steaks, according to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. Filet mignon comes from the center part of the animal.

"The prices Food Lion pays for beef have increased since the first of the year," said Jeff Lowrance, spokesperson for the Salisbury-based grocer. "We, however, have not raised our retail prices." Instead, in May, Food Lion started offering its own Butcher's Brand Premium Beef, which includes at least a dozen of the older and newer cuts of beef.

One of the most popular new cuts showing up in supermarkets is the "shoulder top blade flat iron steak." It comes from the cow's top shoulder, which traditionally is used for roasts or ground beef. At Food Lion, the flat iron steak is called the "boneless upper blade steak," while at Lowes, it's simply called a "flat iron steak."

Some restaurants are starting to offer the different steaks at lower prices. According to the cattlemen's group, about 20,000 restaurants serve the new steaks, twice as many as last year.

Chris Hudson, assistant general manager of Ruth's Chris Steak House in Cary, said the restaurant added the flat iron steak to its lunch menu about two months ago. "It took a while for our food surveyor to get us to taste it." he said. "We cooked it up and it's got a pretty good flavor to it."

A blue-cheese-crusted, 8-ounce flat iron steak on its bar menu sells for $15.95, compared to a 16-ounce ribeye steak from the dinner menu for $31.95.

Hudson said the lower prices help to generate repeat business. "Instead of spending $40 to $65 on cocktails and dinner," he said, "you can have a couple of cocktails and order from the [bar menu] and spend about $35 or $40."

Despite the rising costs, some steak restaurants have resisted adding the lower-cost meats to their menus.

"We have heard of them but it's not something we have considered. We have the traditional cuts and that's what we have stuck with," said Bob Lyford, comptroller at The Angus Barn, a Raleigh steakhouse.

High beef prices

Beef prices have remained high since hitting a record of $4.32 a pound in November 2003. In May, beef was selling for $4.26 a pound. Prices started to peak two years ago when a Canadian cow was found to be infected with mad cow disease, which led to restrictions of the cattle supply.

Despite the scare, demand continued to climb, pushing prices up. Last year as the popularity of low-carbohydrate diets increased, the demand for beef became even stronger. The Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service estimates that in 2004, the average person ate 66.1 pounds of beef. That is expected to climb to 68.2 pounds in 2006.

Tony Mata, executive director of new products and culinary initiative for the cattlemen's association, said that many of the new cuts of meat came from an extensive study by meat scientists that the association, the University of Nebraska and University of Florida released in 2000.

He said the research was in response to declining sales of pot roast, stew meat and other cuts from the shoulder and hindquarters. "We needed to do something to regain the market share," Mata said.

The scientists reviewed more than 5,600 muscles in three parts of the cow -- the shoulder near the blade, the round above the kneecap and the bottom round near the back side of the leg. After testing and processing for tenderness and taste, they found eight key cuts that have since helped to boost beef sales. The cuts come from the most tender parts of the cow and include the petite tender, the sirloin tip center steak and the flat iron, which is second in tenderness to the filet mignon.

Some butchers say they didn't need a study to tell them about the different ways to cut beef.

Cliff Collins has been cutting meat for 38 years at his Cliff's Meat Market in downtown Carr-boro. Collins said he has been selling flat iron steak for quite some time, but has noticed that people are starting to ask for it more than they did in the past.

"They are selling like hotcakes now that the [beef] prices have gone up," Collins said.

Because of the price increase over the past two years, Collins said he has increased meat prices between 50 cents and $2 a pound, depending on the cut.

Tonia Gilmore has definitely noticed the higher prices. While shopping at Food Lion recently, Gilmore said she noticed the new cuts. But the Raleigh mother of three hasn't tried them yet.

"With three kids, I have to stick to hamburger and cube steaks," Gilmore said.

For diehard T-bone steak fans who have endured the high prices, there may be hope.

Ron Gustafson, beef analyst with the economic research service of the USDA, said that several factors will help to pull beef prices down over the next few years. One is that some cattle will continue to be kept in the feed house longer. He said the average now is about 140 to 160 days, compared to 120 back in the mid-1990s. The longer cattle are fed, the larger the muscles, which means more meat is produced per cow.

U.S. cattle inventory has slumped over the past few years, but is expected to rebound. In 1996, the count was 103.5 million heads of cattle, he said. But it dropped to 94.9 million in 2004. Gustafson said it was at 95.8 million at the beginning of this year and will continue to rise.

"As supply starts to increase, the price will move down to accommodate it," Gustafson said.

Staff writer Vicki Lee Parker can be reached at 829-4898 or

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: beef; cattle; food; steak
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To: iconoclast
I'm a gourmet cook Teddy.

In other words you can't cook your way out of a paper bag judging by what you have posted on this thread.

Chuck is for pot roast, burgers, or the dog.

Chuck is for pot roast dear. That is the point. Best meat possible for roast. Of course, like I said, you actually have to know how to cook.

Please post your most celebratory chuck recipe.

Sure, take one 7-bone roast.

Rub with oil.

Apply spice rub.

Sear on either side over high heat. Remove roast and place to side.

Add a little oil to pan and saute the aromatics, (I like onion, garlic and celery) add liquid, (I like beef stock and red wine) allow to reduce to one half.

Add some texture stuff. (I like mushrooms and dried cranberries).

Wrap roast and sauce in closely in foil (two layers at least three is better) Make sure you seal it very well. Roast at 200-220 degrees for four hours.

Allow to rest for 30 minutes.


81 posted on 07/13/2005 6:13:15 PM PDT by Harmless Teddy Bear (Warning: May bite)
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To: hispanarepublicana

I've found , any cheap cut, marinated in quality ingredients over night and grilled the next evening can taste quite tender and delicious.

82 posted on 07/13/2005 6:21:07 PM PDT by Katya (Homo Nosce Te Ipsum)
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To: hispanarepublicana
I cooked a flank steak the other night that was absolutly superb if I do say so myself. Normally flank is tasty but tough.

It's all in the marinade.

Asian Sesame Flank Steak

1 Flank Steak 1.5 ~ 2 lbs.

1/4 cup veg oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Asian sesame oil
2 Tbls fresh lime juice
2 Tbls peeled and grated fresh ginger

Wisk marinade ingredients together and pour over a flank steak in a non metalic container, cover and refrigerate overnight. Turning the meat occasionally.

Grill on medium heat for 14 minutes for a nice juicy tender medium (still pink inside).

Oh, save the leftover marinade and bring to a boil so you can brush it on during grilling. I forgot that part and caught hell about it, but in reality, if it's marinated overnight, it didn't need it.

Can't wait to make it again.

83 posted on 07/13/2005 6:30:13 PM PDT by AFreeBird (your mileage may vary)
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To: mombonn
check out 83 for a good flank recipe. No pounding required.
84 posted on 07/13/2005 6:38:16 PM PDT by AFreeBird (your mileage may vary)
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To: Katya

I used to grill chuck steaks.
I used a powdered marinade,Lowrys I believe.Mix it with cold water.
It made an excellent steak out of a average cut.
Now Sunday is steak night. I usually catch Ribeyes or Porterhouse on sale and buy 6 at a time. That's 3 Sundays for my wife and I.

85 posted on 07/13/2005 6:57:49 PM PDT by Vinnie
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To: Xenalyte

It was cooked in hispanic kitchens/outdoor grills for years, without all the sizzle-steam business. But, my first time to eat them in a restaurant was at Joe T. Garcia's in Ft. Worth in the mid 80s.

86 posted on 07/13/2005 7:24:40 PM PDT by hispanarepublicana (There will be no bad talk or loud talk in this place. CB Stubblefield.)
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To: Vinnie

Off you know if Lowry's contains MSG as an ingredient? I have a few family members who seem allergic to anything with MSG in it. I tend to make my own marinade, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a nice red wine freshly ground seasonings...and sometimes a bit of mustard. Sometimes, I'll add some fruits as well...cherries are a very nice addition in a marinade.

87 posted on 07/13/2005 7:39:03 PM PDT by Katya (Homo Nosce Te Ipsum)
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To: AFreeBird

That sounds really good.

88 posted on 07/13/2005 7:51:28 PM PDT by CajunConservative
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To: hispanarepublicana

Does anybody know anything about "Ranchers Reserve" meats from Vons? I was just curious.

89 posted on 07/13/2005 7:54:34 PM PDT by diamond6 (Everyone who is for abortion has already been born. Ronald Reagan)
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To: hispanarepublicana
At first, in life, I was smitten with T-Bones. Especially that little bit of meat in the cup of the top of the T.

Then, I got snotty, fawned over filet.

Then ribeye.

Now I've learned to make 'stew meat' chunks, after marinating, the best bites ever. At $2.49/lb.

90 posted on 07/13/2005 8:11:16 PM PDT by txhurl
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To: CajunConservative

It was very good. Yum! :-))

91 posted on 07/13/2005 8:19:40 PM PDT by AFreeBird (your mileage may vary)
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To: mombonn; lightingguy

Growing up we used to have a chuck roast every Sunday, but I had never heard of flank steak til I got married and was introduced to my mother-in-law's 24 hour marinade. Then my father-in-law would grill it to brown on the outside and about medium (right, LG?) on the inside. Incredible.

92 posted on 07/13/2005 9:00:40 PM PDT by agrace (Where were you when I founded the earth? Tell me if you know so much. Job 38:4)
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To: AGreatPer; All

"Why are steak prices going through the roof?"

IMO, it is because like everything else, they have found the limits of what we are willing to pay and then lower the quality.

Omaha brand steaks, which used to be superb, have now become no better than what you can get at the local supermarket. My son, (with the best of intentions) recently sent me a package from Omaha Steak Co. for Fathers Day. It included 6 "Steak Burgers" and 4 ea-6 oz. Sirloins. We BBQ'd the burgers last week. It was all I could do to keep them from falling through the grills after shrinking to the size of a Jimmy Dean Pork sausage. They were nearly pure white (fatty) before cooking and were flavor-less. On top of that, the cost was about $1.50 each! We haven't had the "Steaks" yet. Omaha Steak Co. is running on nothing more than their old reputation.

I was born in Omaha and worked briefly for Swift's Premium. I can remember going to a steak house down by the stockyards is So. Omaha called "Johnny's". Absolutely the best steak in the world. Wonder if it still exists? Any Omaha-ites out there remember it?

A little off topic, but just wanted to warn folks about how crappy Omaha Steak Co. has become.

93 posted on 07/13/2005 9:05:36 PM PDT by panaxanax
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To: panaxanax
Thank you panaxanax (wow that is tough to type).

We too have noticed the quality of Omaha Steaks has gone down. We don't order them anymore.

There are several as good companies in other states.

This summer though, we have concentrated on getting them from the Amish in Lancaster County here in PA. Outstanding. Angus product is the best. Here you can get the same product without the Angus name for 1/4th less cost.

It is a sad situation when you see them using the tactics and pricing programs as the oil companies. Guess they have to do it to make a living.

94 posted on 07/13/2005 9:23:16 PM PDT by AGreatPer (I did it my wife's way. It worked. 30 year anniversary this week.)
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To: cweese
I have, however, actually been to a Food Lion and it was quite filthy, the meat section wasn't appetizing either.

You speak as though this were a singular event ... I take it Food Lion stores are not common in your neck of the woods? They're quite common in Virginia ... some are in better shape than others. I do consider them near the bottom of the supermarket barrel (and rarely shop at them), but the newer stores aren't too bad.

95 posted on 07/13/2005 10:25:34 PM PDT by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilisation is Aborting, Buggering, and Contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: Katya

I don't know offhand. I checked their Lawry's (correct spelling) Seasoned Salt and it states NO MSG but I can't say concerning their marinade.

I usually make my own with Soy or Teriyaki Sauce to which I add one or some of, garlic, liquid smoke,Emeril's Original, tenderizer, pineapple juice (fresh, a very powerful tenderizer that can be overdone, last 15 min tops ).

96 posted on 07/14/2005 5:10:46 AM PDT by Vinnie
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To: coloradan

We used to have to eat them because that was what we could afford. I don't eat blade steaks or pea soup now.

97 posted on 07/14/2005 2:58:16 PM PDT by brooklin
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To: rattrap

"while at Lowes, it's simply called a "flat iron steak."
"Wait a minute here... isn't Lowes a hardware store?"

Aren't paying attention? It's call FLAT IRON STEAK?
(Sorry for yelling. Got my hearing aid off.)

98 posted on 07/14/2005 3:04:55 PM PDT by righttackle44 (The most dangerous weapon in the world is a Marine with his rifle and the American people behind him)
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To: AGreatPer
I have only tried Omaha Steaks once but that was enough. After reading their info it sounded like great steaks. I ordered one sampler

They included some hamburgers which actually were very good but the steaks were another story.

The only ones here were me and my Daughter. I decided to grill a couple of steaks. When we sat down to eat, we both took a bite, looked at each other and began to laugh. They were awful. Much poorer than the local supermarket's beef.

99 posted on 07/14/2005 3:05:51 PM PDT by yarddog
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To: yarddog
We are fortunate living here in Central PA. We have many competing farmers markets with quality products. Omaha steaks don't make it compared to absolutely fresh and never frozen

The price is not cheap but fair for the quality. I don't have a problem with that. BTW, Omaha steaks are grossly over priced. Yea, free hamburger, big deal.

100 posted on 07/14/2005 3:18:01 PM PDT by AGreatPer (I did it my wife's way. It worked. 30 year anniversary this week.)
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