We were in Wyoming Co today and saw a flyer for the Butter Meat Co. They are advertising, mature, full grown beef, not 1st year cows. Specifically, 6-7 yr old dairy cows, so basically, retired heifers. They claim better, fuller flavor. Full range of cuts, hot dogs, bologna, etc.
Old dairy cows never struck me as a source for good beef for the table. in the past I have derided places with cheap beef as likely old dairy cows, nonetheless my curiosity was up, so we went.
Small storefront. Small cooler. The only thing they had available at the time we were there that wasn't frozen was a skirt steak, a few packages of their hotdogs, and a couple of bologna rounds. The bologna was not the big, fat lunchmeat style. It looked more like a longer summer sausage. Some of the cuts were priced per steak, some of them were priced per pound. They were mostly on the higher side of price, but not all of the cuts were expensive. The lady at the counter told us all of the steaks are cut 2" thick (!?!?!!) and the ribeyes are cut tomahawk style with untrimmed bones. I bet those are impressive. Judging by the price, they seem very proud of their strip steaks.
I didn't want to spend bunch of money on something I wasn't sure of, and I was hoping to have it for dinner tonight. The skirt steak in the display cooler was rolled up and vacuum packaged so I couldn't really get a look at it. It was priced per steak at $15 (or $18 I honestly don't remember which) and she said the skirt steaks ranged in size between 2-3lbs. Minimal financial risk if we didn't like it so I bought a skirt steak, a bologna round, and a package o' dogs. $43 including tax. Not cheap. Not silly expensive either.
Got the steak home and unpackaged it. It was an untrimmed steak. Still had a bunch of fat on the backside and a fair amount of silver skin. I spent about 10 minutes trimming it up to get a proper skirt steak for the grill. I wish I had weighed it before I started trimming. It was longer than my longest cutting board, and I have some pretty big cutting boards. No way this thing was under 3lbs untrimmed. I cut it in half so I could work with it. The meat was a noticeably deeper red color than even good supermarket beef. I seasoned it up with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onto a screaming hot grill she went. (I guess I can assume she, it is a retired dairy cow) 2-3 minutes per side and medium to medium rare. Cut thin against the grain and served with a side of fried peppers and onions and refried beans.
And the verdict was....
It was neither more tender nor more tough than a typical grocery store skirt steak. If pressed I'd say it was more tender than average, but not by alot. The texture was different, and I can't put my finger on exactly what the difference was. Not objectionable in any way, just a little different. Flavor was good. My wife felt it tasted "better" than grocery store beef. If there was a difference, it was small enough that I would need a side by side comparison to be convinced. I tried the meat both hot and after it had cooled to room temp. At room temp I thought maybe I picked something up, but it could easily be the power of suggestion too. Regardless, the steak was very enjoyable and well worth the price and the effort of trimming it properly. And an NY Baco Noir paired very nicely with it.
Next time we are in that area we are going to step up and try either a filet or NY strip. We'll see if there is a more noticeable difference with a more premium cut. The skirt steak convinced us that the risk is low of a disappointing steak.
They are located in the village of Perry, so if you are in the area or maybe visiting Letchworth, they are worthy of checking out IMO.
2 of those dogs go on the grill for lunch tomorrow. We'll see how they do........