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Originally published Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 5:01 AM

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New cuts of meat slash prices, too

Cutting-edge meat cuts, like teres major, are almost as tender as tenderloin, at up to half the price.

For The Associated Press

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Looking for something new to throw on the grill this summer? How about a sizzling Denver cut or a couple juicy slices of teres major?

Never heard of them? You will. They're lesser-known — and less-expensive — cuts of beef that have become more popular as tough economic times have led butchers to look for tenderness at a lower price than the classic rib eyes and tenderloins.

"I call them the cuts of our ancestors," says Pat LaFrieda, a third-generation butcher who appears with his father on the Food Network show "Meat Men." "All the cuts that I remember eating as a kid with my grandfather, those are the cuts that I see restaurants asking for again; it fits into their price schedule."

Running Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors, LaFrieda; his dad, Pat Sr.; and cousin Mark Pastore supply more than 500 customers, including some of the top restaurants and bistros in New York City, which gives him a heads up on culinary trends. "What they're asking for today, I know I'll start seeing in butcher shops six months from now."

Want to know what kinds of meat you're likely to meet over the next few months? Here's a rundown from LaFrieda and other butchering enthusiasts.

Teres Major

This is an unfamiliar name for most of us, but it's quite familiar to chefs. It's a little-used muscle in the cow's shoulder. It is second in tenderness only to the tenderloin, but up to half the price, depending on the supplier.

Charlie Palmer, a leader in the chef-turned-butcher movement, has been featuring teres major steaks at his District Meats in Denver and Burritt Tavern in San Francisco.

"It's just as tender as filet mignon, but half the price. And our guests like to say the name!" he says. He serves it with torpedo onion confit, which is similar to a scallion but has a bronze-y red bulb at the base and a mild flavor. For the meat, he recommends keeping it simple. Cook on a hot grill until medium-rare, let it rest, then slice into medallions.

Denver Cut

Kari Underly, a third-generation butcher and author of "The Art of Beef Cutting," was part of the team that developed the Denver cut and flat iron steak for the beef industry. Profiling muscles and analyzing cuts like chuck and round is irresistible to "a meat geek like me," says Underly, who likes to "dig through the data and find the little gems."

The Denver cut is found in a part of the cow typically sold as chuck roast, but when cut separately it is the fourth most tender muscle, Underly says.

For the Denver cut, she recommends having it sliced about three-quarters of an inch thick. After that, try a lightly flavored marinade or a rub; the meat doesn't really need to be tenderized, just flavored. Then grill, possibly throwing some baby bok choy on the grill with it to balance the protein.

Where to buy

So, where do you find these cutting-edge cuts in the Seattle area?

Not all local markets have them (or even know exactly what they are), but they're catching on. Dave Garcia, assistant meat manager at Central Market Mill Creek, says their grass-fed teres major, $9.99 per pound, is "really popular. Once people try it, they come back for that specifically. For the cost, it's a really good alternative to tenderloin or filet mignon."

Eames Bookwalter, a meat cutter at Whole Foods Interbay, likens teres major to hangar steak, which he says, "became the up-and-coming thing and people couldn't get enough of it." He recommends teres major when customers "want something cheap, but still want a really tender steak." His store sells it for $8.99 per pound, and Bookwalter says any Whole Foods should be able to get it.

Teres major can also be purchased locally at Rain Shadow Meats on Capitol Hill ($14.99 per pound), where it sells out quickly, or special ordered from Bob's Quality Meats in Columbia City, where it takes about four days to arrive.

Denver cut is more elusive, but Bill the Butcher sells it for $7.49 per pound at the Laurelhurst location.

Bree Coven Brown contributed to this report.

Recipes to help you try these new cuts

Teres major with cilantro cashew pesto

Makes 4 servings

1 bunch fresh cilantro, stems and leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons water

¼ cup toasted cashews (pieces are fine)

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and ground black pepper

2 pounds teres major steaks

Vegetable or canola oil

1. Clean the grill. Soak a crumpled paper towel with oil. Clasping the paper towel with tongs, oil the grates of the grill. Heat the grill to high.

2. In a blender, combine the cilantro, olive oil, water, cashews and Parmesan. Blend until smooth, or as smooth as you prefer. Season with salt and pepper, then blend again. Set aside.

3. Season the steaks with salt and pepper.

4. Add the steaks and cook over high heat for 5 to 8 minutes per side for medium-rare.

5. Remove the steaks from the grill and allow to rest for 8 to 10 minutes. Thinly slice the steaks across the grain and top with the pesto.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 510 calories; 230 calories from fat (45 percent of total calories); 25 g fat (7 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 150 mg cholesterol; 3 g carbohydrate; 63 g protein; 1 g fiber; 530 mg sodium.

Fennel rubbed Denver steaks with grilled fennel and blue cheese

Makes 4 servings

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

4 Denver cut steaks, ¾-inch thick (2 pounds total)

Salt and ground black pepper

2 fennel bulbs, white parts only, cut into quarters

Vegetable or canola oil

Wedges of lemon

¼ cup crumbled blue cheese

1. Clean the grill. Soak a crumpled paper towel with oil. Clasping the paper towel with tongs, oil the grates of the grill. Heat the grill to medium-high.

2. In a spice grinder or using a mortar and pestle, grind the fennel seeds. Sprinkle the ground seeds over both sides of the steaks, then rub into the meat. Season the steaks with salt and pepper. Season the fennel bulb quarters with salt and black pepper.

3. Grill the fennel quarters for 10 minutes, turning once during cooking. Grill the steaks for 4 to 6 minutes per side for medium-rare. Remove the steaks from the heat and allow to rest for 8 to 10 minutes.

4. To serve, arrange 2 fennel quarters on each plate. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice over them, then top with a sprinkle of blue cheese. Serve with the steak.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 470 calories; 240 calories from fat (51 percent of total calories); 27 g fat (11 g saturated; 1 g trans fats); 155 mg cholesterol; 10 g carbohydrate; 46 g protein; 4 g fiber; 590 mg sodium.

Recipes by Alison Ladman, The Associated Press

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