In the back of my mind, I always felt that one of the things I lacked as a cook was a proper knowledge of meat—in particular, how to break down something and the different types of cuts. Of course, I’m never going to slaughter my own beef (unless it’s the end of the world and zombies start appearing—any Walking Dead fans out there?). I was thinking more like chicken or duck.
However, when the opportunity to take a course on beef opened up at the Institute of Culinary Education, also known as ICE, I couldn’t resist. The course was called Back to Basics: A Full Side of Beef. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a “hands-on” course, so the attendees didn’t get to do any butchering (probably the reason why it was affordable). Despite that, it was still enjoyable.
Here’s just a few of the things I learned:
- There are 8 different grades for beef quality—the most well-known are Prime (best quality), Choice, and Select
- Dry-aged is more preferable since a bad taste can develop with wet-aged beef
- Don’t be fooled—the term “Black Angus” is just a marketing ploy
By the end of the class, it takes almost 3 hours to break down just HALF a steer. You wouldn’t think it was that much meat from what was hanging on the hook, but it REALLY was a lot. I’m sure it was a workout for Chef Weid!
Now, your patience shall be rewarded. Enjoy all the beefy goodness!