Some Things You Need to Know
Grass Fed - This means the cow could forage and graze on native grasses for most of its life. However, technically when you see the phrase grass-fed at the grocery store that heifer could still be finished on grain for a short time before it is processed to get some additional marbling. How much grass a grass-fed cow has eaten in its life depends on the farm and is not tightly regulated like other USDA designations, which is why it’s important to know your farm and your meat producer. Texas Craft Steaks sources only the highest quality grass fed beef from farms with impeccable integrity.
Grass Finished - A “grass finished” cow consumed only native grasses and no grain for its entire life. You can interpret “grass finished” as 100% grass fed. A grass finished cow takes more time to get to a finishing weight, therefor the cow lives longer, is older at harvest, and has a more extensive flavor profile.
Grain Finished - For most cows, the last several weeks/months of its life is supplemented with grain in order to add more marbling and flavor to the beef. Grain finished cows do not have to be raised quite as long, and this saves the rancher money. How much grain finishing takes place depends on the farm and some health experts believe there are health benefits to having cows that aren’t finished on grain.
Hormone Free - This generally means there are no added hormones, since all cows have natural hormones. What you need to look for is that there are “no added hormones.” Over 90% of commercial meat has added hormones, which means you’re eating beef from a cow that was on steroids. Now it’s up to your body to process steroids that were meant for a 2,000-pound cow and scientist still don’t know all of the unintended consequences that these hormones can have on our bodies over time.
Never Ever Beef - All Texas Craft Steaks are classified as “never ever beef”, meaning that all our farms have strict guidelines that keep the beef that we sell from ever having been given added hormones or antibiotics. All meat from Texas Craft Steaks is all natural, no added hormones, and no antibiotics.
Wagyu - Wagyu beef simply means beef from Japan. There are 4 different breeds of Wagyu cow – two are for dairy Japanese Poll and Japanese Shorthorn and two are for meat, Japanese Black (Tajima-Gyu) and Japanese Red (Akaushi). Within the 2 beef breeds of Wagyu, there are still multiple grades of meat graded on their IMP level, or intramuscular fat percentage. Simply saying “Wagyu” isn’t any more specific then saying, “American beef". Most American Wagyu beef is of the Japanese Black (Tajima-Gyu) variety, which many times is a crossbred product of varying quality and not 100% Fullblood Wagyu. Here at TCS, we sell both the Japanese Black (Tajima-Gyu) Wagyu, when raised in the US is called American Wagyu (Rosewood Ranches) and we also sell the 100% pure bred Akaushi strand of Wagyu beef also called Japanese Red, both of which is by far the highest quality Wagyu beefs available in the US.
Akaushi - Akaushi is a very specific Japanese breed of cows that are red in color, known to be one of the highest quality of Wagyu meats. Akaushi is the indisputable crown jewel of Japanese meat. It has a higher concentration of monosaturated fat relative to saturated fat. This leads to lower cholesterol, weight loss, and the prevention of coronary heart disease. Akaushi is also a source of oleic acid, the compound found in olive oil that the USDA touts as good for the heart. All this simply produces a finer flavor profile.
Kobe - Kobe is simply a region (and a city) in Japan – like “West Texas” is a region in Texas, or in the USA. Only Japanese Black (Tajima-Gyu) Wagyu, cows born and raised in Kobe, the capital city Of Hyogo Prefecture, can be considered for Kobe certification. To be certified, they must meet very rigorous standards of marbling, quality, finishing weight and other things. Real certified Kobe beef can cost several hundred dollars per lb. Restaurants that advertise Kobe beef can vary in quality because the term is not regulated in the US and most likely is not true certified Kobe unless you are spending hundreds of US dollars per plate. In Japan, the word “Kobe” is regulated, and meat must follow a specific set of guidelines to be labeled as Kobe. Here in the USA, there is no enforcement of those guidelines. Here, meat is often labeled as Kobe, or Kobe Style, when it is not in any way certified Japanese Kobe beef. Kobe is not a breed, or a specific meat type, its’ a location. Unfortunately, this is one of the most misused, and abused words in meat marketing.
USDA Select, Choice & Prime - These are the words that represent the meat grading system from the United States Department of Agriculture. In order of quality from least to greatest, it is Commercial, No Roll, Select, Choice, Upper 2/3 Choice then Prime. Many of the Texas Craft Meat selections that are USDA Upper 2/3rds Choice, which is the top 10% of choice meats and actually can easily taste as good as other farms’ prime meat because of the genetics and diets that our Ranchers feed our cows, and the all-natural, grass fed approach of raising them, without added hormones or antibiotics.
Where the Meat Comes From
Chuck - This is where some of the slow cooking wonderfulness comes from - cuts like the Blade, Chuck Eye, & Country-Style Ribs. However, many Chuck cuts are still great for grilling, like the Top Blade, Ranch Steak, Shoulder Steak. Chuck simply has a little bit of everything.
Rib - Welcome to Taste Town, population you. This is where you get the Ribeye Filet, Ribeye Cap, & Ribeye Steak. All of these are little fattier than most other cuts, but sometime you have to give a little, to get a little. While you can slow cook (roast) much of this primal cut, the Ribeye Steak will always be better on the grill.
Short Loin - This is where you get your T-Bone, Porterhouse, Tenderloins, and Strip Steaks. You’ll often see this cut on the menu under names such as the Ambassador Steak, Boneless Club Steak, Hotel Style Steak, Kansas City Steak, New York Strip, & Top Loin. These leaner cuts of meat are typically best grilled or fried, and work well with high heat.
Sirlion - This is also a leaner section of beef, and home to the world famous Filet Mignon, one of the most coveted pieces of meat. Also in the Sirloin are the Bavettes, Tri-Tips, & Strip Steaks. This section is best for grilling or high heat skillets.
Round - Coming from the very back of the bus is the Top, Bottom, and Eye Round, which are all good at high heats. The Bottom, Rump and Eye Roast are best for slow cooking or oven roasted.
Brisket - Here at the BBQ joint’s “go to” section you have the Flat and Point Briskets, both of which desire to be slow cooked. While Brisket Flat is the leaner of the two, you need to bring your A-Game when preparing these cuts - the line between juicy delicious and dry chewy tends to be quite thin.
Fore Shank - Obtained from the front legs of the cow, the Fore Shank is well exercised which makes the meat tough and lean, with low fat content. Given the makeup of this cut, it needs to be cooked slowly in liquid to produce a tender result.
Short Plate - Coming from the forequarter of the belly is the Short Plate. It’s popular cuts include the Skirt Steak (often used for Fajitas), and the hangar steak. This meat is often grilled, cured, and smoked.
Flank - Generally a long and flat cut, the Flank can also be used for Skirt Steaks, and makes for good for stir-fry.