I’m a man who appreciates fine flavors and aromas. I’m highly selective about my booze, my women, my cigars, and especially my food. I believe that I’m a true foodie; I enjoy choosing, preparing and eating fine foods. Since I travel a lot I get to sample flavors all over the world so my palate has been challenged by a number of interesting flavors…
I am especially partial to beef. Not the trash you buy at the supermarket, but artisan beef that has been carefully butchered and properly aged. I’ve tried many types of beef: angus, piedmontese, holstein, charolais, beefmaster, longhorn, brahman, limousin, maine anjou, hereford, simmental and of corse the wagyu (kobe). I’ve also experimented with organic, grass-fed, corn-fed, and even grass-fed/corn finished and come to some profound conclusions:
1. Different breeds of cattle do actually taste different.
2. Cattle taste like what they eat.
3. Proper dry aging makes a world of difference.
4. NEVER overcook beef.
5. Don’t drown beef with crazy rubs and overwhelming spices, let the seasonings compliment the real beef flavor not mask it.
My good friend (and fellow foodie) Greg gave me a sample-pack of “Viking Beef”. His friend owns the Viking Cattle Company, a Utah-based beef company. Greg wanted my opinion on whether this beef was good enough to market nationally.
What apparently makes “Viking” beef different is that the herd is a genetically controlled Friesland hybrid. I had to do some research on the Friesland breed as relating to beef, since I though tit was a dairy cow. Apparently the Friesland and the Holstein are “sister” breeds that originated from an area which is now in Holland. In the USA, the term “Holstein” generally refers to a high producing dairy cow that originated in Europe but now is exclusively American. The term “Friesian” refers to European stock beef cattle known for their large frame and medium yield of beef. So live and learn, I always though the black-and-white cows were for milk only, not beef.
Although I prefer buying beef fresh from the butcher, it’s hard to do that these days, especially with premium beef from far-away places. Greg sent the beef frozen with dry ice in a Styrofoam cooler and it arrived without a hitch yesterday. All the cuts were packaged cleanly and labeled so it was easy for me to choose some cuts to experiment with.
I left the sirloin steak to thaw overnight in my refrigerator and cooked it up today. My initial impression of the beef was upon unwrapping it. There was none of the fishy odor so commonly associated with “freezer beef”. My rancher buddies tell me the fishy flavor is from feedlots where they add animal byproducts to the feed during the “finishing” process.
The steak was uniformly red without showing brown spots, so evidently the aging was done properly. According to their website they age from 14-21 days. I’m a fan of dry aging to increase tenderness and enhance the natural flavor of the beef.
I rubbed the steak lightly with extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt and cracked black pepper. After letting it rest for 30 minutes, I broiled it in the oven about 6″ from the heating element in a pre-heated iron skillet.
This steak certainly smells fantastic during cooking, it has strong savory overtones and I started to salivate after just a few minutes. After cooking each side for slightly over 7 minutes I could barely contain myself. This cut cooked up beautifully, exhibiting a light brown pigment with none of the disgusting gray so common with cheaper cuts of beef.
My first cut into the steak surprised me, it was firm but yielding demonstrating the tenderness of the beef. Mouth-feel of this beef is very good, it wasn’t greasy or rubbery and yielded a complex juicy flavor.
It is clear to me that this beef is higher in iron than some of the other breeds like piedmontese or brahman. I demolished this steak in record time while still trying to pace myself and enjoy the flavors.
So how would I describe this steak?
- It is tender, but not as tender as wagyu or piedmontese
- It is delicious with a complex, rich beefy flavor that definitely beats angus and many of the other beef breeds
- It is making me hungry for more
I’ll report on the other cuts as I try them, but so far I really like the Viking Beef!
I smoked a genuine Cuban Romeo y Julietta Belicosos after dinner to reward myself, I’ll post that review later….It was a good day.