The Quest for the Best Beef

I’m a pretty big fan of NY Strip Steaks. I usually just buy them from Costco (USDA Prime for about $15/lb). But, recently I’ve been curious about trying some other sources. I already put in an order to Baldwin’s, and I also plan on trying Lobel’s. I’ll also probably get a grill sampler from La Cense Beef. There’s quite a few local places that sell grass-fed as well, so I’ll be trying some of those.  Clark’s Never Sell The Land Farm is on the list.  Should be fun.

This all stemmed from reading these articles:
Ordering Up Beef That Roamed the Range
The first answer here

Update 2011-11-5

I’ve been eating Costco Prime NY Strip all week. The quality is very consistent, and the flavor is buttery and rich. These are cut 1.5″ thick, so you have to let them warm up at room temperature for quite a while before cooking, and you have to adjust Alton Brown’s recipe to about 3-4 minutes in the oven instead of the normal 2 to get it medium-rare. But, when done right, these things are killer. As a starting point, I’m going to give these an 8/10. I think this is fair, and I could always adjust it later if I find something REALLY good that deserves an 11 (or I could just give it an 11/10, maybe that’s the right way).

Costco Prime NY Strip from Store #1000: 8/10

I tried one of the burgers from Baldwin’s today. It was outstanding – I cooked it so it was warm in the center, but still rare enough to get massive beef flavor. I had it with some American cheese and lettuce for a bun, and just a touch of ketchup. This was one of the best burgers I’ve had for quite a while, and I’ll be trying the other three soon with different levels of done-ness. The beef has a bold flavor – it’s rather rich, and very clean. It tastes a lot like Ray’s Hellburger in Arlington if you order it rare. They supposedly grind up high-end roast and steak to make those burgers. These are a little spendy, but so far are definitely worth the premium price.

Update 2011-11-11

I’ve been eating the Baldwin’s beef I ordered, and it’s pretty darn good. The hamburger and burger patties we received are excellent – some of the best ground beef my wife and I have ever had. It’s rare that she even asks for a hamburger, let alone enjoys eating one, and she enjoyed the one I made for her today. There seems to be a perfect mixture of fat in the burger meat – it is just greasy enough to fry without sticking, but not enough to make a puddle in the pan or have to pour off fat – well done! I’ve been eating these burgers anywhere between medium-rare and well-done, and they’re good across the board.  I have to give these a 9/10.

Baldwin’s Beef Burger and Burger Patties: 9/10

I also ordered 2 NY Strip Steaks from Baldwin’s, and I have to say I’m not as impressed as I thought I’d be. The meat is extremely tender, and if you’ve ever dealt with game meat before, it feels a lot like that when raw. It cooks really quickly, and it’s cut about 3/4″ thick. Alton Brown’s steak recipe got it nearly to medium before I knew it (30 seconds on each side to sear, 2 minutes in the oven at 500F). Because of this, one has to let them come to room temperature even longer than regular steaks to avoid the cold-in-the-middle problem. The flavor is really beefy and even a little gamey, which is how I like my burgers, but not how I like my steaks. I’ve read this is a common problem with grass-fed beef – it doesn’t taste buttery and rich like I expect Prime NY Strip to taste. It’s good, but I still prefer the Costco NY Strip at this point. The Costco stuff also costs about $3 less per pound, so there’s that. I’ll give this a 7/10.

Baldwin’s NY Strip: 7/10