Wagyu Beef

Wagyu Beef

I stopped at the exotic meats butcher up the street recently, specifically for duck legs, but I wanted to also pick up some free-range grass fed beef. (I knew I should have never eaten the grass fed burger at the food truck gathering a few months ago, I think I am now spoiled about the quality of my food!!) Actually, my intent isn't just on grass fed, it's also about hormone and antibiotic free, but mostly about the free-range part. While I won't stop eating meat, I do believe that I should pursue more humanely raised food sources as long as I have the means. After researching local sources (eatwild.com is an awesome source for grass fed, free range, and cage free meat and poultry), I found that my normal specialty butcher carries products from free-range local ranches. And so that is how I found myself at Harmony Farms once again, only this time for regular beef, not for the specialty stuff I normally pick up. Like marrow bones, veal bones, and venison. Only while I was talking to the owner who STILL remembers my great demi-glace experiment of 2011, I somehow got sidetracked from California-raised beef and focused instead on Australian Wagyu beef. Fresh, grass fed, free range. Oh, happy day! I've always wanted to try Wagyu, but the cost has always been a little prohibitive. Now, with the increase in grocery store meat, the free range and imported meats really aren't much more expensive (and in this case, the Wagyu was cheaper than regular ribeye from Albertson's!!) I also brought home some wild boar, but I'll save that for another blog. ; )

After much research and debate, I settled on using the sous vide to cook the Wagyu steak. Wagyu beef is a special breed of cattle that has more intramuscular fat, which we euphemistically call "marbling" when it's in a steak and not on our own person. This extra fat means the steak is so incredibly tender, because the fat breaks down as the steak cooks. And in Wagyu beef, this fat is a higher quality fat; it's non-saturated, and is considered a healthy fat. My concern over cooking method was that if left in a sous vide too long, the fat might melt away from the steak, leaving me with a regular lean steak. I needed the fat to melt, but stay where it was. After finding out that a number of high end restaurants use soud vide exclusively for wagyu, I decided to give it a go. I vacuum sealed the steaks, heated the sous vide to 134 degrees for medium rare, and tossed the steaks in. Wait, I really sent them in gently, fervently, stroking them a bit like I was putting my babies down for a nap. A very yummy nap. :o) I took them out at exactly two hours; long enough for pasteurization (the point at which it's heated to a given temperature for a calculated amount of time to kill 99.9% of germs, such as e-coli, salmonella, and who knows what other free-riding germs). This wasn't even remotely necessary, but I have found that two hours for steaks does make it amazingly tender and happy. I just like the part about germ killing enough to bring it up in conversation so I sound smarter than I really am.

When I pulled the steaks out (damn, no pics of either before or just after, I was too hungry!), they looked like any other steaks I've sous vided in the past. I melted a bit of butter in my new-ish and working on getting broken in cast iron pan, and cranked the heat on it. In went the steaks, a minute a side. Just enough to give the outsides the maillard reaction, the browning and carmelizing of the outsides. Happppppyyyyyyyyy..... And btw, that cast iron pan is MAGICAL. Best browning on a sous vide steak yet, I am really impressed with it! I also cooked some tiny potatoes in olive oil in the same pan, prior to browning the steak. And of course, I put together an awesome salad, red leaf lettuce with Stilton blue cheese (now my favorite, I'll accept no substitutes!), dried cranberries, and walnuts with olive oil and fresh lemon juice, and sea salt.

It just looks like a regular steak, but it is SO not. The fat did melt, but stayed in place; the steak was oh-so-tender, and velvety, and rich. But not overly rich. It was PERFECT. I ate the entire thing, and l usually only have been eating half of the steaks. This was AWESOME. (I meant to freeze the remaining steak, but I ate it too, last night.  (The steaks were cooked and the first one was eaten on Sunday night, I'm behind in blogging. because I was busy enjoying happy Wagyu beef.  That is a mighty fine excuse!)  I didn't even use any sauces or horseradish with the steak, as I normally do with regular beef. I did make a new seasoning rub, and it tastes remarkably like steakhouse rubs, so I am super pleased with it!

Was the sous vide the way to go with this type of beef?  I think it was.

Look at how perfectly medium rare it is, top to bottom. And you can see the velvety fat. This is one of the best steaks I have made yet, thanks to an amazing cut of beef.  I will DEFINITELY be using Wagyu more often!

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